City leaders will look into why ‘slow down’ signs were removed from West Oltorf stretch

In an effort to get drivers to hit their brakes on West Oltorf Street, a group of neighbors, led by Janet Mash and Steven Rivas, decided to put 100 ‘slow down’ signs along the stretch between south first and South Lamar Boulevard. Well, those signs have since been taken down by Austin Code Department.

"I'm not angry, just disappointed. I'm not really surprised. It doesn't seem to me that code compliance is very consistent," said Janet Mash on March 23.

The Code Department told Fox 7 Austin in a statement:

They were "responding to two anonymous complaints regarding 'slow down' signs posted in the public right of way. The inspector determined the signs were in violation of city ordinance."

Rivas complained, saying the signs are not advertisements about selling mattresses or buying homes, but keeping the neighborhood safe.     

Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes said the city is trying to get to a goal of zero crashes and pedestrian deaths, so there should be nothing wrong with neighbors helping with that effort.

"Unfortunately there was no attention given to what the message was on the sign. It really misses out on what the community wanted to do which was protect their neighborhood, to have safer streets and to avoid any lives lost," said Fuentes.

The Austin Transportation Department said this stretch of Oltorf is already on their to-do list.

"We are going to see certain curb designs come in, signage regarding speed, as well as a few other safety measures," said Fuentes.

We spoke with Councilmember Sabino Renteria about the issue which is in his district, he declined to comment, but did say they would reach out to Code Enforcement for more information. A portion of the area in question almost overlaps into District 9 as well. Fuentes said she will look further into why code enforcement cannot use more discretion.

"I certainly will be following up with Austin Code to see what else can we do when we have such a practice when it's members of their neighborhood coming together to protect their neighborhood," said Fuentes.

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