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La Jolla Shores ‘frustrated’ over traffic safety after SUV hits mother and two children

Two children and their mother were hit by an SUV at the intersection of La Jolla Shores Drive and Vallecitos on June 13.
Two children and their mother were hit by an SUV at the intersection of La Jolla Shores Drive and Vallecitos on June 13, San Diego police said.
(Bing Maps / La Jolla Light)

After two children and their mother suffered minor injuries when they were hit by a vehicle while crossing a La Jolla Shores street June 13, local residents expressed frustration at what they consider a lack of progress on measures to improve traffic safety in the area.

The family was struck by a Rolls-Royce SUV at about 10:20 a.m. at the intersection of La Jolla Shores Drive and Vallecitos, San Diego police said.

The children, whose ages were unavailable, were taken to Rady Children’s Hospital, and their mother went along with them, police said.

The driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, police said. The driver was not cited.

In response to the crash, La Jolla Shores Association President Janie Emerson said “we’re continually frustrated at the city’s lack of response to this ongoing safety issue for everybody who comes to The Shores. Our repeated requests have been either delayed or not taken seriously enough.”

A committee was formed recently of members of LJSA and the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board to brainstorm solutions for dangerous and congested traffic conditions in The Shores, and committee member Susan Wiczynski reported on the panel’s actions so far at last week’s LJSA board meeting.

She said T&T acted to send her 2020 request for roundabouts with flashing-light crosswalks on La Jolla Shores Drive at Vallecitos and Calle Frescota to the city for evaluation and that “the city got back to us recently and said they had done an evaluation based on speed and found that no action was necessary.”

Wiczynski said speed is “not the main issue that they should be judging it on, not to mention that they conducted the survey during construction and in the offseason. … We suggested that they take more of a congestion approach to it and have a look at it when it’s a warmer day when there are more people.”

She said the city agreed and has assigned a traffic engineer to conduct another survey.

City spokesman Anthony Santacroce said June 14 that the city “will continue to study the feasibility of installing crosswalks with pedestrian-activated flashing beacons along La Jolla Shores Drive, including the intersection at Vallecitos, to address the concerns of the La Jolla Shores Association and the safety of the community.”

Wiczynski said in an email to the La Jolla Light that the June 13 crash was the fourth she recalls in 21 months along La Jolla Shores Drive in the beach area.

Vallecitos and Frescota “are two of the busiest feeder streets to the beach, park and playground, and because of the limited parking near the beach, many families park east of La Jolla Shores Drive (for instance, up the hill on Vallecitos) and make a mad dash across La Jolla Shores Drive with small children, coolers, strollers and beach chairs,” Wiczynski said in her email. “Additionally, it can be hard for cars turning into and out of those streets when La Jolla Shores Drive is congested on the southbound side, as it often is, making visibility limited.”

Emerson said “this is an issue for everybody who lives, works, studies and visits La Jolla Shores. Our motive is to make this area safe and fun for people to come and visit with their families and enjoy San Diego.”

In an effort to address reported problems with speeding, parking and volume of cars between La Jolla Shores Drive and the beach, Wiczynski said at the LJSA meeting that smaller traffic circles and speed bumps have been suggested, as well as a review of the traffic signal timing at La Jolla Shores Drive and Torrey Pines Road.

Wiczynski said an adjustment of the timing might “flush the street faster and prevent some of these things” that are causing traffic concerns.

Emerson said another idea is to have traffic mitigation efforts “be seasonal, because we don’t have as much problem in the wintertime.”

Wiczynski said the committee is still taking ideas to improve the “antiquated streets that just weren’t built for this amount of traffic.” She said residents can email her at susanwiczynski@gmail.com.

“We owe it to those who have been hurt on these streets to help the city get it right,” she said in her email.

To further address traffic concerns, Emerson called a special LJSA meeting for 2 p.m. Friday, June 18, online. For more information, visit lajollashoresassociation.org. ◆