Guest Commentary by Herb Patterson
We all understand how city staff and city councils can make mistakes, we are human too. But how can a city fail to even begin to plan or budget for something deemed necessary when the city was founded and documented ever since ? That's what the City of Encinitas has done.
The stretch of La Costa between I-5 and 101 has always been planned to be a four lane developed highway from the inception of the city. This is again brought out in the North Highway 101 Specific Plan adopted in 1997. This plan comments that based on 1990 information, there were already intersections operating at less than the City's preferred Level of Service [LOS] C. Recent traffic counts show the average daily trips [ADT] are increasing by roughly 12% a year this without the impact of the nine planned projects directly impacting the area, the Carlsbad Ponto Project or the I5 expansion.
The City staff has covertly realized the problem and attempted to force Shea Construction to build a signalized intersection at Vulcan and La Costa, but calmer voices prevailed and only a modification of the Vulcan lanes was required. Both the City's and the developer's money would have been wasted when this section of La Costa is built to four lanes and the new intersection would have to be torn out.
The City of Encinitas has one catch-all LOS for every two lane street in the City an ADT of 11,000 for a LOS C. The current ADT averaged above and below Sheridan is over 16,000. It is more than clear that this section of La Costa needs to be expanded BEFORE the construction of all the other homes, hotels, etc. Besides being cheaper and more convenient for the residents, it will be significantly safer to do so without the additional trips generated by the on going development.
So given the facts, you would expect the City would have a plan ready to go, a source of funding identified, and be preparing to do the work.
There currently is no plan for the La Costa Expansion and no source of funding. There is no mention of this necessity in the current budget nor was it even discussed in the recent budget hearings. The fact is that the City of Encinitas has a series of priorities that are just more important than infrastructure. They will OK the development, but not do what is necessary to support it.
You may well ask, what happened to the traffic mitigation fees collected from the developers in this area? Good question. The code requires that collected fees shall be used solely for the construction and reconstruction of Circulation Element streets and traffic facilities developed in conjunction with the new development. [23.94.040A]. So where is the money?
*blogger's note-I drive on La Costa Ave everyday on my work commute. The section between HWY101 and the freeway is reaching a boiling point. The addition of new homes in the surrounding neighorhood combined with people trying to get to the beach, trying to turn left onto Sheridan and Vulcan, people trying enter and exit the nurserys, the gas station, the freeway on and off ramps, will all reach critical mass when the new hotel goes in. It's like the powers that be are eager to develop that area into super suburbia while leaving this tiny section of two lane country road. It's bizarre and worse, it's dangerous. Somebody is going to die soon.
Visit Anderson's La Costa Nursery and buy yourself a sweet lawn gnome click