Point Loma Residents’ Complaints of Cañon Street Truck Noise and Speeding Not Resolved

by on October 8, 2014 · 17 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach, San Diego

Pt Loma Canon dr 01

Canon Street.

By Rika Davis / Special to the OB Rag

Residents of Cañon Street just over the hill from OB in Point Loma have been dealing with traffic issues for years.

The street, though just two lanes and lined for a stretch with single-family residences, is a major thoroughfare for the neighborhood, with trucks rumbling through on their way to make deliveries to the Fresh & Easy shopping center at the top of the hill, or to Naval Base Point Loma, or to the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant.

There’s also the matter of car traffic, which comes whizzing downhill at speeds well in excess of the posted 30 mph limit particularly during the afternoon commute (it is further reduced to 25 mph approaching Cabrillo Elementary and the adjacent city recreation center).

Some neighbors have had enough, going so far as to lodge complaints on a daily basis for a month or more at a time, but express frustration that their complaints seem to be falling upon deaf ears at the city.

Lindsay Langford moved into her home on Cañon 3 ½ years ago, and almost immediately took notice of the traffic issues, though she says they’ve been exacerbated lately. The truck traffic is particularly an issue.

“They start anywhere between 4:30 and 4:45 in the morning,” says Langford, “and the latest I’ve heard them is 11:15 at night. Since the road has been under construction for the last 19 months, we’ve been very aware of their passing, as they shake our whole house speeding by.”

Langford tells the OB Rag she’s made numerous calls to city and police non-emergency lines, and has been in touch with representatives for City Council District 2, a seat that’s been held by Ed Harris since Kevin Faulconer vacated it to move into the mayor’s office. The response has been less than overwhelming.

She also says the council office has promised additional action, such as “traffic calming” measures for the intersection of Evergreen and Cañon, though such improvements have yet to materialize.

Recently, a pair of speeding-related tragedies have taken place in the neighborhood. Per Langford, in the fall of 2012, a 24-year-old woman was killed after losing control of her vehicle, estimated to be traveling in excess of 70 miles per hour.

Just a few months later in early 2013, a man fleeing military police after an attempted theft from the naval base died after crashing his van in the same area, a broad, sweeping downhill section of road that passes the terminus of Point Loma Avenue and Del Mar Avenue before re-entering a stretch lined by residences.

Back when Faulconer was representing District 2, a digital speed limit sign was installed on a southeasterly portion of Cañon, with an internal radar monitoring drivers’ speeds and comparing them to the posted limit. As cars pass the sign, capable of reading speeds up to 10 mph above the limit, continually flashes a warning to “Slow Down!” as drivers exceed even that speeding threshold.

“Following the deaths, suddenly the councilman’s office decided it was important to push for some sort of traffic calming measure,” Langford recounts. “So the sign went in and that’s how they ‘stopped’ speeding. Faulconer had a local conference to tell residents how he cares about the community and speeding, but as anyone can tell it hasn’t really done anything.

“I understand this is a major thoroughfare, but they need to be following the traffic laws.”

A section of Canon Street.

After reaching out to Harris’ office, the Rag was able to get in touch with Bill Harris, supervising public information officer for the city’s Transportation and Storm Water Department. While certainly empathetic to many of Langford’s concerns about the condition of the road, Harris was unable to alleviate concerns with regard to the truck traffic or purported Evergreen intersection improvements.

According to Bill Harris, trucks comprise:

“a miniscule amount of the daily traffic – it’s about two-and-a-half percent of the total number of vehicles traveling the road.”

He also spoke to another of Langford’s concerns, namely that the road surface wasn’t built to withstand the constant barrage of traffic passing through the neighborhood.

“You’ve got the base out there, you’ve got so many other things – [Cañon Street] was built as a highway about a hundred years ago. It was designed to be the route to the base. So it’s a very sturdy street, designed to be a major traffic route.”

Further, Harris says that police have been sent out to patrol the area in response to resident requests, though they may not have been as diligent in speeding stings as locals may prefer (Langford says she’s aware of only one, which occurred late in the morning, not during peak traffic times).

“I couldn’t tell you how many citations they’ve issued,” Bill Harris continues, “but the extent of the problem is not as well-documented as [residents] might have imagined. We’re going to continue to monitor the situation, and our traffic engineering group is out there as well.”

Despite what Langford heard from her council representative, Harris says no additional “traffic calming” measures, such as speed bumps, center islands, rumble bars, or roundabouts, are planned for the street.

