Bully’s Roundabouts and Bird Rock

For years Del Mar was known as “Gasoline Alley” with nine service stations.

Camino Del Mar (101) was termed “Bloody Alley” due to the frequent accidents. Then in 1967 when I-5 highway bypassed Del Mar, most businesses failed and Del Mar’s economic base virtually evaporated. What was needed to attract new shops and businesses to Del Mar was a vision of what Del Mar could be without I-5 traffic. To do so, a local group of residents and business interest prepared a brochure titled “Why Del Mar”.

The report stated “Why” indeed should a city whose business community had deteriorated after being bypassed by I-5, emerge as potentially one of the finest semi-rural, walkable communities on the California Coast? That vision of what Del Mar could be attracted more than a dozen new businesses. A couple of those businesses were Virginia Igonda’s Earthsong Bookstore and George Bullington’s “Bully’s” restaurant.

At the time “Bully’s” was located in La Jolla on a four-lane artery in Bird Rock, often termed “Baja La Jolla” because of its unattractiveness. I had not been back to Bird Rock since convincing “Bully’s” to come to Del Mar. However, with all the concerns about roundabouts, I felt it important to do so. So I visited Bird Rock and was impressed. Instead of the four-lane raceway for traffic I found a quite beautifully landscaped area with flourishing unique neighborhood shops. I noted how the single lanes each way allowed more traffic to flow through town at a slower pace significantly enhancing the environment, the air quality and the overall pedestrian atmosphere.

I talked to over a dozen businesses and residents in Bird Rock and asked a simple question. “What is your opinion of the roundabouts and reduction from four lanes to two lanes?” I was amazed by the absolute enthusiastic replies. All stated “I love it.” — “It’s the best thing that ever happened.” — “It’s great and so much safer for pedestrians.” — “The traffic used to fly by and never know my business was here, now we have a beautiful walkable community and my business is flourishing.” — “It moves traffic far more efficiently and reduces car emissions without all the stops and idling cars.”

The positive comments were virtually endless. There is so much false and misleading information about roundabouts. If you have any doubts about how positive the roundabouts can be in helping Del Mar finally achieve the 1975 plan goal, I would urge you to go visit Bird Rock to see the positive impact and vote “Yes” on Prop J.

Jim Watkins

Del Mar