Peninsula Planners Make Traffic Recommendations for Voltaire St. and Nimitz Blvd., Hear ‘Holistic’ Promises by Midway Rising

by on December 2, 2022 · 13 comments

in Ocean Beach

Voltaire and Bolinas

By Geoff Page

The main items of interest at the Peninsula Community Planning Board’s regular monthly meeting, Thursday, November 17, were traffic recommendations the PCPB is making to the city. These kinds of things usually prompt community interest because they affect driving on the peninsula.

Five items were listed under the agenda heading “Board Initiated Action Items.” Of these, items 2, 3, and 5 involved the traffic recommendations.

Item #2 – Review request by neighbors to install a stop sign along Voltaire at Bolinas or Soto.

Unfortunately, the agenda item was once again poorly written. It reads as if there was going to be a discussion, when it was really to vote on supporting a letter, already drafted, asking the city for a stop sign review.

The PCPB has a good website and there is a tab titled “Board Meetings.” It contains the agenda for each meeting and any documents that may be pertinent to the meeting. It is here where the letter about Item #2 can be viewed.

The first paragraph of the letter turned out to be its undoing with some of the board members. The letter describes problems with speeding on Voltaire and requests a stop sign to slow traffic where either Soto St., Bolinas St., or Guizot St. intersect Voltaire.

The problem is that traffic engineers, and several knowledgeable board members, know that stop signs are not intended to control traffic. While this may seem counter-intuitive, it is actually true.

The board approved the letter by a vote of 9 to 3, the no votes reflecting the knowledge of some board members about using stop signs to slow traffic. This was where the letter went wrong. This writer lives a half block down one of these intersecting streets and the idea of a stop sign is a good one for an entirely different reason.

Voltaire and Froude

There is currently no crosswalk between Ebers St. and Catalina Blvd., a bit of a stretch. The PCPB is trying to get an unnecessary crosswalk installed at Froude and Voltaire, with no traffic signal or stop sign. There is a controlled intersection a block away.

A stop sign at the top of the hill, where Bolinas St. intersects Voltaire, would be somewhat equidistant between Ebers and Catalina. Bolinas St. would be the best choice as it has the best visibility east and west on this road that also curves from Bolinas to Catalina.

Had the letter simply emphasized the aspect of providing a safe crossing on this long stretch of road, it probably would have received an unanimous vote. And, a crossing like this must have either a stop sign or a traffic signal. A three-way stop configuration would be the most practical solution. Midblock, uncontrolled crossings are not nearly as safe.

The letter also included a request to “install traffic calming measures and reduce the speed to 25 mph” on Voltaire. Board members, who are not on the subcommittee, asked what traffic calming measures the subcommittee meant. The subcommittee had no specific ideas and said they wanted the city to look at it and make recommendations.

With all of the emphasis on bike lane construction these days, traffic engineers are inventing lots of ideas for calming traffic. Lanes can be narrowed. “Bulb outs” are becoming very popular, here is a good description of those:

Bulb-outs, also known as curb extensions, extend the sidewalk or curb line out into the parking lane, which reduces the effective street width. Bulb-outs significantly improve pedestrian crossings by reducing the pedestrian crossing distance, visually and physically narrowing the roadway, improving the ability of pedestrians and motorists to see each other, reducing the time that pedestrians are in the street, and allowing space for the installation of ADA-compliant pedestrian ramps.

There are also speed “humps,” different from speed bumps in that they are wider and broader and better accommodate emergency vehicles.

Unfortunately, the discussion was mainly among board members because no one who lives along Voltaire, or in the area, spoke up. The Traffic & Transportation subcommittee based its letter on requests by local residents but none attended the meeting. If the city reacts to the letter, major changes could come to Voltaire, but hopefully not before there is a public discussion of those specific, proposed changes.

Agenda Item #3 – Review left turn at Nimitz and Rosecrans and request the city to review the intersection’s operation and potential solutions.

Once again, the agenda description did not clearly describe what would be happening. Another letter was already drafted by the Traffic & Transportation subcommittee, also posted to the PCPB website.

This letter is too detailed to do it justice here and should be viewed in its entirety here.

