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T&T board hears speed limit increases, ad hoc reports

Traffic & Transportation board members Donna Aprea, Dave Abrams and Tom Brady
Traffic & Transportation board members Donna Aprea, Dave Abrams and Tom Brady
Ashley Mackin

La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation (T&T) advisory board met Jan. 20 with a mix of items to discuss, including proposals for three speed limit increases, temporary road closures for special events, the Su Casa development project, and the findings of its ad hoc committee. formed to evaluate the variety of parking time limits in the Village.

Speed limit increases

T&T chair Dave Abrams said the city is suggesting speed limit increases for three La Jolla streets: Soledad Mountain Road (between Pacifica Drive and Soledad Road), La Jolla Boulevard (between Gravilla and Pearl streets), and La Jolla Scenic Drive North (between La Jolla Mesa Drive and Soledad Park Road).

“The city traffic engineers conduct speed surveys every few years to see how many people are traveling at what speeds. If a certain percentage (85 percent) go above the posted limit (due to speed trap laws), police cannot use radar to enforce that speed limit,” he said. “So the city recommends 5-mile-per-hour incremental increases so they can enforce speed laws and write tickets.”

However, members Patrick Ryan and Brian Earley were concerned by the lack of community outreach. “I don’t think we should be increasing the speed limit in residential areas (without notifying residents). There are people backing into traffic from their driveways and I think there will be angry homeowners,” Earley said.

Agreeing, Ryan added, “Usually there are residents here voicing their opinions,” but none were present at the T&T meeting. “I just wonder if it’s going to be a problem later on when surprised residents see the speed limit signs change and they think ‘who voted for this?’ ” Nevertheless, the proposed increase on Soledad Mountain Road, from 35 to 40 miles per hour, passed 5-1-0 with Earley in opposition.

Similarly, the proposed increase on La Jolla Boulevard from 25 to 30 miles per hour was also approved 5-1-0, on the basis there are more businesses than homes on that stretch, so there would be fewer impacted residents.

Lastly, the La Jolla Scenic Drive South proposed increase, from 25 to 30 miles per hour, was also approved 5-1-0.

Holiday Street Closures

Ann Kerr Bache, event chair of the 59th annual La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival came before the board to request the street closures affiliated with the Dec. 4, 2016 event. Bache said there have been no changes in the last several years as far as the route, and each year, volunteers distribute information to make sure drivers don’t park their cars on the parade route while the street is closed.

“We put the ‘no park’ signs the city requires up in advance at the entrance to the street indicating it will be closed to through- traffic temporarily, and along the street,” she said. “Last year, Boy Scout Troop 506 put out 4,000 fliers to warn drivers there was a no-park time approaching.” She said volunteers also contact local churches to make sure their congregations know about the prohibited parking.

The route is on Girard Avenue between Kline and Prospect streets, and down Prospect between Girard and Draper avenues. Staging and other set-up areas are set for surrounding streets, and the Holiday Festival is held at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. A motion to approve the requested temporary street closures affiliated with the parade as presented approved unanimously.

Su Casa

Su Casa project applicant Claude-Anthony Marengo
Su Casa project applicant Claude-Anthony Marengo
Ashley Mackin

Although it was not required, Su Casa project applicant Claude-Anthony Marengo was on hand to request support for the public right-of-way vacation needed to accommodate the underground parking garage associated with the mixed-use project proposed at 6738 La Jolla Blvd. and 350 Playa del Sur, the site of Su Casa restaurant.

Plans call for demolishing the existing restaurant and apartment complex and constructing a two-story 7,875 square-foot mixed-use building, a 3,820 square-foot two-story residential building and a 3,086 square-foot three-story residential building with a 15,312 square-foot underground parking garage.

The two-directional driveway to the underground parking garage would be an entrance/exit and feed to La Jolla Boulevard. “The property is serpentine rather than a rectangular configuration … so we’re talking about a curved property line with sidewalks of different widths, so we would make a uniform sidewalk area … and make the property rectangular,” Marengo said. “If this was a regular building, there would be no right-of-way vacation. But we are going to change the property line and redistribute the sidewalks so they are even all the way around. That’s why I’m here.”

A motion to support the project and its right-of-way vacation was approved unanimously.

Ad hoc committee reports

The T&T ad hoc committee charged with examining the inconsistent parking times in the Village – ranging from 15 minutes to two hours – reported it would distribute surveys in the coming weeks to the businesses along Fay Avenue between Silverado and Kline. The survey will ask business owners on that block, which currently has a parking limit of one-hour, “Would you consider changing the time limit to 90 or 120 minutes?” Ryan said. “We are also asking if the change would be beneficial or detrimental to their businesses or if they are neutral on it. This block is straightforward and as a starting point in the Village, we thought it would be a good test sample. We’ll see how this goes, refine the process and go from there.”

Ad hoc committee chair Tom Brady said the committee has been meeting for several months to decide the best course of action. “This is just to test the waters so we know how to best proceed,” he said of the surveys.

La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation (T&T) advisory board meets 4 p.m. third Wednesdays at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollacpa.org