ENCINITAS — More than 65 merchants attended a meeting convened by the Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 3 to discuss improving a stretch of North Coast Highway 101 through Leucadia.
Several public workshops have been held in the last year to gather input on the design features of the improvements, including an open house at the city’s library two months ago.
City Council budgeted $4.2 million for the streetscape project through 2013. The expenditure is aimed at enhancing the two-mile stretch of North Coast Highway 101 from La Costa Avenue to A Street.
City Planner Diane Langager was on hand to answer questions regarding the proposed plans. Included in the presentation were several renderings of each proposal showing the impacts on each business.
The latest incarnation of the four alternative proposals includes constructing roundabouts at five intersections in the plan area. At least one participant called into question the validity of spending money on the traffic calming measure when a stop sign could be installed for a much cheaper price.
Jamroc owner David DaCosta said he approves of the roundabouts but would like to have two northbound lanes rather than one. “I’m used to driving on the left hand side of the street,” the Jamaican native said with a laugh. His restaurant is located at the southern end of the plan area next to Encinitas Surfboards where parking is at a premium on the east side of the highway.
“What would help your businesses?” chamber CEO Gary Tucker asked the crowd.
The overwhelming concerns were preserving parking, calming cut-through traffic from Interstate 5 and maintaining the character of the community.
Leucadia Glass owner Rick Smith said he was concerned with the amount of landscaping his business would lose under the plan. He encouraged other business owners to carefully scrutinize the city’s renderings to ascertain the impact of the proposals on each business.
Peder Norby, the Coast Highway 101 coordinator, cautioned the audience to be patient in the process of planning improvements. “You’re not all going to agree,” he said. Norby was president of the Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association during the improvements made over a decade ago that brought a new façade to an aging district and national recognition.
“It’s your town and it’s your streetscape,” Norby said.
To view renderings of the proposed improvements, visit www.ci.encinitas.ca.us/Government/CityP/ProjectL/ and click on North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape Project.