ENCINITAS — During the third public workshop Nov. 13, city planning staff and consultants listened to a packed audience weigh in on the development of Leucadia’s North Coast Highway 101 corridor.
Preserving the area’s historic features as well as decreasing cut-through traffic were among the top concerns. “People have a tendency to use that area to avoid traffic on I-5,” Leucadia resident Jennifer Stanley said. “Especially in the summer, people just speed down the road.”
Senior Planner Diane Langager said the public has been very vocal about the various proposals. “We’ve had good participation rates,” she said.
The streetscape project to improve the 2-mile stretch of North Coast Highway 101 from La Costa Avenue to A Street has a budget of $4.2 million through 2013.
Mike Farber, a resident on Neptune Avenue, said he was surprised to hear about the projected plans to reduce lanes going north and south and to install roundabouts along the highway. “I’m concerned about the whole neighborhood not becoming a thoroughfare,” Farber said.
Farber said he thought the streetscape project was a plan to make the area more pedestrian friendly and to plant more trees along the corridor. However, after listening to the presentation by staff and consultants from M.W. Peltz, Farber said he realized the project was a mistake.
“Roundabouts don’t work to slow traffic,” Farber said. “They will increase gridlock.” Instead, he suggested the city take less drastic measures. “All you have to do is reduce the speed limit and enforce it like Carlsbad does,” Farber said.
During workshops held in February and May, consultants worked with residents and business owners in the area to draft alternatives.
The current plan calls for as many as five roundabouts at El Portal, Jupiter, Grandview, Sea Bluff and La Costa Avenue along the highway with one northbound lane and two southbound lanes.
The latest addition to the plan introduced at the meeting would save 92 percent of the trees along the route and increase parking capacity by 22 percent according to consultants. While the plan promised an incentive to walking and bicycling with more pedestrian friendly streets and reduced speeds, Farber said he isn’t convinced.
“I know people in the neighborhood who support the plan,” he said. “Their rationale is that ‘we’ll make it so bad that people will stay away’ but I think it’s naïve to think that’s going to happen.”