Pedestrian projects receive lukewarm council reception

ENCINITAS — A pair of proposed pedestrian-centric improvements in Leucadia were met with a divided reception from the Encinitas City Council.

The City Council ultimately decided against both proposals: the first included bike lane improvements and mid-block pedestrian crossings in north Leucadia, and the second a multi-use path along the east side of Coast Highway 101. The council voted to send the first proposal to the Traffic and Public Safety Commission and voted against moving forward with the second one outright.

Both items were on the consent calendar, which signals they were supposed to be approved with little debate and a simple vote. But Mayor Catherine Blakespear and a member of the public requested the council discuss the items.

Councilmen Mark Muir and Tony Kranz both said that they believed the project should go before the traffic commission, which is typically the process for transportation-related projects. Blakespear said she didn’t want the projects to get delayed at the commission level.

The council voted 3-2 to send the traffic commission the bicycle lane improvements and mid-block crossings between Phoebe and Glaucus streets, and between Bishops Gate Road and Grandview Street. The projects are slated as interim improvements until the city can break ground on the North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape, the proposed overhaul of Coast Highway 101 that includes the installation of five roundabouts between La Costa Avenue and Leucadia Boulevard.

Originally, Blakespear wanted to approve the recommendation outright, but couldn’t find the votes to do so. She then voted with Mark Muir and Tony Kranz to send the item to the traffic commission where they would vote on the project.

Council members Tasha Boerner Horvath and Joe Mosca voted against the recommendation. They said they wanted the commission’s recommendation to come back to the council.

The second proposal brought forth by staff was to change the proposed streetscape to replace the pedestrian sidewalk on the east side of Coast Highway 101 with a multi-use trail. Staff said that the trail would make the project more pedestrian friendly and help improve drainage in an area plagued with flooding problems.

In this case, Kranz, Mosca and Muir voted against approving the project outright because they were concerned that the region’s transportation agency SANDAG could use the project as the Coastal Rail trail through Leucadia, which is currently proposed to run along Vulcan.

Kranz said that Vulcan’s pedestrian improvements should be the council’s priority.

Vulcan, “from La Costa to at least Leucadia is second- and third-rate and third world and is just a mess,” Kranz said. “It’s impossible for me to support incorporating this in the streetscape plan.”

Muir and Kranz also said they didn’t want to see the streetscape project, which has been in the works for a decade, delayed any longer, and changing the design would set the project back two months.

“We have had too many delays,” Kranz said.

Blakespear and Boerner Horvath believed that this wouldn’t happen, but lost a vote to have the project move forward outright. Then, the council voted 4-1 to move forward with the streetscape as proposed, with Blakespear voting against it.

Boerner Horvath asked for staff to bring back a proposal for a path along Coast Highway 101 with more information and, potentially, assurances from SANDAG that the path wouldn’t preempt the Vulcan trail.

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