Sunset Cliffs Boulevard in Ocean Beach Is Still a Dangerous Stretch of Road

by on April 5, 2013 · 21 comments

in Environment, History, Life Events, Ocean Beach

OB Sunset Cliffs n Capemay

The intersection of Cape May Ave and Sunset Cliffs Blvd – some residents call it “death row”. (Capture from googlemaps)

A local TV station has a report out today about how some OB residents feel that a section of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard is a “death row”.

10News quotes OBcean Daniela Rottigni terming the intersection of the boulevard and Cape May Avenue as “death row”, after dealing with the problem for a decade, she said.

Here is part of the report:

Rottigni says Sunset Cliffs Boulevard just is not safe, and speed is a huge part of the problem. … Runaway cars have caused major damage to private property, including Rottigni’s car, which was hit four different times.

“And to know that my car can get damaged, thousands and thousands of dollars for people not respecting or the city not even coming around and do something about it… it’s a disgrace to me,” she said.

OB resident Stephen Rainbolt Jr. told 10News, “I’ve had people go through my fence and destroy all the little trees that we see in the background.”

Rogttigi warns something needs to be done before someone gets hurt. She has seen a few pedestrians have close calls.

“You literally have to run,” she said. “During the day and night, at all times, you have to run….for your life, literally.”

The station added that “In the past few weeks, the city of San Diego put in solar speed monitors, but they do not appear to be working.10News called the city to find out why and they said they would look into it.”

OB residents have longed complained about the speeds that cars go on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.  Years ago, residents forced the City to install a street light at the intersection of Sunset Cliffs and Santa Monica Avenue in order to provide some safety for school kids and locals.

OB Sunset Cliffs n Santacruz

Intersection of Sunset Cliffs Blvd and Santa Cruz Ave. (Capture from googlemaps)

I used to live on Del Monte Avenue and would constantly hear the screech of brakes and the sounds of glass and metal being crushed. Especially near the Masonic Temple, Sunset Cliffs and Santa Cruz.  It got so bad that while I was on the OB Planning Board a decade ago, we formally complained to the City to do something about it, and all we received was one of those yellow warning lights – which is still there.

The intersection of Sunset Cliffs Blvd and Orchard Avenue is also particularly dangerous.

Let us know how you feel and what your experiences have been.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyler April 5, 2013 at 11:32 am

Interesting you mention the the stretch near the Masonic Temple. There was a VERY bad accident right there just a week ago. At least a dozen police cruisers were blocking all traffic for a block. Looked like a bad motorcycle accident.


OB Mercy April 11, 2013 at 8:42 pm

I just happened upon that accident, here is my story in The Reader.


dave rice April 5, 2013 at 11:57 am

I personally think the ugliest part is the stretch from Santa Cruz to Coronado because of the hill cresting and creating a blind spot – Tyler mentions one, but there have actually been TWO nasty accidents on this one block in the last few weeks. Of course, it could just be that I see more of the danger because it’s closer to my apartment.

On the other hand, I don’t see much of a problem with the Cape May intersection, and I drive it fairly frequently as my mother-in-law lives nearby. It’s a little bit wider than some of the other east/west streets, though I wouldn’t want to make an unprotected turn from ANY street onto Sunset Cliffs – if I’m on the wrong side of the road I’ll just continue up Cable or Ebers until I get to one of the four light-protected streets (Voltaire/Santa Monica/Newport/Narragansett).


Prattle On, Boyo April 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm

The whole town is a clusterfcuk. The absolute worst intersection is the one where Chris’s Deli and the Kaishof used to be. In order to make the left hand turn, you literally have to floor it and hope the oncoming traffic doesn’t smash into you because there isn’t a left hand turn arrow or lane. Too many tourists + no traffic enforcement is a recipe for disaster. Where is the physician and his lawyer brother who are gentrifying downtown OB by jacking up rents to have this problem addressed?


Catherine April 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm

The whole stretch is a death trap. Ridiculous that there are only two lights from Voltaire to Narragansett. Although I can’t imagine how much more lights would stall traffic on that road since some fool or collection of them decided there should only be one way in and out of OB and no direct access to the 5, instead forcing people on that tiny bridge and Sea World Drive (my daily commuting nightmare). But I’m getting sidetracked. It’s not safe to cross the road except at the traffic light, and, sometimes at the crosswalk, but I go that way to the playground often and can say it’s one car out of 10 that abides by the crosswalk rule and actually stops.


Seth April 5, 2013 at 8:04 pm

I’m worried that the cure would be worse than the disease.

All for some degree of traffic calming, but a lot of “fixes” would simply result in there being higher traffic at faster speeds on Ebers and Cable.


Jon April 6, 2013 at 10:24 am

Not having direct access to the 5, and generally being a little more difficult to get in and out of town is why I love it here. Keeps OB a little more secluded IMO. The people who come to OB really want to be here.


