Elderly woman takes matters into own hands to get drivers in Santa Rosa to slow down

An elderly woman in a Santa Rosa senior community has taken the lead role in pushing for more safety on the streets of Oakmont.

Norma Baumsteiger says drivers need to give residents and Mother Nature a break by slowing down.

The 87-year-old knows her tactics work.

"You see them slow down?" Baumsteiger asked rhetorically.

Baumsteiger said she's getting not getting help from her homeowners association or the police, so she's assumed the role of citizen activist. Her station, busy Oakmont Drive, is the main drag in the large retirement community where the speed limit is 25 mph.

She wears a Day-Glo safety vest and holds a sign that reads "Slow Down" at the corner where many slow-moving elderly residents regularly cross the street.

"This is a senior community. We're not talking about just an ordinary community," said Baumsteiger.

According to the Press-Democrat, police citations are rare on Oakmont Drive.

"For two days, they gave tickets and never came back in three years," said Baumsteiger. Going back to February of 2020, three tickets were issued, one for no insurance, two stop sign violations, but none for speeding.

The support for Baumsteiger has been very high.

"For her neighborhood, I'd say good approach you know. Like I wouldn't mind having somebody like that in my neighborhood. I feel like that brings some sort of respect to the neighborhood," said Oakmont visitor Mike Mondraun.

Baumsteiger said sometimes she's on the receiving end of disrespect, while out monitoring the speed limit.

"I call it a two-point patrol here. I get the thumbs up or I get the middle finger," she said. Then there's the verbal stuff, " she said. Adding that sometimes drivers call her "vile names."

But, she says the positive far outweighs the negative.

"I've got a thick skin. I'm an old lady and I raised four boys and I've got a thick skin," said Baumsteiger.