City, residents discussing plans to improve mobility in Pacific Beach
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 09/19/18 - 01:53 PM | 8228 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sara Berns, executive director of DiscoverPB, speaks with residents about the plans. / DAVE SCHWAB / BEACH & BAY PRESS
Sara Berns, executive director of DiscoverPB, speaks with residents about the plans. / DAVE SCHWAB / BEACH & BAY PRESS
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Pacific Beach residents weighed-in on a visionary plan to re-imagine public park and street space along Mission Boulevard and side streets to make them more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly at a Sept. 13 workshop.

The Mission Boulevard Public Spaces and Active Transportation Plan was recently unveiled by City senior planner Elizabeth Ocampo Vivero and her team at a two-hour workshop at Pacific Beach Library with diagrammed storyboards and City planners providing a narrative. 

Following a brief introduction, participants broke up into small discussion groups to question City officials and render their views on a handful of possible alternative road realignments for Mission Boulevard. Alternatives being considered feature various types of bike lanes, as well as possible creation of traffic-circle roundabouts.

“This project is for the area between Mission Boulevard, Pacific Beach Drive, Diamond Street and the Ocean Boulevard boardwalk,” said Ocampo Vivero, who added the plan, led by the City of San Diego, is being funded by a San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) grant.

Noting the City has reached out to groups like beautifulpb and Pacific Beach Town Council to come up with its conceptual plan, Ocampo Vivero, said, “The main objective of this study is to identify the opportunity for multi-modal improvements for walking, bicycling and mass transit to improve community character and enhance access to the beach, while identifying additional community gathering spaces.”

The Active Transportation Plan is part of the PB Parks Project, a grass-roots community effort to celebrate Pacific Beach culture and improve community infrastructure.

A PB Parks Expert Team subsequently brought the community together for multiple meetings and design charrettes over the past few years to create an approach to redesigning the project site. 

In 2015, a planning grant proposal called Pacific Beach Greenways, Parks and Transit was presented to SANDAG, resulting in a $400,000 grant and an additional $40,000 in matching funds. 

Two attendees at the Sept. 13 workshop shared their impressions. 

Marcella Bothwell of Pacific Beach Town Council said more City outreach to the beach community is needed.

“It doesn’t appear that the people who made these plans live down here,” Bothwell said. “We need to get cars off of Garnet, turn a portion of it into a walking plaza, and make Grand the main east-west corridor.”

District 2 bicycling advocate Nicole Burgess pointed out, “There are only certain scenarios that go together,” of the handful of possible road realignments presented. Burgess noted her preference for “protected bikeways, which are safe and comfortable for all ages and abilities to ride. A one-way bicycle track is preferred over a two-way bicycle track, because it’s very hard to cross streets.” 

“We have to be both patient and persistent working with the City through this process. The workshop focused on mobility options on Mission Boulevard,” said Chris Olson, a longtime PB community planner and social activist.

“This is important, but I am looking forward to workshops that look at pocket parks, activation of public spaces and widening the boardwalk. For mobility let’s be progressive and look at pickup and drop off zones of ride share rather than parking of private vehicles at the beach,” Olson said.

“As new mobility options like e-scooters and AI emerge how do we integrate them? If it takes decades to implement infrastructure changes let’s look to the future.”

The next steps in implementing the Active Transportation Plan include more community input on developing a preferred concept, finalizing a preferred concept, then doing design for high-priority projects and prioritized implementation and identification of financing mechanisms for street improvements.

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