Peninsula Planners: Should West Point Loma Be Reduced from 2 Lanes to 1 and Lose Parking?

by on January 21, 2019 · 9 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

“Road Diet” Coming to West Point Loma?

There is a new term, a euphemism actually, that traffic engineers are using to make certain traffic changes to our streets sound more palatable.  It’s kind of like saying border “security” instead of border “wall.”  Or “workforce housing” instead of “affordable housing.” The term is “road diet.” It actually means that a roadway is put on a “diet,” much like a person.  The road is slimmed down to be, in the case of West Point Loma Blvd. east of Nimitz, half its former self.

This was all explained by the City of San Diego at the Peninsula Community Planning Board, (PCPB) meeting on Thursday, January 17 at the Point Loma Library.  The city presented a Power Point show to explain the significant changes proposed for West Point Loma Blvd. in order to create a mostly protected bicycle lane.

The city explained that it monitored parking along West Point Loma on a series of days and concluded it could remove parking with little impact to the area. The significant points to the city’s proposal were that it would reduce West Point Loma from two lanes to one lane, a not insignificant number of parking spaces will be lost, and a section of “back-in” angled parking will be added to mitigate the lost spaces.

The skeptics raised the obvious questions, the first of which was, would there be a bottleneck where the two lanes have to merge into one.  The city insisted their modeling of the traffic in the area said there would be no bottleneck.  Common sense would say that was a bad answer.

The back-in angled parking generated some questions as to what it meant.  This is a relatively new concept.  Instead of pulling into an angled parking spot head first, the spaces will be angled in the opposite direction. To use one, a driver pulls past the slot and backs into it.  This is not unlike someone parallel parking.

The selling point for this is that it is supposed to be safer – for cyclists.  The proponents say that when drivers pull out of regular angled parking, they can’t see well behind them and are a danger to cyclists.  By backing in, when the driver pulls out, they will have a better view of cyclists coming.  Regardless of how a driver gets into angled parking, some backing up is required.  Backing into a spot still involves the trying to see behind as you back up.

However, proponents point out that when a driver goes by a spot, and then backs up into it, they will have passed any cyclists on the road and will know what is coming before backing up. If a driver is backing out of a spot, after being gone for a bit, the driver has no idea what is coming without backing up and looking. This does not account for drivers who look behind them before they get into their cars.

The idea of taking any of West Point Loma Blvd. from two lanes to one did not sit well with many on the board and in the audience, although there were quite a few cycling enthusiasts there that were fully in support of the city’s plan.

The chair asked for a show of hands as to who was for or against this plan and the result was about even.  It would be fair to say that cycling enthusiasts had made a point of attending this meeting because they knew all about the proposal, whereas no one came in obvious opposition to it because only the cyclists understood what would be proposed that night.  The agenda description did not contain this information.  To get good idea of the cyclists opinion of how the PCPB meeting went check this out .

One of the people supporting the road diet was long time cycling advocate Nicole Burgess.  In the linked story, Burgess apparently wrote a letter to the mayor the day after the PCPB meeting insinuating that the city had done enough to inform the PCPB and the project should move on.  Burgess said there had been three presentations to the PCPB already, which was not accurate.  This meeting was the first presentation of an actual plan and there were a lot of details to look over, too many to just decide at the meeting.  If Burgess really wants PCPB support, this did not seem like the way to get it.

The PCPB decided to table the issue in order to have some time to look into the many details of the city’s proposal.  The PCPB has a Traffic and Transportation subcommittee that will take that closer look.  The Traffic subcommittee meetings are advertised on the web site .  The community at large needs to hear about this plan that will affect anyone driving or parking on West Point Loma Blvd. east of Nimitz.

North Chapel Liberty Station

There was an information item about the North Chapel at Liberty Station presented by representatives of Pendulum Properties that is in partnership with The Seligman Group, the company that bought the Liberty Station lease.  What the audience heard was more or less an indefinite sales pitch and ideas of what they might be doing with the site.

One audience member asked for a yes or no answer to whether they plan to remove the historically designated chapel pews.  To everyone’s dismay, the presenters refused to provide a yes or no and just said there was no current plan to do so.

It sounded like Pendulum plans to make multiple uses of the chapel and they seemed to leave open the possibility that the congregations that had been using the property might still be able to.  But – that sounded contingent on working out lease details.  The congregations do not have current leases and are meeting in other locations.  It also appeared that the much-maligned idea of a restaurant in the chapel is still in consideration.  Pendulum mentioned a figure of 200 events a year.

An audience member had a sheet of paper from Pendulum’s website that showed the property is open to any use, including a restaurant.  The chapel does not appear to be on the website now but to get an idea of who controls the building, go here.

During comments from the audience and board members, it’s this reporter’s opinion that some comments were made to intentionally embarrass the trio providing the information about the project. It is important to remember this was not an action item, it was an information item.  The three people from the company that now controls the chapel came to the PCPB meeting voluntarily, they were not there to ask anything of the board. They were made to look embarrassed and unnecessarily uncomfortable. Some lessons in common civility need to be learned.

