ENCINITAS — A group of Olivenhain residents has created a task force to address the numerous concerns about the town’s main drag, Rancho Santa Fe Road.
Spearheaded by District 4 Councilman Joe Mosca and the Olivenhain Town Council, the group of 15 residents who live along or adjacent to the arterial will meet for the first time March 2.
“We’re looking at trying to come up with innovative ways to improve safety and walkability and traffic flow on the road,” Mosca said.
For years, residents have urged the city to address a number of issues along the street, from pedestrian, equestrian and cyclist safety to the six stop signs that snarl traffic during peak travel times.
Mosca said the idea is by having the community find the solution, as opposed to it coming from the city, there will be more community ownership of the fixes.
“When folks are engaged in a bottom-up approach, they are going to be more of an advocate for it, it will be something they want and own,” Mosca said.
Mosca alluded to the creation of the task force during the 2018 city council campaign. Shortly after that, he and members of the Olivenhain Town Council created a steering committee to identify Olivenhain residents to sit on the task force.
At the Feb. 13 City Council meeting, Mosca asked — and the council OK’d for staff to send traffic engineer Abraham Bandegan to the task force’s first meeting to provide the group with historical information on the road, previous studies and data to assist with its recommendations.
Mosca said he thinks there are areas where the task force will quickly be able to find consensus, but other areas where it will take work.
“I do think people want the corridor much safer to walk on,” he said. “They feel it’s about time to be able to walk along Rancho Santa Fe and get to some of the stores and restaurants on Encinitas Boulevard, or walk to Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary and do it safely. They want to make sure the crossings are safe.
“I think people also agree that the traffic flow needs to be smoother, but how that happens I don’t believe there is consensus yet,” Mosca said. “We need to have that conversation, look at creative solutions, and maybe new solutions we haven’t thought about, and maybe there will be consensus.”
The second-term councilman hopes the citizens group will have recommendations to present to the city’s Traffic and Public Safety Commission by the start of summer.
Residents praised Mosca and the group for taking the initiative to think outside the box.
“Rancho Santa Fe Road has been difficult ever since Encinitas was incorporated, and I think the stop signs were seen at the time to be an interim solution to the traffic problem, but not as a total solution,” longtime resident Glen Johnson said. “Clearly, something needs to be done here, and with any improvements, it’s important to have community involvement.”
The March 2 meeting will be held at the Olivenhain Meeting Hall, 423 Rancho Santa Fe Road in Encinitas. The time is to be announced.