One Paseo traffic issues: Too many unanswered questions

The March 28 meeting of the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board featured traffic engineering staff experts responding to questions from the members of the Community Planning Board. The auditorium was full of concerned residents who fear that the impacts on the proposed project far outweigh any benefits to our community. Residents were wearing “Save Carmel Valley” stickers. Their concern is centered on the fact that the proposed mixed use project would exacerbate the already congested traffic flows, especially on the northbound entrance to I-5 freeway where metered Caltrans entrance ramps back up traffic on the Del Mar Heights Road westbound in the morning rush hours.

Residents fear long delays at the additional two traffic lights and during both rush hour traffic peaks that will be created by the additional 23,000 auto traffic trips per day generated by this proposed project. The existing entitlement is for 550,000 square feet under the community plan. Kilroy wants to build 1.4 million square feet, or approximately three times what is presently allowed!

Such a vast increase in use would require “mitigation” measures. These measures were enumerated by the traffic engineers. The factual basis for the efficacy of these measures is lacking. The engineers could only cite the experience of the City of San Marcos as a place where the satellite-controlled traffic signals had ever “solved” the problems of overly-dense development. The engineers admitted, however, that neither of them had ever spoken to anyone in the Traffic Engineering Department at the City of San Marcos to determine whether the timed traffic signals solved the severe traffic congestion eastbound on San Marcos Boulevard at 5 p.m.. during peak rush hour traffic.

To test the hypothesis, one need only make a telephone call to the San Marcos City Traffic Department itself, or better, get in your own car and drive eastbound toward the I-78 freeway onramp on San Marcos Boulevard at 5 p.m.

The “un-mitigatible” traffic jams themselves would stimulate the provision that the developer would have to contribute to a City fund their “fair-share” of the cost of widening roads, use of satellite-controlled traffic signals with computer timing, installing more left turn lanes, making right turn lanes longer, and even installing a “diamond lane” for commuters who wish to go north on the I-5 freeway from eastbound Del Mar Heights Road. That diamond lane would be in addition to the normal right turn lane. We all know how people are carpooling these days. Not! When asked how bicycles are supposed to navigate the mess, the engineers were stumped.

Residents also learned that future contingencies, such as rebuilding the bridge at Del Mar Heights Road and the I-5 might never happen. The proposed widening of eastbound lanes on Via de la Valle from El Camino Real eastbound would allegedly take pressure off of traffic on Del Mar Heights Road, but, if the mitigation fund is not funded, then the only remedy would be to stop the proposed development at that “phase.” But that would only be if that provision was written into the plan.

The Chairman of the Carmel Valley Planning Board, Frisco White, asked the ultimate question of the City traffic engineers, “Would the proposed project (at three-times the existing entitlement) be good for the community?” Again, the traffic engineers from the City could not answer that question.

The existing level of service on our roads in rated at an LOS D or even at LOS F. The latter is deemed to be unacceptable traffic delays. Creating another 23,000 trips per day is like booking passage on the Titanic and hoping for more lifeboats after leaving the dock.

The original Community Plan was based on competent traffic studies. No technology can change the traffic jams that are inevitable if Kilroy Realty builds three times its entitlement. That’s roughly two to three times the traffic by anyone’s math.

William Bibb