Thursday, August 2, 2018

Comments to CCC Regarding Leucadia 101 Streetscape LCP Amendments

August 8, 2018 California Coastal Commission Meeting
Agenda No. W18f
City of Encinitas LCP Amendment LCP-6-ENC-18-0034-1 

Doug Fiske
I oppose the project.
I support denial of the amendments.

California Coastal Commissioners,

I urge the commission to reject the proposed amendments outright.

The city of Encinitas has pursued the ill-conceived Leucadia 101 Streetscape project the amendments would allow for about 12 years. If it were a good, legal project, it would have been implemented long ago. The city has wasted millions of dollars on a project that the majority of residents don’t want and that would violate the Coastal Act.

If the commission were to approve the amendments with the modifications the staff suggested and the city were to pursue achieving those modifications, the traffic reports would inevitably show that the project would be inconsistent with the Coastal Act in these respects:

• It would restrict beach access by reducing a four-lane roadway to a two-lane roadway and by stuffing it with roundabouts, four of which would be in the first public road. It would make the current traffic jams more frequent and worse.

• It would increase transit time through the Leucadia 101 corridor individually and, if Carlsbad and Oceanside were to implement similar projects, cumulatively.

In both respects, the effect would be to restrict public access to and enjoyment of the coast.

I’ve lived in Encinitas for 49 years. For 21 of those, I’ve lived west of 101 and north of Leucadia Boulevard. I worked in Carlsbad for 15 years. Carlsbad, Leucadia and Encinitas 101 were my commute route. Cumulatively, I’ve driven, biked and walked the route thousands of times. I know the traffic patterns 24/7/365.

Anybody with driving experience and a lick of common sense knows that a four-lane road accommodates heavy traffic better than a two-lane road. Widening roads lets traffic flow better. Narrowing roads congests traffic.

The traffic study the city commissioned was done in April 2015. It omitted summer traffic, so its results have no validity. If the city commissions an inclusive, truly objective traffic study, it will inevitably show the current frequent congestion, especially when nearby I-5 backs up. If the study projects the current situation into the future, including reduction from four lanes to two and addition of six roundabouts, it will inevitably show frequent, unacceptable LOS E and F levels.

Parking is another thorny issue in the Leucadia 101 corridor. There is nowhere near enough parking capacity now. The project the proposed amendments would allow would confine parking on the east side of Leucadia 101 to three parking bays. It would prevent east-side parking anywhere else. That would reduce the corridor’s parking capacity, thereby restricting public access to and enjoyment of the coast.

Setting a bad precedent is an overriding issue. If the commission were to approve the amendments with the suggested modifications and the city were to achieve those conditions and implement the project, that would mean any coastal city could make Highway 101 anything it wanted. Trends and whims would potentially be indulged. There would be no more iconic, historic Highway 101.

I respectfully urge the commission to deny the proposed amendments outright for the reasons I have stated.

Doug Fiske
West of 101

Friday, July 13, 2018

Streetscape Would Take 16,535 Sq Ft of Private Property

The six-roundabout version of Leucadia 101 Streetscape would take 16,535 square feet of private or property.

Encroachment locations and figures are from diagrams in Vol 2, Appendix I of the Final EIR:

                                                             Sq Ft                       APN
Between Cadmus & Daphne               360                      256 053 1600
                             256 053 1500
Jupiter                                                     670                      254 221 2400
Grandview                                             1675                      254 021 1600
Pacifica                                                  1040                      254 060 3011
Sea Bluff                                                4880                     254 430 0600
Moorgate                                                  340                     253 430 0500
New Road                                              6000                     216 041 0600
                              216 041 2100             
La Costa SE                                             390                      216 042 1200
La Costa NE                                           1180                      216 042 0500
Total                                                      16535

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Fundamental Streetscape Problem That Won’t Go Away

Long, long ago, if the California Southern Railroad and the early residents of Leucadia had put the tracks and Vulcan Avenue farther east, we wouldn’t have the space problem we have today.

If the planners, surveyors, land owners and concerned citizens had allowed enough room west of the tracks for a commercial zone and parking on the east side of 101, a wider highway and a wider commercial zone on the west side, we wouldn’t be in our unbalanced, squeezed pickle.

We’re stuck with a too-narrow corridor. East to west, it packs Vulcan, the railroad right-of-way, Highway 101 and its median, parallel parking, a sidewalk and a skinny commercial zone into far too little horizontal space.

