SOLANA BEACH — In response to complaints from residents, several traffic calming projects are being planned throughout the city.
“Periodically we receive complaints in neighborhoods about speeding,” City Manager David Ott said at the Feb. 12 meeting. “It’s our No. 1 complaint.”
Ott said staff members meet with people who have expressed concern and then research and identify the issues.
“Because people say there’s speeding doesn’t mean (we) just say, ‘Let’s go design some project,’” Ott said. “We verify and then go forward. … If we have identified an issue, we then try to develop appropriate potential responses to it.”
The most extensive proposal is along Santa Helena, which was part of a 2008 traffic study that recommended placing temporary speed feedback signs along the roadway, extending a raised landscaped median to Santa Helena Park Court and building a raised median and sidewalk on the east side of the street north of Sun Valley Road to Santa Victoria.
The feedback signs were used, but funding constraints precluded the city from moving forward with the other two proposed improvements.
At the Feb. 12 meeting, staff outlined several other potential traffic calming measures, including construction of a handicapped-accessible crossing at the intersection of Sun Valley that will be paid for with a Community Development Block Grant.
That same funding source will also allow the city to extend the median and curb pop out at Sun Valley and add pedestrian curb ramps on the south side of Santa Helena at Santa Rosita and Santa Victoria.
Other proposed improvements to slow traffic on Santa Helena include adding midblock “chokers” between Santa Victoria and Sun Valley and extending the median and adding a “choker” at the entrance to the residential area near Lomas Santa Fe Drive.
“We really need to think about this and whatever we do we really need to … get the community involved here and get their opinion because I don’t think it makes sense to go expending a lot of effort if this isn’t going to be something that they want,” Mayor Tom Campbell said.
“We just need to really make sure that we have a problem there,” he added. “I’m all for the safety aspect of it — do anything we can to slow down the speed. But I think what we found out from some of the things that we did on Highland by San Andres is that (residents) think they want them but then they really don’t.”
Campbell said he frequently turns left onto Santa Helena from Sun Valley and has never noticed a traffic problem there.
“There’s always people that will complain and so we need to figure out how to get feedback from those folks,” Councilman Dave Zito said. “I’ve been getting some feedback certainly over the past several months about this intersection (at Santa Victoria) in general from people over there asking what can be done as they try to let their kids walk to school. I think particularly having the median extension and the crosswalk is helpful there.”
City Engineer Mo Sammak said the plans have not been engineered and are entirely conceptual at this point.
City engineers are also considering restriping Sun Valley to narrow the travel lanes and add diagonal parking near the park areas. Sammak said there may be a loss of about four or five parking spaces but the benefit would be slower speeds.
H.G. Fenton Co. is considering a remodel and expansion of an existing apartment complex on Nardo Avenue. In response to an expected increase in traffic, city staff is working to include a traffic calming project between Nardito Lane and Stevens Avenue that may feature new striping, medians and signs to slow vehicles.
Plans have not yet been submitted to the city. Pending approval, any improvements to the roadway would be paid for by the developer as a condition of the permit.
Flower Hill Mall developers, as required by their permit, are making monthly payments into a $100,000 fund that will be used to add landscaped medians and bike lanes on San Andres between Highland Drive and the southern city limit. Additional work will include reduced lanes, root barriers and a potential piece of artwork.
Two other traffic calming measures being considered are not related to speeding cars. Residents have expressed concern about the pedestrian crossings on Lomas Santa Fe at Las Banderas and Via Mil Cumbres. They say the intersection is too wide and not pedestrian friendly.
“People don’t respect signals and pedestrian crossings,” Sammak said. “It’s really driver behavior.”
According to the staff report, narrowing the intersection would be expensive. One possible solution is restriping the area along the north-south crossings.
To relieve congestion on westbound Lomas Santa Fe from Cedros Avenue to Coast Highway 101, the center lane marked with chevrons just east of Cedros will be converted into a dedicated lane where cars planning to go south onto the 101 can queue up.
Council members support most of the planned improvements. Staff will meet with all affected residents and homeowners associations, then report back with feedback and cost estimates.