By Scott Peters
San Diego City Council President, first districtIf you travel through Bird Rock this month, you will notice that the construction on La Jolla Boulevard is winding down. Working with residents, merchants and project officials, we arranged for a brief reprieve from construction activity during December to make it easier for residents to visit their favorite shops and restaurants on the boulevard during the holiday season. The holiday construction moratorium runs from Dec. 7 through Dec. 26, even longer than originally planned.
As many of you already know, this important construction project intends to make the Bird Rock community a better place to live and visit. Designed to slow traffic and create a more pedestrian-friendly community, it was the result of an unprecedented collaboration between the City and the community. I’m particularly pleased to see this project come to life because I know how important it is to the individuals and families in Bird Rock who worked on the design for months.
Nevertheless, I recognize that, despite the wonderful results we expect to see this spring, living and working in a construction zone can be trying. Project managers and city staff continue to go out of their way to stay in constant communication with merchants and fine-tune their efforts to create the least-possible intrusion during this construction project. Biweekly e-mail updates and door hangers update Bird Rock businesses on the status and progress of the project. At our request, the contractor agreed to increase door-to-door notification. Other steps taken to address the needs of local merchants include creating additional parking spots in front of the tuxedo shop and moving the construction equipment from an extended stay in front of the mailbox shop, in recognition of that business’ dependence on quick in-and-out traffic.
I’ve been pleased that the contractor continues to work with us to adapt the work plan to fit the neighborhood need. For example, upon reminding them about the concern over parking availability, they agreed to make available more than 70 diagonal spaces during the moratorium. In response to concerns about construction machinery and temporary restrooms on high-profile corners, the contractor agreed to erect screens to partially obscure them from view and agreed to move off-site or screen equipment during the moratorium.
My office has also been successful in securing a greater police presence in the area. When we heard that residents were witnessing excessive speeds on the side streets, we contacted the police immediately and have seen a great improvement as a result of their efforts over the past several weeks. SDPD promised to make traffic safety a high priority in this neighborhood and, in just one day in November, officers wrote eight tickets for speeding and stop sign violations!
My office has been in regular contact with city staff, residents and merchants to monitor the progress of this important project. The contractors have been working on the side street improvements for months, and are nearly complete and ready to finish landscaping. They’ve done such a great job on the sewer replacement work, they were able to begin work on Camino de la Costa ahead of schedule. When construction resumes after Christmas, they will perform demolition work on the west side of La Jolla Boulevard to prepare for the installation of the traffic-calming devices, proceeding south from Camino de la Costa to Forward Street.
The traffic plan was the result of the hard work of residents, beginning in 2001, to reduce speed and increase neighborhood quality. I’m excited to see the results of this creative community-driven solution to Bird Rock’s traffic woes. I urge you to join me in supporting local merchants during the construction period and to contact my office with any construction-related questions or concerns.