I took some pictures of the council meeting last night. Gary Murphy was there and told the council that the Leucadia Boulavard/101/Vulcan intersection signal lights were stuck on flashing red recently. He told the council that traffic was improved over the normal signal control.
He suggested that the city evaluate converting the intersection to an all way stop as a way of improving Leucadia.
I give Garry credit for paying attention to what is going on and thinking of ways to improve the lamest intersection in Encinitas. That intersection is a real downer.
Was it always that bad? I don't remember it being that bad when I was kid.
People who live in my neighborhood avoid the Leucadia Boulevard intersection like the plague and we use all sorts of cut-troughs to avoid it. Going north, we bypass it by going down Union (I should note that northbound on Vulcan could have been worse).
A vintage Leucadian also addressed traffic issues (she is sitting in front). She wanted the city to put in speed bumps on Union, or something like that. I don't think anyone saw the connection between the lady's and Gary's issues.
If the city states its traffic objectives and determines how it will measure success I would support collecting some easy/cheap data to see if Gary's suggestion is worthy. I might suggest measuring changes in cut-through traffic :)
Speaking of traffic, last night the council gave traffic engineering company Austin-Foust a contract to produce the city's new traffic study, which will be a foundation of the general plan update. Dang, we don't want to get the traffic study wrong or adopt a dumb general plan. We could end up with worse intersections and more cut-through traffic!
Steve Gerken (above) and six or so other speakers (including me) recommended that the city not hire Austin-Foust for this linchpin component of the general plan update. Steve and a number of other engineers and technical professionals from around the city had reviewed the last traffic study that Austin-Foust produced. That report sucked.
The report was obviously troubled. The data was funny, the model was questionable, and it included policy foundations that citizens would be unhappy about. The public highlighted so many issues that the council majority made an unusual move. The entire council didn't want to (publicly) accept Austin-Foust's work, and they sent it to the traffic commission to be reviewed. The report was not salvageable. The traffic commission would not approve of the report. One commissioner called the work "junk".
The whole time Austin-Foust signed off on the report and tried to promote it forward.
Above is Jim Cowles. He reviewed Austin-Foust's data and analysis of traffic in east Encinitas. He had the same basic conclusion as all the other speakers. Don't hire Austin-Foust, instead put the contract out to bid. Did I mention that Austin-Foust did not have to go through a competitive bid process?
Jim explained why this traffic study could determine the future of our city. He said, "The traffic study is the heart of this whole million dollar general plan update process."
I recommended to the city that they put out an RFP and bring in a contractor that the citizens could trust. Even Councilor Jerome Stocks was willing to go to a competitive bid process for the $100,000+ traffic study. Even Planning Director Patrick Murphy all but directly recommended going out to bid for the traffic study. Murphy normally toes the line even if he has to compromise himself. Murphy probably realized how important the general plan update is and decided to put the city's future (and the $1million dollar contract) in front of the wrath of the council majority.
Murphy made it really clear that if the citizens have problems with the general plan update on day one the whole update process could be jeopardized (whatever happened with the Cardiff specific plan?)
Barth was clearly leery of hiring Austin-Foust because she had analyzed Austin-Foust's previous report and remembered the analysis the public had conducted. Because Bond was on vacation, it looked like it would be at least a 2-2 vote against hiring Austin-Foust. Jerome said he was for a competitive bid process, but that was before Mayor Houlihan spoke.
Mayor Maggie Houlihan went off. She said she didn't know what was wrong with the Austin-Foust report. Well. She hadn't analyzed Austin-Foust's report. She appears to just go by whatever staff says and her conversations with the consultants. She also blamed the problems with the report and its delay on city management of the contract. Nevermind that the public asked her to address that issue years ago and there was no public response from her, nor did she explain how that couldn't happen again.
During last night's meeting Houlihan asked staff if they knew of any flaws in the Austin-Foust report. She temporarily forgot that she considered staff responsible for managing Austin-Foust (and there weren't any city engineers at the meeting).
Houlihan did not ask any of the 7 speakers if they would inform her of the flaws. None had done so during their address to council because they had assumed the quality of the report was no longer in question (the report had been tossed years ago). However, Kathleen Lindamen had offered to share a letter that outlined some of the issues with Austin-Foust's report. Houlihan could have, but did not, request that the one page letter be read. She could have asked Jim Cowles or Steve Gerken. She did not.
Mayor Houlihan drove the vote to Austin-Foust and Jerome jumped behind the cover of the Mayor.
The Mayor could be 100% correct that they were only puppets of the city and Austin-Foust should still not be given a new contract. Austin-Foust was willing to sign off on the report and cover city officials asses (regarding the artificial delays).
Above is the guy who got the 1 million dollar general plan update contract. He learned two things last night:
1) Encinitas citizens and Barth won't tolerate manipulated or shoddy work, and
2) Dalager, Stocks, and Houlihan will.
The vote was Barth against, and Dan Dalager, Jerome Stocks, and Houlihan for giving Austin-Foust a new traffic study contract.
The vote was unanimous to give MIG the overall general plan update contract.
See Also: Encinitas Council Back from Vacation.