The folly and fallacy of Leucadia Streetscape

Leucadia Streetscape started out on the wrong foot and hasn’t been in step since. 

The City proceeded without the public’s input or permission and retained outside consultants who developed a plan that’s in keeping with the city’s and the Leucadia 101 Main Street Association’s goals. Only when the plan was already shaped did the city seek input from a small minority of community members. We’re going to do this, the city said, how would you few people like to tweak it?

The claim that the majority of Leucadians favor Streetscape is false. A private, professionally conducted poll showed that 71 percent of residents west of 101 knew nothing about the plan. When informed of its principal goals and features, 81 percent said they opposed it.

As a commercial corridor, North Coast Highway 101 has three constraints that Streetscape fails to address or addresses inadequately. Comparisons with Solana Beach are apt:

Railroad Right-of-Way. The distance from the tracks to the 101 pavement through the Streetscape corridor is about 50 feet. That space is portrayed as sacred. South of E Street in Encinitas, the distance from the tracks to the rear of the nearest building west is about 20 feet. Where the tracks double, the distance from the eastern track to the parking lot retaining wall east is about 15 feet. So it appears that 30 to 35 feet of the right-of-way between the 101 pavement and the tracks in Streetscape’s corridor should be available for bike and walking paths and landscaping. That would leave two northbound vehicle lanes on 101, making northbound turns from T intersections safer.

Solana Beach trenched the tracks, opening a broad space on the west side for a path, benches and landscaping. Their 1.4-mile corridor has five pedestrian and/or vehicle crossings. By that standard, Streetscape’s 2.5-mile corridor should have nine crossings. It will still have three. Streetscape adds none.

Narrow Commercial Zone. Save for a few scattered deep lots, the commercial zone in the Streetscape corridor is narrow. Long stretches are only 80 or 90 feet wide. The zone broadens with some consistency from near Athena Street to A Street, but is still very narrow compared to almost all of Solana Beach’s commercial zone. Unless the city plans to gobble up residences west of 101, Streetscape’s corridor is constrained commercially by its width. There’s not much horizontal space for the “bigger, grander buildings” that consultant Dan Burden predicted Streetscape will bring.

Limited Parking. Although Streetscape’s corridor is 78 percent longer than Solana Beach’s, it has 34 percent fewer public parking spaces. Few businesses without off-101 parking prosper in the Streetscape corridor. The project adds only 29 to 38 parking spaces over 2.5 miles, and none for more than four blocks north and south of Leucadia Boulevard. One of Streetscape’s goals is to increase retail trade — unlikely without placing parking lots along the corridor.

Other points on increased retail trade: With no new rail crossings, customers east of the tracks have no more access to Streetscape corridor retailers than now. The project’s traffic consultant projected that up to 7,000 car trips per day will be diverted off 101. Four of the five roundabouts — three of those to be one lane — will be crammed into 8/10 mile at the north end of the project, forming more of a barrier than a welcome. Just where will the retail bonanza come from?

The city is driven to develop residential areas and commercial zones because it needs the sales and property tax revenue to service enormous bond debt, pay excessive salaries and pensions, and cover operating expenses. Eighty-one percent of General Fund revenue comes from sales and property taxes.

Streetscape is particularly appealing to the city because the $20 million funding comes from TransNet, which is countywide sales tax revenue. The city expects great benefit for little cost.

To help bring Streetscape about, the city annually gives $30,000 of taxpayers’ money to the Leucadia 101 Main Street Association, an ostensibly non-profit group of merchants, commercial real estate owners and developers. The city also contracts Peder Norby at $105,000 of taxpayers’ money annually to be Highway 101 coordinator and to play seven other roles, all of which strongly influence Streetscape. The city has made Norby a one-man interlocking directorate.

If the Streetscape plan itself were as good as the scheme that brought it about, few people would object. The city has the fully funded opportunity to do it well. Why do it poorly?

Doug Fiske lives west of 101 in Leucadia

 

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  1. vaterfair says:

    “The City proceeded without the public’s input or permission and retained outside consultants who developed a plan that’s in keeping with the city’s and the Leucadia 101 Main Street Association’s goals. Only when the plan was already shaped did the city seek input from a small minority of community members. We’re going to do this, the city said, how would you few people like to tweak it?”

    The City of Inlandintas did ram it though and the consultants…….if it fails they get paid anyway. They fold their tents (or carpet bags) and go off to the next city.

  2. Concerned Leucadian says:

    Excellent Community Commentary, and I appreciate vatefair’s comment as well!

    Those who have participated in other City workshops, run by outside “consultants/lobbyists” know full well that many of the workshops are not truly representative of the ENTIRE community’s needs and desires. They do not represent a true “cross section” of public opinion, of neighbors’ concerns. Instead, data is “massaged,” there is very little time for general public input allowed. Open houses are held where there isn’t even a “suggestion box.” Instead we are presented with drawings rolled out on conference tables, which we are later informed are not “engineered drawings” but are “cartoons.” These “cartoons” are used to fool a few susceptible members of the public and City Council into thinking we won’t have to cut down more and more of our old growth trees, to narrow and move the median, in order for the plans to “pencil out.”

