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Community traffic calming project gets approval

ENCINITAS — With overwhelming support from a core group of neighbors, City Council approved a request for traffic calming measures along a major residential thoroughfare in the area known as Village Park on Feb. 23.
The initial request was submitted two years ago according to city officials. The residential area east of Flora Vista Elementary School has a high incident of speeding drivers that compete with pedestrian and bicycle traffic according to residents.
Over the past years, city engineers have conducted roadway studies and held a public workshop session with area residents. The results of a survey of 170 property owners in the area showed a high interest in implementing some sort of traffic calming measures. In fact, 70 percent of those surveyed wanted the changes, city Associate Traffic Engineer Nestor Mangohig said
Mangohig detailed the lengthy process of traffic study in the area north and east of the El Camino Real and Encinitas Boulevard intersection. “We’ve done a lot to find out what will work here,” he said.
Plans call for the installation of several traffic-calming measures including speed-bump-like devices and decorative roadway medians as well as “bulb-outs” or rounding of the corners at intersections. Much of the work will focus on Gardendale Road. Residents maintain that the wide road attracts fast drivers cutting through to reach other parts of the city.
At least 50 people listened to the council discussion and several addressed the issue. John Schmid, a Gardendale Road resident who bought his home three years ago, said his decision to buy the property was hampered by concerns about speeding drivers.
“We did buy the house, and now we worry too much,” he said. He described how he and his wife “panic” every time they can’t immediately locate their 1-year-old daughter, fearing she might be in danger from fast moving cars driving by.
Many of the speakers urged the city to get the job done quickly; stressing that time was of the essence citing family pets that were killed by speeding cars.
Despite a majority of support for the project, at least two speakers disagreed with the level of danger speeding drivers impose on the neighborhood. Both longtime residents said the proposed traffic-calming measures were excessive and unnecessary.
Trish Collins has lived in the area for almost 30 years and said she hasn’t seen evidence that traffic is any worse now than it was when she first arrived.
“It appears to me that the traffic-calming proposes a solution for a problem that does not exist,” she said. Collins said the city has no record of any injury accident along Gardendale.
Pat Lococo said she has lived in the area for two decades without incident. “I have never, ever felt endangered,” the Village Center Drive resident said.
The council voted to seek engineering cost estimates for the work proposed. The cost is estimated to come at a price tag of $200,000 to $350,000. “That’s a ridiculous amount of money to spend on speed pumps,” commented Perry Schrieber, after the meeting. While he agreed that more could be done to slow traffic, the local resident said that there were other priorities the city should finance before paying for such a project. “It just seems exclusive to me,” he said.