Right-turn request leads La Jolla traffic board to seek city study of Pearl-Girard intersection

La Jolla Traffic & Transportation voted to recommend that San Diego study the intersection at Pearl Street and Girard Avenue.
The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board voted to recommend that the city of San Diego study this intersection at Pearl Street and Girard Avenue.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board voted unanimously to ask the city of San Diego to study traffic patterns at the intersection of Pearl Street and Girard Avenue following a discussion at the board’s Aug. 19 meeting.

La Jolla resident Francine Ginsburg requested changing the middle lane of southbound Girard to right turn only.

There are three lanes on southbound Girard at Pearl. The left lane turns left and goes straight. The middle lane goes straight and turns right. The right lane only turns right.

“I would like to see [the middle lane] be a designated right-turn lane,” Ginsburg said. “There’s a lot of traffic that builds up there. That one lane affects three different intersections, starting back at Torrey Pines [Road] and Girard.”

T&T Chairman Dave Abrams said: “It’s kind of a tough call, because what’s going to happen is you’ll end up with one lane that ends up with straight through and left turns. I’m presuming that if someone’s waiting to make a left turn, it’s going to impact the straight-through traffic if the other two lanes are right turn only.”

T&T “did actually make this recommendation a number of years ago,” Abrams said, “and the city did review it and decide to leave it as it currently is. But if we feel it’s appropriate to make the change, [the city] will take it under strong advisement.”

Board member Max Shenk said “a lot of the danger is in that [middle] lane; when people realize the people in front [of them] aren’t taking that right, they try to cut over. I feel there’s less people trying to go left. It would make for a safer intersection.”

Resident Janie Emerson, who is president of the La Jolla Shores Association, said: “Anybody going straight, if they get caught behind somebody going left, cannot go through even one turn of the light. That will back the traffic all the way back up. It would be horrid if that were the only lane where you could go straight. Now, if they instituted a left-turn arrow, that would make a difference.”

Abrams said he thought about that, “but if we make the two right-side lanes right turn only and have the far left lane straight through and left, if you have that arrow and the car in front is going straight …”

“Exactly,” Emerson said. “Then the people going left can’t turn either.”

Shenk said “it sounds like a lose-lose.”

“I never see more than two or three cars waiting to turn left or go straight,” Ginsburg said. “When the majority of the cars are making a right turn … it’s a lot of jockeying back and forth between all the lanes.”

Board member Nancy Warwick asked to see “a record of accidents of people trying to get into the far right lane.”

“I’m suggesting the city study the actual counts here and give us more definite information,” Abrams said. He added that he’d like the study to include “accident history and traffic counts for various movements.”

Other T&T news

• New 15-minute green curb?: Cody Decker, owner of Decker’s Dog + Cat at 7928 Ivanhoe Ave. in The Village, asked the T&T Board for approval to convert a two-hour parking space in front of his business to a green-painted curb for 15-minute stops.

The T&T Board voted to support changing a parking spot in front of Decker’s Dog + Cat from two hours to 15 minutes.
The Traffic & Transportation Board voted to support changing the time limit on a parking spot in front of Decker’s Dog + Cat from two hours to 15 minutes.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

“Recently with the pandemic,” Decker said, “a lot of people are uncomfortable getting out of their cars. Curbside pickup has become something huge for us. With the existing parking situation, we have had a really tough time getting parking whatsoever on Ivanhoe, and to have just one spot would make a huge difference.”

Abrams asked Decker if customers could be directed to the store’s rear parking lot.

Decker replied that first-time customers aren’t aware of the parking and that he isn’t able to tell them ahead of time. Additionally, customers “are looking for the most convenient method,” he said.

Board member Ross Rudolph said he has used the parking lot “and it’s not that easy to get into and out of.”

Shenk said that “with small business struggling to stay afloat, if creating a 15-minute spot can help, even if it’s temporary, it’s something we should consider.”

Warwick said she’s “very concerned about losing another two-hour spot in that location, especially given the large number of 30-minute spots very close to you.”

Board member Brian Earley shared a letter of support for Decker’s request from the La Jolla Village Merchants Association, as well as a petition from Decker with many signatures of support from neighboring businesses.

A motion to approve Decker’s request passed unanimously and will go on to the La Jolla Community Planning Association.

• One-way streets proposed: La Jolla Shores resident Delia Constant asked the T&T Board to discuss her request to convert eastbound Camino del Oro from El Paseo Grande to La Jolla Shores Drive and westbound Calle Frescota from La Jolla Shores Drive to Camino del Oro to one-way traffic.

“I just think, in terms of traffic flow in The Shores, that would make sense, so you don’t have traffic trying to get through,” Constant said.

The streets Constant proposed for changes contain traffic heading to and exiting the parking lot at Kellogg Park or searching for parking near the beach, she said. “I’ve been looking at it for 29 years and I finally decided to say something.”

Rudolph, who represents the La Jolla Shores Association to the T&T Board, relayed a recent LJSA discussion of the topic, during which “there was interest until one [LJSA] board member pointed out [that] a narrow street with two-way traffic makes you slow down,” he said. “The concern is if it’s one-way, it increases the chances of speeding. Once this was brought up, there was no interest in pursuing it whatsoever.”

Constant said Camino del Oro is “a curved road; there’s not a whole lot of chance to speed up. Then there’s a stop sign, and another.”

And on Calle Frescota, she said, “there’s too much foot traffic” to allow for speeding.

Earley, who lives near the streets discussed, said he often hears horns honking, indicating “these streets are not functioning the way they should.”

Abrams said a petition needs to be completed for such a request to move forward and that 75 percent of homeowners on the streets would have to sign it for the city to agree to an analysis.

Abrams asked the T&T Board for opinions before asking Constant to gather signatures.

Board member Tom Brady supported the city doing an engineering study. “I was just down there,” he said. “It’s worth your life to drive on those streets, let alone walk.”

Abrams suggested Constant go forward with signature gathering to see if the neighbors are for it. “It may be a moot point if you can’t get those,” he said.

Constant said she would try to gather the required signatures and would return to T&T if she succeeds.

The Traffic & Transportation Board next meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16. For more information, email ◆