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Oceanside residents respond to traffic circulation plan options

OCEANSIDE — After a staff presentation of three options for the circulation plan to manage traffic through 2030, residents had their say on which plan they saw as the best fit June 6. 

Time did not allow for City Council to discuss and vote on circulation plan options that carry different recommendations from the Planning Commission and city staff.

The three options are to modify present roadways, or choose between two alternate plans.

Modification of present roadways would include expanding College Boulevard to six lanes, extending Melrose Drive in two directions, extending Pala Road, and expanding Mission Avenue and Coast Highway to four lanes.

Alternative 1 would expand College Boulevard from four to six lanes, only extend Melrose Drive from Spur Avenue to North Santa Fe Avenue, and turn Mission Avenue into a one-way street between Cleveland Street and Clementine Street.

Alternative 2 would not include the Rancho Del Oro SR 78 interchange, would expand College Boulevard from four to six lanes, would not extend Melrose Drive or Pala Road, and would expand Mission Avenue to four lanes and Coast Highway to two lanes with roundabouts.

The Planning Commission recommended Alternative 2.

City staff recommended Alternative 1.

The circulation plan was last updated in 1995, with minor changes made in 2000. City staff has been working on the current options since 2005 and collected public input on the plans since 2009.

“Work is needed to get it up to standards,” John Amberson, transportation planner, said.

Ongoing controversy has surrounded recommendations for the Melrose Drive extension from SR 76 to North River Road, the Rancho del Oro SR 78 interchange, extension of College Boulevard to Roselle Drive, extension of Vista Way between I-5 and Coast Highway, extension of Lake Boulevard between Thunder Drive and Sundown Drive, and extension of Pala Road between Los Arbolitos and Foussat Road.

Most residents spoke in favor of Alternative 2, and said it was the least damaging to the environment and community character.

Concerns ranged from moving traffic efficiently, to having funds to make proposed road improvements, and considering pedestrians and cyclists in the circulation plan.

“Coast Highway 101 is too much like a highway and should be like a local street,” John Daily, Oceanside resident and owner of Cafe 101, said. “If we’re going to support change the Vision Plan needs to be included. If there is change there needs to be some vision.”

Some residents said both plans failed to move traffic smoothly. Residents criticized plans for creating thoroughfares for out of town traffic to get through Oceanside, and not easing local traffic congestion.

“This is really a plan about cars,” Diane Nygaard, Oceanside resident and founder of Preserve Calavera, said. “We cannot pave our way out of traffic congestion.”

“The document needs to go back to the drawing board,” Nadine Scott, Oceanside resident and community activist, said. “Oceanside still has failing intersections. Alternative 2 is just off. Alternative 1 is the most damaging (to the environment).”

Residents also voiced concerns about the ill effects proposed circulation plans would have on the character of neighborhoods.

“I oppose the Melrose Street bridge that will impact our neighborhood and our farming community,” one local farmer said. “We need to keep our rural community rural. This is not the answer, putting a bridge at our doorstep.”

Amberson said the proposed circulation plans are designed to improve current traffic conditions and look ahead at a way to ease anticipated 2030 traffic.

“Alternative 1 is in the middle,” Amberson said. “Alternative 2, on the other hand, doesn’t build anything, but preserves the environment. It will take more than the circulation element to be the silver bullet.”

The circulation plans will be brought back to City Council to vote June 20.