A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Improper zone? Driver presents his case

Written January 28th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Johnny Scot Van Ras after his day in city court on Monday.

In Albany Municipal Court on Monday, Johnny Scot Van Ras made his case against the 20 mph speed zone on Waverly Drive on the east side of the athletic fields of South Albany High School.

His argument was that the school zone on the 40-mph arterial street wasn’t properly established because of two shortcomings: Contrary to ODOT guidelines, the Waverly zone has no signs showing where it ends, and no engineering study was ever done to justify it.

Judge Robert T. Scott told him ODOT guidance was not the same as the law, in the same way that the DMV driver’s manual is not the law on driving itself. The judge took the case under advisement and told Van Pas and Albany Police Officer Steve Corder he would issue his decision in a letter, probably within a week.

Van Ras, 62, a retired paper mill worker, did not dispute the facts of the $165 ticket Corder wrote him for driving north at 39 mph in the zone at 9:15 a.m. last Oct. 11. He told the judge that when he saw the officer sprinting for his patrol car, he pulled around the corner and stopped so the officer wouldn’t have to chase after him. (There’s no parking on Waverly itself.)

The school speed zone is in effect from 7 to 5 “on school days.” Van Ras got the ticket on a Thursday. The next day 39 mph would have been legal because there was no school that Friday.

Meanwhile, city transportation systems analyst Ron Irish has completed an engineering study on the Waverly zone. He studied traffic counts and accident statistics and recommended that the zone be shortened from 1,200 feet to 400 feet — 200 feet on either side of a signalized crosswalk on Waverly at 36th Avenue. Irish recommended against changing the zone to being in effect only “when lights flash” because of the cost of installing ($25,000 for that alone) and maintaining the lights.

The study is included with the agenda of the city’s Traffic Safety Commission meeting on Feb. 4. You can read it there. (hh)

That meeting of the Albany traffic panel has been called off because there was the prospect of no quorum on the 4th. It has been rescheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 18 at City Hall. The story has been edited to correct the spelling of Van Ras.

22 responses to “Improper zone? Driver presents his case”

  1. Jason says:

    Awful lot of work to try to get out of a ticket that he deserves. It’s clearly marked.

  2. Julie says:

    Wasting everyone’s time. Pay your ticket and move on (literally and figuratively).

  3. J. Hanschlatter says:

    Van Pas sounds a lot like Trump’s criminal cabal, guys like Stone, Flynn and Manafort. All charged with “process crimes.

  4. Collin Ansell says:

    Can we leave the National Political trash out of a local issue. Please!!!

    • Avid Reader 1 says:

      You write what you want, but, no, we can not leave out national politics…it affects us all.

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        Collin is correct. If it does not pertain to the topic at hand, it is totally unnecessary to inject it into the conversation. There’s already enough wasted vitriol on other forums…

      • Bryan says:

        Avid Reader 1 says:
        January 15, 2019 at 2:58 pm
        My New Year’s resolution, which comes a little late, I agree, is to quit reading Hasso Hering’s hateful, right wing crap.

    • J. Hanschlatter says:

      apparently my reference – in the first sentence – “Van Pas sounds a lot like Trump’s criminal cabal…” aptly demonstrated the connection twixt the local traffi issue and the national disgrace in the White House. Thus, my comments, while perhaps not to the liking of some, is perfectly relevant to the issue at hand.

  5. Ken Walter says:

    Resistance is futile!

  6. tom cordier says:

    Resistance is crucial. The drivers manual is only guidance and not the law??? So I guess Cities make up their own laws regarding road signage. The whole nonsense of demanding 20mph is of course to protect the kids who a fenced-in or walking on sidewalks and who are old enough to drive (and do)’ The sign should say –WHEN STUDENTS ARE PRESENT–20 MPH.

    • J. Jacobson says:

      If, as you imply, the DMV Drivers Manual is “advice,” mere suggestion as to possible actions a driver can take depending on circumstance.

      But if you are not to be satisfied with DMV interpretation, and require a more sharply defined coda, all you do is invite the legislature to micro-manage your life with dogmatic and explicit statutes governing each and every step of each and every mile you drive. Isn’t this you being foisted on your own petard? Your choice demands more government intrusion, not less. Be happy for the soft sell DMV gives you.

  7. eldon says:

    What about the speed on Queen Street in front of West Albany High School? What is the speed there?

  8. Lady Louise Le' Rosseau says:

    Van Pas is doing what many retired, irrelevant white males do … attempting to attract attention at any cost. As one of Trump’s biographers wrote about Spanky: the president would rather be mocked on the front page than be ignored. Privileged White Male’s worst fear.

    • S. Whittle says:

      I couldn’t agree more. And, Hasso Hering feeds the monster by continually re-surfacing this issue with the same old ass-fault.

      • Hasso Hering says:

        The issue is more serious than various commentators like to pretend. It is that unnecessary speed restrictions fairly invite being ignored, with the result that safe driving behavior becomes an occasion for writing tickets and collecting fines. Speed limits should be reasonable, and 40 mph on that stretch — and others like it — meets that test. Citizens should not be subject to punishment for driving at a reasonable speed that is perfectly safe given the conditions on that street.

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          “Citizens should not be subject to punishment for driving at a reasonable speed that is perfectly safe given the conditions on that street.”

          Ahhh… But who/how is the “reasonable” determined? I suppose it is entirely “reasonable” for some folks to do a rolling stop at a stop sign or red light if you’ve looked both ways and don’t see any oncoming traffic? Or how about doing 60-70mph-plus on country roads with no traffic in sight? I see nothing inherently UNreasonable in the existing rules as they are currently written for that location…

        • Bill Halsey says:

          “Speed limits should be reasonable, and 40 mph on that stretch — and others like it — meets that test.”

          You sure like to play God a lot, Hasso – which is exactly what you’re doing whenever you use that word “should”! Should is not a good word – and it’s not really acceptable to go around “shoulding” on everybody and everything. Additionally, it’s a bit tiresome when you are assuming authority and knowledge you simply don’t have. Are you the one to decide what is a “reasonable” speed? I would argue that all of this is no more than your opinion, nothing else.
          And my opinion, which is just as good as anybody else’s, is that it would be a lot better to lower the speed limit to 30 mph from the Mennonite home north – and leave it at 20 mph around SAHS! THAT would be “reasonable”! Those are just kids around there – they may be obnoxious gonna-live-forever and indestructible adolescents, but they are still just kids.
          It seems to me that it’s up to us grown-ups to comport ourselves as grown-ups – which a lot of us don’t seem to be capable of as soon as we get behind the wheel of a car.

          And I live on 40th., right offa Waverly! I’m pulling offa my street right into the school zone all the time. And folks drive way too fast on Waverly.

          • Hasso Hering says:

            Thanks, but actually it’s not my opinion. It’s the judgment of traffic authorities who established 40 mph as the appropriate speed limit on that arterial. The school zone is not in effect in the summer or during football games, when the chance is greater that young people will be hanging around that street, greater than at 9:15 on a school day morning. So what’s the real point of the zone, other than an opportunity to ticket drivers not doing anything dangerous?

          • Bill Halsey says:

            The real point of the zone? It’s to secure some measure of protection for kids from drivers speeding down Waverly!
            And one more little point….If government collects a few bucks from speeding baby drivers – I got no problem at all with that.
            And yes, your post was your opinion! You can’t wiggle outta that.

    • centrist says:

      FLAG on that play. Unnecessary presumption with sides of prejudice and just plain bad manners

  9. Lundy says:

    As a veteran ticket-fighter, though thankfully not for 11 years now, I applaud Mr. Van Ras’ efforts, and his logic.


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