OCEANSIDE — A City Council workshop was held to approve $122,000 in additional funds for the Coast Highway Corridor Study on March 29. Residents seized the opportunity to voice their opinions on proposed highway improvements, parking solutions and an overlay district.
Twenty-one speakers shared their views.
Highway improvement options under study include to leave it as is with four lanes, or to slim the entire highway to two lanes and add roundabouts.
Speakers were almost evenly split between the two options. Slightly more speakers preferred the highway remain four lanes, citing difficulty for cars to exit driveways and delivery trucks to unload on a two-lane road as reasons.
Most speakers in support of a four-lane highway also asked for beaconed crosswalks.
Councilman Jack Feller shared speakers’ concerns about the difficulty of business deliveries along sections of Coast Highway that do not have a back alley.
He also asked that Oceanside’s Coastal Rail Trail be completed for bicycles.
“It’s the safest way to get bicycles north and south,” Feller said.
Supporters of the lane reduction either asked that it be done along the entire highway, or emphasized the need for safety in the test pilot area between Oceanside Boulevard and Morse Street, which has been reduced to two lanes and has added bike lanes.
While several business owners in the test pilot area opposed the highway remaining two lanes, the owner of Oceanside RV Park said he supports lane reduction. He added he also supports bike, pedestrian and traffic safety, development, landscape improvements and added crosswalks.
“People have trouble getting out, I agree, but I see many benefits (to lane reduction),” he said.
Several others also expressed a need for signaled crosswalks, especially in the test pilot area, which lacks one at the head of a beach access trail.
A third roadway option under study is to reduce the highway to two lanes south of Oceanside Boulevard and add roundabouts, and leave it four lanes north of Oceanside Boulevard with traffic signals.
Councilman Chuck Lowery requested lane reduction in the test pilot area be included in the study as a fourth road improvement option.
During the meeting city Principal Planner Russ Cunningham shared an overview of the proposed overlay district, which maps areas along Coast Highway for nodal, avenue or village/commercial development.
Proposed nodal areas would allow higher density and taller building development in exchange for developers providing public parking, public open space or road improvements.
Avenue areas would include open space and setback development.
Village/commercial areas would maintain the existing traditional Main Street feel.
Buildings would be required to meet form-based development standards, which spell out design specifics.
A parking reform policy would be included in the overlay proposal, to ensure residents are not impacted by business parking. The policy would set parking requirements based on business size, rather than business type.
A majority of speakers liked the overlay plan. Many who spoke were builders who said they supported the clarity and certainty of standards.
There were community concerns about increased density, taller buildings creating a wall effect and loss of the beach town feel.
“We need to preserve that skyline so we can see the beach, that’s why we moved here,” Oceanside resident Ruben Major said.
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said she would like to see more commercial development and less residential along the highway corridor. She also emphasized the need for aqueduct business parking.
Community input will be recorded and given formal feedback at Planning Commission and city council meetings in fall, when the EIR on the four highway improvement options will be reviewed.
The comments shared at Wednesday’s workshop were noted by city staff.
Additional funds for the Coast Highway Corridor Study were unanimously approved.