John April 7, 2013 at 6:18 pm

True but when that kind of thinking, and the whole “US out of OB” attitude that often goes along with it endures too long, you know what results? The current situation now where we don’t have a grocery store. We don’t have a check cashing place. We don’t have a place to walk in a utility bill payment. When you lose the convenience of services like this and have to drive miles to get them, it degrades the quality of life and certainly can’t help the planet, which is something also inherent to the concerns of OB residents.
You have to wonder if we thought these things through would we go back and do them again…


Catherine April 8, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Except that people do want to come every weekend and it’s a nightmare getting in and out on a Saturday or Sunday. And the bridge! oh that freaking bridge! What’s it going to be like in 30 years?


John April 7, 2013 at 7:20 am

Solar speed monitors… these people must really be clueless about human nature.

Don’t they realize, that a certain minority of drivers who see those often SPEED UP to get a chuckle out of seeing how high of a speed they can register?

It’s true, sit out there one day and wait.

Put a cop out with a radar gun randomly and they will slow down.


HeyHeyJaviAy April 8, 2013 at 10:25 am

No more lights please! All they need to do is put those gigantic speed humps in that destroy the bottom on your car if your going more than 15 mph.


Lester Burnham April 8, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Word. They need to put some of those on the whole stretch of Abbott to keep the “look how loud and fast my Harley is” bikers in check.


Judy Swink April 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm

I keep trying to visualize just how one could create a direct access to I-5….


John April 9, 2013 at 3:04 am

Have you seen that really large bridge they built over the 94 for the 125 interchange… a shape a lot like that, maybe on the scale of the 805 bridge over mission valley.
The feds have spent more for less…
On the good for humanity thing it would be a mixed bag. The homeless would never be out in the rain again, but how would we keep the jumpers off?


Catherine April 9, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I don’t get why they didn’t include one when they created the direct access to 5 South and 8 East. Couldn’t have been that hard to throw an access road to the left.


John April 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm

While I completely wish they had, I can’t help but feel from their perspective that the freeway was a mere mile plus long when they reached that junction, and many of those who’d been at the destination of Sea World would take its onramp at Sea World Drive, they probably didn’t feel the benefit of such access justified the costs.
Touching again on my facetious comparison to the interchange at 94/125, to get to the 5 north from 8 east would require such a sweeping structure to dump the outlet across the 5, built upon a surface that is essentially reclaimed tidal wastelands, which you have to drive a lot of pilings deep for seismic stability. The upper layers are subject to liquefaction in earthquakes.
Never mind an interchange like this, along the lines of some of LA’s largest, would be considered an eyesore to planners envisioning this from the vantage point of the Presidio looking northwest.
(just rambling as these considerations are just popping in my head now)


Seth April 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm

The most plausible solution I have heard floated is making Sunset Cliffs one-way southbound, and Ebers one-way northbound. This would allow for easier access to and from I-8. Traffic flows would be alleviated on SSC coming from the 8, and the primary entrance to I-8 would be moved from SSC to Ebers > West Point Loma > Nimitz.

The problem as I see it, and I have raised this point in a couple of meetings, is that this would do nothing to slow traffic speeds on SSC, but rather exacerbate them, while also increasing speeds on Ebers and the cross streets between them. One dangerous street is enough, thank you very much.

In terms of traffic calming on SSC, I support it to a degree. Too much of it will simply compel drivers to save time by speeding down side streets, making more of them more dangerous to drive, bike or walk across.

As to building some big highway exchange, I say no way. Building to accommodate car access to and from OB will *only* result in more cars in our neighborhood. We should not even be thinking about it like that, IMO. The focus should be on facilitating non-car traffic, such as rapid bus transit to and from Old Town and Downtown.

Long story short, the status quo leaves much to be desired, but mostly just on ONE STREET. The rest of OB is perfectly safe walkable for the most part. Some degree of traffic calming on SCC is good, as long as the cure is not worse than the disease. And the real focus should be on getting people out of their cars in the first place.



Mark April 24, 2013 at 10:55 am

I live down by Bermuda and honestly taking a left is scary EVERY SINGLE TIME onto sunset cliffs, from most streets. the cars that line the roads completely block your view of oncoming traffic. i think there needs to be a longer red curb to the left of every street on sunset cliffs blvd, everytime you take a left you basically have to HOPE there are no cars coming and that you won’t be hit


Frank Gormlie April 24, 2013 at 10:57 am

I stayed on Orchard for a few months years ago, and taking that left onto Sunset Cliffs Boulevard was like taking your life in your hands every time.


Catherine April 24, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I have the same problem exiting my alley every day onto Cable. The red curb needs to be extended because if there are cars parked there, you have to hope for the best and go for it. That the bus may be coming is especially worrying. It’s worse if there are huge campers parked there, which, is not uncommon. I requested more red curb there but it didn’t go anywhere. It’s the only way out of the alley so everyone on that block has the same problem. I’m amazed there isn’t a crash every day because people also have a tendency to roll through the stop sign on Cable and Long Branch and to drive too fast in the neighborhood.


OB Mercy April 24, 2013 at 3:17 pm

May I suggest you all band together, or at least one of you attend a OBTC, Town Council meeting and petition to get the red curbs extended further, or whatever it might take to get our streets made safer in regards to traffic problems. We have many of them here. I’ve written several stores at The Reader in regards to these problems. You can bring my stories to the meeting to back it up if you wish.

Just put my name, Mercy Baron in a search on The Reader web site and all my stories will pop up.


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