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Calmer Streets
Ann Gardner | Via Latina

Graphics from January 24 Downtown Streetscape consultant
report to Design Review Board.
Click to enlarge.

Permits to move ahead with the Downtown Streetscape Project were approved by the Design Review Board on January 26 but not without questions about the proposed “treescape,” bike lanes and project scope. “I would like to see more impact especially between 9th and 13th,” DRB member Scott MacDonald said, but echoed the rest of the Board in looking forward to this long awaited start. Approval for funding and phasing of the Project will go to City Council this month and, assuming a thumbs up, construction will begin this Spring.

Downtown Streetscape consultant report.
Click to enlarge.

Two letters from residents and some of the DRB discussion centered on the number and heights of new trees proposed for Camino del Mar between 9th and 15th. One letter asked the Board to hold off on approving the Plan “without changes to the tree element.” “Covering Camino del Mar with a canopy of trees is inconsistent…where ocean vistas are important to both visitors and residents,” the letter said. On the other hand, past Council direction has been to provide a canopy of trees to slow down traffic and contribute to a safer, more pedestrian oriented downtown. The residents expressed their appreciation for “listening to our concerns and working with the consultant to make changes.”

One DRB member’s question why the bike lanes were to be painted white, not green as preferred by most bicyclists, drew laughter when the consultant responded that green denoted “conflict zones” and Board member Ed Yuskiewicz quipped “the downtown IS a conflict zone for bicyclists. We need the green lanes.” Moving the bus stop at 13th and Camino del Mar to the northeast corner in front of the Library was another issue that will go to Council to resolve without holding up the process.

The Downtown Streetscape Project has been on the community’s drawing board since 1996 but was only recently partially funded by the Council during budget hearing last month after strenuous pleas by community residents and businesses to “not wait any longer.” The Council, to date, has funded one million of the 4.5 million estimated costs.

Plans reviewed by the Board last month were drawn up by Spurlock Landscape Architects based on numerous community workshops, input from Council meetings and additional outreach meetings with local businesses, property owners, three City Advisory Committees, and the Del Mar Village Association. The Project focuses on improvement to sidewalks and adjacent space along both sides of Camino del Mar between 9th Street and the intersection at the northern entrance to the Plaza. Included are more planting areas, accent paving, improved crosswalks and a consistent bike lane. Goals are to:

Improve pedestrian and bicycle safety and access along the corridor reducing auto-dependency

Beautify the corridor throughout the downtown area to spur more pedestrian activity and investment in downtown Del Mar

Promote sustainability throughout by using more drought tolerant plantings and flow through planters expected to contribute to storm water collection and treatment.

 

 

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