The Encinitas City Council and the Coastal Mobility & Livability Working Group have said they want the Coastal Rail Trail between Vulcan and the tracks. NCTD won’t say where the Coastal Rail Trail or the second set of tracks will go. NCTD has not yielded the ground for Streetscape’s proposed roundabouts or parking bays.

The Cardiff Coastal Rail trail ranges from 13 to 17 feet wide. For nearly its whole length, the NCTD right-of-way between La Costa Avenue and Encinitas Boulevard is 100 feet wide.

Parking capacity in the Leucadia 101 corridor is woefully low. To equal Solana Beach’s parking capacity, Leucadia 101 would have to add 2,700 spaces. Unless parking goes underground or into two-story garages on the west side of 101, the only place to add the needed spaces is in the NCTD right-of-way between the tracks and the highway.

Leucadia 101 Streetscape’s net gain in parking spaces would be 134. It would add no access from the east and wouldn’t improve what’s already there. The project would restrict driving on 101 and slow transit time by shrinking the highway to two lanes and stuffing its north end with roundabouts. Most visitors enter the corridor from the north. Streetscape would make that entry much harder and would cause more traffic jams. The jams would be single file, so they would double in distance and time compared to the current two-lane jams. Greenhouse gas emissions would also double.

Let’s address the problem that won’t go away. Let’s use the width we have to everybody’s advantage: Coastal Rail Trail and parking between the tracks and Vulcan. Second set of tracks wherever they fit. Parking in the NCTD right-of-way west of the tracks through the whole corridor. Four-lane highway. Blinking crosswalks every one or two blocks, depending on activity. Medians where there are none. No street parking on the west side of 101. Sidewalk on the west side. Bike lanes both ways. Three ped/bike rail crossings north of Leucadia Boulevard and three south.

If implemented, the proposed Streetscape plan will be a nightmare. Let’s avoid that.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Leucadia 101 Main Street Doesn’t Know the Facts About Streetscape

Relatively few Leucadia 101 merchants and property owners are members of the Leucadia 101 Main Street Association (L101). It’s a chamber of commerce in disguise. The City Council gives the group $30,000 of taxpayer money every year because it can’t support itself.

L101 recently published an attack on an anti-Leucadia 101 Streetscape flyer distributed in the neighborhoods by volunteers. Quotes from the L101 attack are below, followed by the facts.

L101: “After construction, Hwy 101 will be a 3 lane highway.”

​Fact: According to the Baker traffic study summary, 85 percent of the 2.4-mile highway would be two lanes, and 15 percent would be four lanes.​

​L101: “There will most likely only be 4 roundabouts through the corridor because La Costa Ave roundabout and ‘New Road’ roundabout will not be constructed if the Encinitas Beach Resort stays on track to begin construction this fall.”​

Fact: The city will do its best to get the La Costa Ave and New Road roundabouts, as opposed to the Encinitas Beach Resort’s preference. Whether there are six or four roundabouts, all but one would be packed into 8/10 mile at the north end, thereby canceling the supposed benefits for the 2.4-mile corridor.​

​L101: “Bird Rock La Jolla’s Streetscape project gives us very good insight into how Leucadia’s Streetscape will function. After construction, Bird Rock saw average daily trips decrease from 21,000-24,000 to 19,500. Bird Rock was a more heavily used corridor than ours.”​

​Fact: Bird Rock is wholly unlike Leucadia 101. Bird Rock is roundabouts at five successive intersections in one-half mile​. Leucadia 101 is all but one roundabout stuffed into 8/10 mile at the north end of a 2.4-mile corridor. Bird Rock has no railroad tracks or freeway nearby. Bird Rock has no extremely long traffic light to back up traffic for up to 1.4 miles. Bird Rock has businesses, residences and parking on both sides of the street. Leucadia 101 is what the Coastal Commission calls the first public road from La Costa Ave to Grandview St. La Jolla Blvd in the Bird Rock area is not the first public road.

L101: “A major goal of the Streetscape project is to alleviate congestion caused by cut-through traffic and improve auto circulation for residents, beach goers and patrons of Leucadia’s small businesses.”

​Fact: It’s impossible to restrict “cut-through traffic” without restricting all traffic. Shrinking the highway to two narrowed lanes for 85 percent of its length and stuffing the north end with roundabouts would make the current congestion much worse.​

​L101: “A reduction in average daily trips bypassing the I-5 will mean fewer cars on Hwy 101 overall. Traffic calming measures on Hwy 101 are designed to reduce speeds of cars entering neighborhoods and dictate improved driver behavior.”