Famosa

The Famosa Open Space issue came up in non-agenda public comment when a community member spoke who was been at the forefront of the activism to oppose developing the land on Famosa south of Bill Cleator Park.  She informed the board that she had just received documents showing that the San Diego Housing Authority was moving ahead with geological and seismic studies for the site. She had conducted a Public Records Request and received a number of documents that show the Housing Authority began working on this project two years ago.  This confirmed the community complaint that the Housing Authority started work on this project with no provision for public input.

The board was sympathetic but has made it clear that it is remaining neutral until a project comes before the PCPB. This is a very conservative position to take, the PCPB has the freedom to express an opinion on an issue if it chooses. The PCPB has given the appearance that it is in favor of developing site by the very act of not coming out in support of keeping the land as open space. What the community wanted from the PCPB was moral support for keeping this open space and not surrendering it to development and the board was not willing to do that.

The Famosa development opponents, or open space advocates, are still collecting signatures to put something on the ballot about this property.  They have collected quite a few but the exact number is not known.  What is not understood is how an initiative could affect a property owner legally exercising their property rights.

Other Items

Patriot Half Marathon

The board voted to support a new event called the Patriot Half Marathon starting at the Cabrillo Lighthouse and running down through Point Loma.  The race will take place in October.  The mission was promoted as an event to “honor or men and women in uniform.”  It was also mentioned that the organizers were a for profit company benefiting nonprofits. Apparently, the patriot angle is the theme people involved with the organizers use extensively hosting half marathons, ironmans, an triathlons all over the country. The PCPB voted unanimously to support race knowing no more than what they heard from the three presenters. It appears that Point Loma will be given over to a private company for one pretty disruptive day in October of this year so they can make money.

Six development projects were approved.  Two of the six included companion units that have become extremely popular due to new laws that reduce fees and eliminate the parking requirements.  The proliferation of these units will eventually eliminate the single-family home zone.

The PCPB lost another board member when Mick Moore missed his fourth meeting in a year. The by-laws state that a member who misses four meetings in a year loses their seat. Moore was elected to the board in April 2018.  There were six meetings in 2018, the board does not meet in August or December, and this meeting made seven total.  Moore only managed to attend three of the seven meetings. Moore roared into the PCPB loudly proclaiming he was getting on the board to protect and preserve the community.  Unfortunately, too many people believed him.  It appears that there will be seven seats to fill in the March election instead of the normal five.  Board member Virissimo resigned after a formal complaint was presented to the PCPB regarding her actions.

The PCPB yearly elections will be held the third Thursday in March, the 21st , at the Point Loma Library. A Candidate Forum will be held March 7 at the library where the candidates will appear to introduce themselves and answer questions.

 

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar gregg January 21, 2019 at 11:55 am

Good idea to put that road on a diet. In fact there should be, running down the middle in both directions, the trolley. Originating in the Old Town station then make a left on Nimitz and loop around to the airport then back on the main track to Old Town. The intersection of Nimitz and West Point Loma would make a good place for a Trolley station.

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Avatar Friendly Ghost January 22, 2019 at 10:53 am

You’re so smart! You should run for President, I mean Mayor. LOL

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Avatar ZZ January 21, 2019 at 2:34 pm

Making WPL from four to two lanes is nuts. I don’t see a need for a bike lane there, but if there must be one, remove some of the street parking.

Grand Ave in PB has been a potholed mess for at least 15 years. City should fix that kind of problem first before randomly trying to reconfigure city streets.

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Avatar Geoff Page January 21, 2019 at 3:12 pm

I wanted to elaborate on this part of the story: “During comments from the audience and board members, it’s this reporter’s opinion that some comments were made to intentionally embarrass the trio providing the information about the project.”

I was referring to board member Don Sevrens who made his opinion known in an entirely unprofessional manner. Twice he said, while looking at the presenters, “I would not buy a used car from these people” accompanied by a look of disdain . The “these people” he referred to providing the information about the chapel. Having attended many planning board meetings, I can say this was one of the rudest comments I have ever heard a board member make to presenters standing in front of the board and the audience. Sevrens did not provide anything to show why he made the comments he did. It amounted to bullying people publicly in a forum where they have no power. Sevrens owes these people, the board, and the community an apology.

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Avatar Richard January 22, 2019 at 8:31 am

Great! Another rarely used bike lane.

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Avatar jeff January 22, 2019 at 9:27 am

It should be noted that the “road diet” does not include the major intersections at Nimitz and Sports Arena. It would still be 2 lanes in directions at those intersections.

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Avatar Gayle eales January 22, 2019 at 10:28 am

Please let me know who to contact to sign the “Save the Famosa wetlands!”as a native San Diegan and one who has grown up in Point Loma… I am not liking what is happening to our community… we still need open park lands!

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Avatar Geoff Page January 22, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Gayle, try this email: famosaopenspace@gmail.com

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Avatar Debbie January 26, 2019 at 10:54 pm

Anyone know how to contact the Burgess’ about the crazy house party tonight?

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