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Traffic Commission rejects F Street closure proposal

ENCINITAS — A proposal to shut down a section of F Street for special events such as the downtown farmer’s market and Classic Car Cruise Nights got a red light from the Traffic Commission and business owners along the street.

The Traffic Commission voted unanimously to reject the proposal, which would have resulted in “routine temporary” closures of F Street between Coast Highway 101 and 4th Street during the events.

“It makes our job easier when there is clear consensus that there is not support for an idea,” Commissioner Charlie Lisherness said.

Commissioners said the plan was ill conceived and would adversely impact businesses and residents along the stretch of street just south of downtown. They were joined by a chorus of residents and business owners who implored the commission to kill the proposal.

“It’s probably the worst thing I have ever heard come out of the city of Encinitas,” said Charlie Sougias, owner of the Charlie’s Foreign Cars on 2nd and F streets, one of the businesses that would be most impacted by the closure.

The City Council asked the Traffic Commission to consider the proposal to see if there was public support for the closure, which would accommodate the Encinitas 101 Mainstreet Association’s desire to consolidate some of its events in a single location, especially the farmer’s market, which is currently run in a NCTD parking lot along Vulcan Avenue.

Thora Guthrie, the association’s executive director, said they wanted to see the farmer’s market relocated West of Coast Highway 101 possibly on one of the “alphabet streets,” but even she questioned having it on F Street.

“It’s probably the worst choice,” Guthrie said.

In addition to blocking driveways of businesses and at least one residence, critics of the proposal said the street closure would block the Fire Department’s access to the street’s lone fire hydrant and would require major logistical efforts to protect residents on the street and gain approval at the local and statewide level.

The staff report alluded to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market in 2003, during which 10 people died and dozens more were injured by a rogue driver.

The commission also said the recommendation included little details about how frequent the closures would be and what types of events would be put on the street.