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La Jolla neighbors want traffic circle at intersection in Lower Hermosa

The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board discussed a possible traffic circle at this intersection.
The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board discussed a possible traffic circle at this intersection of Camino de la Costa, Vista de la Mesa and La Cañada Street.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

A group of residents raised discussion of a possible traffic circle at an intersection in Lower Hermosa during the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board’s Sept. 16 meeting, with action potentially to be taken later.

Resident Paul Ross brought forth the request for the traffic circle at the convergence of Camino de la Costa, Vista de la Mesa and La Cañada Street on behalf of neighbors concerned about traffic and safety issues in the area.

“What we have is a very large and unusual intersection, where traffic from the north and south come to a stop and the through traffic down La Cañada and up from the beach typically exceeds the speed limit,” said Ross, a planning consultant. “They come zinging through there pretty swiftly, and as cars pull out from the side streets, there’s this awkward intersection … [with] lot of skid marks and near misses.”

Ross said the neighbors would like a traffic circle to “not only slow the traffic but also benefit pedestrians.”

Neighbors are seeking a traffic circle at the intersection of Camino de la Costa, Vista de la Mesa and La Cañada Street.
A group of neighbors is seeking a traffic circle at the intersection of Camino de la Costa, Vista de la Mesa and La Cañada Street.
(Bing Maps / La Jolla Light)

T&T Chairman Dave Abrams asked Ross whether the neighbors “are hoping for the city to fund this thing, or are they prepared to somehow assist?”

Ross indicated that neighbors might be willing to help fund the construction if the city would be willing to waive permitting and other fees.

Steve Hadley, representing City Council member Barbara Bry, whose district includes La Jolla, said “the mechanism that the city recommends often in these cases is a general-purpose permit for private improvement of public property, [called] an encroachment maintenance removal agreement.”

This kind of permit, Hadley said, would give residents “more control, not only over the design but maybe the construction. It actually does … cut through some of the bureaucracy,” as long as residents are willing to pay for it.

Hadley cited “Munk’s Map” in Kellogg Park and the Coast Walk Trail as examples and said he would send Ross more information on the process.

“Is there a demonstrated accident history here or just near misses?” Abrams asked Ross.

“What’s reported from the neighbors is that there’s frequent near misses. I don’t know if there have been any actual collisions,” Ross said.

Ross said he’s begun gathering petition signatures from area residents and hopes to have many more by the next T&T meeting.

“[The neighbors] asked that I bring it forward to you to get your comments, insights and support, hopefully for moving this forward and advancing it to the city,” Ross said.

The proposed traffic circle would be more like an ellipse, resident Paul Ross said.
(Courtesy)

Resident Trace Wilson, an architect, said: “I live on this intersection … and I think it’s a great idea. It’s long overdue. But I’m really worried about how it gets built. I think we need something like Bird Rock,” where several traffic circles were erected to slow traffic at various intersections.

Wilson said he’d like the city to build “something that’s attractive and not just pylons and flashing lights — something not just for a traffic issue but something that’s more of an urban design issue. ... It’s a dangerous intersection and I support the roundabout. We just need to make it right.”

Ross said “hopefully it would be something extremely low-maintenance. ... The neighbors would be fine if ... it was more simple and yet attractive.”

T&T board member Patrick Ryan said he supported the idea. “That intersection is really wacky; it’s done like a regular intersection north-south, but in fact a lot of the traffic really flows around Camino de La Costa, so people don’t know what to do when they are there. It’s a cool idea if someone can pay for it.”

“There’s a lot of precedent in Bird Rock,” Ryan said, “[and] not just along [La Jolla] Boulevard. On La Jolla Hermosa [Avenue], there are similar roundabouts that are fairly basic.”

Wilson said that “creating a roundabout that actually looks good on a scenic route to Windansea is really important to us.”

Ross agreed to bring the item back to the board after working on the petition and exploring the permitting process. ◆