​Fact: Streetscape is designed to make driving 101 harder. That’s​ how it intends to divert drivers to the freeway. But what it would actually do is increase the neighborhood diversions that already happen. Those increases would go to Vulcan, Neptune and the adjacent side streets.​

​L101: “Beach access is improved with safer Hwy 101 crossings for east-side residents and visitors. Coupled with rail corridor parking pods and the El Portal Rail Undercross, beach access, parking and safety is vastly enhanced.”

​Fact: Streetscape wouldn’t improve or increase access from east of 101. Aside from people who are already west of 101, the overwhelming majority​ of visitors and beachgoers come from the north. As they enter the corridor, they would be immediately squeezed into one narrowed southbound lane and forced through five (maybe three) roundabouts. Highway 101 is the first public road from La Costa Ave to Grandview St and the principal route to the beaches and everything else in Leucadia. By restricting 101, Streetscape would restrict beach access.

Fact: Streetscape doesn’t include the planned El Portal rail undercrossing.

Fact: By lining the east side of 101 with a sidewalk, Streetscape would confine east side parking to the proposed pods. That would actually reduce parking capacity because east side parking is spread through the corridor and often outnumbers the spaces in the proposed pods.

​L101: “Existing emergency response times to northern portions of Leucadia are currently not meeting standards (80% of calls reached in 5 min). To address this, the city of Encinitas has funded a pilot for an emergency response staging area in north Leucadia to meet their goals. Emergency response time to existing problem areas will be reduced and service improved with this measure. Park assist and bike lanes add room for cars to move off the road when ambulances need to return southbound to deliver victims to Scripps. Not to mention, roundabouts decrease auto accidents by 90%.”

​Fact: The Environmental Impact Report revealed that shrinking 101 and stuffing it with roundabouts would increase response times that are already too slow. Streetscape would make the existing problem worse. The city committed $909,000 to relieve the problem for the first two years.

Fact: On a four-lane Highway 101, drivers move to the right lane to let emergency vehicles pass in the left lane. Streetscape adds no advantage to that.

Fact: Little roundabouts at T intersections don’t decrease auto accidents by 90 percent. Those stats are for big roundabouts at four-way intersections.

​L101: Streetscape is safe for bicyclists.

​Fact: The roundabouts would force cyclists out of the bike lane onto the sidewalk, across the crosswalk and back onto the bike lane. Otherwise, cyclists would have to ride in the roundabouts with cars and trucks.​

— Doug Fiske

Friday, June 29, 2018

Yep, You’re Right to Call It Streetscam

In 2008, the city held workshops to, so they said, get resident input about Leucadia 101 Streetscape. I went to the first two. My impression was the workshops were a sham. The City Council and staff had decided what they wanted to do, and the purpose of the workshops was to convince residents the city had our best interests at heart.

After the workshops, there was a walk through the Leucadia 101 corridor with consultant Dan Burden. He’s “America’s most recognized authority on walkability and bikeability and a pioneer in people-first urban planning.” The city paid him big bucks to tell them what they wanted to hear. He said roundabouts would bring “bigger, grander buildings” to Highway 101. I asked him what the wisdom was of packing four (later five) roundabouts at the north end of the corridor. He wouldn’t give me the time of day.

Then talk of the project died down for a while. Later, I went to an anti-Streetscape meeting at a neighborhood house. People there who had been paying close attention to the proposal called it “Streetscam.” I silently wondered, ‘Do you mean our neighbors the 101 merchants and property owners, and our neighbors the City Council members don’t really have the residents’ best interests at heart? Do you mean there are economic and political motives behind the project? Do you mean it’s not a sincere effort to improve our community? Do you mean it’s really a scam?’ Yes, that’s precisely what the people at the meeting meant, and they were absolutely right.

For many years, City Councils have been in cahoots with the Leucadia 101 Main Street Association to impose Streetscam on a community where the great majority of residents don’t want it. If the council and association respected democracy, they would have the decency to conduct an objective poll to find out what the community does want. They haven’t done that because they’re afraid their scam will be exposed.

The Leucadia 101 Main Street Association is a chamber of commerce in disguise. A brochure they produced in 2014 revealed that only 15 percent of corridor merchants were members. If the association had real value, it would have more members and be self-supporting. The city has been giving the association $30,000 of taxpayer money annually for years. That’s public money to a private group composed of for-profit business and property owners.

