OCEANSIDE — Proposed new speed limits and a job creating tax incentive program for city businesses were the dominating subjects at City Council’s March 13 meeting.
City staff recommended speed limit changes to 13 street segments throughout Oceanside, which include portions of Benefit Road, three sections of Coast Highway, two sections of College Boulevard, Downs Street, Frazee Road, Ivy Road, Old Grove Road in two sections, Surfrider Way and Wisconsin Avenue.
According to city staff, the 24-hour traffic volume, reported traffic collision history and the critical speed of a roadway are reviewed to determine its speed limit.
The critical speed is the speed at or below which 85 percent of the traffic travels on a road; establishing that speed limit allows the police department to enforce it. If a critical speed is 37 miles per hour, the speed limit will be rounded to the nearest five miles per hour increment, which would be 35 miles per hour. If it’s 38, it would be rounded to 40.
The proposed speed limit changes would only lower the speed of Frazee Road beginning at College Boulevard to Muirwood Drive from 35 to 30 miles per hour.
Additionally, the changes establish speed limits for sections of four roads that previously did not have a posted speed limit. Those roads include Ivy Road from Avocado Road to Fire Mountain Drive to 25 miles per hour, Old Grove from Frazee Road to State Route 76 to 40 miles per hour, Surfrider Way from Coast Highway to Horne Street to 25 miles per hour, and Wisconsin Avenue from South Coast Highway to South Pacific Street to 25 miles per hour.
Several of the roads would keep the same speed limits, and three of the roads were proposed to have their speed limits raised. Those roads include College Boulevard beginning at Adams Street to North River Road from 40 to 45 miles per hour and again beginning at Waring Road and Barnard Drive to Lake Boulevard from 35 to 40 miles per hour.
Downs Street from Skylark Drive to California Street was also proposed to have its speed limit raised from 35 to 40 miles per hour. This was met with opposition from both council members and residents along that stretch of road.
Ultimately, council unanimously approved the other speed limits changes with the exception of Downs Street. Council then approved a motion 3-2, Mayor Peter Weiss and Councilman Chris Rodriguez opposed, directing staff to work with the community to identify ways to slow traffic along that segment of Downs Street.
Amber Newman, whose western portion of her property sits along Downs Street, urged council to reject the proposed speed limit change.
Newman noted the road has a lot of cut-through traffic coming from Oceanside Boulevard to Vista Way to get onto State Route 78 and that often traffic speeds through there, and suggested the city try to enforce the current 35 miles per hour speed limit rather than bump it up to 40.
David DiPierro, city traffic engineer, said the 35 miles per hour speed limit would not be enforceable in traffic court because it is below the 85 percentile.
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez suggested implementing traffic calming strategies to slow down traffic through that area instead. Deputy Mayor Jack Feller suggested installing stop signs at Dunstan and Zabyn streets.
DiPierro said installing stop signs at those intersections is not the best idea because there isn’t enough cross traffic to warrant stop signs in those locations, but noted one successful traffic calming device used elsewhere in the city is a feedback sign that flashes the speed limit drivers are going on a road.
Council then unanimously approved a motion for staff to prepare a draft business attraction and retention financial incentive program to hire Oceanside residents. They must present the draft program to the Economic Development Commission (EDC) within 120 days.
A motion was originally requested by Rodriguez and Councilman Ryan Keim to develop a tax incentivized job creation program that would provide a one-time incentive of $2,500 to qualified Oceanside businesses that hire Oceanside residents to newly created positions paying over $60,000 annually.
“Right now in Oceanside and many coastal cities we’re dealing with a housing affordability crisis, and one of many ways to addressing housing affordability is by increasing job growth,” Rodriguez said, noting that the jobs can’t just be minimum wage jobs but salaried, higher income jobs.
According to Rodriguez, giving Oceanside businesses a tax incentive would encourage businesses to hire Oceanside residents.
“You win bees with honey, so let’s award local businesses with tax incentives,” Rodriguez said.
The other council members were concerned about the numbers, particularly the $2,500 number, and noted a program like this should be examined by and come through the EDC instead.
Additionally, the mayor made several appointments to the city’s advisory groups, including reappointing Megan Gilby to the Arts Commission; reappointing Elizabeth Rhea, Michael Cobas, Joseph Yaglinski, Carolyn Krammer and Mark Rubins to the Harbor & Beaches Advisory Committee; appointing architect John Conrad Schiess to the Historical Preservation Advisory Committee; appointing Lawrence Kornit to the Housing Commission; reappointing Alma Sisco Smith to the Library Board; and appointing Angelique Fregoso to the Rehabilitation Loan Review Committee.
The next Oceanside City Council meeting will be held Wednesday, March 27 beginning with closed session items at 3 p.m. and general items at 5 p.m.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son