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Coast Highway Corridor Project, Walking Audit

Story by: Ruarri Serpa
Curt and Cindy Turner fill out a survey during the Coast Highway Walking audit on Saturday.

Curt and Cindy Turner fill out a survey during the Coast Highway walking audit.

Oceanside CA- Project leaders ditched the charts and photos, and guided residents around a section of downtown that would see changes under the Coast Highway Corridor Study. About 50 people turned out on Saturday morning, including developers, and concerned neighbors, for a walk around the proposed “Transit Center node.”

The purpose of the walking audit was to answer questions that were raised in the Vision and Strategic Plan, and maintain forward momentum, said John Amberson, Transportation Planner for the city. “If you have a need or suggestion, write it down, and tell us.”

One of four new conceptual segments, the Transit Center node is bounded on the west by Seagaze Drive, on the east by Wisconsin Avenue, and includes Coast Highway, to Cleveland Street. The Coast Highway Vision and Strategic Plan, approved in 2009, would alter the character of many parts of the three mile area between the harbor, and Buena Vista Lagoon.

Ideas for the Transit Center parking lot include a new parking structure, housing, and retail development, with improved pedestrian access. Some issues noted throughout the Transit Center node include curbs heights thatcoast_highway_walking_audit05_osidenews reach 14 inches off the roadway, overhead utility-wires, streets that are too wide, some that are too narrow, and a lack of landscaping. The entire group was forced to j-walk at one point, where the sidewalks on Cleveland Street end at Missouri Avenue, and continue on the other side about 20 feet east of the junction.

Amberson and Brian Gaze, a planner with Alta Planning and Design, stopped the group at key points throughout walk, to talk about what some possibilities would look like in each location.

“The Vision indentifies [the intersection at] Wisconsin and Coast Highway as a potential roundabout,” Amberson said. A condensed roundabout would be feasible in the space, which is too small with 101 Cafe, and the Uhaul Center so close to the corners.

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John Amberson and Brian Gaze

“We could also see Cleveland Street punch through, and become a continuous street.” He also proposed shifting bus routes to Cleveland St. from Coast Highway, to alleviate traffic.

“Bear in mind, we have the train on the other side,” said one attendee.

“Great, that’s what we need to hear,” said Amberson.

Project leaders are using smart growth guidelines put forth by San Diego Association of Governments, which are drawn from examples around San Diego, and the nation. The philosophy behind SANDAG’s vision is to balance development density, with neighborhood vibrancy. Principle ideas include mixed land uses, compact development, various housing types, open space and environmental preservation, building within existing developments, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, transportation alternatives, distinctive and attractive communities, consistent governing and policy actions, and community and stakeholder collaboration.

Coast Highway’s project leaders held a contentious community meeting earlier in February, in which residents voted on their needs, and desires for Coast Highway. About 150 people turned out for that meeting at South Oceanside Elementary School, which was previously covered[Link] by OsideNews.

The 2009 Vision and Strategic plan laid out the need for changes to Coast Highway. While voters could not agree on what that change should look like, they underscored the need for some improvement with overwhelming support at the previous community meeting.

“We need to polish this diamond in the rough,” Amberson said.

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance reporter from Oceanside, CA. You can contact him directly at RuarriS@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: @Ruarris

Photos: Steve Marcotte / OsideNews