DEL MAR — With the design phase of a sidewalk improvement project under way, City Council agreed at the May 19 meeting to potentially expand the scope of work downtown and along Jimmy Durante Boulevard.
The approved project along Camino del Mar called for intersection improvements at 10th, 11th and 12th streets. Sidewalks are also slated to be added on the west side of Camino del Mar in front of 1202, 1234 and City Hall and on the east side of Camino del Mar between 10th and 11th streets.
During an analysis of the preliminary design, staff found that parking could be increased and traffic could be slowed if sharrow lanes and angled parking — changes similar to those made along Coast Highway 101 in Solana Beach — were added from 10th to 13th streets.
The changes would net 33 new parking spaces as well as widen sidewalks and improve storm water runoff treatment.
They would also eliminate designated left-turn lanes at 11th Street, although left turns would still be allowed, and increase the project cost for this segment from $300,000 to approximately $615,000.
The few residents who addressed council did not support the changes. Tom McGreal said angled parking creates “an unnecessary danger” by forcing motorists to back up into traffic and bicyclists. He also feared eliminating the left-turn lanes would make traffic worse than it already is.
As for adding needed parking spaces, McGreal said he would like to see a comprehensive parking plan.
“It feels like we’re being piecemealed,” he said.
Bill Michalsky and Former Councilman Dave Druker also opposed eliminating left-turn lanes. Druker didn’t support mirroring Solana Beach.
“I am very upset with the way Solana Beach looks now,” he said. “It looks like a huge parking lot.”
Druker also said he preferred meandering sidewalks downtown rather than straight ones because they “are part of the character of Del Mar.”
Council members agreed with the three speakers that changes shouldn’t be made in front of City Hall since efforts to replace the facility are ongoing.
But they directed staff to move forward to garner more public input on other recommendations, especially since left-turn lanes are currently prohibited at many intersections during peak traffic hours.
“This is a safety issue, and I think we’ve got to accept that to get increased safety for our community … we’re going to have to make some compromises and those compromises may be losing a couple of left-turn pocket lanes,” Councilman Don Mosier said.
“I think this revised plan has some favorable aspects,” he added. “But I think we need more discussion and information before making a decision to spend more money on it.”
Staff also asked council members if there was interest in adding a roundabout on Jimmy Durante Boulevard at San Dieguito Drive, a change that would increase the cost of that portion of the project from $900,000 to $1.5 million.
Mayor Lee Haydu said a roundabout would slow traffic along that roadway and eliminate illegal U-turns by people leaving the fairgrounds.
Michalsky said he supports the recommendation to slow traffic. He also said it is preferable to installing a traffic signal.
As a member of the lagoon committee, he said there are concerns about how a lighted intersection would impact the surrounding wetlands area.
Council in January agreed to use a financing plan offered by the San Diego Association of Governments to borrow $3 million for the project.
The city will use the money it receives annually in TransNet funds to pay the debt.
The roundabout will put the price tag at more than $3 million. Staff proposed making up the $370,000 shortfall using grant funding or the general fund contingency.
McGreal said he was happy to hear there would be more opportunities for public comments on the proposed changes.
“Taking a project that could cost $2.4 million, jacking the price up to $3.2 million and introducing angled parking and roundabouts — those are all topics that I think the community’s going to want to have more input on,” he said.