SANDAG shifts trolley bridge location near La Jolla
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By Pat Sherman
Responding to complaints from the residents of Cape La Jolla Gardens (CLJG) condominiums, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has changed the location of a bridge
over Interstate 5 that would have brought the planned expansion of the San Diego Trolley line within a little more than 100 feet of the CLJG complex (read La Jolla Light’s series on this issue at bit.ly/trolleybridge).
The decision, made during SANDAG’s May 9 board meeting, moves the bridge 360 feet north, to a position that was originally shown to and approved by UTC residents during a series of community forums in early summer 2013. It was moved southward toward CLJG in November
2013 at the behest of Mormon temple officials, SANDAG says, largely to prevent obscuring views of the temple as people drive north on I-5.
Residents said the November switch was made with little public notice and no additional input.
SANDAG’s $1.7 billion northward expansion of trolley service includes proposed stops at La Jolla Village Square Mall, the UC San Diego campus, VA Medical Center and UTC Westfield Mall.
During the SANDAG board meeting, District 1 City Councilmember Sherri Lightner (who represents La Jolla), advocated for the bridge shift.
“It is unfortunate that we are here nearly a year later discussing an element of the project that was agreed upon by the surrounding neighborhoods and was believed to have been resolved long ago,” Lightner said, adding that the 360-foot southward shift was made “without any meaningful community input or outreach.”
Lightner said the situation “could have been avoided, had the public’s business been conducted in an open and transparent manner.”
SANDAG board member and County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who met with Mormon temple representatives prior to last summer’s public forums in UTC, maintained that SANDAG engineers found the southward shift toward CLJG to be in “an area where it had no significant impacts, but still had controversy.” Roberts eventually made the motion to return the bridge alignment to what community members were shown in summer 2013.
Seconding Roberts’ motion, San Diego City Council President and SANDAG board member Todd Gloria added, “I think we know shifting the alignment after a public comment period has ended shouldn’t be taken as lightly as it was back in November.”
Attorney Samuel Blick, representing La Jolla Village Square (LJVS) mall — just north of CLJG, where a proposed trolley stop is planned — said the shift would impact the mall by obscuring some of its signage. “We do need a parking structure,
eventually (for signage),” Blick said. “(SANDAG) staff is working with us on that.”
More recently, a group headed by Steve Arndt of Villas Mallorca complex (on Villa La Jolla Drive, just west of LJVS mall) expressed opposition to the proposed trolley stop and parking garage at LJVS (at the Nobel Drive exit off I-5).
On May 29, Arndt sent a letter to Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Gloria and SANDAG, outlining the reasons for his group’s objection, including increased traffic congestion, earthquake hazards, visual and environmental pollution, and duplication of existing public transportation services at LJVS (such as the SuperLoop Bus Rapid Transit system).
The letter requests that studies be presented to the public to justify how the parking structure (with an estimated price tag of $24.3 million) will not add to already “extreme” traffic congestion in the area off the I-5 exit at Nobel Drive.
“This parking structure is likely to be used by UCSD students, staff and faculty to avoid paying for parking on the campus,” Arndt writes. “If a UCSD parking structure is needed, this should be placed on the campus of UCSD.”
In an e-mail to La Jolla Light, SANDAG spokesperson David Hicks said the agency has already compromised on the parking structure to meet local height requirements, changing the plans from a square, four-story structure of 1.4 acres to a rectangular, three- story structure of 2 acres.
The three-story structure, as currently proposed, would contain 800 spaces, of which 260 are transit spaces and 540 are spaces needed to replace those lost at LJVS due to the trolley station and parking structure, Hicks said.
Hicks said SANDAG has explored leasing some of the parking in LJVS’s underground garage and surface lots to avoid building its own garage, although mall representatives maintain that all existing parking is needed for the mall.
- SANDAG responds to 11th-hour trolley shift woes; e-mails show agency may have reached accord with Mormon temple before hearing public input in La Jolla
- UTC residents ask SANDAG to reassess trolley alignment
- UPDATED APRIL 17: Responding to trolley bridge concerns, SANDAG director ‘optimistic’ compromise can be reached
- UTC residents fear trolley line change will lower home values; proposed parking garage also at issue
- La Jolla Town Council explores transit-expansion, gets update on fall dance competition-fundraiser
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