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Shores association seeks new crosswalk striping and beacons after special meeting following accident

Fire crews respond to a June 13 crash involving a vehicle and three pedestrians at La Jolla Shores Drive and Vallecitos.
(Susan Wiczynski)

The La Jolla Shores Association voted unanimously to ask the city of San Diego to install crosswalks with flashing beacons and pedestrian striping and signage at various intersections throughout the coastal portion of The Shores at a special LJSA meeting June 18.

The meeting was called in response to a June 13 incident at La Jolla Shores Drive and Vallecitos in which two children and their mother suffered minor injuries when they were hit by a vehicle while crossing the street.

The children were taken to Rady Children’s Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

“We all got very lucky. The result could have been tragic,” LJSA President Janie Emerson said at the meeting. The association wants to “see what we can do starting now” to prevent future accidents, she added.

In November, the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board agreed to send the city a request from Shores resident Susan Wiczynski to install roundabouts with flashing-light crosswalks on La Jolla Shores Drive at Vallecitos and Calle Frescota in an effort to reduce dangerous traffic conditions.

The city conducted a traffic study and concluded that speeds were not high enough to warrant further action, Wiczynski said, prompting her and Emerson to push for a second study based on other factors such as congestion and conducted during busier times.

On June 14, city spokesman Anthony Santacroce told the La Jolla Light 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.”

In May, LJSA heard a request from resident Mike McCormack to address driving conditions in The Shores, resulting in the formation of a traffic committee composed of members of LJSA and the Traffic & Transportation Board to brainstorm ideas.

At the June 18 LJSA meeting, Wiczynski said the June 13 crash was the fourth major accident in the area since September 2019, and she laid out several traffic-related problems.

Congestion is “a huge issue,” caused by the traffic light at La Jolla Shores Drive and Torrey Pines Road, she said. She also blamed problems on low visibility for drivers and pedestrians and “impatient drivers.”

In the area between La Jolla Shores Drive and the ocean, Wiczynski said, “the streets are so narrow, it’s difficult for cars to get in and out of the streets safely.” The mix of two- and four-way stops throughout the neighborhood can be confusing to drivers new to The Shores, she added.

Emerson said the traffic committee wanted to start with an action that could be implemented immediately “and a request that the city do it now,” with other, more costly or labor-intensive efforts, such as roundabouts, to be requested in future phases.

She said striping crosswalks at the intersections along La Jolla Shores Drive could be done quickly and “start the process to make this a safer place for everybody.”

LJSA board member Phil Wise suggested the city also paint “Do not block” at every intersection along La Jolla Shores Drive, as traffic congestion often prevents drivers from turning left on La Jolla Shores Drive when leaving the beach area.

Wiczynski called that “a super good idea.”

Steve Hadley, representing City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said the city “will not install striping where there is not signage or a traffic light or some kind of crosswalk signal.”

“They simply are not going to put people out in a crosswalk with no added warning to the motorists,” he said.

The intersection of La Jolla Shores Drive and Vallecitos does not have a stop sign or similar marking, Hadley said, but “there’s a council policy that enables community groups to request stop sign installation, even when traffic engineers do not find the necessary warrants to install one.”

Emerson said adding a stop sign instead of a roundabout is less desirable, as it would add to pollution and “severely impede the flow of traffic.”

Hadley said striping could quickly be put wherever there is already a stop sign or a button to press signaling cars to stop for pedestrians. If a stop sign is installed, it could be removed in the future for a traffic circle, he said.

He said city traffic engineers also could erect signage reminding motorists that pedestrians are crossing in the area. “We’ll be glad to ask for that,” he said.

Discussion ensued to finesse the wording of the request to the city, with the final motion reading: “Install crosswalks with pedestrian-activated flashing beacons along La Jolla Shores Drive at Vallecitos. Place pedestrian striping at all stop signs at Avenida de la Playa, Paseo del Ocaso and El Paseo Grande. Install pedestrian warning signs at the intersections of La Jolla Shores Drive that do not have stop signs.”

Hadley said he would send the request to city traffic engineers and the mayor’s office.

“I don’t know how quickly ... we will get something,” he said. “We’ll be highlighting the fact that there was an injury accident ... and this is of concern to the council member.” ◆