“We’re not planning anything here because it just doesn’t rise to the same level as some of the other streets we’ve got on our queue.”

Harris cited a handful of studies of the street the city has done in recent years, noting that all had concluded with the determination that traffic flow was on par with what was to be expected along a main artery for the community. Still, he encouraged locals to continue filing complaints or requests for enforcement, as this is the means the city uses to target specific locations for additional attention.

Despite Langford’s communication with a city contractor that indicated that Cañon is due for resurfacing in January 2015, following her frustration with the fact road striping crews recently came through to re-paint the heavily patched and bumpy road, Harris says that will have to wait until a number of other construction projects in the area are wrapped up, which could take another year or more.

Faulconer’s “one dig” philosophy was offered up as an explanation for the delay, which stipulates that if multiple projects such as replacement of water and sewer lines and/or utility undergrounding are scheduled for an area, all facets should be completed at once, with road resurfacing comprising the final component.

“It’s really tough while it’s going on,” Harris concedes, “but once it’s done, it’s really fantastic.”

Will the heavy truck traffic lessen on Cañon once the area improvements are complete? Probably. Will it end? Nope. Will the city take action to crack down on speeding commuters who have little regard for the safety and well-being of local residents? Maybe. Keep those complaint calls coming…

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Goatskull October 8, 2014 at 11:35 am

Hmmm interesting. I drive the whole length of this street Monday through Friday to get to work and back.

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Point Loma Local October 9, 2014 at 9:24 am

Can you please tell the loud ass motorcycle guy, who drives from Canon to Catalina, that he is making your work look bad. Like VERY bad. People don’t need to be woken up at Midnight, 3am and 7am just to know he is going to work.

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Christo October 8, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Increased traffic in the last year was also due to the long term closure of eastbound (downhill) Talbot to rebuild the huge retaining wall. It just recently reopened- but habits are slow to change and a lot of people now don’t think to use Talbot to get down to Rosecrans.

BTW- somebody should do a article on the cost us taxpayers paid for that retaining wall on Talbot. Lot’s of money and time for the benefit of a couple very wealthy homeowners.

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Point Loma Local October 9, 2014 at 9:19 am

That wall was complete BULL. We shouldn’t have to pay a dime for that crap. All it did was benefit one person up on Harbor View and rerouted traffic for a year.

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Cholly October 8, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Has anyone done a study on the number of accidents and deaths which have occurred annually?

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Mari October 8, 2014 at 4:00 pm

I guess if you want to live in a quiet neighborhood you should buy a house in a quiet neighborhood.

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Point Loma Local October 9, 2014 at 9:10 am

Point Loma is as quite as it can get and it should always stay that way!

I am sad to say but I have called SDPD dozens times due to the motorcycles speeding up and down Catalina st. from Canon st. @ 12midnight, 3am and 7am. And I am sad to say, SDPD has done NOTHING! Instead they go patrol the school areas and give out tickets.

Point Loma doesn’t need loud motorcycles speeding up and down the street when people are trying to sleep.

@Kirk the limited time closer for Del Mar is to get all the Military/SpaWar workers to use Catalina instead of Chatsworth. And is also another cash cow for the police department.

I’d like to see a cross walk with stop signs at Del Mar and Chatsworth. I saw some kids trying to cross there and I stopped thinking they had been waiting there for over 30mins.

Also. The PLNU is very dis-respective to the community. I constantly see kids running stop signs on Loma Land, almost hit me a few times. And they are always speeding, playing loud music, yelling… pretty much, just because they spend $20k a semester they think they own Point Loma. Ohh and the teachers are just as bad.

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Kirk October 8, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Talbot closure impact should be lessoning now that it is open again. The city has still never explained time limited closings for turns onto Del Mar. That adds to Cañon traffic and has backed Catalina up several blocks every afternoon.

I do also wonder why public money apparently paid for Talbot climbing wall (just wait till local teens get a look at that boondoggle) which benefits so few. I predict a future Onion award.

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Lindsay October 8, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Thank you for bringing attention to this issue. My goal is to get users of this thoroughfare to obey traffic laws. The speeding is dangerous for everyone.

