If you ever felt guilty about not participating in your own city government, please let me humbly suggest that this Tuesday you can make up for all those missed city council meetings by showing up at the South Oceanside Elementary auditorium.
This is one meeting that matters.
It’s a community get together to address the “Coast Highway Vision and Strategic Plan.” It was a well intentioned initiative first presented in 2009 that basically says we can make your legendary 3.1-mile stretch of Coast Highway better by reducing its utility by 50 percent.
Those of us who live near it know this major thoroughfare is always packed with cars during daylight hours. It’s there for locals who prefer to use Highway 101 rather than Interstate 5.
It’s always chock full of cars. And now your city controllers want to reduce its ability to carry traffic by 50 percent.
That’s right. Instead of two lanes northbound and two lanes southbound, the plan is cut its primary utility in half. Instead of four lanes there will be two: one northbound, one southbound.
This is preposterous on its face. Just as we hear that homes and businesses near I-5 may be eminently domained out of existence so we can have more lanes on our busy freeway, we are told that its a good idea to reduce the utility of this other major road, in the name of quaint and charm.
Look, I’m all for upgrading Coast Highway’s aesthetics. But not if it means we have to cut the ability of this thoroughfare to deliver its major function.
Many businesses on Mission Avenue and Seagaze Drive are currently not happy with the restriction on their ability to do business because the city wants to beautify its street and make it a one way boulevard with diagonal parking, lovely landscaping and bike trails.
There is strong unhappiness with this plan as many see it as a wasteful, money-draining folly. It does seem silly, but hey, at least it won’t restrict the ultimate ability of each street to carry traffic since they will be one way, and the traffic flow impact will be a net zero decrease.
Its different with Coast Highway. We need all four lanes of Coast Highway and we use them all day long. This “Vision and Strategic” thing as it was initially conceived, calls for diagonal parking, nice fat sidewalks and a bike lane.
Oh, and two lanes instead of four.
Are we so inept, so hapless as a city, that the only way we can upgrade 101 is to cut its usefulness in half?
As stated, the plan says it seeks to “transform Coast Highway from an auto oriented thoroughfare into a complete street that serves all modes of transportation.”
That concept means well. But this is not Carmel. This is a city of 175,000 and this road needs all its vehicular capacity.
The cops are here to protect us. The firefighters are here help us when we need help. By using this logic, it says we should demand our police spend half of their time on crime prevention and the other half on getting to be friendly with us at supermarkets.
That the EMT’s should only spend half their time in ambulances and fire trucks and the other half hanging out at elementary schools.
Are you kidding me? On what planet do we sell out our basic needs in the name of quaint and lovely?
Are we so quick to trash our economic profile with four Walmarts but then turn around and try to fabricate civic prettiness at the direct expense of public mobility.
Please speak your mind at this Tuesday’s meeting, from 5 to 7 p.m. at South Oceanside Elementary.
But wait. I have an idea.
Since Oceanside is now apparently flush with money that it can spend all this cash to “upgrade” Mission, Seagaze and Coast Highway, may I please introduce Plan B.
If we must spend all this money in our townsite area on streetscape grooming, what do you say we direct this beautification to, say Tremont or Cleveland Streets which are parallel to and just to the west of Coast Highway. This way, we can get a real cool, manicured street without taking away from Coast Highway’s major reason for being. Both streets have come a long way from their ghetto pasts, but could really stand more improvement.
I spoke with Parker Darland who, along with Ben Ambrosini, launched the Silver Cloud Lounge at 821 South Tremont.
Once a month they host a community get together called “Qualified To Satisfy” where they invite local chefs, artists and musicians to share their music and food with neighbors. Guests are asked to give what they want at the door, and they come together for culinary creations, artwork and musicians and DJs.
“There are a lot of underground creative types around here. This is a place where they can show people what they do.”
Darland says he likes my idea that it would be better to retool Tremont instead of Coast Highway.
“There’s a lot of vacancies around here.” He notes that there was a next door art gallery called Craftlab that recently folded. “I guess it wasn’t financially viable for them.”
But imagine what would happen to either Tremont or Cleveland with a face lift.
The third Qualified to Satisfy at the Silver Cloud Lounge get together is Valentines Day.
Oceanside born and raised, Ken Leighton is an Oceanside business owner. He may be reached at email@example.com.