The city of Encinitas is in the midst of an extensive planning process for the creation of the North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape in Leucadia. The public portion of this planning process began in February of this year and has proceeded continuously since that month. During the course of the public input relating to that proposed improvement project, there has been a vigorous exchange of information and ideas concerning the streetscape. Some of the discussion has been factually based and other portions have been inaccurate. The purpose of this editorial comment is to distinguish between the actual facts relating to our streetscape project and the input that has not been factually based.
Leucadia’s top priority for the streetscape planning process has been to preserve and restore Leucadia’s iconic tree canopy. Leucadians have been greatly encouraged by the most recent streetscape plan offered by the project consultants. The current plan calls for the preservation of 92.5 percent of the existing tree canopy and for new plantings, with emphasis upon native species, of 1,000 new trees.
The streetscape improvements should reflect the common vision shared by both our community during the course of the current workshops and the vision of the original drafters of the Leucadia Specific Plan. A comparison of the most recent plan proposed by the consultants, based solely on community input, with the goals and objectives of the drafters of the original 1997 North 101 Corridor Specific Plan for Leucadia, clearly demonstrates that this objective is being achieved. The commonality between the primary themes that were addressed by the drafters of the original Specific Plan, and the community vision during the streetscape planning process, is quite remarkable.
We believe that it is crucial that the streetscape plan incorporates a full and inclusive public input in the planning process. The streetscape should not involve efforts to divide businesses, property owners and residents, into separate factions. The Leucadia streetscape improvements will be for the benefit of all of Encinitas. Therefore a full public input from all sectors of our community must be encouraged.
Leucadia’s goal is to create a walkable Leucadia Village. Our vision, one which we share with the original drafters of the North 101 Corridor Specific Plan, is to create an environment that invites sidewalk dining; the display of retail goods; outside public seating and showcases public art. These pedestrian-oriented activities should be available at night, as well as during the daylight hours. Nighttime use will include the installation of street lighting that will offer pedestrians safety and security.
In order to encourage pedestrian activity and safety, Leucadians are seeking a design speed for traffic of 25 to 30 mph to eliminate the Highway 101 Raceway. With a reduced design speed, the installation of the roundabouts, and narrowing traffic drive lanes to 10 feet, cut through traffic and dangerous speeding will be eliminated. Traffic calming will enhance the pedestrian experience. The design speed which we are seeking is the same design speed that presently exists in downtown Encinitas.
We believe that the Highway 101 corridor requires safe bike lanes. Because our highway 101 corridor is one of the most heavily traveled bicycle routes in the United States, Leucadia has an objective of creating a streetscape which will call for wide, well-marked, bike lanes.
To support more pedestrian activity, the existing parking along Highway 101 will need to be increased. The project consultants, through the use of drive lane narrowing and diagonal parking, have offered a plan that will increase the existing parking by nearly 25 percent.
Leucadians support an emphasis on art as one of the central themes of our new streetscape plan. Leucadia has always been known for the richness and diversity of its local community of artists. Leucadians believe that our new Leucadia Village should support and encourage the local artistic community.
Leucadia 101 Main Street Association supports a reduction of the northbound traffic lanes to one lane. That lane reduction will create the additional right of way necessary for the installation of a northbound bike lane, and more importantly, for an area to plant new trees and other landscaping, and a potential walking path. In addition, the reduction of a lane gives us the ability to have diagonal parking on the west side of the street that nets an increase of 25 percent in total parking spaces. Traffic consultants tell us that there is 25 percent less northbound traffic than southbound, and this reduction of one lane will not negatively affect traffic flow.
Leucadia 101 Main Street Association has offered this information about the proposed streetscape project because our association, its members, as well as all Leucadians, are extremely excited about the proposed improvements to our beloved North Coast Highway 101 corridor.
We ask that as you review the streetscape project, you keep in mind the following considerations: This opportunity offered by the streetscape project to improve our community, will, for most of us, only come once-in-a-lifetime. If our community doesn’t support this project, the city of Encinitas will move its funds and staff efforts on to its next capital improvement project.
The improvements that are made to the Highway 101 Corridor based upon our full community input, will result in a streetscape infrastructure that will be enjoyed by Leucadia and Encinitas residents and visitors alike, for many decades in the future. The streetscape will be our legacy passed on to our children and grandchildren. Let’s do the job right!
For more information, contact The Leucadia 101 Main Street Association at (760) 436-2320; e-mail [email protected] or visit www.leucadia101.com.
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