ENCINITAS — The City Council agreed with public speakers at the April 25 meeting that the staff proposals to alter Manchester Avenue were not worthy of approval in their totality.
However, the council voted 3-1, with Councilman Jim Bond opposed, to receive the report with the understanding that parts of the plan might prove valuable in the future. Councilman Mark Muir said he supported creating a bike path, addressing the drainage issues along the road and slowing traffic, but not in the ways outlined in the three proposals created by Dokken Engineering.
The firm was hired at the council’s direction in June to produce a study that would decrease speeding through the area from Colony Terrace to 1,000 feet west of Trabert Ranch Road for a cost of approximately $130,000.
Several Olivenhain residents spoke passionately about the need to preserve the rural nature of the community while addressing the pervasive speeding problem through the area.
Deemed a “special stretch of road” by some of the speakers, realignment of Manchester Avenue would not decrease speeds, but rather have the opposite effect. “Don’t speed up Manchester,” Dr. Bob Wilder told the council. The longtime Olivenhain resident said he bikes the winding section of road and travels it by car frequently. “Common sense tells you that flattening it and widening it is going to encourage people to go even faster than the posted speed limit,” he said.
He said all three of the firm’s proposals were flawed. “This is kind of ridiculous,” he said. “For $6 million you’re going to ruin the community character.” He suggested taking a far less expensive approach and installing a separate bike path and stop signs.
Wilder also said that the residents in the area would not allow their property to be taken in the widening of the road. “I know community character may not fly with some of you up there,” he said to the council. “But if you believe in things like property rights — I know many people would not allow their property to be taken. I’m one of them. We’ll sue.”
“Spend less money and make the community of Olivenhain proud,” Wilder told the council.
Dr. Stuart Grauer, founder and head of the Grauer School situated along Manchester Avenue said he wondered if there wasn’t a larger vision to create a “commuter corridor” through the area. “It looks like what they’ve done is created three really bad alternatives to something that’s already really good.”
He said the expensive plan was unnecessary. “I think the road is probably better right now than with anything added.”