Del Mar moves forward with partial downtown revitalization pilot program
Camino del Mar will not be restriped
Experimentation will be a big part of planning Del Mar’s downtown revitalization, and the City Council decided unanimously Monday to move forward with two less-imposing aspects of its pilot program that does just that.
Interim Planning Director Brian Mooney got the go-ahead to implement the valet parking and signage portions of the measure. The city will now see how it goes with valet parking on Camino del Mar that will allow some businesses to meet their parking-ratio requirements at more hours. There will also be a relaxed design review process in signage for businesses that want to market with public displays. The council, however, adhered to staff recommendation and decided not to restripe a southbound stretch of Camino del Mar to one lane with angle-in parking.
The city received complaints about traffic backups due to the recent streetscape improvement project, which made sections of Camino del Mar one-lane each way already.
“While that was a construction area, different than what it might be for a pilot project, it did prove some significant backups,” said Del Mar Mayor Richard Earnest.
The pilot program would have called for restriping the southbound stretch of Camino del Mar from 15th to 12th streets to one lane to make room for angle-in parking and more pedestrian access to shops. Since it was only paint on asphalt, the city could have reversed it if response was negative.
Del Mar received one formal comment letter, from the 22nd District Agricultural Association, during the pilot program’s environmental review period. It would have cost the city $3,000 to respond to the 22nd DAA before it could certify its environmental document and restripe Camino del Mar. “I think our concern was it’s going to cause a traffic jam,” said Fairgrounds Chief Executive Officer Tim Fennell before the council voted not to continue with the restriping program.
However, the form-based code, which is still in its conceptual phase, will eventually call for some permanent traffic calming in an effort to create a more pedestrian-friendly atmosphere in downtown. In essence, its goal would be to make Del Mar a destination as opposed to a throughway to other places.
“We want people traveling through the city safely, efficiently, but we also would like them, if they’re going to come down our street, we want them to stop and have fun for a while,” Earnest said.
Instead of reducing the amount of lanes, the city is considering a proposal to slow traffic by narrowing the lanes themselves.
The city is also considering proposals to replace stop signs with roundabouts. Creating shared lanes between bikes and cars could also be part of the project to make the area more pedestrian friendly.
“If we’re trying to create a successful district we want people to basically not be going to 30 miles an hour,” Mooney said.
All of this will be ultimately be decided in form-based code committee meetings, with the measure tentatively scheduled to appear on the June 2011 ballot. The program is also scheduled go through an environmental review period, and will be open for public comment later this year.
Mooney said he would return to the council within 30 days with a resolution adopting the valet parking and signage portions of the pilot program. He said currently restaurants are required to have one parking space for every 90 square feet, while offices must provide one for every 200 square feet. By allowing valet parking spaces to count toward this ratio, businesses can be more flexible about operations and constraints.
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