La Jolla traffic board eyes roundabouts for Mesa Drive


La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation (LJT&T) advisory group heard a plea for traffic calming in the La Jolla Mesa area, specifically a request for a roundabout, during its Aug. 17 meeting at La Jolla Rec Center. Citing safety concerns due to speedy drivers, residents hope a physical traffic calming measure will be implemented on La Jolla Mesa Drive at Cottontail Lane.

Although no vote was taken, LJT&T chair Dave Abrams agreed to forward the residents’ request to city engineers and report back at a future meeting.

“The biggest problem we have is the speed of traffic, which can get up to 80 miles per hour,” said resident Bob Collins. “Now, if you’re going the speed limit, you get passed and (speedy) drivers go over the double-yellow line into the opposing lane of traffic.”

He suggested the problem started after roundabouts were installed in Bird Rock in 2008, and said traffic doubled in the Mesa area with motorists who take the residential route as a detour to avoid them. From Pacific Beach, Mission Boulevard becomes La Jolla Mesa Drive almost parallel to La Jolla Boulevard, and feeds into Nautilus Street. Coming from the south, there is a steep hill that leads to a flat straight road, so drivers reportedly speed up the hill and continue at that increased speed on the flat portion. “They did a great job with the roundabouts in Bird Rock, but there has been a trickle-down effect,” Collins said.

In the last few years, he added, “The fire hydrant in front of our house has been hit and taken out twice, and when we had telephone poles before we were undergrounded, a phone pole on the other side of the street was taken out.”

To address the problem, the topic of traffic calming was broached at a July La Jolla Mesa Neighborhood Association meeting, and the more than 10 homeowners drafted, and signed, a petition. Resident Stacie Canan said, “We got a lot of support for a physical traffic calming measure. We think it’s gotten to the point, due to use of the street by young kids biking and people walking their dogs, that the speed of cars going up and down poses a safety hazard. It’s a scary place to be.”

She added that of the three homeowners surrounding the proposed roundabout location, two of three support the idea, the third could not be reached.

To better grasp the potential impact, resident Siegfried Reich said he spoke to those whose houses face the roundabout on Via Capri at Senn Way. “All the ones we spoke to said it was a godsend,” he said.

Willing to forward the request to the city, several LJT&T members said they wondered if something less expensive and less impactful, such as a flashing speed limit sign, might be tried first. Chair Abrams said he would report whatever response might be available at the next meeting.

In other T&T news:

• Green zone extension: After hearing a request by Dr. John Morizi to extend the existing green zone for additional customer parking on the south side of High Avenue adjacent his animal care office at 1135 Torrey Pines Road, the board decided to postpone a vote until the next meeting so the applicant could speak to residents. There are two existing green, 30-minute parking spaces adjacent the building abutting two more that are not time controlled, which Morizi would like to see converted.

Arguing the spaces would “make or break” the success of the practice, he said they are all directly in front of the business, and would not spill into the nearby residential area. “Those spaces get a lot of demand, from mail trucks and service providers (such as phone or cable companies) … so this could actually also be a benefit to the residents when someone comes to their house to perform a service.”

Unconvinced, two residents at the meeting said parking is already impacted, and losing the two spots would make finding parking on their street more challenging.

Zoned commercial and residential, LJT&T member Tom Brady said, “Residents park there as well as employees of area businesses, so I’m sure there’s a reason (there are only two spaces). I worry making this change would set a precedent, as there are plenty of businesses in similar areas that would like a green zone in front of their stores,” he said.

• Green light for two events: With no changes in planning or complaints from the previous year, street closures and the parking plans for this year’s San Diego Triathlon Challenge and La Jolla Art & Wine Festival were approved. A fundraiser for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, representatives from the 23rd annual San Diego Triathlon Challenge requested a temporary street closure, lane closure and No Parking signage related to athletic competition event at Scripps Park on Oct. 23.

Similarly, reps for the eighth annual La Jolla Art & Wine Festival requested a temporary street closure on portions of Girard Avenue, Silverado and Wall streets related to the annual art walk event Oct. 8-9. The set-up takes place late Friday night (Oct. 7). Applicant Laurel McFarlane said the only change was an expanded tent for the children’s area, to provide more shade.

La Jolla Traffic &Transportation next meets 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21 at Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.