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)