By: Ruarri Serpa
Oceanside CA- Consultants hired by the city conducted a community meeting, last night, with little discussion about the possibilities for a revitalized Coast Highway. Over 150 residents turned out to voice their opinions on the future of the three mile stretch of road between the harbor, and Buena Vista Lagoon, but residents were fighting against the plan that was enacted five years ago.
“How come you’re only giving us choices that already lead to your agenda?” one woman asked.
“I thought we settled this years ago,” another attendee said.
In 2009, City Council approved a draft Coast Highway Vision and Strategic plan that laid out a vision for an altered Coast Highway. Signs only appeared a few weeks ago, however, asking voters to attend the meeting held at South Oceanside Elementary School. “It’s unfair to ask pointed questions about a plan that people are not familiar with,” said Neal Payton, Consultant with Tori Gallas, one of the contractors planning the project.
Most attendees said they primarily use Coast Highway for driving, and would not like to see bike lanes added. They viewed traffic delays as their biggest challenge in driving, and would like to see fewer traffic signals, but were split over the idea of adding rotaries. In all, 58 percent of those at the meeting were in favor of seeing a revitalized Coast Highway.
“Now we need to have a conversation about what the change is going to look like,” said Payton, “and what the implications are, of their choices.”
The broad goals of the 2009 plan, which was adopted 4-1, were to improve pedestrian, and biking safety on Coast Highway, enhance public transportation, and increase access to businesses. It breaks the three-mile region into four activity areas, with increased landscaping, and improved sidewalks to reflect unique identities. The roadway itself is conceived as a series of “avenue segments” to accommodate both evolved, and historic traffic patterns. Despite how the changes were presented in the community meeting, no single traffic plan was meant to apply to the whole corridor.
“There’s no doubt that Coast Highway needs to be addressed,” said Mark Castro , owner of Omega Bicycle Shop, on College Blvd. “It’s so 1950’s.”
Opponents to any changes of Coast Highway point to the high volume of traffic that passes through each day, and the effects that changes have had on other areas. “Look at the mess created in Leucadia!” one comment read.
“Cars just don’t like the idea of me [as a cyclist] having rights on the road – by law I do,” said Castro , who also sits on the Oceanside Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee. “It’s important that people see Oceanside as accommodating cyclists and pedestrians.”
Many cyclists use a full lane to travel Coast Highway, to stay out of the range of car doors that are opening. Some riders prefer to swing around parked cars and stay close to the curb, while vehicles swerve into the adjacent lane to pass a bike-rider.
For pedestrians, only one crossing exists at Wisconsin Avenue in the nearly one mile between Mission Avenue, and Oceanside Boulevard. If a pedestrian is looking to cross at Washington Avenue, for example, it would take 5-10 minutes to walk around. Instead, it is a common place for people to dart across the four lanes of traffic.
“Have you ever watched a family try to go through there?” said Castro . “It’s frickin’ scary.”
Ruarri Serpa is a freelance reporter from Oceanside, CA. You can contact him directly at RuarriS@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: @Ruarris