Peninsula planners OK bike lanes for W. Point Loma Blvd.
The Peninsula Community Planning Board (PCPB) meeting got off to a rocky start April 18 as members began an hour-long debate on by-laws, slated campaigning and last month’s board elections. The debate ended with a motion by Fred Kosmo, seconded by Sarah Moga Alemany, to approve the recommendations of the election chair and committee as outlined in the election report. New officers were officially elected with Robert Goldyn remaining as first chair, Scott Deschenes as first vice-chair, Brad Herrin as second vice-chair, Korla Eaquinta as treasurer and Alemany as secretary.
The rest of the meeting concerned a presentation from the City for a vote in support of bicycle lanes on West Point Loma Boulevard, a street notorious for being unsafe for cyclists.
Everett Hauser of San Diego County Planning & Development Services explained that due to the pipeline project from Sports Arena Boulevard to Nimitz Boulevard, which requires the streets be torn up and re-paved, the City has the opportunity to re-evaluate bike lanes and striping along these streets.
In an effort to create safer passage for bicyclists and to reach the City’s Climate Action Plan goals, Hauser proposed two bike lane options to increase safety along West Point Loma Boulevard:
1) Class II bicycle lanes with a mix of angle and parallel parking or
2) Class IV cycle tracks with parallel floating parking.
The first option has cyclists still riding next to moving cars, separated by a strip of paint. The second choice is a “parking-protected” option, where bikes would operate in between the sidewalk on one side, and a buffer area with a parking lane on the other.
Hauser explained that there’s only 1 to 2 percent of the cycling population experienced enough to be comfortable with the high-stress of riding through busy City streets, but research has discovered that a large number of people fall into the “interested and concerned” category — meaning they’d like to use bikes if they felt safer riding. By making the streets safer for bicyclists, more people will likely leave their cars at home and reduce their carbon footprints through cycling.
Cycle tracks better protect riders, Hauser continued, but would require reducing driving lanes to just one in each direction.
Several community members expressed support for the protected bike lane and one said he thinks so few people are riding because they haven’t been given safe places to ride. “It’s one of the most terrifying streets I’ve ridden on in my 15 years of bicyling,” said one Point Loma resident who added that he rides along West Point Loma Boulevard daily.
During the presentation, one slide showed a study used to demonstrate how under-used existing parking is, suggesting there’s room to remove parking for bike lanes.
However, resident Geoff Page pointed out an inconsistency in the study — one side of the street was studied from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but the other side of the street was only studied from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. When asked why, Hauser responded that it was street sweeping that day and no one from the City went back to observe the parking during normal traffic hours.
Page later wrote an article about the meeting for the OB Rag, which resulted in a petition being started at Change.org to fight against the replacement of street lanes with bike lanes. As of May 7, the petition had 172 signatures.
In an e-mail to Point Loma-OB Monthly, Page expressed his concerns: “The opposition had no idea what was happening at the meeting that night and a reading of the agenda item would not have alerted anyone to the major changes they want to make on West Point Loma Boulevard. This subject needed a great deal more community discussion. The significance of the petition is that it’s going to Council member Jennifer Campbell who will be faced with a positive vote from the PCPB and a negative vote from way more people on the petition. What does she do?”
At the time of the meeting, the City’s presentation showed a net loss of 11 parking spaces for the Class II option and 58 spaces for Class IV. The net gain or loss is subject to change in the final design. This observation sparked some worries that carried to the OB Planning Board meeting two weeks later.
Hauser said the cycle tracks would not need extra funding because the road needs to be painted after the pipeline project anyway.
PCPB member Mark Krencik pointed out that if cycle tracks don’t work out or create too much traffic, the paint can be readjusted in the future. “We are supporting the Climate Action Plan, I think this is important, I’ve heard a lot of negativity about doing this, but as a group, we need to look ahead … this little piece of it does do that for us as a community,” he said.
A motion was made to approve the cycle track bike lane option. It passed 11-3.
• City Hall updates: The new Parks Master Plan is being discussed (read more at cityofsandiegoparksplan.com), and $20 million in federal funding has been given to the San Diego Housing Commission for rental assistance for low-income San Diegans.
• The Mayor’s proposed rules on vehicle habitation were presented to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee and are slated to go before full City Council vote on Tuesday, May 14. The regulations would make sleeping in vehicles illegal within 500 feet of a residential or school area (excluding colleges and universities) 24 hours a day, and illegal in non-residential areas from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
• Letters: A letter with requests previously approved by the board and sent to former City Council member Lorie Zapf, was drafted to be sent to new City Council member Jennifer Campbell as a way of renewing PCPB’s prior positions and action requests, and getting a reply. A motion was made to approve sending the letter, 13 to 1.
Another letter was drafted in support of Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association’s letter regarding the issues that have arisen since vehicle habitation was made legal and to request regulations. The motion to send the letter passed unanimously.
A letter requesting striping improvements at the section of Nimitz Boulevard, Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and Interstate 8 Terminus passed, 12-2.
• 2-hour parking limits: OBPB secretary Tracy Dezenzo said several businesses in the Voltaire District have asked how to get 2-hour parking spots in front of their stores because residents are taking them, and she told the board to be prepared for more such requests.
Goldyn pointed out that there are many other places in that area that need parking, too, and suggested letting the City know PCPB would like the City to add 2-hour parking signs where needed. A motion was made to approve the proposal for 2-hour parking signs at 4222-4234 Voltaire St.
• Board report: A motion to approve the submission of the PCPB 2018/2019 Annual Report to the City (which includes every project-related item that came before the board and the motion made) passed unanimously.
—PCPB next meets 6 p.m. Thursday, May 16 at the Point Loma/Hervey Library, 3701 Voltaire St. pcpb.net