Lane Change Controversial
Ann Gardner | Via Latina
Standing room only at Camino del Mar City Council Hearing.
Photo Ann Gardner. Click to enlarge.
Council faced a packed, standing-room only, chamber last month challenging the City’s proposed elimination of the free right hand turn lane going north on Camino del Mar from Carmel Valley Road, and objecting to the lack of communication with residents who said they would be most impacted. The Council received 48 letters before the meeting and heard 30 speakers saying: “We’re your neighbors. We need to work together. Give us an opportunity to work with you! I was astounded that I wasn’t noticed about a lane closure, only sidewalk improvements.”
At issue was approval of a new design proposal for “roadway and sidewalk improvements” on Camino Del Mar between 4th Street/Del Mar Heights and Carmel Valley Road. The new design was based on a perception that eliminating one of the northbound lanes during repair of the Anderson Canyon bluff collapse did not appear to have adverse impacts on traffic and would allow for improved pedestrian access and bicycle safety. But the speakers disagreed. They complained about a notice for “improvements” only not a lane closure, the late notice and lack of information.
Councilmembers acknowledged the problem and apologized specifically for the apparent lack of communication between Del Mar and residents in the Terrace, a community represented by San Diego City Councilmember Barbara Bry and the Torrey Pines Community Planning Group. Planning Group Vice Chair Dee Rich emphasized that their community has worked closely with the City of Del Mar on many local and regional projects in the past but learned about the new project only by reading about it in a newspaper. “Can we work together to solve these concerns before any action is taken?” she asked. The Council said yes. In a unanimous vote Council:
1. Appointed Council members Dave Druker and Sherryl Park as a subcommittee to review the project with staff taking into account the input received.
2. Direct the subcommittee to work with the City’s Traffic and Parking Advisory Committee and the Torrey Pines Planning Group to reconsider the project and presentation.
3. Come back to Council with recommendations.
The project’s most controversial change was elimination of the free right hand turn from Carmel Valley north onto Camino del Mar by adding a right turn on red light signal only and reducing Camino del Mar to one lane going north to the Del Mar Heights intersection. Several suggestions were made on how to increase bicycle safety without this change, for instance a yield sign or a roundabout. A number of speakers questioned the risk to bicyclists in the current configuration. Many speakers and a majority of the Council supported the proposed walking path on the west side of the highway and changes to the Del Mar Heights/Camino del Mar intersection. The City Manager suggested they might want to consider going back to a previously approved plan that included the path and intersection improvements but did not eliminate the free right hand turn at Carmel Valley Road or reduce Camino del Mar north to Fourth St. to one lane. This option was referred to the subcommittee to determine whether concerns for the new plan were based more on lack of information than fact and what concerns could be minimized.