Slim Majority of Peninsula Planners Favor Reducing Scott Street From 4 Lanes to 2

by on October 28, 2021 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The regular monthly meeting of the Peninsula Community Planning Board, Thursday, October 21, did not have any major issues on the agenda, but there were a few items of interest to the community.

Traffic Letter

The one item that got the most airplay was a draft letter the board voted to send the city about reducing Scott Street between Talbot and North Harbor Drive from four lanes to two lanes to accommodate cyclists.

The letter was drafted by the PCPB’s Traffic and Transportation subcommittee. The vote to send the letter was 6 to 5. It really seems counter productive to send a letter to the city when the board vote was nearly split in half.

Here is the letter:

On behalf of PCPB, we ask for pedestrian and bicycle improvements to be made on Scott Street between Talbot St and North Harbor Drive. This builds on a prior request from our board to the city in January 2018 to make it safer for pedestrians to cross in this corridor. Scott street is four lanes wide, and traffic volume and speeds fluctuate widely depending on time of day, and there is currently a lack of accommodation for foot traffic between the hotel and commercial district, and the harbor waterfront.

Between Canon St. and Harbor Dr. the community supports a modification to the roadway to provide one vehicle travel lane in each direction, including a separated and protected bikeway. Painted bulb outs to create perceptually shorter distances at crosswalks is highly recommended.

This approximately 0.5-mile corridor is an ideal candidate for a quick build bike lane and can be done immediately. Between Talbot and Canon, we request class II bicycle markings. It helps connect pieces of the bike network between Harbor Drive and Rosecrans, strengthening the bike network through the peninsula.

Changing the road configuration of Scott St is supported in the Port of SD Master Plan, and in line with the city’s Vision Zero and Climate Action Plans. Reducing vehicle travel lanes and shortening the distance for a pedestrian to traverse will help connect community members and guests of the hotels to restaurants, the waterfront, and other nearby amenities in a safe, and traffic relieving manner.”

For starters, this is another barely disguised cycling proposal.  Wherever the word “pedestrian” is used, substitute the word “cyclists.” It sounds like it is all about pedestrians but the people pushing this are cycling activists.

Wanting to reduce a major road like Scott Street from four lanes to two lanes is no small request.  Such a big change really needs public discussion but, once again, the way the agenda item was written it did not alert anyone that the PCPB would be asking for this.

Here is the item that was listed near the end of the agenda:

“1. The Traffic and Transportation Subcommittee: Consider approving a PCPB letter requesting safe pedestrian/bicycle facilities along Scott Street. The draft letter is posted on the PCPB website.”

Imagine how much more public interest there would have been had the agenda item read:

“Consider approving a letter requesting that Scott Street from Talbot to North Harbor Drive be reduced from four lanes to two lanes.”

This was the same way the reduction of West Point Loma to two lanes was slipped by the community at a PCPB meeting that later generated loud protests after the work was done.

There were several arguments against this idea. Several members objected to the PCPB making specific requests for facilities when the PCPB has no traffic engineering expertise. Others commented that there should be a request for a traffic study first to see how the proposed changes would affect the area’s businesses and residents.

Board member Paul Webb pointed out that Scott Street is already designated a Class II bikeway. Another board member mentioned what happened at Nimitz Blvd. and Evergreen St. where Nimitz was reduced from two lanes to one to accommodate cyclists. Apparently, this configuration has created races from people in the merging lane trying to get into the through lane.

The two board members who were very much defending the letter were Mandy Havlik, chair of the PCPB’s traffic subcommittee, and cycling activist Nicole Burgess, who is on the subcommittee. During the discussion, it was revealed that the suggestions were for “temporary” changes.  When Webb suggested that the wording “temporary” be added to the letter, the response was the wording “quick build” in the letter means temporary.

After checking many sources, it was not possible to find the words “quick build” in any definitions of the word temporary. However, Googling the words showed that this is one of the new catch phrases for the cycling activists. It basically means putting an existing road on a “diet” by reducing lanes for cars to make room for cyclists, and, oh yes, pedestrians too. This can be done mostly with road striping and signage.

Both Havlik and Burgess were against the idea of a traffic study because it would take time and cost money. Burgess characterized a traffic study as a “stall tactic.”

This was curious for two reasons. Burgess did not explain who was stalling. And, common sense would dictate that a traffic study should be the first step before considering any traffic changes, wherever they are proposed. For some reason, there is an urgency to getting this done that cannot wait for a traffic study. That urgency was not clear but it raised the speculation that Burgess worried a traffic study would not support this request.

