Planning Group weighs-in on Pacific Beach transit concerns: Wants stricter controls on scooter use

The Pacific Beach Planning Group focused on transportation issues at its Oct. 24 meeting at the PB Library. These included community concerns about electric scooters and future bus routes and connections to the Mid-Coast Trolley.

Electric Scooters Update

Eve Anderson, chair of the Streets & Sidewalks subcommittee, presented two letters about electric scooters for discussion and approval: one to Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the San Diego City Council listing the concerns of Pacific Beach residents and another responding to the Mayor's recent proposal for regulation of electric scooters. (The Dockless Scooters Regulatory Framework was presented at the Oct. 22 City Council meeting after the Council agreed to re-address the issue.)

The letters were drafted after Anderson's Oct. 10 subcommittee meeting. Normally about 10 people attend these meetings, but this one drew three times that number, Anderson reported. It included the community manager of Bird scooters and three representatives of the San Diego Police Department's Northern Division.

"I've never seen an issue affect so many people," Anderson said. The main concern is public safety, as many scooter-riders ignore speeding and traffic regulations, use sidewalks, double up, lack a driver's license, and leave scooters in areas where they can block traffic or cause harm."

She aded that since the beginning of the year, Northern Division has issued 1,660 citations for riding electric scooters without a helmet (required for those under age 18) and 1,774 total citations for other reasons.

The Planning Group voted to approve both letters, the first listing concerns, and the second with added suggestions for improving the Mayor's proposed regulations. The proposed regulations focus on five areas: limiting speed, City indemnification, rider education, data sharing and operational fees. The Planning Group suggested adding way-finding signage and mobility infrastructure.

The Planning Group would also like to see more designated parking areas, the use of technology to limit speed and unsafe parking, more data sharing with the scooter companies, stricter enforcement and more wide-ranging fees (such as an annual ministerial permit fee and a per-device fee).

Responding to growing complaints about safety, the Mayor's proposal limits scooter speeds in high-traffic areas (such as the Mission Beach and Pacific Beach boardwalks) to 8 mph and calls for increased use of geo-fencing to prohibit unsafe scooter parking.

The proposed framework, including feedback from community planning groups, will be considered by the City Council early next year.

Mid-Coast Trolley Feeder Bus Study

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit Service (SDMTS) is conducting a study as it plans bus network changes to support the Mid-Coast trolley extension to University City that opens in 2021.

Peter Casellini, associate transportation planner with SDMTS, announced upcoming open house meetings for residents to voice their ideas and concerns. These include:

• Doyle Recreation Center, 4-7 p.m. Dec. 4, 8175 Regents Road;

• Linda Vista Library, noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 4, 2160 Ulric St.

(An open house was held in PB on Oct. 29. Residents can also comment online at sdmts.com/open-house)

Casellini emphasized that making public ridership efficient but attractive is one of the hoped-for outcomes of the study. The organization is analyzing the overall bus network, studying geographical boundaries and ridership, and tracking official need. One item being considered is whether buses will continue to transfer at Old Town.

The Planning Group suggested that smaller shuttles running more frequently in different areas of Pacific Beach might be better. Casellini added that big buses running on fuel-efficient, compressed natural gas are more efficient than people realize. Another concern is how people will cross Mission Bay Drive to the transit station being built at Balboa Avenue. Will there be a bridge?

Anderson suggested that the stop at Balboa include the name Pacific Beach and Kristin Victor suggested that it include bike racks. For more information, see balboastationplan.org

Anderson presented Casellini with a third letter her subcommittee drafted — an invitation to the MTS to set up an information booth in the upcoming Holiday Lane event, Friday, Dec. 14.

In other PBPG news

Inaugural Holiday Party: Victor, chair of the EcoDistrict subcommittee, announced that the permit has been granted for the first annual EcoDistrict Holiday Lane party. The event will be held 4-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, the day before the Santa Run and holiday parade on Garnet Avenue, closed to traffic between Ingraham Street and Mission Boulevard. The pet- and family-friendly event will be alcohol-free and include vendors, information booths and decorative roundabouts. Those interested in participating may contact beautifulPB.com or Discover Pacific Beach (pacificbeach.org).

Advisory board members: The beautifulPB advisory board, being formed, will include Jason Legros and Steve Pruett from the PB Planning Group.

• City parks plan: The City wants public input on its citywide Master Parks Plan. To comment or make suggestions, go to cityofsandiegoparksplan.com

— Pacific Beach Planning Group next meets 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 28 at the library, 4275 Cass St., Pacific Beach.

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