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La Jolla Farms residents see red at traffic meeting

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Beach-access activist Melinda Merryweather, left, leans in for a peek as resident Nico Nierenberg argues against her suggestion to remove red curbs from La Jolla Farms Road during the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board meeting on March 20.
(COREY LEVITAN)

In the latest salvo of a 30-year battle, a City official has recommended removing some of the red-striped curbs on the east side of La Jolla Farms Road near Blackgold Road — enough to create 11 new parking spots. (In the area, both the east and west sides are red-striped.)

This did not sit well with the 20 La Jolla Farms residents who packed the March 20 meeting of the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation (T&T) board, which voted unanimously for a continuance on the hot-button issue.

The recommendation, from City senior traffic engineer Gary Pence, resulted from a request made in June 2018 by community activist Melinda Merryweather, a longtime proponent of increased beach access. Merryweather sat in the front row at the T&T meeting, shaking her head as neighbors expressed their extreme dismay with the Pence’s recommendation.

“We believe there’s been no demonstration of a problem that exists,” said Farms resident Nico Nierenberg. “There has been no study.” He added that there are 280 parking spaces with the current configuration, “and I can tell you that on 90 percent of days, there is parking within two minutes of this road right here.”

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In addition, residents objected that more parking spaces would bring to their neighborhood more traffic and pollution.

“My wife and I took pictures,” said area resident Brian Keating, “and the difference between the amount of brake fluid and oil that runs off red-curb areas versus non-red-curb areas is astonishing.”

It was Keating who requested the continuance, for a month, which he said would allow enough time for the neighbors “to consult with legal counsel and talk to City Council.”

The board granted the request, but not without a caveat issued by T&T chair Dave Abrams: “This will not be the be-all and end-all. Ultimately, it goes to the same people who came up with the recommendations, Gary Pence, and he and the Coastal Commission agreed that these red curbs are not in compliance with the city’s original 1989 action.”

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That action, Abrams read aloud from Pence’s memo, was undertaken “to provide visibility for approaching traffic for residents exiting their driveways or side streets” and “to improve pedestrian safety.” Specifically, residents, students and beach-goers were forced to walk in the travel lanes, a particular problem at night, so red zones would allow them to hew to the curb.

“We looked for locations where we could remove some red while not creating any visibility issues,” Abrams continued reading from Pence’s recommendation. “This allowed us to create 11 additional parking spaces.”

“Pence is very competent and fair and we have a long history of dealing with him,” T&T board member Tom Brady told the residents, “but I like your idea of a continuance. You’ve raised some issues that we really should get more into.”

Also at T&T

  • OK on corrals? Ann Dynes and Janet Stratford Collins of La Jolla Parks & Beaches informed the board that City intends to install corals for scooters and dockless bikes in La Jolla this fall. (They’ve already been installed downtown, where they take up parking spaces.)Dynes said she and Stratford Collins think that “some corrals is a good idea … but from my perspective, what the City and its employees are doing is taking these kinds of actions without the kind of community input we would expect them to take.”Abrams promised to reach out to associate traffic engineer Ahmad Erikat, who Dynes said provided the information, to verify the information and ask that La Jolla’s corrals not take up any parking spaces.
  • Kilbourne reborn: The board unanimously voted to recommend two-hour parking on Kilbourne Drive, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, to deter UC San Diego campus all-day parkers. The item was requested by resident Stephen Breskin, who said he delivered 100 signatures to the City, representing all affected residents.“What I was hoping is when the new parking structure opened up, there would be some benefit,” Breskin said. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen none.”

— T&T next meets 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 17 at the La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.


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