The city has produced three drafts of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the project. The EIR was produced by the civil engineering company that designed and is in charge of the project. That’s a glaring conflict of interest. Of course, the company isn’t going to find problems that would prevent the project from going forward. That would scuttle their multi-million dollar contract.

Yet, the company found an unavoidable problem: The reduction of the highway’s four lanes to two narrowed lanes and the placement of six roundabouts in the roadway would further slow emergency response times. Those times had been too slow for years, but the city did nothing about it. Streetscam couldn’t go forward if it further slowed emergency response, so what did the city do? They spent $909,000 of taxpayer money to buy a new vehicle, place it in the north end of the corridor and man it for two years. This, mind you, with a grand fire station on Orpheus Avenue only 1.9 miles from La Costa Avenue via Highway 101.

The city’s gifts to the merchants’ group, its $909,000 expenditure, the millions of other dollars it’s put into the project over the past 10 years and its lack of respect for democracy are measures of its commitment. Regardless of multiple appeals of the Coastal Development Permit the city filed with the California Coastal Commission and regardless of a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lawsuit filed to challenge the EIR, the city is going full steam ahead.

The city staff continues to pepper the Coastal Commission staff with studies and documents that are downright deceptive. The City Council, staff and Main Street Association continue to mislead the public.

Yep, you’re right to call it Streetscam.
— Doug Fiske

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A Better Leucadia 101 Streetscape Plan

• Two traffic lanes in each direction
• Medians where there are none
• 35 mph speed limit
• Bike lanes in each direction
• Sidewalk on the west side
• No on-street parking on the west side
• Parking between the railroad tracks and 101 for the entire length of the corridor
• Pedestrian-activated crosswalks every one or two blocks
• If those crosswalks are not enough to slow the traffic, put some of them on speed tables.
• No roundabouts
• No tree removal
• Plant and maintain as many new trees as possible.
• Bus stops as described in the final EIR
• At-grade track crossings or, better yet, trench and bridge the tracks.
• See Solana Beach’s 101 corridor for its good and bad points.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

You Can’t Fight City Hall

The headline is a cliché because it’s a fact, here in Encinitas and probably everywhere else.

Our fine city has about 240 generously compensated employees. It has a city attorney who’s also well paid. Our City Council has mega-millions of taxpayer dollars to spend as they please. They have the power to issue bonds at will. The bottom line is they overpower the residents and do whatever they want, almost regardless of public input.

Our city government is supposed to be a representative democracy. The people we elect to the City Council are supposed to express the will of the majority. They shouldn’t ignore the minority, but they shouldn’t cater to it.

Candidates make promises like preserving paradise and having deep community roots, but as soon as they’re in office, they flip. They put on a show of representing the majority view, but in the end they serve minority special interests and their own agendas.

The then-City Council was unanimously against Proposition A. The current City Council was unanimously for Measure T. The voters passed Prop A and defeated Measure T. The voters expressed the majority view. The council and the staff it directs rarely do.

We residents elect the council members to represent us. We taxpayers pay dearly for the staff to serve us. We don’t get faithful representation from the council, and the staff conspires to do the opposite of what the majority public wants.

An example of the council and staff not representing the majority is the current Leucadia 101 Streetscape project. The great majority of the residents most affected oppose the project. We’re not against dressing up Leucadia a bit but not the way the plan proposes.

We don’t want one traffic lane in each direction and six dinky little roundabouts, five of them stuffed at the north end. We don’t want a traffic and public safety nightmare, monster buildings lining the west side and more alcohol soaking our neighborhoods. We don’t want the Mom & Pop merchants pushed out, and we don’t want to lose our big old trees, especially the iconic eucalyptus at Leucadia Boulevard.

But never mind that majority public view. The City Council and staff favor the tiny minority of merchants and commercial property owners who are members of the Leucadia 101 Main Street Association. A recent brochure showed that less than 15 percent of corridor merchants are members.

The City Council gives the association $30,000 of taxpayer money every year — public money to a private merchants’ association. On top of that, the council is ignoring the public will and imposing a streetscape project that the majority of corridor residents don’t want.

There are four ways for the public majority to get the City Council and staff to do what we want: 1) a winning ballot proposition, 2) a winning lawsuit, 3) a winning Coastal Commission appeal, 4) an uprising so massive it threatens council members’ reelection. Each of the four takes big energy, money and lots of time. The council and staff know that. They know they can play a long game and in the end do pretty much whatever they want.
— Doug Fiske