CARLSBAD — After city officials spent years examining how to meet regulations set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other state and city laws, City Council approved a framework, not actual designs, to improve accessibility to public pathways in Carlsbad.
“The transition plan is a way for us (the city) to understand where we have some improvements,” said Marshall Plantz, one of Carlsbad’s senior civil engineers and the head of the transition plan.
City engineers and consultants spent over three years conducting surveys and meeting with stakeholders to produce the ADA Transition Plan for Public Rights-of-Way, which was approved unanimously by City Council at its Feb. 26 meeting.
Yet the plan does not designate specific locations for improvement or propose actual construction.
Instead the report provides a framework for how such projects could be systematically conducted in Carlsbad over the next 20 years.
The plan identifies the types of improvements that could be made, identifies areas where they could be made, prioritizes those potential plans and proposes a multi-million dollar budget and timeline for those hypothetical plans.
Creating construction designs and building the improvements are put off until City Council decides in June whether to approve the funds necessary for these accessibility improvement projects as part of next year’s capital improvement plan for Carlsbad.
“This (the transition plan) is the approach that we recommend that the city take, but that’s about as far as it goes. And now Council will decide whether to finance that approach through the adoption of the capital improvement plan,” Plantz said.
In the transition plan, officials divided the city into three tiers to prioritize which areas were in the greatest needs of improvements to public pathways.
Areas with the greatest need, such as the Village area, have a high concentration of public facilities and heavy pedestrian traffic, according to Plantz.
Suggestions in the plan include improvements to walk signals, accessibility to crosswalk buttons and sidewalk ramps as well as the removal of sidewalk obstructions.
The transition plan proposes that City Council allocate funds from the city’s capital improvement plan to cover the millions of dollars necessary for these construction projects over the next 20 years.
The plan suggests that the city provides $950,000 to pay for high priority improvements in the tier one area over the next five years, $720,000 to pay for improvements over the next five to 10 years, and $2,030,000 for improvements over the next 10 to 20 years. The plan suggests that the city provides over a million dollars for improvement projects in the second priority area.
“Overall I know there are a lot of obstacles, (such as) outdoor seating areas, in the downtown area,” said Lindsay Haas, an orientation mobility specialist for San Diego Center for the Blind, about the Carlsbad Village area.
City representatives met with her and another Center for the Blind representative over a year ago to discuss public access issues.
Representatives from San Diego’s Access to Independence, a nonprofit that provides services to people with disabilities, were also consulted as part of the city’s research for this plan.
Access to Independence Program Manager Amy Kalivas said, “From our perspective, transition plans are an ongoing process and we hope the city of Carlsbad will engage the disabled community in implementing this.”