Friday, April 20, 2018

Update on the Status of the Appeals Regarding Leucadia 101 Streetscape

Two California Coastal Commission members appealed the Coastal Development Permit (CDP) application Encinitas filed to build Leucadia 101 Streetscape. One appeal was by Commissioner Effie Turnbull-Sanders; the other was by Commissioner Steve Padilla. Turnbull-Sanders is vice chair of the commission, appointed by Governor Jerry Brown. Padilla is the San Diego coast representative, appointed by the speaker of the state Assembly. Although Turnbull-Sanders and Padilla filed their appeals independently, they are duplicates. Several Encinitas residents also filed appeals.

The commissioners’ appeals established that the CDP application is appealable, pointed out a procedural error by the city and cited several instances where the proposed project is inconsistent with the California Coastal Act of 1976 and/or Encinitas’ Local Coastal Program. I
ve paraphrased or quoted the commissioners’ appeals at the bullets below and have added my comments in brackets.

• For the approximately one-half mile between La Costa Avenue and Grandview Street, the proposed project is in the first public road adjacent to the ocean. The project is a major public works project in the Coastal Zone costing more than $100,000. Either point makes the CDP application appealable.

• Before submitting a CDP application to the CCC, the city should have submitted an application to amend its Local Coastal Program (LCP). The city did this backwards. It submitted the CDP application first and the LCP amendment application second.

• The proposed project is inconsistent with the Coastal Act and the city’s Local Coastal Program in significant ways regarding public access to the beach and being able to enjoy a recreational drive along the coast. [In effect, the commissioners are saying the proposed project is illegal.]

• The proposed project would have adverse impacts on coastal access: It’s likely to increase travel time through the corridor. It potentially will deter the public from visiting Encinitas beaches from inland. It will change the character of the coastal corridor, a scenic highway that affords intermittent ocean vistas. Driving the corridor as a recreational experience may be deterred by road changes and the potential increased congestion. Leucadia Highway 101 is a major coastal access corridor. Improvements should be part of a balanced circulation system that maintains vehicle movement and coastal access to visitor destinations.

• The city only analyzed morning and evening peak traffic, not weekend and summer traffic that could affect the public’s ability to get to the beach. The lack of analysis on the public’s ability to access the beach raises major Coastal Act and Local Coastal Program consistency concerns. [The commissioners are doubting the project’s legality.]

• The new sidewalk proposed for the east side of 101 would interfere with informal and proposed parking bays there. The city must analyze historic parking use and whether the project would have adverse effects.

• The analysis of the “Four-Lane Corridor Alternative” is inadequate. It should be further evaluated because it would “result in lesser traffic impacts” than the proposed project. The proposed project would have the potential to significantly impact public access to the coast. [The “Four-Lane Corridor Alternative” is also the “Environmentally Superior Alternative.”]

• The project proposes roundabouts at six intersections. That would put traffic signals and roundabouts very close together. That makes analysis of the alternatives inadequate because it assumes roundabouts are an all-or-nothing proposition. The city’s analysis should include alternatives with roundabouts numbering from zero to six.

Several of the points made in the commissioners’ appeals were also made in the Coastal Commission staff’s March 29 letter to city staffer Anna Yentile. Every point is valid.

Next, the Coastal Commission staff will read the appeals and separate the wheat from the chaff. They’ll pull out the points that are within the commission’s jurisdiction and that the staff judges might amount to “substantial issues.” The question is whether or not the proposed project violates the Coastal Act and Encinitas’ Local Coast Program, which itself reflects the Coastal Act.

If the staff’s judgment is that substantial issues have been raised, they’ll recommend that the full commission hears the appeal. They’ll write a succinct explanation of the substantial issues and a thorough report justifying their conclusion about them. They’ll write a motion for a commissioner to make during the hearing, and they’ll make a recommendation as to which way the commissioners should vote.

If the city doesn’t withdraw its CDP application, if the Coastal Commission staff recommends a hearing and if there are no delays, the full commission hearing will be in June or July.

— Doug Fiske

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Gist of an Appeal of the City of Encinitas’ Application to the California Coastal Commission for a Coastal Development Permit for the Leucadia 101 Streetscape Project

The Encinitas Local Coastal Program (LCP) reflects the California Coastal Act of 1976. The Leucadia 101 Streetscape project is inconsistent with one or both in these ways:

• On page 4, the city of Encinitas Planning Commission Resolution No. PC 2018-12 states that “the project is not located between the sea and the nearest public road.” That’s erroneous. The project is in the first public road for the half mile of Highway 101 from La Costa Avenue to Grandview Street. It proposes to reduce that half mile from four lanes to two and install four roundabouts in it. Three of the four would be one lane. Those factors alone would restrict beach access at the Grandview stairs. By choking southbound traffic in the first public road gateway, the project would also restrict beach access south of Grandview.

• One of the stated purposes of the project is to reduce traffic volume on Highway 101. It proposes to do that by shrinking nearly 2.4 miles of highway from four lanes to two and by installing six roundabouts. Five would be one lane. Fulfilling that purpose with those features would inherently restrict beach access. The project would discourage visits to the beaches by non-residents and slow visits by residents.

