Clarissa Owen is fed up with speeders. The Kuna resident and Neighborhood Watch block captain has been known to get downright violent with them, hurtling empty pop cans and other garbage at the teens who hurtle through her quiet 20 mph neighborhood. But after doing a little Internet research, Owen recently found a deceptively powerful ally: A simple 18-by-24-inch red and white plastic sign reading: "Safe Driving Expected. 20 mph. Really!"
Currently, the sign in Owen's yard is the only one in Kuna. Boise motorists, on the other hand, may be familiar with them. Almost 100 have lined various thoroughfares on the Boise bench since early February, thanks to the effort of Martin Johncox, vice president of the Franklin-Randolph Bench Neighborhood Association. Johncox modeled the signs after a similar project in Oregon, and put them into action after a car crash claimed three Borah High students last December.
"The first time I got one," he recalls, "before I even finished sticking it in the ground, somebody drove by and said, 'Hey, where'd you get that? I want one of those!'" Within days, the initial 100-sign run was gobbled up, for the meager price of a $5 suggested donation per sign.
Initially, Johncox meant the signs to reside only in his neighborhood. But after extensive coverage in local newscasts, radio and newspapers, his neighborhood movement heard sympathetic voices all the way from Curtis Road to Caldwell. Now, he says, "I'd like nothing more than seeing signs in front of every house in the valley that wants one."
Thanks to donations from his neighborhood association, local Kiwanis and local sign company Saturn Printing, Johncox will have his wish. He reports that a second wave of 500 signs will be ready within a month. He plans to make the signs available to non-Boise residents, but also to fill a few holes in his neighborhood. Twenty of the signs were snatched from nearby yards last Friday, March 18.
Johncox hopes the thief was just "somebody with a speeding problem in their own neighborhood, who had to resort to this because the signs are so hard to get." But he admits that the signs have had critics-mainly people who feel that speeding laws should be enforced by the local constabulary. In response, Johncox says he still hopes to someday have officially sanctioned signs in local neighborhoods. Concerned residents like Owen, however, have no patience for the idea that speeders are best handled by police.
"Yeah right," she says. "It's gotten to the point where a lot of us have no choice but to enforce it ourselves."
Johncox answers critics, "These signs are just about citizens demanding responsibility from themselves and others. How can you argue against that?"
Contact Martin Johncox at 658-9100.