Livability Subcommittee reviewing ways to improve Carmel Valley and Pacific Highlands Ranch communities

By Karen Billing

Better and safer bike lanes, enhanced parks, streamlined streets and neighborhood beautification — these are some of the extras that a new committee is looking into providing for Carmel Valley and Pacific Highlands Ranch.

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board’s new Livability Subcommittee met for the second time recently, tasked with finding solutions for park improvements and transportation-related livability and safety issues using community Facilities Benefit Assessment (FBA) funds.

The formation of the Livability Subcommittee was prompted by numerous complaints that have come before the planning board requesting stop signs or other specific quality-of -life issues. Rather than take a piecemeal approach to addressing the issues the committee hopes to develop a comprehensive plan.

The committee, chaired by Manjeet Ranu, includes neighborhood representatives from the planning board, representatives from the parks and recreation board, as well as Monique Chen, a neighborhood 10 resident who has 15 years of experience in transportation planning and engineering and is the principal of the firm Chen Ryan Mobility, and Shreya Sasaki, a Pacific Highlands Ranch resident who is also part of the Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Program.

The committee will meet again on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at 6:30 p.m. at the Carmel Valley Recreation Center.

At its June 10 meeting, the group poured over large maps of different sections of Carmel Valley and Pacific Highlands Ranch to identify problem areas and pitch possible solutions.

Ranu said the group’s focus is on traffic calming and FBA-eligible park improvements that, as member Anne Harvey put it, make people feel comfortable enough to use the community streets so they will opt to walk or bike instead of getting into their cars.

The majority of Carmel Valley’s traffic and transportation issues come up around the community’s several schools; pick-up and drop-off times can be a nightmare and cause back-ups on surrounding streets, Ranu said.

“Access to the middle school (Carmel Valley Middle) is clearly a problem,” Ranu said.

Ranu said Del Mar Trails Road comes up a lot in planning board meetings and already stop signs and crosswalks have been added to help students and pedestrians in that area.

One of the areas ripe for planning is the future Neighborhood 8 Park off Tang Road and Carmel Creek Road, near San Diego Jewish Academy. The land is in the city’s Multi-Habitat Protection Area so only 25 percent can be developed, which translates into about a 4-acre park sometime down the line. The group talked about getting a trailhead to the much-used Carmel Valley Restoration Enhancement Project (CVREP) trail that runs along SR-56, as well as providing a restroom near the trail head and a real parking lot for trail users.

Many CVREP trail users park in a lot owned by Clews Horse Ranch on the other side of the trail on Carmel Country Road but once the park is built, the land will go back to private use and public parking will no longer be allowed. The committee said that issue would need to be addressed.

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