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Susie Q October 10, 2014 at 12:54 am

Yes, Speeding is Dangerous for everyone just as Illicit drugs are dangerous. But people still do it as some are very selfish and moreover just plain Do Not care about others.
While your efforts are commendable, Do you really think the mayors office gives a care about you and your or anyone else’s frustrations re Canon St? I dare say No, he does not. Why? It does not directly affect him. Thats why. The police can and need to do more but won’t until the mayor asks them to do so. Know that.
Traffic Will be worse if a pocket park, :( goes in that area too. There is already too many new condos going up and that will add more cars and traffic. I suggest move off of Canon for safety and quite.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 9, 2014 at 7:54 am

Some of what occurs on Canon can’t be helped. My wife witnessed the accident where the young woman was killed. She was following her and saw she was very drunk and driving erratically. She was following the woman and was on the phone with the 911 operator when the woman lost control, launched through the air, and hit a tree. No amount of traffic control could have helped that or the other case for that matter.

As to the turn restrictions on Del Mar, these were approved by the Peninsula Community Planning Board when residents of Del Mar requested them to cut down on problems on their street with traffic cutting through from Chatsworth to Canon streets. The signs were supposed to be in place for at least six months and monitored by the City to see the effect. Other PL residents on Garrison street complained that the signs drove traffic onto their street. I’d bet a week’s salary that the City never followed up, the signs were placed at least five years ago. The problem with all traffic solutions is that they make some people happy and anger others. The decisions need to be made impartially and based on engineering, not just resident’s complaints because the City will just hear more complaints when they respond.

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Cholly October 9, 2014 at 8:07 am

The City’s goal -to some- might be to reduce the volume of automobiles and encourage pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Yeah Rocket Science!

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 9, 2014 at 8:10 am

Pedestrian and bicycle traffic won’t solve the volume of traffic to the Navy Base and the Nazarine University. Effective mass transit however…

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Mari October 9, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Hey Point Loma “Local” – “Point Loma is as quite as it can get and it should always stay that way!” Point Loma is directly under a flight path to San Diego International Airport, so no it’s not as quiet as you would like to think. I agree with you that you should hear motorcycles when people are trying to sleep but Canon is a pretty busy street. It’s going to happen from time to time. Also, how do you know that both students and teachers from PLNU are speeding and running red lights? Are you stalking everyone that comes out of the parking lot? That’s pretty creepy creepster.

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Point Loma Local October 15, 2014 at 11:23 am

@Mari.

The SDIA flight path is over the Sports Arena and OB area. Occasionally there will be a diverted plain that flies over Point Loma. We sometimes hear Navy jets take off at North Island. So yeah POINT LOMA is quite.

How do I know both students and teachers from PLNU are speeding, running red lights and running stop signs. Well, because I live a block away from the entrance and I have to drive Lomaland multiple times everyday. I find you very uneducated for assuming I am a “creepster”. What, you think I am going to waste my day following teachers and students. No. All, if not most students have student parking passes, which you can see from a mile away. The teachers have the same, but vary in color. I visit the college almost everyday, depending on how the surf is, so don’t say I don’t know. And, I have lived in Point Loma for 28 years. SO DON’T SAY I DON’T KNOW!

If you lived in Point Loma you would know. But you don’t.

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Wireless Mike October 9, 2014 at 3:39 pm

If you don’t want to live on a busy highway, then don’t buy a house on a busy highway. Cañon Street has been a busy highway for many years. I grew up a few blocks from Cañon Street and remember hearing loud vehicles at night as far back as the 1950s. This is nothing new, and it is unlikely to change.

Cañon Street was a part of California Route 209, and for a time it was a part of US-80 in the 1940s. It is, has been, and will continue to be a major thoroughfare through Point Loma.

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Wireless Mike October 12, 2014 at 10:09 pm

For anyone interested in some historical context, the following link goes to a street map of San Diego from 1940. It clearly shows Cañon Street as part of US-80.
http://www.americanroads.us/citymaps/SanDiegoCA1940HMG.png

US-80 started in Savannah, Georgia and ended in San Diego. It was San Diego’s transportation lifeline to the east. Before US-80 was commissioned in 1926, the route followed California Legislative Route 12, which included Cañon Street, even back then.

In the 1960s, the city planned to widen Cañon Street to four lanes. The gulley was filled in from Ullman Street to Valemont Street to accommodate the new lanes. The curbs at Ullman Street were aligned for the additional lanes. A hillside was cut away from Addison Street to Cañon Street for a new roadbed. It never happened. The cut in the hillside is now planned for a pocket park. The lead photo to this article clearly shows the Addison Street cut on the left, and the filled-in gulley on the right.

Heavy loud traffic on this major highway should be no surprise to anyone. It is nothing new.

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