Mayor’s view: History of Hwy. 101 serves as inspiration

By Mike Nichols

Mayor, Solana Beach

On Feb. 9, the Solana Beach Civic and Historical Society held its annual Valentine’s Venture luncheon at the Belly Up Tavern. This year, they honored our city’s “Pioneers of Highway 101 and the Plaza District.”

The ceremony was both informative and inspirational with each of the 11 Pioneers sharing a distinctive story about their own or their family’s involvement in helping to develop the historic Highway 101 corridor. These intriguing and personal stories spanned a period of 80 years.

Presently, the city is in the process of examining ways to revitalize our 1.7-mile stretch of Historic Highway 101. There is no doubt that this iconic coastal corridor plays an important role in defining our community’s character and is a vital economic engine for our city.

Today we find many areas of the corridor in need of repair; there are lengths of roadway without curbs and gutters, no sidewalks, limited parking opportunities for businesses and visitors, and a lack of pedestrian gathering spaces and landscaping.

The city’s Highway 101 Master Plan, developed between 2004 and 2005 after public input, identifies opportunities for improvement to these areas. This City Council recognizes the value of moving forward with this plan.

In the next few months, the city plans to begin work on an updated survey along the corridor and start the process for revitalizing Highway 101. This process will include an evaluation of all modes of travel along the Highway 101 corridor, including pedestrian foot-traffic, bicyclists, transit riders and motor vehicle drivers. A traffic analysis will determine if Highway 101 roadway configurations can be modified to calm traffic, provide additional public parking and increase pedestrian walkability.

As always, community participation will be vital to the process. Public workshops are tentatively scheduled for later this year to share the results of the preliminary traffic studies.

It’s time to cultivate the next generation of Solana Beach pioneers by encouraging the development of a vibrant, pedestrian and shopping-friendly coastal destination. A revitalized Highway 101 and Plaza District will provide for long-term sales tax revenue for our city. We can accomplish this goal while honoring our past and reflecting our unique community character.