Encinitas Advocate News

Proposed Cardiff street revisions face resistance

Forty-eight blue dots, 26 yellows.

That tally characterized opposition among a vigorously vocal majority of about 100 Cardiff-by-the-Sea residents attending a meeting held by Encinitas officials Tuesday, Dec. 4.

The session focused on proposed alternative traffic revisions to two of the community’s primary streets.

Though each is only about a half-mile in length, Chesterfield and Liverpool drives are fairly busy, congested routes connecting the southern Encinitas community’s commercial district east of Highway 101 with densely populated neighborhoods west of Interstate 5.

Those attending the meeting organized by the city’s Traffic Engineering Division at Encinitas City Hall had the choice of sticking a blue paper dot on their preferred alternative among eight possibilities — including one leaving the streets untouched.

A yellow dot signified the participants’ second favorite option.

The “no” alternative overwhelmingly received the most stickers.

“I don’t see that any of these things are going to help,” said resident Dave Fletcher of the proposed changes. “There’s a lot of things in Cardiff that are not up to code, so I really don’t have an answer. So, what do you do? Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing.”

The next most popular option consisted of restructuring the two road segments to create two 10-foot-wide drive lanes in each direction, while inserting a parking lane and pedestrian strip on the northern side of the street, plus 5-foot-wide landscaped areas on each side.

That design would limit parking to just one side of the street, but provide for separated pedestrian access. Only 13 blues and 5 yellows supported that option.

The most radical of the alternatives would convert Liverpool to a one-way street eastbound and Chesterfield to one-way westbound, emptying onto the coastal highway. That would retain parking on both sides of the streets. Seven blue dots indicated support for that idea.

The city’s proposals stem from concerns about safety and the flow of traffic on the two byways, both of which feature pavement 30 feet wide within 40-foot to 50-foot public right-of-ways.

Because parking is allowed on both sides of the streets, vehicles often have to drive down the center of the road to continue on and those in the opposite direction have to pull over and wait for the oncoming traffic to pass.

The streets mostly lack sidewalks and are devoid of accommodations for the disabled because they were installed before passage of the American Disabilities Act.

Encinitas Traffic Engineer Abraham Bandegan told the audience that in driving Chesterfield and Liverpool, he usually found himself forced to go down the middle of the roadways to avoid parked cars.

That wasn’t a convincing argument to some.

“That’s how we drive in Cardiff. We drive in the middle of the road,” exclaimed one man, declaring residents do not want to change to their community’s character.

Paul Murray, an activist in the campaign to improve Cardiff street safety and access for the disabled, said the problems stem from a decision made decades ago before the enclave was incorporated as part of Encinitas in 1986.

San Diego County officials agreed to put in 30-foot-wide asphalt streets, lacking now-standard curbs, gutters and sidewalks. In the ensuing years, residents built steps, planted shrubs and trees, and put other obstructions in the right-of-ways.

“The biggest problem is the first step (to improve the streets) would have to be abating the encroachments,” Murray said.

The city’s proposed alternatives mostly rely on restriping to create clearly defined drive, parking and pedestrian lanes, and do not propose removing the right-of-way encroachments.

Feedback from Tuesday’s meeting will be forwarded to the city’s Traffic and Public Safety Commission for its consideration Monday, Dec. 10.

Commission Chairman Peter Kohl told the audience, based on what he observed Tuesday, he would oppose going forward with the proposed changes to Chesterfield and Liverpool.

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