The discussion was clearly not going Havlik’s way and she launched into a speech basically scolding the board for criticizing the effort and the letter. The letter was already sent back to the subcommittee for reworking and Havlik was not in the mood to make any more changes.

The final vote reflected the lack of agreement about the letter and should have been enough to give the proponents pause, but it did not. The problem is, if the city agrees to make the changes, just like on West Point Loma, there will not be another chance for public comment.

Anyone opposed to reducing Scott Street from four lanes to two should contact the PCPB and the city before waking up one day and just seeing the drastic changes in place. The PCPB’s chair Fred Kosmo’s email is

Froude Street

Another push by the PCPB’s traffic subcommittee is for traffic calming suggestions for Froude Street. Havlik has mentioned repeatedly that there are no stop signs from Voltaire to Newport as if this was something that just has to be rectified.

Because the city’s traffic engineers did not agree with the suggestions, Havlik wants to go over their heads and ask District 2 Councilmember Campbell to overrule the traffic department. Havlik claims to have a dozen “affidavits’ from residents along the street about speeding and accidents on the road. What Havlik did not say was whether or not the subcommittee had bothered to research the records for traffic accidents or other incidents along this route. Relying only on complaints of residents along the road is thin gruel.

The OB Planning Board sent the city a letter requesting evaluation of four-way stop signs at Froude and Brighton and at Froude and Saratoga.  The OB letter also stated “Additionally, there is a .44 mile stretch along Froude St. where there is no stop sign, which encourages speeding.” These were what the city evaluated and decided the road did not qualify for the changes.

Why the lack of a stop sign encouraged speeding was not clear. In fact, that stretch of road is difficult to speed on because each intersection has pronounced dips, on each side of the cross streets, that were designed for storm drainage. Speeding over these is very rough on a car.

Havlik intends to bring this issue to the traffic subcommittee meeting November 19 at 6:00 p.m. Comments can be directed to Havlik at (from PCBP website).


There three projects before the board all of which passed easily.

  • One was a large remodel of a property at 616 San Antonio Ave.
  • The other two were for accessory dwelling units that are flooding the peninsula. One ADU was relatively modest at 578/SF.
  • The other was a 1,200/SF two-story monster with a roof deck. Somehow that one just sounds like a second home in a neighborhood zoned for single family homes. The word “accessory” should be removed from the accessory dwelling unit name.

Student member on the PCPB

The PCPB decided to initiate an intern program for high school students to encourage youth participation in community affairs. Two students were selected and will serve on the PCPB’s Environmental subcommittee.

Anastasia Birmingham is a 10th grader at Point Loma High School. She introduced herself and was very well spoken for such a young person. She explained that climate action was her big concern.

Caleb Rogart is an 11th grader at Point Loma High School and expressed his interest was the environment.

The students will be asked to chose an environmental issue on the Peninsula to study and report back to the PCPB in March of next year. Hopefully, this will spark an interest in serving the community for both students and for others who learn about it. New candidates will be selected each year.

Other news

  • The OBTC representative announced they are once again seeking someone to cut down a tree from the Peninsula for the Christmas tree. This practice has to stop.  The problem is the OBTC offers a financial incentive for a homeowner to offer a tree by paying for the removal. OB and Point Loma need all the trees we have, and the OBTC needs to consider obtaining a tree from somewhere a tree won’t be missed, as it used to do years ago.
  • The “Spaces as Places” ordinance intended to allow permanent use of public space for eating establishments, created during the pandemic, is moving along. A fee $20/SF is proposed, which is a pittance. One board member was quoted as commenting, “The city will be eliminating the street trees to increase the visibility of these spaces.” So public space is proposed to be given to private businesses and public trees may have to go as well.  This makes no sense.




{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Dodge October 31, 2021 at 8:04 am

I pedal Scott Street often. It is the best way to transition from Canon to Harbor drive and on to downtown. Parallel Rosecrans is crazy and the other parallel streets to the west lead to a difficult to navigate dead end at Nimitz.

For cyclists it would be nice to have dedicated lanes on Scott. Traffic there is not heavy but there are large trucks and trailered boats that squeeze out cyclists. Speeds there make me uncomfortable claiming my space on the sharrowed lanes.


Geoff Page November 2, 2021 at 10:45 am

An open discussion involving the community might actually favor this action. The problem is, there was no open discussion. You are the only member of the public who has provided an opinion outside of the PCPB.


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