    We had a “dot exercise” similar to the mapping exercises for GPAC and ERAC, where there was no control on who placed what dots where. We were told to place one dot on each white sheet category that we supported, each participant was given seven dots. A couple of people from L101MA put ALL there dots on roundabouts, so that 14 dots were counted there.

    By far the most dots, and this was with people actually placing only one dot each, there, were placed under Save the Canopy, and Keep Leucadia Funky, with the latter getting the most “votes.” Those who participated in the workshops, those who were best noticed were the so-called STAKEHOLDERS, with L101MA at the top of the list.

    Adjacent residents were NOT ON THE LIST OF STAKEHOLDERS. Leucadia Town Council was also on the Stakeholder list, as was a bicycle committee. Other than Fred Caldwell, who is on the board of L101MA, all of the LTC active members (about 8 people, we’re told) live east of the North 101 corridor, and will NOT be affected by more cut through traffic, by slower emergency response times, by more difficulties turning left onto the highway or commuting from Point A to Point B, should the ill conceived North 101 Streetscape ever actually be implemented.

    Our City isn’t above the law. Our Council can read past Staff Reports and check the City’s oft repeated requirements for lane elimination. The January 30 City Council Meeting was to include an update and review to see if we were following CORRECT PROCEDURE. Instead, it turned into a bullying session where adjacent residents were outnumbered by L101MA and the bicyclists they had rallied to attend.

    Suddenly, when Sharrows had been the bicyclists’ request, initially, the cyclists kept repeating the single accident that happened a couple of years ago, at 1 o’ clock in the MORNING, when a drunk driver who drifted from lane one to lane two, where he struck a bicyclist. This was a hit and run, and wouldn’t have been prevented by having one less lane for motorists. The other accidents happened elsewhere; near accidents were described going southbound, where no lane is being eliminated. Because of the challenges with being doored, we do support Sharrows, and because Vehicle Code already mandates that motorists share the road with bicyclists when there is no dedicated bicycle lane.

    By taking away a lane for motorists, instead of bringing our community together, the City has literally divided us, catering to those who want more parking, greater property value, for development, should the future roundabouts be able to be claimed as “mitigation” for traffic caused by high density projects, as “traffic calming devices.”

    Lane elimination, in fact, causes worse traffic, traffic intensification. Roundabouts and lane elimination cause choke points. A few want them, and have been promoting them, at the public’s great expense. Common sense does not prevail at City Hall. To us, this is another violation of the public trust.

  3. The Streetscape was well publicized and it’s workshops, related meetings and field trips were all well attended. A petition by a few with much misleading information about the Streetscape was circluated by a few to create undue fears. Many regret signing it after they do some research.

    The people circulating that petition will stop at nothing to thwart every feature of Streetscape, beginning with the recent slurry overlay on 101 and re striping for safer bike routes. When they lost that round (which would have kept biking on 101 very unsafe), this time they’re trying to turn the same cyclists against roundabouts claiming they are unsafe! For example, 1000 pedestrians died in US intersections last year, not one died at a US roundabout.

    In the cities that adopt roundabouts, collisions and fatalities go way down. The reason is simple. The speed slows down and drivers pay more attention. When you lower speed limits, install and replace STOPS with roundabouts it proves to allow more traffic to get from point A to point B in LESS time than it does when all the mandatory stops are present. Our Streetscape actually REMOVES 15 stops and permits many safer Left and U-turn capabilities that do not exist now. When you remove stops, it IMPROVES circulation. On the other side of the coin, when you widen a road, it invites a lot more traffic. Birdrock installed 5 roundabouts. Each of them removed stopping (most of the time) in 14 directions (!) – or 14 STOPS that are no longer always necessary. (Each roundabout replaced 4 stops coming from the north, 4 stops coming from the south, 3 stops coming from west and 3 stops coming from east. That times 5 roundabouts removed a total of 70 stops.) Here in Leucadia however our 5 roundabouts will have far less traffic to deal with as ours have only three ports, not four. They will serve from 1 to 3 blocks of residents west of 101 and 4 of them will serve zero residents from residents east of 101. In contrast, Birdrock’s serve up to 8 blocks of residents east of their main drag.

    Another myth they were promoting is that we were to get “pseudo-roundabouts called traffic circles” claiming Traffic Circles are smaller and inferior to real roundabouts. Completely not true. Traffic Circles are FAR larger than roundabouts and far less safe. In fact we’re getting 100% roundabouts. Nothing more, nothing less.

