Participants in a community workshop hosted by the Point Loma Association (PLA) this month view pictures and schematics of beautification projects the PLA has done to various medians around the Peninsula area in the past. Photo by Dave Schwab
The vision for how Nimitz Boulevard in Point Loma can be enhanced seems a lot clearer now thanks to a community workshop sponsored Sept. 17 by the Point Loma Association (PLA).
Point Lomans weighed in on prospective Nimitz improvements, saying they wanted the boulevard to be safer, better landscaped and lighted with more public art. They also want Nimitz made more amenable for bicyclists.
Workshop participants heard about the PLA, an organization of residents and businesses that has been committed since 1961 to improving Point Loma’s quality of life through beautification, education, charitable activities and civic collaboration.
During opening remarks, PLA chairman Robert Tripp Jackson said the workshop’s goal was to engage residents in the creation of a “long-term vision of phased public improvements to the Nimitz corridor that reflect the beauty, culture and history of the Peninsula community.”
PLA board members and former San Diego City Councilman Byron Wear talked about the history of the organization and the public improvement projects it’s been involved in.
“Nimitz Boulevard is the only street connecting OB and Point Loma,” Wear said of the thoroughfare’s importance. “It’s the grand boulevard that we should be celebrating.”
The visioning workshop was led by the PLA’s Nimitz Task Force, made up of Ron Brooks, Cecilia Carrick, Coleen Clementson, Ned Daugherty, Karen Davis, Kerri De Rosier, Dan Dennison, Jim Hare, Lee Hope, Jackson, Dick Lareau, Betsy McCullough and Wear.
“We’re interested in what you have to say,” said past PLA chairwoman Cecilia Carrick. She said landscape improvements endorsed by the PLA date back to 65 jacaranda trees planted along Rosecrans Street in the 1960s.
“We have evolved to having lots of plans and lots of workers, and we have done many things over the years,” she said, citing the elimination of billboard blight as one example.
“Over the years, we’ve concentrated on doing more medians and more softscape, which are time-consuming, laborious projects that require a lot of planning between workers, the city and county and donors,” Carrick said. “We want to focus on things that will be meaningful to the community, which is why we’re here.”
PLA’s most recent and largest project ever undertaken is the Nimitz Boulevard Median Enhancement. Extending from near West Point Loma Boulevard to the entrance of the Catalina Boulevard on-ramp, that project has replaced barren black asphalt with beautiful softscape succulents, accent boulders and stamped concrete.
Coleen Clementson, a San Diego Association of Governments regional transportation planner and Point Loman, gave a slideshow presentation showing how other communities like Bird Rock in La Jolla with its traffic roundabouts, Mission Hills on Washington Street and Chula Vista on Third Avenue have redeveloped their roadway medians to improve their functionality and aesthetics and create a sense of identity.
Residents and visioning workshop leaders then broke into small groups to discuss seven different Nimitz segments: North Harbor Drive to Rosecrans, Rosecrans to Lowell, Lowell to Chatsworth, Chatsworth to Wabaska, Wabaska to the Famosa/Catalina Bridge, Famosa/-Catalina Bridge to West Point Loma Boulevard and West Point Loma Boulevard to I-8 and the San Diego River. Small groups then reported back to the group as a whole with their improvement recommendations.
At the end of the workshop, Wear pointed out there are about 15 different funding mechanisms from various sources that could be used over time to pay for Nimitz Boulevard enhancements.
“It’s going to be a phased approach, and I’ve found that it’s best to do that in bite-size chunks,” said Wear. “We can do anything we want to do if we have a collective vision.”
A workshop participant who identified herself as Guinevere from Ocean Beach, said she was impressed by the meeting and its outcome.
“I appreciate that you want to make Nimitz a safer place for bicyclists,” she said. “Nimitz right now is a nightmare to drive. Making Nimitz safer and more beautiful go hand-in-hand. I’m encouraged.”