By Mike Andreen
The Encinitas Chamber of Commerce recently received a visit from a sister-nonprofit, the Leucadia 101/MainStreet Association, intent on familiarizing the citywide E-Chamber with StreetScape Plans for Highway 101 between Encinitas Boulevard and north two miles, the whole length of 101 until La Costa Avenue.
In brief, the Leucadia StreetScape Plan calls for five roundabouts; three narrower driving lanes down from four; and back-in/oblique-angled parking along 101 between Encinitas Boulevard and La Costa Avenue.
Led by President Charles Marvin, Vice President Paul Ecke III, Executive Director Paula Kirpilani and Independent Contractor/101 Czar Peder Norby representing the City Council — along with City Planner Diane Snyder Langager and Mike Strong of city staff — Leucadia 101 made a formal presentation of Alternative No. 1 of the North Coast 101 Streetscape Project.
Two recent workshops have produced a working plan that calls for the “restoration of the Leucadia Tree Canopy” by removing much of it.
I quote the following description of Alternative No. 1 from city materials;
“Design characteristics: Roundabouts, reduction of the number of travel lanes (1 northbound lane, 2 southbound lanes) reduced travel widths, back-in angled parking, increased parking (328) spaces and a restored/replanted tree canopy.”
Alternative No.1 continues, “In order to accommodate the reconfiguration of the travel lanes and angled parking, the median needs to be relocated. With the relocation of the median many of the existing trees will need to be removed; therefore the restoriation of the tree canopy would occur with new tree plantings.”
As many as 84 eucalyptus in the historic canopy are designated for removal/restoration.
After the presentation requested by Leucadia/MainStreet 101, there seemed to be, at a minimum, polite disagreement between the two business groups as to whether Highway 101 is “still” a transportation/commercial thoroughfare.
When asked how much this project would cost, Langager answered she did not know.
When asked if there was any eminent domain involved in Alternative No. 1, Norby, previously a redevelopment district official from Carlsbad, hence the question, said that there would indeed be “encroachment” onto private property at the Grandview roundabout but that this would not constitute eminent domain.
Would traffic be held up in the southbound lane as drivers backed into parking spaces at an angle? The answer is ,“Yes, each back-in parking could hold up traffic.” Remember, there is only one northbound lane and two lanes traveling south in Alternative No. 1.
Why, when StreetScape 2 on Highway 101 south of The Lumberyard in downtown Encinitas was abandoned years ago, (because of lack of funding) would the city not finish it before attempting the North Coast Highway 101 StreetScape? Norby did not know.
Have the weekend bicycling groups signed off on five roundabouts? The answer is that one has.
Unasked after the presentation was, “How does this plan ‘Keep Leucadia Funky,’ unique and authentic?” Also, doesn’t Alternative No. 1 risk throwing away the “branding” of Old Highway 101 by the city, county and NCTD? There weren’t five roundabouts, or any roundabouts, on Old Highway 101, were there?
Why are residents/workshop participants being led toward a highway redesign that emphasizes “walkability” and “ruralness” at the expense of a functioning commercial corridor?
Readers probably have some questions of their own. They should plan on attending the next and final workshop on this plan.
The next North Coast Highway 101 StreetScape Project Workshop is from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 13 at Encinitas City Hall. The public is invited and encouraged to be active participants. This third workshop for the public is a presentation of the “refined” version of Alternative No. 1 ,in which only 44 participants chose five roundabouts.
Note: On Nov. 11, the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce board of directors will meet to discuss taking a position on the North Coast Highway 101 StreetScape project. Then they can properly represent the 600-plus members of the chamber Nov. 13, at the final workshop. At that time, business-owning chamber members in opposition to Alternative No. #1 will be invited to make their case before the chamber board.
Marvin closed the Oct. 18 presentation clarifying for the board that this was a city project and that Leucadia 101 MainStreet Association was not the “driving force” behind this project.
Other questions? Contact Principal Planner Diane Langager at (760) 633-2714 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cityofencinitas.org click on city projects under the government heading found on the Main Page/Home Page.
By Mike Andreen