    The Railroad has already done their evaluations for bikes on their property and REFUSED to allow them within 50 feet of the rail. The reasons were for safety and their liability should someone be struck from debris kicked up from fast trains. It is THEIR property and they call the shots, but Doug states merely “they should allow us to put bike lanes, landscaping and walkways” and doesn’t say anything about their studies telling us why they will not allow it. Where were these “81% of locals opposed to Streetscape” at the last city meeting when there were 23 speakers in favor of it and 3 opposed? Nope, these folks are on a crusade to Keep Leucadia Crappy. Not to mention encouraging the Coastal Commission to make the city both paint out the safe bike lanes that were just put in place AND fine the city (YOU THE TAXPAYER) $300K in the process. Go figure. They also portray Leucadia 101 Mainstreet Association group wrong when he neglected to say all of it’s board members are Leucadia RESIDENTS and only half of which have brick and mortar businesses here on 101. A cottage sytle Inn and boutique owner, an antique shop owner, an art gallery / frame shop owner, a restaurant owner, and a veterinarian. None of which scheme to build 4 and 5 stories high here, and all of which are familiar with the lack of parking we already have with our modest businesses.

    The infrastructure improvements our skinny 2 mile highway needs have been a long time coming with not just Streetscape plans, but decades or preparation and public input. Living through two separate attempts from out of towners who tried to rob Leucadia by creating a Redevelopment District, we have finally come to the right way of making our neighborhood a lot nicer and a lot safer. I’m 96% for all aspects of the Streetscape. 1000 new trees; safer bike lanes; safer parking; slower speed limit; properly and attractive street lighting; landscaping; better bus stops; complete sidewalks; the numerous advantages of roundabouts including the removal of 20 stops we now endure. STOPS are “choke points” and roundabouts greatly reduce them.

    • I Want to Love Encinitas says:

      That whole “keep Leucadia crappy” line is used to denigrate those who don’t support all or part of the Streetscape, and it’s tiresome.

      Workshops have not been well-publicized or attended, and especially in light of Prop A and greater public attention to city projects, deserve another round. I live in Leucadia and found out about the Streetscape workshop a couple of years ago by chance while out for a walk, not because it was noticed (and no, searching the city website in case a meeting is being held does not count as noticing).

      The recent “walkability” workshops attracted fewer than 10 people in old Encinitas and 6 in Cardiff according to the facilitators, yet the city is claiming great success, so let’s please err on the side of resident inclusion – for real.

  4. Please excuse my type-o’s!

  5. Morgan Mallory says:

    I agree with Fred’s assessment because it is factual.
    The statement, “The City proceeded without the public’s input…”, is not at factual.
    The city and consultants did an excellent job of advertising workshops and getting imput from the entire community. The Leucadia 101 MainStreet Association, L101, had a goal of informing as many citizens as possible that their opinion was requested and was used to formulate proposed options.
    The poll, that is referred to, stated such sill things as all the trees were going to be removed, Leucadia Blvd. was going to be closed at the rail crossing and other miss-representations of facts.
    I applaud the City, citizens and consultants in reaching out to the community and utilizing the realities of this stretch of Hwy 101 to come to a consensus as to the best plan for the long awaited capital improvements that have been put on hold for way too many years.
    I understand that change, even positive, can be difficult to accept. I know that many had great fear that roundabouts on Leucadia Blvd. would be a disaster and choke traffic and be dangerous. As you drive Leucadia Blvd. west of 5, which is your least favorite intersection? The area of La Jolla Blvd, at Bird Rock, has had similar reactions from a few residents and businesses, as well as our downtown.
    After completion, the vast majority of residents of the communities, visitors and business are pleased with the positive change.
    I would encourage the public to be informed about the realities of this process.
    We should all look forward to these long overdue positive changes that are the culmination of many years of waiting and massive public input.

  6. Dave Stoeber says:

    I’ve lived and surfed in & around Leucadia since 1977. I love this stretch of coastline and never plan to leave, but this plan by the city is poorly designed. Please drive the 101 & take a close look at Solana Beach…this is a community the locals can be proud of…Leucadia is an eyesore compared to our other coastal communities, and it’s time the council members wake up move into the 21st century.

  7. Al Ein says:

    The plan is good. They just don’t have any money to implement the plan. The City blew $18 million remodeling three Ritz fire stations for the 3 fire employees per shift. The Fire Dept. has the City by the B_lls.

  8. Nitya Rawal says:

    I like that there is oneway and a bicycle lane but I thought that they would widen the area by the shops and make that one way…that would’ve been more pedestrian friendly. I’m also concerned about the one way to the north because now more people are coming down Neptune at very fast speeds. We walk on that road a lot with children and also my elderly parents frequent it at night. I would like to request that they put speed bumps and those computers that monitor people because I’m very concerned someone will get hit. This is a residential road…very relaxed and pedestrian/ bike friendly right and we want to keep it that way. Please let me know if any upcoming meetings at city hall are happening and I will go represent my neighborhood. Thanks!

  9. I really like what you guys tend to be up too.
    Such clever work and exposure! Keep up the wonderful works guys I’ve you guys to blogroll.

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