mirror

Joseph Vargas has put a mirror near his driveway on Glendale Ave. and Monterey Rd. in Glendale so that he can see oncoming traffic when backing up from his home. The city has told Vargas to take it down because it damages a tree on city property. "We have grandkids that we babysit," Vargas says. "We are just concerned keeping our grandkids in and out of safety," he adds. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer)

A handful of residents living along a busy stretch of Glendale Avenue say city officials are forcing them to take down mirrors they’ve attached to trees in the public right-of-way so they can better see oncoming traffic while exiting their driveways.

The residents, who live north of the Ventura (134) Freeway, say in the absence of any speed-reduction enhancements, such as speed humps, the round convex mirrors are one of the few safety measures they have. City officials, though, say the mirrors aren’t allowed on city-owned trees.

Joseph Vargas and two of his neighbors installed the mirrors following several near misses over the years with cars heading south on Glendale Avenue. Two other residents had planned to install mirrors, but changed their minds after the run-in with the city, Vargas said.

He said he backs into his driveway when he arrives home so he can pull out heading forward.

“Trying to back out into the street is almost impossible,” Vargas said.

The worst times are during the late morning, early afternoon and weekends, he added.

Vargas and his next-door neighbor attached the mirrors to trees in the public right-of-way using metal straps called plumber’s tape.

According to city officials, Vargas added, the straps are damaging the tree bark. “But it’s a mature tree,” he said.

The third neighbor placed his mirror on a street-light pole.

“I think that’s what started the whole thing,” Vargas said.

Jano Baghdanian, traffic and safety administrator for the city, said it’s about more than tree damage. City codes don’t allow anything to be attached to city-owned trees or street-light poles. Also, nothing can be placed in the public right-of-way because of liability concerns.

But some cities, such as West Hollywood, allow metal posts with convex mirrors attached to be placed in the public right-of-way along driveways with poor sight lines.

Residents there who have trouble pulling out of their driveways are allowed to install the mirrors after city officials assess the situation and decide other options to improve visibility won’t work, said Walter Davis, West Hollywood’s neighborhood traffic management program specialist.

Baghdanian said Glendale residents can place mirrors on private property. However, in Vargas’ case, his property line is too far back to do any good.

Officials do have the option to paint curbs near driveways red so parked cars won’t block the view of the street.

But Vargas said that would just reduce the number of parking spaces on the street, which would irritate his neighbors.

If public demand for convex mirrors is strong enough in the community, the City Council could consider changing the code, Baghdanian said. But for now, the mirrors have to come down.

Vargas received a notice this week from code enforcement officials that they will visit his property on Oct. 10 to make sure the mirror has been removed.