• The city did a traffic study in the month of April. It projected diverting up to 7,100 car trips per normal traffic day from Highway 101 to the freeway, Vulcan Avenue and Neptune Avenue. That’s up to 42 percent of the daily volume. By intentionally diverting traffic from 101, the project would inherently restrict beach access. It’s not possible for drivers who aren’t already west of 101 to get to the beach without driving on or crossing 101.

• The project documents do not detail the current traffic congestion on Leucadia Highway 101, nor do they admit that the project would make it worse. The unavoidably long light at Leucadia Boulevard backs up northbound and southbound traffic. At afternoon commute time on weekdays, the northbound traffic backs up two lanes wide up to half a mile from the light. Whenever the southbound freeway plugs, drivers spill onto southbound Highway 101. The jams back up from the light two lanes wide as far as La Costa Avenue. That’s 1.4 miles. Reducing Highway 101 to one lane in each direction would double the distance and time of the northbound and southbound jams. The southbound jams happen regularly during the morning commute. They are worst on summer Fridays and Saturdays when hordes of drivers descend on San Diego County from points north. By making traffic congestion worse in the Leucadia Highway 101 corridor, the project would restrict beach access not only for locals but for residents of and visitors to the Southern California region.

• By making Highway 101 one lane southbound and putting five roundabouts in 8/10 mile at the north end, the project would build a virtual barrier to corridor entry from the north. That’s where the great majority of visitors come from. The project would slow their transit time through the corridor, restrict their beach access and discourage their visits. No summer weekend visitor wants to sit in miles-long traffic jams.

• By doubling the time and distance of the already bad traffic jams, the project would also double greenhouse gas emissions from hundreds of idling cars.

• The project generally favors walkers and bicyclists over drivers. The latter outnumber the former by hundreds to one. The project would restrict beach access by drivers. The documents claim the project would reduce dependence on automobiles. Everybody who lives west of 101 already walks or bikes to the beach. Few east of 101 do. Streetscape can’t raise that number because the project is west of the railroad tracks. Walkers and bicyclists can’t legally cross the tracks except at La Costa Avenue, Leucadia Boulevard and Encinitas Boulevard. The first two are 1.4 miles apart. The third is 1.1 miles from the second. The bottom line is the project wouldn’t increase access by foot or bike, and it would restrict access by car.

• The city chose the proposed project from among several alternatives. The city rejected the Environmentally Superior Alternative. That plan is consistent with the LCP and Coastal Act. The proposed alternative is not.

• The project proposes three parking bays in the railroad right-of-way between 101 and the tracks. The city has not gotten approval for that use of NCTD land nor for the land it would take to accommodate the roundabouts. The project would add 134 parking spaces. The documents say that number would be reduced when the Coastal Rail Trail comes through, but not by how many. Two of the parking bays are near streets that lead to beach accesses; the third is not. The project specifies a DG trail in the railroad right-of-way. I don’t know if that’s the same trail as the CRT, but either would interfere with parking in the right-of-way. Parking there facilitates beach access when lot and street parking at or near the accesses is full.

Please see comments regarding the project submitted by Sarah Richardson in January 2017 and Eric Stevens in March 2018.

It’s important to understand that there are now three signals in the corridor and one north-south stop sign. The signals are at the north and south ends, and roughly the middle. The stop sign is at Marcheta Street, which is about a half mile north of Encinitas Boulevard. The project calls for removal of that stop sign. These numbers and placements have been misunderstood earlier.

Above at the bullets are Reasons for Supporting This Appeal submitted by appellant Doug Fiske pertaining to Case No. 10-035 DR/CDP/EIR (Leucadia Streetscape)

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Recap of Recent Leucadia 101 Streetscape Events

The iconic Leucadia Boulevard eucalyptus shown above will be the victim of a chain saw massacre if the 101 Streetscape project is implemented as proposed.

Planning Commission. The Streetscape plan, including the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and the attendant amendments, etc. went to the city Planning Commission on March 1. Shortly before that, the city staff posted the documents on the city website in such a way that reading them was impossible. The EIR alone was more than 1,500 pages. Any web genius who was able to download the docs couldn’t read them because they didn’t scroll properly. They also weren’t searchable. By the time the staff made the docs available in a readable and searchable form, only a few days remained for review before the March 1 meeting. I suggested that the city should postpone consideration by the Planning Commission. The staff refused.

At the meeting, the commissioners showed a cursory knowledge of the plan. I had sent them my point-by-point set of objections to it. I included details for an alternative plan along with four traffic-jam photos. The commissioners didn’t raise any of my points, nor did they ask the staff and consultants about them.

The commissioners asked softball questions. The staff and consultants were selective, evasive and deceptive in their answers.

The usual suspects from the Leucadia 101 Main Street Association were well-organized in their support of the plan. They outnumbered the opponents by a huge margin.