A Traffic & Transportation subcommittee member, who is not a board member, Paul Grimes, is credited with the detail in the letter. Grimes apparently spent a great deal of time observing and studying the intersection. He gave a detailed presentation of the ideas for improving what he and others believe is a badly engineered intersection. This is the same intersection that was remodeled by the city three years ago.

The letter can be viewed here:

A YouTube recording of the meeting is available here  where Grimes goes through the details.

Since these ideas for changes affect a major intersection, anyone concerned should read the letter at least, and chime in. Whether the city decides to do any of the suggestions or not, no one knows. But, if they do, the time to speak up would be now. The board approved the letter with a vote of 10 to 2 so it will be going out.

Item #5 – Review and request traffic safety mitigations or lighting be installed at Nimitz right turn on ramp to head east West Point Loma Boulevard.

There was no letter ready for this item and no discussion. The issue is safety of the eastbound ramp to West Point Loma from northbound Nimitz. It has been the scene of accidents and drivers find it confusing. Anyone interested in this location can contact Mandy Havlik, chair of the Traffic & Transportation subcommittee, at

Midway Rising

A presentation by the development consortium, Midway Rising, chosen by the mayor to redevelop the city’s Sports Arena property, was the next item of interest on the agenda.

Jeff Meyer, Jim Anderson, and Shelby Jordan presented on behalf of the development group. They explained that they would be providing:

  • 2,000 affordable homes
  • 8,500 new jobs
  • 20 acres of parks
  • $7billion in economic benefits
  • 16K seat arena
  • 250,000 square feet of commercial space
  • A 200-room hotel
  • Union built and union operated
  • 300/EA 3-bedroom homes
  • 300/EA 2-bedroom homes
  • Everything will be rentals
  • The project is very holistic

The “holistic” word was used so often that anyone listening to their presentation just feels so much better for some reason.

The “park” acreage is an aggregate of a lot of broken up green areas throughout the development. There is nothing that resembles a large piece of land where sports of any kind could be played.

More detail about the proposed design can be found on Midway Rising’s website

Midway Rising spent a great deal of money to get Measure C, removal of the Midway area height limit, passed. They also contributed a large sum of money to the mayor’s election campaign. Frankly, the holistic comments rang “hollowistic” considering this group’s less than admirable behavior.

Project Review

The board heard and approved four projects.

  • One was to demolish an older 1,283 square foot home at 3043 Nichols Street to build a new 4,724 square foot home.
  • Another project was also a demolition of an existing home at 4675 Tivoli Street to build a 2,524 square foot home.
  • The other two projects were cellphone tower upgrades on existing buildings, 3276 Rosecrans and 1475 Catalina Blvd.

All very routine projects, no objections were heard about any of the four.

Other News

  • Board chair Fred Kosmo once again opened the meeting with the unnecessarily ominous warning that the meeting was being recorded. “Chose your words carefully,” Kosmo said.
  • The board voted to continue meeting by Zoom.
  • San Diego Police Department Community Relations Officer David Surwilo stressed that fentanyl has become a major concern for the PD and everyone else. The drug is being found in all sorts of other drugs and has become a serious danger for anyone taking street drugs.
  • The Cañon Street pocket park has gone out to bid for construction.
  • The Voltaire bridge over Nimitz beautification project is still moving through the city.
  • The board’s Capital Improvement Project priority suggestions for the next fiscal budget will be discussed at the January meeting.
  • The board does not meet in December.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Bearded OBcean December 2, 2022 at 1:49 pm

Another great write-up. I especially liked this: “Frankly, the holistic comments rang “hollowistic” considering this group’s less than admirable behavior.”


Geoff Page December 2, 2022 at 4:49 pm

Thanks, Bearded, I couldn’t resist that one.


FrankF December 3, 2022 at 8:08 am


Re: Stop signs

What ever happened to the fact that a car accelerating from a stop sign causes more pollution that a car that continues down the road without stopping? Have we forgotten that fact? What is the environmental affect of all these new stops signs going up all over the beach area?? And how about all that brake shoe dust pollution on our ocean waters?


Clarke December 3, 2022 at 6:43 pm

A car going uphill at a higher speed burns more fuel (hence more CO2 than a car going slower. So it would actually be a carbon net neutral. Anything else?


