“Once again, out of 125 city of San Diego communities, Pacific Beach ranks second overall with 216 violent crimes,” said PBPG chair Brian Curry. “Only East Village had a higher incidence of violent crime. It is simply unacceptable that this criminal activity continues in our community. There were 31 'reported' sexual assaults. We are averaging nearly 20 violent crimes per month.”
Characterizing PB's ongoing violent crime problem as “just outrageous,” and “apocalypse now,” Curry pointed out that the “vast majority of our crime activities take place in the business district, with 607 incidents in the last six months within one-half mile of 1000 Garnet Avenue.”
Noting San Diego Police Department's Northern Division has 166 officers, 42 in the field, to cover 42 square miles, Curry said, “I'm disgusted with the city building underground parking garages that cost $80 million and maybe a football stadium, when public safety should be the very first priority.
“We don't want PB to be a police state,” added Curry. “But we are paying taxes and visitors are paying transient occupany taxes (lodging) … and it's just a constant battle. We have to go out and do this (public safety) on our own.”
Following Curry's report, Sara Berns, executive director of Discover PB, gave a presentation on PB's recently introduced Clean and Safe Program, which seeks to improve and beautify the community by beefing up cleaning and trash pickup, security and homeless outreach services.
This year, Pacific Beach made Circulate San Diego's “The Fatal Fifteen” list of most dangerous intersections for pedestrians. The problematic intersection at Mission Boulevard and Garnet Avenue was the culprit. That crosswalk was No. 3 on the city's most dangerous list, being the site of 16 total collisions with 17 serious injuries recorded between 2001-2015, according to Circulate San Diego.
The only two San Diego intersections ranked more deadly on the list were University Avenue and Marlborough Avenue, and University Avenue and 52nd Street.
At the Feb. 22 PBPG meeting, Michael Beltran, chair of the group's Traffic and Parking Subcommittee, noted there is a possible solution to address the dangerous intersection at Garnet Avenue and Mission Boulevard: installing a pedestrian scramble.
“A pedestrian scramble allows pedestrians to cross every which way – diagonally, vertically, horizontally – for one minute while all car traffic is stopped,” Beltran said. “It gets people moving a lot quicker, and also prevents drivers from taking right-hand turns that hit pedestrians, a big concern here.”
Beltran said pedestrian scrambles have been used successfully elsewhere, like Los Angeles.
PBPG board member Tony Franco suggested another alternative solution might be to “shut down Garnet Avenue from Mission Boulevard to Cass Street to create a pedestrian walking and biking area.”
“We'd love to do it, but we can't even get the farmers market moved to Garnet,” replied Curry.
Tongue-in-cheek, PBPG board member Joe Wilding pointed out, “You can't fix stupid. Just because you have a scramble, doesn't mean people aren't still going to walk out in front of cars.”
“The goal of this is to make it harder for stupid people to do stupid things,” said termed-out board member Chris Olson from the audience.
The PBPG board vote was 10-1 in favor of installing a scramble at the troublesome intersection, with board member Jim Krokee dissenting, pointing out the scramble could possibly cause traffic backups at other intersections.
PB commercial district crime incidents from 9/1/16 to 2/12/17
Motor vehicle theft 26
Sex crime 11
Vehicle break-in 24
Source: San Diego Police Department