COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Streetscape design can finally move forward

On Jan. 13, the decision for the design for Leucadia’s streetscape revitalization on Highway 101, between La Costa Avenue and A Street, went before Encinitas City Council. What was at stake was whether or not the design would include roundabouts, reduction of a northbound lane to accommodate landscaping, a walking trail and bike lane on the east side of the highway, and increased parking, through the use of back end diagonal parking. These designs features made this plan, referred to as alternative 4A, controversial in the community. Another alternative studied by the community basically kept the same lane configuration, added two signals, and did not offer significant increased parking. After a meeting that lasted more than six hours that included a very informative presentation on the project and more than 50 public speakers, City Council voted to approve the design alternative 4A.
This was great news for the Leucadia 101 Main Street Association. This plan has been the design the board of directors has supported from the beginning. Each Leucadia 101 board member attended that first workshop and considered what the consultants MW Peltz and Dan Burden, a leading expert in making communities walkable, suggested is possible for Leucadia’s Highway 101. Each board member weighed in, as all the attendees did at the workshop, on which elements were personal priorities in the streetscape design. Later, as a board, we discussed the priorities we wanted in the streetscape and discussed the three alternatives presented at the second workshop. During this board discussion, we discovered there was an amazing correlation between the drafters’ vision reflected in the original North Highway 101 Specific Plan adopted in 1997 and the priorities identified by the community.
When the Leucadia 101 Main Street Association was formed in 2003, the board adopted a mission statement that stated that the group would work toward the revitalization of the Leucadia 101 corridor in conformance with the original vision of the drafters of the North Highway 101 Specific Plan. In this document, the community vision and specific plan goals were to enhance the overall image and streetscape, attracting more visitors and shoppers to the commercial corridor that serves the needs of both neighborhood residents and visitors to the community. Another goal was to preserve and maintain the existing mature eucalyptus and Cypress trees and establish a street tree program for the entire North 101 corridor. There should be the creation of diverse, small-scale uses and family-owned businesses, outdoor spaces for sidewalk cafés, street vendors and other pedestrian-oriented activities along the Coast Highway corridor, and enhancing the artistic community. Other goals listed were improving the vehicular traffic circulation, the bikeway system/network, and parking opportunities all within an environment also safe for pedestrians. The goal of the streetscape improvements should also enhance the motorists “sense of arrival” into the North Coast Highway 101 area and create a unique “sense of place” and identity for the North Coast Highway 101 corridor. Many of these same elements were still a priority to the community 11 years later per the input that was given at the first streetscape workshop held in 2008.
The Leucadia 101 Main Street’s board of directors thanks the Encinitas City Council for their decision to support the North Highway 101 streetscape design known as alternative 4A, which now can just be called “the” streetscape design. Diane Langager, principal planner for the city, and the city staff, as well as the consultants, MW Peltz & Associates, did an excellent job providing very informative community workshops with experts in their fields to give detailed information. In addition, city staff and the consultants listened to the community and made changes to the design as needed. Ultimately, we feel the two-year process brought forth the best design possible, and we’re looking forward to the next phase as the design concept becomes the blueprint design to build and implement the new streetscape.