Where would you board the trolley? La Jolla Traffic & Transportation board raises neglected issue about Mid-Coast Trolley being built in San Diego

Imagine it’s four years from now and you’re taking the Mid-Coast Trolley downtown to avoid traffic and parking problems. Where do you see yourself leaving from? The La Jolla stops at UC San Diego, the VA Medical Center or Nobel Drive?

Former La Jolla Coastal Access Parking Fund chair Dan Allen brought up a potentially game-changing point at the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation board (T&T) on Wednesday, March 21 at the Rec Center. Until now, most people had considered a shuttle bus going north to connect with the trolley.

But why would you travel two miles north on Torrey Pines Road — either by car or in public transit — just to travel that same two miles south again toward downtown on the trolley? How is that avoiding traffic?

“People who want to go downtown want to go south, not north,” Allen said. “It’s faster to get to La Jolla from the Balboa trolley stop to the south. You’re going in that direction.”

Allen’s comments came during a proposal he made to create a subcommittee on the trolley’s impact on La Jolla and possible new uses for the $244,000 collected by the City in the 1970s and ‘80s for a free or low-cost shuttle around The Village. Allen made the same proposal at last month’s T&T meeting, but there wasn’t a quorum to take any action.

T&T chair Dave Abrams liked the idea of a subcommittee to address this and other important questions about connecting to the trolley, but wondered where the subcomittee should go. He formed an organizing group (himself, Allen, and T&T members Tom Brady and Erik Gantzel) to “brainstorm a bit, then bring it back here and decide if we’re the group to do it or kick it up to CPA.”

“We really need to address the issue,” Brady said, “because if we don’t, it’s going to be passed over at worst and at best it’ll be mis-planned by the City.”

Hillside subcommittee formed

Also at T&T, tireless Hillside Drive construction restriction advocate Diane Kane finally got a La Jolla Community Planning Association (CPA) committee with which to develop a traffic management plan for Hillside Drive. The unanimous vote came after Kane presented at her third consecutive T&T meeting on the issue.

The board deliberated for 20 minutes on the litany of the problems with the street — the size of the approved new homes, the condition of the roads, the amount and speed of the traffic — but could not agree on any solutions. For instance, Allen informed the board that the installation of a traffic light at Hillside Drive has been “studied and studied” for “30 or 40 years” but that, recently, “City engineers have looked at that intersection and determined that it’s terribly non-standard, because there’s a change in slope … so it opens the City to liability.”

Kane admitted that she had hit an impasse in trying to gain signatures for a petition to study the size and weight of construction trucks. She said that 30 percent of the parcels are owned by people who don’t live in La Jolla, and another 20 percent by developers.

However, she recently learned that City council members can initiate studies. (Barbara Bry representative Mauricio Medina, in attendance, told Kane he believes Bry would agree to initiate such a study, although he would need to ask her first.)

Abrams noted that these problems have all “been festering for quite a while,” and said that a new committee would “be a good idea to get this thing rolling.”

After the vote, Kane asked the committee for volunteers and was told by Abrams: “We’ll come up with some people.”

Also at T&T

The board also voted unanimously to recommend to CPA the construction of a pedestrian refuge island at La Jolla Boulevard and Mira Monte, brought to the meeting by La Jolla resident Zoe Kleinbub.

“I think this is very important to have traffic-calming on La Jolla Boulevard, and that is a particularly dangerous intersection,” Brady said.

Medina advised Kleinbub that road ahead was long and that the project would need to “show overwhelming community support.”

“As hard as we push, they do compete with other projects across the City, so it can take anything up to a year, considering the scope of the project,” he said.

“Hopefully, we’ll live long enough to see them,” Abrams said.

— La Jolla Traffic & Transportation board next meets Wednesday, April 18 at 4 p.m. at the La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St.