Carmel Valley board to revisit mobility study

New Pacific Highlands Ranch communities will be considered as the planning board revisits its mobility assessment.
(Karen Billing)

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board will revisit the work of its past livability subcommittee in an effort to finally see some movement on traffic and mobility issues in Carmel Valley neighborhoods.

Back in 2014, the board’s livability subcommittee was formed in response to the numerous complaints that came before the board requesting stop signs or other specific quality-of -life issues. Rather than deal with the issues on a case by case basis, the subcommittee aimed to develop a comprehensive plan.

Throughout 2014 and 2015, the subcommittee pored over street maps and discussed areas of concern in their neighborhoods. Their resulting work in 2016 was a mobility issues assessment breaking down the issues into categories such as bike lanes, parking, school traffic and pedestrian safety, and lack of traffic control and speeding problems on the community’s long looping streets.

The board’s planned next step was hiring a consultant to explore and develop potential solutions, prioritize areas of concern and identify funding sources for resolutions of the problems. The board set aside $1 million of its developer impact fees (DIF, previously called facilities benefit assessment funds) to complete that work.

For the last five years, the planning board has been pushing the city to take that next step.

Ricky Flahive, the community representative for San Diego City Councilmember Joe LaCava, has been making inquiries on the board’s behalf with the city since July 2020 and admitted that it has been a frustrating process.

At the board’s May 27 meeting, Flahive reported that per the city’s mobility department if the study is for an improvement that is included in the community plan, DIF funding could possibly be used. However, if it is more of a diagnostic analysis of what improvements would be appropriate for one or more locations, DIF funding likely could not be used. Flahive said the transportation and storm water division also confirmed that such a study would be outside of the scope of what they could perform.

While the board’s goal with the report was to take a more comprehensive look, board member Allen Kashani said they might make more progress if they take a more “bite-size approach” with the city. Board members will now spend some time looking at the report and prioritizing to make more specific requests for a consultant study.

The board has had success when taking a more targeted approach—in 2019, the board sent a request to the city to study the installation of a roundabout at the intersection of Carmel Mountain Road and Carmel Country Road. The owners of the Merge mixed-use center on the corner approached the board about the potential traffic solution for the intersection as there have been several accidents and near misses due to speeding and reckless driving.

According to Flahive, the transportation and storm water division completed an operational analysis of a roundabout last year and DIF funds have been allocated for preliminary engineering.

“I think throughout the community there are some places where traffic is going to be a major issue that we can hang our hat on, to at least make some progress,” said CV planning board Chair Frisco White.

The board’s Pacific Highlands Ranch representative Danielle McCallion requested that when selecting priority spots they consider Pacific Highlands Ranch. The community has drastically changed since the 2016 report with two new schools (and one just starting construction), thousands of homes and an entire shopping center.

White assured her that it will definitely be considered—the board has continually advocated for the completion of Village Center Loop Road and there may be traffic issues when the Aperture office complex is completed on Carmel Valley Road and SR-56.