City opts to hire help on project

ENCINITAS — After three public workshops and an open house, City Council voted April 8 to hire a consultant to continue the consensus building process on revamping the North Coast Highway 101 corridor.
The unanimous vote to spend up to $85,900 for additional traffic studies, workshops and publicity comes after a year of work done by the Planning Department and consultants. Because of a “disparity” in public responses to the various design plans presented at workshops, staff requested the funds to craft an additional option.
$2.2 million was allocated through fiscal year 2010 for the streetscape project to improve the 2-mile stretch of North Coast Highway 101 from La Costa Avenue to A Street. $792,000 has already been spent — including an interim sidewalk project.
Senior Planner Diane Lananger told the council that staff has solicited community feedback. “We’ve been noting throughout the process that public involvement is key to the ultimate design of the streetscape project,” she told the council.
However, several of the 20 speakers that addressed the council said the workshops merely brought the contentious issue to the surface without any real resolution.
Lynn Braun said the additional workshop and traffic studies should be done by staff rather than paying consultants.
Others were supportive of additional workshops. Morgan Mallory said the project is long overdue. “Leucadia deserves these improvements as well as downtown Encinitas deserves them,” he said. Mallory served on a draft specific planning committee 14 years ago that addressed the issue.
“The workshop needs to be done because we can’t wait for improvements that we’ve been waiting for for 15 years,” he said.
Craig Bruce, president of the Seacoast Preservation homeowners association, said that while the group supports additional studies, he urged the council to listen to the Leucadia corridor residents. He said additional traffic studies were necessary to find a way to eliminate the nonresidential traffic that winds through surrounding neighborhoods.
During workshops held in February and May 2008, consultants from M.W. Peltz 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. The updated plan promised an incentive to walking and bicycling with more pedestrian-friendly streets and reduced speeds.

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