Del Mar City Council hears concerns about proposed Coast Blvd. stop sign

Del Mar City Council is considering a request from residents, who have described traffic in the beach colony as a melee, a mess and a zoo, to put a stop sign at Coast Boulevard and 18th Street.

A stop sign could help prevent what they say is an accident waiting to happen.

The traffic study and installation of the stop sign with related sidewalk markings could cost the city up to $4,860 and council members wondered whether it made more sense to instead commit their money to find a broader solution for the area as a whole.

Staff members will come back on Dec. 14 with a broader list of options for Coast Boulevard, not just at 18th Street. The extra time will also enable them to better gauge where the city is financially since they will be in the bid process for the downtown improvement project, said David Scherer, director of public works.

Scherer agreed with residents that there is a problem at 18th. As drivers circle looking for non-metered parking close to the beach, they are ignoring traffic rules and making it dangerous for other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, he said.

Resident Jeff Lehmann, who has lived on the street nearly his whole life, said that the traffic has gotten ridiculous. He set up a camera on neighbor Ed Yuskiewicz’s deck overlooking the intersection and showed the resulting video at this week’s city council meeting.

Taken on a Saturday, the video showed one family standing on the corner of 18th waiting for several minutes when no would stop to let them cross. It wasn’t until a city parking enforcement officer stopped traffic that they were allowed to safely cross.

The video also showed drivers executing illegal U-turns in the middle of the intersection and several near misses with cars, pedestrians and bike riders. Teens with surfboards had to break into a jog to beat the cars.

“It’s really dangerous for everybody because nobody is paying attention to any of the rules. So I’m not even sure the rules work,” said Councilman Richard Earnest.

Other residents at the meeting said they do not want any more stop signs on Coast. Katie Nelson and Nancy Stoke complained the signs are unattractive, dirty, noisy, too expensive and ineffective.

“I don’t want a lot of signage, I think we have too many stop signs,” said Nelson. “Sometimes people just have to face traffic hazards. A stop sign is not the be-all end-all to safety, it gives a false sense of security.”

Other concerned residents aren’t thrilled about the idea of adding a stop-sign but find it necessary.

“None of us love to put up stop signs,” said resident Dick Davidson. “We just want to have a safe place to cross the street.”

Most agreed that some traffic calming measure is needed there but like resident Bill Michalsky said, it won’t work if drivers just ignore it.

“If only people were responsible we wouldn’t need half of the stop signs,” he said.