ENCINITAS — After a year and a half of public discussions, the city Planning Department is gearing up to unveil another option for the controversial North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape Project.
The Leucadia project area covers a two-mile stretch along Highway 101 between A Street and La Costa Avenue.
The four working proposals differ slightly but generally include planting additional trees and landscaping, improving sidewalks, installing traffic roundabouts and eliminating one northbound lane.
Beginning with an informational session Oct. 3, city planners were joined by representatives from Walk San Diego and La Jolla’s Bird Rock neighborhood to answer questions about the process of traffic calming and making a community more pedestrian-friendly.
An informational open house was held at the city’s library on Oct. 8 and a fourth workshop will be held Oct. 10 at the Encinitas Community and Senior Center, 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive, from 9 a.m. to noon.
Kathleen Lees, secretary of the Leucadia Town Council, attended the information session to listen to what issues other communities in similar situations have faced.
“What I heard from the Bird Rock people was that they emphasized that the community has to address all of its problems at the very beginning or they will bite you later,” she said. “This (streetscape) plan is not addressing the issue of the railway,” Lees said.
While much of the public discussion has been on the use of roundabouts and lane reductions, Lees said the focus should include how to connect the community on the east side of the railroad tracks with the west side.
“We’re trying to build businesses along 101 and make it a viable community but the people who are their customers wouldn’t be able to get there without driving,” she said.
The Leucadia Town Council is circulating a petition calling for multiple at-grade crossings along the railroad.
Lees said it addresses the issue of the “grand canyon,” referring to the railroad tracks, in a sensible way. “I don’t ever see us being a real community until we can get back and forth safely,” Lees said.
During the final workshop, city planners will review the existing proposals and introduce a fifth option. Some residents are skeptical of the new proposal. “I think if the city can figure out a way to slow drivers down and get people into businesses and to the beach without having to always drive and find a place to park then I can support that,” said Leucadia resident John Davenport. “I don’t care whether it takes five roundabouts or none, but it has to be done with the pedestrian and the community’s character in mind.”