All the dirt, news, culture and commentary for Oklahoma's second century.

Oklahoma City Council does not hear appeal on neighborhood stop signs

Sophia Babb / Red Dirt Report
A two-way intersection in Heritage Hills.
Fertile Ground Compost Service
Help support Red Dirt Report

OKLAHOMA CITY – A request for added stop signs at 19 intersections between the Uptown 23rd District and the Midtown District will progress after being approved by the Oklahoma City Traffic Commission this week.

The request for the added stop signs comes after a three-year long effort by the Heritage Hills and Mesta Park neighborhoods to slow traffic in the area.

The Oklahoma City Traffic Commission voted to add the stop signs in April, but a last minute appeal was filed by Ian McDermid, the owner of The Pump Bar (2425 N. Walker Ave). The appeal took the request to the Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday morning.

McDermid cited in his appeal that “city guidelines for adding traffic controls were not met”.

The Pump Bar owner Ian McDermid speaks at the Oklahoma City Council meeting Tuesday. (Sophia Babb / Red Dirt Report)

The bar owner’s appeal was filed late under city ordinances. However, McDermid was allegedly given incorrect information about appeal deadlines by city staff.

The motion on whether to hear the appeal or not failed, with the Oklahoma City Council voting 4-4.

McDermid said he was disappointed that his appeal could not be heard, but that he was “extremely excited” to have further discussion about the appeal.

“I don’t believe the added stop signs are an effective means of traffic calming or traffic control, but I appreciate the meaningful conversation we can have about traffic calming,” he said.

Bill Carey, chairman of the neighborhood traffic committee, said the streets that run through Heritage Hills and Mesta Park have become convenient detours for city travelers with the development of Midtown and Uptown.

“It’s all about safety,” Carey said. “We now have 300 kids that walk to Wilson Elementary, so the speed and volume of the cars primarily going north and south is concerning.”

“When we first took the issue to city staff, they said if we could provide them with a traffic calming study that would help,” Carey said.

Heritage Hills traffic committee chairman Bill Carey shows areas with requested stop signs. (Sophia Babb / Red Dirt Report)

Carey assisted the neighborhood in hiring Johnson & Associates, an engineering firm, to conduct a traffic calming study on the area.

Of the 19 intersections studied, all failed to meet the city’s minimum requirements for added stop signs.

The Oklahoma City Traffic Commission is allowed to approve or deny traffic requests whether minimum safety requirements are met or not.

“No neighborhood(s) or collective of a single interest should have the ability to divert other citizens away from community assets without a demonstrable safety threat,” McDermid wrote in his appeal.

“We urge the city and neighborhood residents to seek compromise with input from a broad base of stakeholders, as a much broader base of citizens are impacted by these changes.”

In response to the appeal, Carey said, “traffic is a funny animal.”

“Once it’s established, people do not like to have their daily habits messed with, and they sure don’t want to be inconvenienced,” he said. “19 pairs of stop signs in an area this size is not a big deal. It would be less than half the number of stop signs we already have going east and west, and those stop signs don’t seem to present a problem for anybody. The big deal really is the safety.”

A two-way stop in Mesta Park. (Sophia Babb / Red Dirt Report)

Sarah Jordan, mother of two, lives in Mesta Park with her children.

“I think that the City Council has a really grave misunderstanding about how many children live in our neighborhood. There are some blocks that have 35 children living on one block, walking to school and walking to the park every day.”

Jordan continued: “If the neighborhood is willing to be burdened by having to stop at each of the stop signs, I don’t think it really matters what anyone else outside of the neighborhood wants to do.”

Jordan said there was nothing more important than keeping the children safe. “If Oklahoma City is ready to prioritize our schools, Wilson is a true neighborhood school and we need to make sure they can get there safe and sound.”

The approved request for added stop signs will move forward unless a lawsuit is filed to overturn the traffic commission.

The neighborhood’s lawyers believe that will be “highly unlikely."

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About the Author

Sophia Babb

Sophia Babb is a journalism student at OCU, a member of the folk trio Annie Oakley, and an avid...

read more

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

Member of the Oklahoma Press Association
Member of Investigative Reporters & Editors
Member of Diversity Business Association
Member of Uptown 23rd

Rotary Club of Bricktown OKC
Keep it Local OK