OB Planners Juggle Projects to Be Funded, I-8 Problems, No Parking Hours and West Pt Loma Lane Reductions

by on May 2, 2019 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

At Wednesday nights meeting of the Ocean Beach Planning Board, the volunteer panel grappled with 4 different issues that converged to their agenda in the old community meeting room at the OB Rec Center:

  • Capital Improvement Projects (CIP);
  • the I-8 corridor improvements;
  • overnight parking lot enforcement; and
  • West Pt Loma Blvd “road diet”.

Without any development projects before them, chairwoman Andrea Schlageter lead the board through the various issues with ease, allowing for plenty of discussion among board members and those in the audience – an audience that was fairly slim given some of the more controversial issues. This reporter counted a maximum of 17 people in the audience over the course of the several hour meeting.

Capital Improvement Projects

Every 2 years, the city has the various community planning committees come up with a list of prioritized improvement projects which the groups would like to see built in their communities. These capital improvement projects – usually the top six – are supposed to cost at least $100,000 each and are recognized – usually – as those communities’ main priorities by city government, the councilperson, the mayor, etc.

Before the Board Wednesday night was a decision to either confirm the previous year’s list or come up with a whole new one. The decision is due July 1st. Last time, the Board made this list of CIPs:

  1. New lifeguard station
  2. OB Library expansion
  3. Salt water pool and stairs
  4. Recreation Center upgrade
  5. Saratoga Park
  6. OB Pier and parking lot improvements and OB Pier retrofit.

According to Schlageter, my notes say, all the projects have been “funded” except the OB Rec Center upgrade, Saratoga Park and the Pier parking lot improvements. Once the city decides to “fund” a project, the funds are committed for at least 5 years. It may take even longer for a project to get on a CIP list, go through the “feasibility study” stage and then get built.

The lifeguard station is funded – which means it’s in the “feasibility study” stage – still. As this reporter pointed out, the lifeguard station has been in this stage since the former council administration.

The library expansion is funded – there’s $8 Million – and it too is in the feasibility study time.

Schlageter pointed out – despite no funding in the budget for the rec center – it does need many improvements, like air conditioning, a new projector, the meeting room in which we met, and there’s a need for a bench outside the front door. Someone suggested asking the staff what they felt was needed.

There was some discussion about the need to fund repairs at the various cliff stairs.

Due in part to some hesitation by experienced board members and in part because there are many new members new to the subject of CIPs, Schlageter tabled the issue until next month.

I-8 Improvements

Since what was referred to as the Interstate 8 corridor including Nimitz Blvd is to undergo some new road painting by Caltrans, there’s an opportunity for local planning boards to make recommendations to any improvements. The corridor is in a “gray area” between the OB Planning Board’s jurisdiction and that of the Peninsula Community Planning Board’s. The Peninsula board had sent a letter affirming the improvements – and now it was the OB board’s chance.

There was some discussion of dangers, problems within the corridor – such as the lack of bike and pedestrian paths in the area. Finally, vice-chair Kevin Hastings suggested the board identify problem areas, hash them out at the Transportation subcommittee before sending a letter.

Overnight Parking Lot Enforcement

Apparently, police are only enforcing the ban on parking in the various OB lots between the hours of 2am and 4am. Schlageter relayed how some residents who live near the parking lots were upset over the constant comings and goings of the “van-lifers” and others who live in their vehicles and park in the lots. She asked the board for ideas.

A few ideas were suggested, such as “no limits” at all, longer hours for the ban, gates and locks preventing vehicles from coming and going, and linking the times with the times the firepits are supposed to be closed, which according to the city’s website, said one board member, is from midnight to 5am. It was pointed out that in comparison La Jolla enforces their parking lot bans from midnight to 5am.

Finally the board passed a motion that only applied to the Dog Beach parking lot, and that recommended “no parking” enforced between the hours of midnight and 5 am. It passed overwhelmingly, like 10 to 2. This will be conveyed to the city in the form of a letter.

West Point Loma Blvd “Road Diet” and Lane Reduction

Schlageter explained the Board last June sent a letter asking for a study by the city on the feasibility of installing bike lanes along that stretch of West Pt Loma Blvd from Nimitz to Sports Arena, and now it was time for an update from the city.

The city is repainting and resurfacing the roadway and now is an opportunity to make changes to it with the low-cost of just paint.

However, there was no one from the city to make a presentation, although there were several bicycling enthusiasts who spoke approvingly of the new planned road diet and explained broad confines of the plan – which they claimed is coming.

So, the plan will reduce that section of West Pt Loma from 4 lanes to 2. It will keep the intersections as is, and will have installed Class IV bike lanes on both sides of the boulevard. The city has presented two models or two options. One is like the Wabaska model and the other choice is a lane where the bicyclists are on the outside of parked cars. The bike lanes on Wabaska are quite good and often cited as the model for this roadway.

There will be some loss of parking, some said. But not much, as the city conducted a traffic study recently to determine parking usage along the section of WPL.

But, several people – including this reporter – questioned aspects of the basis for the plan. Here are some of the objections:

  • The city’s traffic study was conducted on a day when West Pt Loma got swept, so one side of the boulevard was “studied” for 12 hours, but the other side for only 5 hours; so the basis of saying there’s hardly any loss of parking is faulty;
  • why is there only two options? why is the city only presenting just two; everyone would pick the safer one, but perhaps there’s other options, such as only one bike lane, or ….;
  • the city just approved major redevelopment for the Midway District area, with plans for 10,000 new housing units and 23,000 new residents over the course of the next 20-30 years; this development will greatly impact West Pt Loma, and reducing the roadway down to only two lanes will force gridlock;
  • opposition to the plan has formed, and an online petition has nearly 150 signatures;
  • the lane reduction and loss of parking will upset residents; they’re not ready for this change;
  • the city is pushing a future that it hasn’t prepared for;
  • Wabaska is a quiet street with nowhere near the level of traffic that West Pt Loma gets, so you can’t compare them;

Hastings – the vice-chair- spoke of a study he conducted on the number of parking spaces along that section of West Pt Loma. He said he counted currently 186 spaces and according to the city maps, that stretch would lose about one third with the new plan, about 36 parking spaces. He acknowledged the city has a lower number.

Other board members complained of problems with the stretch or raised other ideas; motorists speed 60mph down the boulevard, something needs to be done to slow them down; people can’t even cross the road to get to their cars on the other side it’s so dangerous; paint doesn’t cost, so if the plan doesn’t work, it can easily be repainted; two lanes will allow the city to get to zero emissions easier.

Since the issue was an “information only” there was no vote to be taken.

There wasn’t any further business of substance, so Schlageter adjourned the meeting.

Even though some of the discussion was heated, there was no acrimony and it was all smiles and handshakes once the board broke up.

(Note: IF I got something wrong, please board members and informed readers let me know in the comments section.)


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