La Jolla traffic board approves proposal for Azure Coast Drive to take its (speed) lumps

The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board voted to allow installation of two speed lumps along Azure Coast Drive.
(Courtesy of Joe Melin)

Two speed lumps — not humps and not bumps — could be coming to Azure Coast Drive after the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board voted to approve them last week.

The lumps were proposed for the 2400 and 2500 blocks of Azure Coast Drive by Joe Melin, a member of the Azure Coast development’s homeowners association.

The development’s entrance road is off Azure Coast Drive, and Melin said that when cars go down Azure Coast, they travel faster than the posted 25 mph limit. “We have a hard time getting out of our complex,” he said.

“We felt if we could get the cars slowed down, maybe we wouldn’t have as much traffic wanting to come flying down the road,” Melin said. “It’s a safety issue for us.”

“This is all impacted because of ‘The Throat,’” he said, indicating the intersection of La Jolla Parkway, Torrey Pines Road and Hidden Valley Road, an area often congested with traffic going in and out of La Jolla. “When [traffic] backs up on La Jolla Parkway, they all come down the streets above and fly down [Azure Coast Drive] at the end.”

A similar proposal was made five years ago but rejected, as the proposal was for speed humps, which, although wider and gentler than speed bumps, do not allow large emergency vehicles to pass without slowing or damage. Azure Coast Drive is adjacent to the fire station on Ardath Lane.

Speed lumps have “precisely spaced breaks,” according to a city definition, allowing emergency vehicles to pass unimpeded.

Traffic & Transportation Board Chairman Dave Abrams said the new proposal meets the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department’s standards for safety and indicated the department supports the addition of the lumps.

A motion to approve the road lumps passed unanimously at the board’s Sept. 16 meeting, and the matter will be forwarded to the La Jolla Community Planning Association.

Other T&T news

A 2017 study indicated that most of the southbound traffic from Girard Avenue to Pearl Street turned right.

Right-turn lane: Revisiting an August request by resident Francine Ginsburg to change the middle lane on southbound Girard Avenue at Pearl Street to right turn only, the T&T Board heard information and decided to seek more.

Ginsburg had asked the board to consider the change to help alleviate traffic and improve safety at the intersection.

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.

Aug. 24, 2020

Ginsburg showed the board a chart from a 2017 city study counting how many cars in each lane turned right, went straight or turned left. Ginsburg said “about 75 to 80 percent of the cars” turned right.

The report didn’t include numbers for 4 to 6 p.m., Ginsburg said, which is the period when she’s most concerned about traffic buildup.

Ginsburg said board member Tom Brady had suggested lengthening the green light to allow more cars to go through the intersection. “That may take care of some of that congestion there,” Ginsburg said.

Abrams said “I see the problem, I experience it myself,” but is concerned that the change to right turn only in the middle lane would shift the congestion problem to the left lane, which currently allows traffic to turn left or go straight.
Currently the middle lane is straight or right turn and the right lane is right turn only.

Board member Patrick Ryan noted that numbers on the chart indicated a total of 368 cars going straight, meaning that if the middle lane were changed to right turn only, those cars would be stuck amid the 157 cars turning left.

The board decided to ask Ginsburg to get feedback from a city traffic engineer on ideas such as lengthening the green light.

“This is an important intersection,” Brady said. “The more community input we give this, the better off the community will be.”

A new valet parking zone is proposed for in front of the Marine Medical building at 7300 Girard Ave.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Request for valet parking zone: The board voted to continue discussion of a valet parking zone proposed for in front of the Marine Medical building at 7300 Girard Ave.

Brad Elsass, vice president of strategic initiatives for Ace Parking, asked the board to consider adding the valet parking zone in front of the building’s nearly completed renovation “to provide a first-class valet operation.”

“We are hoping to offset some of the potential traffic impacts,” Elsass said.

The building is a few doors down from Gillispie School and across the street from La Jolla Elementary School, so “we’re trying to be proactive in how the opening of this building is going to impact the traffic and make sure we have a solution” ahead of the building’s reopening, he said.

The valet service would leave surrounding parking spots open for other vehicles, Elsass said, as well as maximize the existing garage parking under the building, which the valets would use for the cars they park. “The more we can leverage the capacity of this garage … the more available parking there is for the elementary school,” he said.

The proposed valet loading zone would span 60 feet and be in use from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. It would be open to the public outside those hours, Elsass said.

The zone also would function as a drop-off and pickup area for patients of the building’s tenants.

Building owner Jonathan Lipsky said the tenants have been supportive of the valet zone and have said it would be useful for their patients.

The service would cost patrons $8, Elsass said, but most of that would be offset by validation from participating medical providers in the building.

Brady said he “would like to see that the valet parking validation be required by the tenants.”

Lipsky indicated he would not require that but that tenants are likely to offer the validation.

T&T board member Donna Aprea opposed elimination of the self-parking option in the garage. “I go [to that building] every three weeks. Now I have to pay $8 every [time]? Why would I support that? Why can’t there be an option?”

Ryan said “that’s putting our patient hat on. Yes, it’s going to cost more. Putting our T&T hat on, I guess the question is, what is it doing for our overall [traffic]? I would support it.”

Ryan suggested the zone be available for school drop-offs. He suggested the board continue the discussion until the neighboring schools could give input on how they would be affected.

Elsass and Lipsky agreed to contact the schools and return in October with their feedback.

The Traffic & Transportation Board’s next meeting is at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21. ◆