Paul Webb December 3, 2022 at 9:42 pm

Huh? Just like your teacher always said, show your work. By which I mean numbers.


kh December 5, 2022 at 10:06 am

Stop signs do have more environmental impact. Not sure how significant in the scheme of things, but they result in cars idling longer, and yes that energy spent stopping the car has to be created again using gasoline. This was supposedly the impetus for the roundabout at Bacon/WPL.

Stop signs are mainly used for giving safe crossing options to pedestrians, and if there isn’t enough pedestrian crossings, the city won’t approve one. I also think the bulb-outs look like a great idea and should be considered whether with a stop sign or a flashing beacon. They also narrow the street from the driver’s perspective which helps reduce traffic speeds. This is actually why roundabouts get credit for increasing pedestrian safety, because they usually replace a 4-lane intersection which reduces
crossing distances.


Geoff Page December 5, 2022 at 10:50 am

The only problem I have with the bulb outs on Voltaire is what they have already done to the road because of the bike lane. The parking lane is so narrow that cars now routinely parallel park with passenger side wheels over the curb on the parkway. The tops of the curbs in this area are almost level with the pavement and are easy to drive over. The traffic lanes have been seriously reduced, below design standard I am sure.


Geoff Page December 5, 2022 at 10:58 am

While you are correct that the city takes into consideration how many pedestrians there are, they also ignore that with enough influence. They put a four-way stop at Brighton and Froude when traffic engineers said it did not warrant one. Campbell stepped in an authorized it. They also approved one at Froude and Voltaire based thinly on a one-day observation of the street because some people were pushing for it from the cycling community.


kh December 5, 2022 at 1:01 pm

I’ve not heard of any city approval for Voltaire/Froude.

Youre referring to Council Policy 200-08 in which the public can persuade their city councilmember to supersede transportation’s study results . I think sometimes that’s warranted. The stop at Ebers/Saratoga by the children’s park is a good example.

A stop there was not my first second or third idea, but considering the only other realistic option from the city is doing nothing, I’ll take it.

More/any traffic enforcement on our neighborhood streets would probably stem some of these safety concerns. I’ve never seen such a disregard for the most basic traffic laws until moving to OB. I’ll include bikes and pedestrians in that as well.


Geoff Page December 5, 2022 at 1:06 pm

Yes, it has been approved but not funded. I have the documents from a PRR.

I’m beginning to wonder if the plethora of stops signs encourages bad behavior. I’ve driven Froude from Voltaire to Santa Monica thousands of times in 35 years, there was no need for the Brighton stop signs. Since they were put in, I almost never see a car from Brighton. Almost never. So, I am now treating the stop sign on Froude as a yield myself. There are many more places where these stop signs just encourage people to run them because there never seems to be any cross traffic.


Geoff Page December 5, 2022 at 10:44 am

Everything involves sacrifice. Sometimes, safety involves sacrifice. I live in this area and I see people running across Voltaire all the time. Having a safe crossing midway in this long stretch of road. I am not advocating for anything, I’m giving an opinion of a logical place top put a crossing. I thoroughly agree that there are way too many stops signs going up in unnecessary places but I see the logic of one on Voltaire.

If someone has the numbers, as Paul asks, to show it would be a terrible idea because of environmental damage, then my opinion might change.


Debbie December 5, 2022 at 11:24 am

Leaf blowers cause pollution – boo or ban those first. At least a stop sign might save a life.


Jay Bird December 4, 2022 at 5:33 pm

It humors me that there is some sudden focus on slowing traffic on Voltaire between Catalina and Sunset Cliffs by way of “Stop Signs”. If there was a good place to do it, it would already be there (if even necessary). NOT!
Absolutely NOBODY wants a stop sign at their corner home.
I regularly walk up and down Voltaire from Ebers to Catalina. I think that a pedestrian crossing at Bolinas / Voltaire could be very useful, and another pedestrian crossing at Froude / Voltaire. ( In my humble opinion , thats the best place). Put in continental crosswalks with the LED flashers. That is going to slow auto traffic down coming down the hill without ruining property values, and quality of life.


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