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Residents weigh in on 101 revitalization

SOLANA BEACH — Residents had an opportunity to share their ideas for revitalizing Coast Highway 101 from Ocean Street to Via de la Valle during a workshop Nov. 19 at City Hall.
The event began with a presentation by Dan Burden, founder of Walkable Communities Inc., a nonprofit consulting firm that advises communities on how they can become more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.
His slide show of before-and-after pictures of his nationwide projects elicited some occasional oohs and aahs from the approximately two dozen residents who attended.
“But we’re really here to draw out your ideas,” Burden said.
Part of the revitalization process will be to put the Coast Highway on a “road diet,” he said, defining a diet as losing something, but gaining something else as a result. His solutions for slowing traffic and improving safety include decreasing the width of car lanes and increasing the width of sidewalks and bike lanes.
Burden also advocates replacing intersections with roundabouts, adding curb extensions and angled, back-in parking for improved visibility for motorists and pedestrians.
To illustrate that residents tend to have the same common goals, Burden had attendees participate in a handful of activities.
First they were asked to share their dream of what Highway 101 would look like in 20 years.
One resident said there would be no cars, and an underground tunnel would be used to drive from one end of the city to the other. “You didn’t say we had to be realistic,” she said.
“She stole my dream,” another woman said.
Next they were asked to choose five one-word values they would use to describe why they live in the city.
Twenty people wrote down adjectives such as quaint and beautiful, 18 referred to community, 14 wrote down beach and 11 cited the weather.
Residents were also asked to share changes they wanted to see included in the revitalization. Then they were asked to rate them in order of importance.
The most popular responses were roundabouts and continuous sidewalks along the 101; more parks, trees and wider sidewalks; outdoor seating and cafes; slower vehicle speeds; and art and more profitable businesses.
The two days following the workshop, Burden and his associates conducted two walking tours to garner additional input.
He said he would take all the information to create a master plan, which he expects to present as a work in progress in January.
Once a plan is adopted, he said it could take anywhere from one to 10 years to break ground.
“A lot depends on funding,” he said.
City Manager David Ott said the city has already started looking at funding opportunities and has applied for a “major federal grant.”
Gabe and Ellen Rodarte, who grew up in Solana Beach, said they were “pretty excited” about the project.
“I just hope it happens,” Ellen Rodarte said.
With a 2-year-old and another baby on the way, the Rodartes said they would most like to see traffic slowed down on Coast Highway 101.
“We walk a lot,” they said. “We want to be able to walk back and forth from the lagoon and the beach safely. We want our kids to have walkable places and places where it’s safe to ride bikes.”

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1 comment

Lynn Marr November 30, 2009 at 5:56 am

Dan Burden was also present at some of the Workshops by Pelz and Associates regarding the North 101 Streetscape Plan. In my opinion, Burden and Mike Pelz go from City to city, essentially lobbying for roundabouts, which Pelz’s company also designs. The community is treated to a series of elaborate productions, including slide shows of places where roundabout after roundabout is constructed, at a high price.

Maybe roundabouts would be a “better fit” for Solana Beach. In Encinitas, on North 101, through Leucadia, they are impractical, because of the constraints of the railroad tracks. At our initial workshop, a member of the audience said “no roundabouts,” as one of the conditions for the discussion of street improvements. The consultant/lobbyist, said “what about, YES ROUNDABOUTS?” And that category was placed on the board.

I feel that the Coast Highway is not a good place for roundabouts. Our section of the highway is designated as historic. Roundabouts are impractical and would further destroy the community character, and would be cited as “traffic mitigation” factors that would allow denser development along the coast, something residents do not favor.

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