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Board hears plans for speed limit changes, parking removal

La Jolla’s Traffic and Transportation advisory board — which is tasked with reviewing all proposals affecting La Jolla’s streets — heard a bevy of proposals during its June 25 meeting at La Jolla Rec Center. While some items were up for a vote, the majority were informational only, and many of those presenters will return to a future T&T meeting with an update.

Removing Coast Boulevard Parking

After presenting her project to La Jolla Parks and Beaches advisory board during its June meeting, Whale View Point Project chair Ann Dynes came before T&T to introduce her plan to remove parallel parking on the west side of Coast Boulevard, between the Cobblestone climbing wall and its 200 block.

Dynes said removing parking would open up the view for drivers, walkers and bicyclists. To avoid a net loss of parking spaces, she is suggesting installing diagonal back-in spaces on the east side of Coast Boulevard, which is one-way.

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“Ultimately I would like to have support from this board to ask the city to do a traffic study,” she said. “The study results might say you can’t change the parking, but unless we get the city to do that study, we’ll never know.”

“That side of Coast Boulevard is beautiful and to eliminate cars there ... would really be nice, but I think we need an answer from the city on that,” T&T member Tom Brady said.

However, T&T member Cory Bailey argued that back-in parking would diminish visibility for cars entering the flow of traffic. “With back-in parking, the only way to know someone is entering traffic is if they are seen in the car. So, heaven forbid they have a SUV parked in front of them, you wouldn’t know (they’re exiting the space).”

Declining to vote at the June meeting, T&T acting chair Dave Abrams advised Dynes to petition affected residents on the east side of Coast Boulevard to gather feedback and report at the next meeting.

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Slowing traffic on Via Capri

Due to its unusual configuration, motorists bypass this traffic circle on Via Capri and drive in the lane of opposing traffic to avoid having to slow down. Ashley Mackin
Due to its unusual configuration, motorists bypass this traffic circle on Via Capri and drive in the lane of opposing traffic to avoid having to slow down. Ashley Mackin

The configuration of a traffic circle in the Hidden Valley area of La Jolla is contributing to a problem of drivers speeding through the neighborhood, say Via Capri residents. Specifically, the traffic circle on Via Capri at Senn Way, that has become a bypass for speedy drivers.

Nearby resident Joe Dicks said drivers heading eastbound on Via Capri encounter the traffic circle, which is slightly straighter on the north side to allow emergency vehicles to easily pass and to reflect traffic patterns. However, instead of circling around in the direction of traffic, they bypass the circle and drive in the lane of opposing traffic.

To remedy the problem, Dicks suggested the city install pylon poles or a speed hump. Pylon poles, he explained, are approximately four-foot plastic poles that could be installed down the middle of the street as much as 50 feet in advance of the traffic circle, with an opening for those wanting to turn onto Senn Way.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, “Speed humps are raised sections of pavement that are placed across the street to force motorists to travel at reduced speeds. Speed humps have a more gradual slope than traditional speed bumps, which are often found in parking lots. Speed humps are more effective at slowing traffic than speed bumps because the driver actually benefits from traveling at slower speeds. Speed bumps typically jar the motorist regardless of speed.”

Abrams said he would gather feedback from the fire department as to whether they would be amenable to a speed hump.

Proposal to decrease speed limit

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At the request of UC San Diego officials, a proposal was put forth to reduce the speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour on the downhill portion of La Jolla Shores Drive, from North Torrey Pines Road to El Paseo Grande. The affected section of La Jolla Shores Drive predominantly winds through the portion of campus where Scripps Institution of Oceanography is located.

Anu Delouri with UCSD’s department of physical and community planning said the speed reduction request is in an effort to improve safety for pedestrians and cars entering from Downwind Way.

In February, T&T heard this same proposal, but at the time UC San Diego was also requesting a lighted, blinking pedestrian intersection. As a compromise, the city installed two high-visibility “pedestrian crossing” signs and restriped the crosswalk. However, UC San Diego representatives are still hoping for additional traffic calming measures.

“A lot of the cars driving down on La Jolla Shores Drive are driving at a particular speed and the cars coming in from Downwind Way are mostly trying to make a left turn and many times they are dodging traffic coming down (La Jolla Shores Drive),” she said. “While that is going on, every now and then, there is an accident or a near miss in the pedestrian crosswalk, but many have not been reported because they are near misses.” Eleven accidents were reported between September 2011 and September 2013.

“The city said they are unable to support further safety measures ... but the one that that can be done is speed enforcement,” Delouri said. As such, the city conducted a speed study for the area, but found that 85 percent of drivers are driving at approximately 31.8 miles per hour, relatively in conformance with the current speed limit. The results of that study were presented to T&T board members for review and consideration.

Justin Garver, field representative for City Council President Sherri Lightner, said the city determined no additional safety measures were warranted, based on the speed study. Additionally, members of the audience commented that the street is a thoroughfare for university students, and that they will drive as fast as they feel they can, making any speed reduction a moot point.

A motion to keep the speed limit at 30 miles per hour passed.

San Diego Triathlon Challenge

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Kristine Entwistle, senior director of events for the Challenged Athletes Foundation Triathlon Challenge, presented to request the street closures affiliated with the event, which raises funds for adaptive athletic equipment for those with disabilities. The event is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 18.

The one-mile swim, 44-mile bike course and 10-mile run each begin and end at La Jolla Cove, with subsequent festivities at Scripps Park. Approximately 800 athletes participate, but around 2,000 volunteers and supporters are expected for the event.

The event requires Coast Boulevard — from where it splits from Prospect Street and along Scripps Park — be closed, and a one-lane closure on Torrey Pines Road for the bike ride. Given there were no complaints in previous years and there are no changes to this year’s course or protocol, a motion to support the required street closures passed unanimously.

In other T&T news

At its July meeting, T&T will vote for its next chair, vice-chair and secretary, that will serve for one year. Nominations were collected during the June meeting. Abrams was nominated for chair, members Michelle Fulks and Bailey were nominated for vice-chair, and Van Inwegan and Donna Aprea were nominated for secretary. Any member of the charter community groups that have representation on the T&T board — Bird Rock Community Council, La Jolla Town Council, La Jolla Village Merchants Association, La Jolla Community Planning Association and La Jolla Shores Association — may vote.

The election, and next meeting will be 4 p.m. Thursday, July 23 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollacpa.org