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La Jolla traffic board approves concept for landscaping and roundabouts on stretch of Nautilus Street

A proposed design concept for Nautilus Street (shown looking east).
A proposed design concept for Nautilus Street (shown looking east) would add landscaping and at least one roundabout between Fay Avenue and Muirlands Drive.
(Courtesy of Trace Wilson)

The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board voted to approve a concept designed to beautify and improve safety along a portion of Nautilus Street.

La Jolla resident and architect Trace Wilson brought the idea to the board at last month’s meeting as a discussion item, presenting ideas to improve the state of Nautilus between Fay Avenue and Muirlands Drive. Wilson is a member of Vision La Jolla, an ad-hoc committee of the La Jolla Community Planning Association.

At the July 21 T&T meeting, Wilson proposed a roundabout at Nautilus and Fay, with two “potential” roundabouts at Avenida Mañana and Muirlands Drive.

The concept also includes landscaping along the sides of Nautilus, the addition of a landscaped center median and changing to diagonal parking closer to La Jolla High School and Muirlands Middle School.

The design elements, Wilson said, not only would beautify the area but also work to calm and slow traffic “and utilize the roadway better.”

"We can do better than this," La Jolla architect Trace Wilson says of existing conditions along Nautilus Street.
(Courtesy of Trace Wilson)

Showing a photo Wilson took of current conditions on Nautilus, he said: “We can do better than this. This is a massive right of way of asphalt. It’s totally underutilized. Get rid of the visual clutter, look out to the horizon line, enjoy better public improvements.”

Resident Sally Miller said she agrees that Nautilus “needs to be beautified” but added that she avoids La Jolla’s Bird Rock neighborhood because of its traffic circles, which she said are dangerous. “That would be a disaster of a safety issue,” she said.

In regard to the proposed diagonal parking, Miller said, “I’m just worried about the safety of backing up into bike lanes.”

Paul Jamason, a board member with BikeSD, said the traffic circles in Bird Rock have decreased the number of collisions and are “safer for bicyclists.”

La Jollan Glen Rasmussen also expressed support for the proposed roundabouts, saying: “They keep the traffic moving and they slow the traffic down. What you lose in red lights and stopping you gain in constant motion.”

Wilson said he believes that roundabouts “are much safer, they’re better for the climate and they create a physical barrier that makes you slow down. That’s the important and key component.”

He encouraged people attending the meeting to focus on the entire concept. “We’re starting with the plan, which gives us the scope, which then allows us to go to various institutions and government bodies to figure out how we might get it built,” he said.

T&T Chairman Brian Earley said the board “is just looking for an endorsement of the concept. We don’t have a budget here; there are obviously a number of other details.”

Vice Chairman Dave Abrams moved to endorse the plan and move it forward to both the city of San Diego and the La Jolla Community Planning Association. The motion passed unanimously.

The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board gave a unanimous green light to a parking change on one street in La Jolla and approved temporary street closures and no-parking zones for three upcoming events.

Other T&T news

Board officers: T&T unanimously approved its slate of officers, nominated last month. Earley was voted in as chairman, Abrams as vice chairman and Donna Aprea remains as secretary. The officer term is one year.

La Jolla Boulevard pedestrian safety subcommittee: The T&T Board’s La Jolla Boulevard pedestrian safety subcommittee discussed its requests for measures in the Barber Tract neighborhood with city traffic engineer Gary Pence.

In May, T&T approved the subcommittee’s requests to the city, including a comprehensive speed zone survey along La Jolla Boulevard; enforcement of laws pertaining to vehicle movement, including scooters and bicycles; installation of lanes for bicycles and scooters; an increase in signs promoting pedestrian safety; repainting crosswalks; and installation of roundabouts at various intersections.

Ira Parker, head of the subcommittee, shared a letter from Pence indicating that the city will evaluate several ideas presented by the committee and that some could be evaluated faster than others. The letter did not elaborate.

La Jolla Shores request for crosswalk striping and beacons: The T&T Board lent its support to a La Jolla Shores Association request to the city for new crosswalk striping, pedestrian beacons and a study of a possible roundabout at the intersection of Vallecitos and La Jolla Shores Drive.

LJSA voted to make the request July 14 in the aftermath of an accident June 13 in which two children and their mother were injured when hit by a vehicle while crossing the street at that intersection.

“We are asking you all to endorse this and send it forward to the CPA [Community Planning Association] and send it down to Gary Pence and get it moving,” LJSA President Janie Emerson said at the T&T meeting.

She said the accident “could have been catastrophic. We want to move with this right away.”

Earley, who also is a Shores Association board member, said: “La Jolla Shores Drive is probably one of the most pedestrian-heavy corridors in northern San Diego. This could be a pretty quick fix and very helpful to The Shores, which sees over 2 million people a year.”

A motion to support the LJSA request passed unanimously.

La Jolla parking forum: T&T unanimously approved a request by board member and La Jolla Village Merchants Association President Cody Decker to co-sponsor a La Jolla Village parking forum to be held virtually at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29.

The forum, titled “Separating Myths from Facts,” is planned by the La Jolla Town Council, LJVMA, Enhance La Jolla and LJCPA to discuss “how parking could be better in La Jolla,” Decker said.

The forum is intended to cover how many parking spots and which types (free, timed or paid) are available, parking’s effects on traffic congestion, the results of the LJVMA 2021 visitors survey and “The Four M’s of Parking Solutions,” which Decker said are motivation, merchants, marketing and monetization.

He asked T&T to sign on as a co-sponsor because “as a key group and one that’s obviously influential in this matter, I think it’d be great to have you join our discussion.”

Parker asked that the sponsors consider “a comprehensive view of the impact [of parking issues] on the citizenry of all of La Jolla,” noting that neighborhoods such as the Barber Tract would benefit from inclusion in the discussion.

Decker said the parking discussion involves “technically all of La Jolla. I think a lot of the focus is going to be concentrated in The Village, but there’s nothing that should technically be left out as something that we can talk about and at least help begin the discussion of.” ◆