Cardeno residents seek slower speeds

Residents on Cardeno Drive between Pacific Beach and Mount Soledad are in a quandary: What to do to slow traffic down?

Told last week by La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board that their long, steep and windy back road’s current 30 mph speed limit would have to be “raised” to enforce the speeding limit, their answer was resoundingly “no.”

“We’re not looking to have people get tickets,” said Ernest Mortensen at 6236 Cardeno Drive. “What we’re trying to do is get the speed lowered. There must be some other alternative to get the speed lowered.”

Bob Porter, who lives at 5348 Cardeno, agreed lowering — not raising — the speed is what is needed because of how heavily used Cardeno is, not only by cars, but by bicyclists and joggers as well.

“All the streets coming down off Mount Soledad are very hazardous, very steep,” he said. “What needs to be done is to put in some kind of traffic-calming device to reduce the speed, otherwise you’re going to have horrendous accidents in the future.”

There have already been several accidents on the thoroughfare, said Richard Kelly, whose house is at 6222 Cardeno. He’s been working for two years with the city trying to make progress on the problem.

“The city’s been very good meeting with us and talking with us,” he said. “But it’s taking years, and I’m afraid a death is going to come soon.”

Kelly noted there are several schools including All Hallows, Evans and the French-American that funnel traffic up and down Cardeno. “It’s just scary: We have to do something about it,” he said. “It’s just a constant worry.”

Todd Lesser, who chairs the traffic board, told Cardeno residents who attended the July 22 meeting that city rules governing traffic calming put La Jollans in a Catch-22 situation when it comes to relieving traffic congestion on collector roads like Cardeno.

Lesser said traffic tickets cannot be issued if statistics show less than 85 percent of people traveling that road are observing its stated speed limit. He also said the city will not approve stop signs for traffic-calming.

Other measures, like installing electronic VCalm signs which measure and inform passersby of the speeds they’re traveling, work only for a year or so and then are largely ignored, Lesser said.

But there might be another alternative: installing a small traffic circle as was done recently on Via Capri on the other side of Mount Soledad. But Lesser cautioned securing approval of, and funding for, a traffic circle is a time-consuming process.

At the end of the meeting, the board voted unanimously not to recommend raising Cardeno Drive’s current 30 mph speed limit.

Lesser said he would speak to city traffic engineer Joel Rizzo and ask him to speak to the board to discuss various traffic-calming alternatives, their pluses and minuses, and timelines involved in implementing them.