OCEANSIDE — After 15 months of focus meetings and community workshops, a final streetscape plan for Mission Avenue was OK’d by City Council on Sept. 1 in a 4-1 vote in which Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voted no.
The approved plan drives traffic from I-5 west down Mission Avenue across Cleveland Street and back east on Seagaze Drive. Also included in the Mission Avenue streetscape plan are wide pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, landscaping, streetside seating areas, a bike lane, parking and two additional traffic lights.
Emotions ran high as the final four street plan options were discussed and earlier ideas were rehashed. Before the final vote Sanchez suggested an alternative to the four plans that were presented. She proposed that Mission Avenue remain a two-way street with two added bike lanes.
Frustration grew as it became apparent that a new alternative would necessitate further study and delay.
“What the hell are we doing up here?” Councilman Jerry Kern asked. “You had input to this point, suddenly we are going to redesign everything and extend the consultant contract?”
Most were anxious to reach a decision after years of anticipation and a lengthy community input process.
“We’re here to make a decision and make the community better,” Bob Hamlin, Oceanside Chamber of Commerce member, said. “The mindset of the whole business community changes. We’re buying our own stimulus package.”
The final four options considered community input, traffic studies and creating a walkable community. Plans ranged from no roadway changes, to a one-way street west on Pier View Way and east on Mission Avenue, or a two-way street on Mission Avenue and one-way streets on Seagaze Drive and Pier View Way.
Roundabouts were not included because of capacity issues that would cause traffic back ups.
While there was strong support for the streetscape project, the level of service for bicyclists and pedestrians was questioned by some because streetscape models only accounted for automobile traffic flow.
“The only mention of bicycles, has been bicycle parking,” Kathy Keehan of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition said.
“The level of service only looks at cars,” Carol Carr of the Oceanside Bicycle Committee said. “A walkable community should be good for all users, not just cars.”
Scott Colvin, of Kimberly-Horn and Associates planners, said bikes and pedestrians were considered in the plans, but currently there are no standardly accepted models to gauge the flow of mixed automobile, bike and pedestrian traffic.
Streetscape construction on Mission Avenue is expected to begin in a year and will be implemented in phases so that businesses can remain open.