Pismo Beach pays $1.5 million, litigants name more defendants

October 25, 2013
Tricia Rittger

Tricia Rittger

Pismo Beach has agreed to pay $1.5 million to the family of a woman who was struck by a vehicle and killed while crossing Shell Beach Road.

In 2011, Tricia Rittger was walking across the street from a parking lot to the Cliffs Resort to meet friends. At the time, she was wearing dark clothing and texting on her cell phone, sources said.

In 2012, Tricia Rittger’s husband Aaron Rittger filed a lawsuit against the city of Pismo Beach and the Cliffs Resort claiming his wife’s death could have been prevented if a crosswalk and proper signage were in place. The complaint says that both the Cliffs and the city of Pismo Beach had ample warning that the crossing was dangerous.

A few days ago, during settlement negotiations with the city, Aaron Rittger’s attorneys filed  a motion to bring each individual owner of the Cliffs Resort personally into the lawsuit.

In a press release, the city denies liability and says it agreed to pay the settlement to avoid legal fees and the uncertainty of litigation.

“The city continues to maintain that factors other than the city’s ownership of the road were the cause of the accident,” Pismo Beach Manager James Lewis said. “Nonetheless, the city recognizes that litigation produces uncertain results and significant financial costs.”


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Such hate and envy for a 1.5 million dollar award. Wow! Have some compassion for this family. This lawsuit is about righting the wrongs of our speed laws and thoroughfares. Everywhere I look in this county, I see speed limits set on streets that are insanely high. The traffic engineer does his study and formulates a speed that matches existing driver behaviors and that seems to be about it – boom, done. No one in the traffic departments seems to give a damn about the little kiddies walking across the road with their little floaty toys, boogie boards, sack of food, towels, etc. Then along comes Mr. “I gotta get down this street at 80 miles an hour because some civil engineer says I can”. Oops, what the hell is that little child doing crossing “my road”. Too late, the end

I’ve crossed this road a hundred times going to the beach. It’s a bad place for a parking lot, but the department responsible for this road needs to change something about it. Lower the speed limit, put in the flasher crap that downtown San Luis has – something please! That’s what the 1.5 million is telling you to do.

Please identify the road that the engineer has identified to travel on at 80 mph? The maximum speed limit on open highways is 65 mph with some exceptions being 70 mph. Residential areas are 25 mph and most other city roads are 35 mph while rural roads are 55 mph. You obviously have no idea of what you are talking about.

This isn’t about hate or envy, and no one is trying to diminish the tragic nature of this accident. This is about taking personal responsibility for one’s actions and NOT attempting to blame everyone else.there was no speeding car, There was no driver’s fault determined in this accident. there was however a moment of inattentiveness, miscalculation, and irresponsibility on behalf of the victim with tragic results.

Clearly, IF you choose to park in that particular lot ,YOU know you are going to have to cross the street. Thousands have done just that without incident.

Someone, please think of the children!

You do realize you have been caricatured on South Park, don’t you?

Only hinted at in the story above is the fact that the Pismo Beach Planning Commission Permit issued in 1983 specifically disallows use of the parking lot between Shell Beach and the freeway by business patrons and the general public. Indicating that they knew 30 years ago the crossing is unsafe.

ANY road is dangerous to cross IF you choose not to look and listen. How many people have been injured of killed at that location in the last 30 years while crossing the street?

This tragedy is NOT the fault of the city, or the Cliffs, or anyone other than the victim.

The City allowed the Cliffs to be built based on a conditional use permit that required the Cliffs to install a fence around the parking lot across the street and only use that parking lot for employee parking because of the unsafe conditions. The Cliffs ignored the conditional use permit and for some reason the City refused to enforce the conditional use permit and instead allowed the Cliffs to have their employees fill up the parking lot in front of the Cliffs and then the customers had to park across the street in the parking lot that was supposed to be fenced off and used only for employees. This despite the City having several hearings about the danger of the parking lot, especially after a previous person, who was not killed, but was also hit by a car at that location. The Cliffs still refused to abide by the conditional use permit and the City continued to not enforce the conditional use permit.

Having said that, it seems to me it is likely some fault of the deceased is being taken into account, otherwise the settlement from the City would likely have been quite a bit higher given the failure to enforce the conditional use permit.

I’ve surveyed at that location on many occasions. I did the field work for their ALTA, sea wall rock removal, and sewer project. I’ve crossed dozens of times at that same location, and guess what, never once considered stepping in front of a moving car. There’s more than adequate line of sight in both directions if one is switched on and paying attention..

Rest in peace Tricia,

I hope your family spending million and a half of your blood and guts money soothes your


To the husband and city manager.

Sleep well.

Just wondering… Who was the Rittger’s attorney? Anyone know?

I remember reading about this ‘tragedy’ (totally avoidable with stop, look and listen) and wondered what the eventual settlements would be. It makes it hard to feel sorry for this family. People who assume they have the right of way because they are a pedestrian, and “it’s the law to yield to me!” need to recognize that the laws of physics reign supreme. Person vs. car is never a favorable outcome for the person. Physics applies for the whole dark clothing at night bit, too. Oh, and thanks for making us lose even more parking at the Cliffs, where we’ve parked many a time to go to the restaurant or to the beach…and always made it safely across the 2 lane street before.

Actually, Section B of CA VC 21950 reads:

(b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

I suppose the City felt it was easier to spend $1,500,000.00 of other people’s money.