As everybody paying attention predicted they would, the commissioners rubber-stamped the staff’s recommendation to approve the plan and passed it on to the City Council.

Brenda’s Infamous Email. Newbie Development Services Director Brenda Wisneski posted a celebratory email the day after the Planning Commission approved the Streetscape plan. That the department she heads is called Development Services says everything anybody needs to know about the city’s direction. Here’s the email:

From: Brenda Wisneski <>
Subject: PC Recommends Streetscape Approval
Date: March 2, 2018 at 3:08:31 PM PST
To: Karen Brust <>
Cc: Roy Sapau <>, Stephanie Kellar <>, Anna Yentile <>, Mark Delin <>, Laura Ferguson <>

Hi Karen and Councilmembers (Blind Copied)

Good News!!  Last night, the Planning Commission unanimously approved the Leucadia Streetscape project.  We had 25 speakers.  Twenty speakers were in support.  Three indicated support, but were concerned with traffic overflowing onto Vulcan.  One asked for the item to be continued for additional analysis and one was opposed based concerns with emergency response time delays.

It was a tremendous team effort.  Anna Yentile introduced the project, Stephanie Keller orchestrated the staff and consultants behind the scenes, and Roy supported the Planning Commission. 

We are on schedule to present the project to the City Council on March 21st

Have a great weekend

Development Services Director

505 South Vulcan Ave, Encinitas, CA 92024
760-633-2712 |

It’s a rare thing that documentary evidence of the staff’s orchestration of events surfaces. Yes, Brenda’s post can be interpreted in different ways. It is at the very least suspicious that she announced the good news with two exclamation points to City Manager Karen Brust and five staffers, and blind-copied the five City Council members. She said “We had 25 speakers.” Not “There were 25 speakers.” She said “It was a tremendous team effort.” She cited staffer Stephanie Kellar who “orchestrated the staff and consultants behind the scenes.” She cited Roy Sapau who “supported the Planning Commission.” It’s hard to know what supporting the Planning Commission means in this context. Approval by the Planning Commission must have been presumed because Brust and Mayor Catherine Blakespear had already put the item on the March 21 City Council agenda.

Action by Opponents. Following the Planning Commission’s rubber stamp, two teams of Streetscape opponents distributed flyers to nearly every door west of 101 and between A Street and La Costa Avenue. The flyers awakened a sleeping giant. The plan is so monumentally stupid and has been in the works for so long that virtually nobody thought it would ever happen. The notice the City Council would hear it on March 21 jolted residents — especially those west of Leucadia 101 — into action. Brenda’s infamous email appeared and a raging debate ensued on the Encinitas Undercover blog, the Encinitas Votes Facebook page and the Nextdoor Leucadia page. The Leucadia 101 Main Street Association monopolized the floor no more. The battle had been joined!

But most Leucadians — let alone residents elsewhere in Encinitas — know nothing about Streetscape. When they’re told it would reduce Leucadia 101 from four lanes to two and pack the north end of the corridor with little roundabouts, they recoil in horror. They stand in utter disbelief. They simply cannot believe that anybody could seriously propose such a preposterous plan. They all dread traffic jams becoming more frequent and much worse than they already are.

City Council. Successive City Councils have been behind Streetscape since the then-council approved it on January 13, 2010. That plan included four lanes and five roundabouts. The current plan includes two lanes and six roundabouts. It’s testimony to the monumental stupidity of the plan that it’s taken eight years to get this far. It’s taken the ignorant-but-determined current City Council more than a year to get the plan on its agenda.

As expected, the staff and consultants were again selective, evasive and deceptive in their responses to the council’s softball questions. The fix was in years ago on approving the plan. The City Council’s hearing of the staff and consultants’ reports and their listening to public speakers was a charade. Anybody who pays attention to City Council meetings has seen similar charades dozens of times. The decisions are made long before the agenda item comes to the floor. The only surprise this time was that one council member voted against approval.

Ah, but there’s a rub.

California Coastal Commission. In February 2013, the then-City Council implemented a decision they had made a bit earlier. They illegally converted the two northbound 101 lanes north of Leucadia Boulevard to one lane. That rubbed the Coastal Commission staff the wrong way because it was, well, illegal. At the time, the staff said the commission would consider the whole plan when it reached them. The staff commented on the plan on March 29. They popped the celebratory Streetscape balloon. The staff affirmed the Coastal Commission’s mandate by saying, in effect, that the plan violates the provisions of the California Coastal Act of 1976. It would restrict beach access, it would increase travel times through the corridor, it would inhibit inlanders from getting to and from the coast, it wouldn’t provide enough parking. The CCC staff expressed its preference for the environmentally superior alternative that the city had passed over. That plan maintained four traffic lanes. The staff should also have mentioned that the proposed plan would increase greenhouse gas emissions.

In an irony that could not be more delicious, every objection the CCC staff made has been raised for years by the few Leucadia residents who have followed the plan. Ah, but of course the City Council, staff and consultants knew better.                                                                    
 — Doug Fiske