As Pacific Highlands Ranch grows, so does the traffic.
In response, the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board established an ad-hoc subcommittee on Aug. 25 to review traffic issues in the area. The subcommittee will also review traffic generated by projects coming from its neighbors to the east such as Merge 56, a new commercial and housing development on Camino Del Sur.
The area surrounding Canyon Crest Academy is currently experiencing a lot of construction and will face future growth. CCA’s enrollment trends continue to go up and the new classroom building is currently being built; next door neighbor Pacific Trails Middle School’s enrollment will increase as an eighth grade class is added to the school this year; 699 more multi-family homes are being built in the adjacent area; Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Park and Recreation Center is coming on Village Center Loop Road; and more businesses will open their doors in the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch as it is built out.
In January, the planning board approved a proposal by CCA students to install a protected left signal to correct the safety issue between cars and students at the intersection that connects with the Village.
As both pedestrians and drivers are given green lights to go, students try to cross the street in bulk and cars navigate the crowded intersection in confusion, trying to avoid both students on foot and cars making right turns out of the Village.
Students reported lots of near-misses last year.
Barbara Mohondro, representative for City Council President Sherri Lightner, said city traffic engineers were reluctant to add a protected left signal as it created a 24-7 solution to a problem that occurs during a limited time. Instead, they have increased the pedestrian lead time for the walk signal, which they hope will eliminate the conflict between vehicles and pedestrians being in the middle of the intersection at the same time.
The light for drivers exiting the Village has also been changed from a straight and left arrow to a single left and a single straight, which aims to avoid the queuing in the middle of the intersection.
Mohondro said the city will continue to monitor how this solution works and if it still does not work they will explore next steps.
Carmel Valley Planning Board Chair Frisco White said the board would like to hear a report on how it has been working in September, after school has been in session for a few weeks.
White also encouraged the city to expedite the process to connect Village Loop Road all the way through to Carmel Valley Road. Currently the road dead ends at a privately owned parcel that has no current plans for development. In July the board discussed a proposal in which the city negotiates with the property owner for fair market value, using existing Facilities Benefit Assessment funding to purchase the easement. When the owners decide to develop the property, they would return the funds to the city.
As White has noted, the community is being hindered by the property owners’ lack of desire to complete their development, delaying an integral circulation element for Pacific Highlands Ranch.
The connection would be 700 feet of road, four lanes with a raised landscape median.