Ken Adelson has been a North Park resident for the past 32 years. He is a tech writer who lives by Palm Street on the north side of St. Augustine High School. Like many neighbors, he is bothered by the traffic coming and going to and from the 95-year-old all-boys Catholic school.
3266 Nutmeg Street, North Park
“[The parents] drop off [their kids] on the south side of Palm Street heading east,” he said, “then [they do] a U-turn at Bancroft Street with no regard for oncoming vehicles who have the right-of-way.”
Patricia Williamson is a 50-year-old analyst who has lived in the area for the past 13 years. She said, “I can’t tell you how many times I have almost been hit at the corner of 32nd Street and Thorn Street [two blocks north of the campus] due to stop-sign runners in the mid afternoons — it’s ridiculous.”
In the past week, many of the neighbors around the school at 3266 Nutmeg Street have come forward on social media expressing similar frustration with the school’s drivers (parents, staff, and students).
“We were dumb teenage kids who didn’t care about the neighbors [back then],” said Matt Carroll, who graduated as a “Saint” in 2006. He admits that he didn’t follow all of the rules of the road when he drove his Ford Ranger to early-morning football practice and class. “The worst that would happen was some neighbor would get upset and complain to the school or to the student directly [and it] was usually something to laugh about and sometimes made guys want to keep doing it more.”
Carroll said he remembers when the staff would remind the Saints on the school’s PA system to respect the neighborhood. He said his teachers would reinforce good neighborhood driving (and parking) etiquette in class. After Carroll graduated from St. Augustine he attended San Jose State University. He’s now a resident a couple of blocks away from his alma mater.
“Now that I am a homeowner, I would get upset if the kids or parents were blocking my driveway,” he said, “but they are not going to change [their driving and parking etiquette] unless someone gets hurt.”
Patty Mondragon has been living in the area for nearly 45 years. “Can they not teach the boys to obey the laws [and] be courteous drivers and to make complete stops behind the white line?” she asked. She said she recently had two close calls with cars sporting “St. A stickers” on them.
Another neighbor said the school still reminds students to be courteous while driving, but it’s not just the teenagers who are breaking the law.
“My husband has had a couple of confrontations because of talking in the street by the adults,” Adelson said. “Apparently the sense of entitlement is shocking — it’s a road [and] you’re wrong. Get out of the way without rationalizing or otherwise talking back.”
In the past couple of days, this reporter hasn't noticed any of the illegal driving or parking around the campus. The local postman said, “I’ve only seen a Chevy Camaro go fast here [on Nutmeg Street].” Though, he could not discern whether the guilty party was a St. Augustine student, staff, or parent.
Some neighbors place the blame on St. Augustine parents driving fast.
Len H. said, “Nine out of ten of the drivers coming from 32nd Street [northbound] are trying to get to the 805 freeway entrance or to North Park, not to St. Augustine." She notices them driving through Nutmeg Street and Palm Street passing the school.
Len is a 58-year-old retired flight attendant who has been living across the street from the school on 32nd Street for the past ten years. One of the main reasons she and her husband chose the house was because of “the school’s Catholic values” for their son, and the proximity to the Academy of Our Lady of Peace, where their daughter graduated.
“As with any institution there is always going to be traffic congestion when the school day starts and when it ends,” she said. “As for most of the complainers…it’s a sellers’ market!”
None of the people interviewed for this story recalled ever witnessing an accident around the school’s campus.