Bud’s Corner: Roundabouts all around--but not in Del Mar

By Bud Emersen

Del Mar Resident

Seems like the Del Mar 2000 Plan for downtown revitalization is serving as a great model for a great number of places. Roundabouts slow drivers down so they can enjoy the community instead of speeding past pedestrian-friendly and business-friendly zones. Narrowed streets create more parking and pedestrian spaces.

Coronado is installing a big roundabout complex in a five-way intersection to cure growing traffic woes. Encinitas and many other cities in the region are installing roundabouts that inhibit worrisome traffic. Leucadia is considering a plan to narrow its commercial zone to discourage pass-through speeders and encourage pedestrian shoppers.

I recently took a friend to the airport through La Jolla to give her a scenic treat. The Bird Rock area of La Jolla seems to have copied our whole 2000 plan, actually installed it, and it works.

We almost missed her plane. Consequently, I am one driver who now knows there is no way to speed through that area - I will use I-5 for speed the way it is intended.

However, I did find the time to go back, park my car, stroll along its pedestrian-friendly streets, have lunch and browse in its many shops.

Even planning consultants for other cities seem to be using Del Mar 2000 concepts:

“The plan envisions new medians, roundabouts and themed nodes at particular intersections to add visual interest and slow traffic.”

This from a $260,000 contract let by Oceanside for a “vision” for its future.

Its plan transforms the “highway corridor into a pedestrian-friendly place.” It calls for “preservation of the historic Seaside residential neighborhood just east of the highway in recognition of this area’s contribution to Oceanside’s unique identity as a beach community.”

We are about to let a six-figure contract for another planning consultant to guide us through a fresh round of charettes just as was done for the Del Mar 2000 plan in the mid-'80s, with mostly volunteer efforts.

Hello Del Mar leaders!

Why not pull that plan off the shelves, air it out with some public workshops, make a few modifications and adopt it as our plan for our future? But this time, let’s not wait 20 years to start implementation.

Once a year, the Del Mar Village Association closes off half of Camino Del Mar for an art stroll, and we all swoon over how much we like it as a pedestrian zone. Why not try it every Sunday? Then add Saturdays. Work our way up to 365 days.

Our Community Plan, adopted in the ‘70s, clearly envisions a goal of focusing “major retail and office activity into one economically viable, pedestrian-oriented and attractive area that serves the needs of both Del Mar residents and visitors and is well integrated into the residential fabric of the community.”

Del Mar 2000 and our Streetscape Plan call for narrowing the street and creating “two public plaza traffic circles ... closing in the current open-ended strip commercial condition.”

We have the plan. Why should we be the last in the region to make it happen?