Not everyone wants to fast-track Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s new Slow Streets program in Pacific Beach.
That became clear during Pacific Beach Town Council’s May 20 Zoom meeting, during which some neighbors objected to the program, which has turned Diamond Street from Mission Boulevard to Haines Street into a slow streets thoroughfare.
The “Slow Streets” pilot program was introduced by the mayor recently to make it safer for San Diegans to walk and bike by creating more space for physical distancing and reducing congested foot traffic at parks, beaches, and outdoor trails.
To create so-called slow streets, the City has closed select streets to thru traffic to optimize pedestrian and cyclist use to prioritize cost-effective transportation for essential workers during a time of economic strain and decreased transit service. This includes temporary barriers and signage, allowing residents to move about their neighborhood while practicing safe social distancing.
PB residents testified for and against slow streets, with most acknowledging it’s a good idea in principle. Some, however, pointed out they feel the way it’s being implemented needs tweaking.
Michael Moore, who lives on Missouri, said he and his neighbors have suffered unintended consequences from slow streets closing off Diamond diverting unwanted traffic onto their street.
“I applaud the efforts of the City to give us a better (mobility) environment, but this time I don’t think it’s necessary,” said Moore. “Closing Diamond has only created another street being less safe.”
“It’s a very nice, positive thing in my mind,” said Ashley Danielle of slow streets, who lives on Diamond and Bayard. “Before slow streets, Diamond was very crowded on sidewalks. Now I’m seeing people out every day on bikes and skateboards walking their dogs in this 40-foot-wide area for people to get out and exercise.”
Katie Cavalo, who lives on Fanuel and Grand, agreed safe streets is a good idea but added, “It needs to be implemented better with more signs.”
Noted Michelle Adams who lives on Diamond Street: “I’ve been here over 20 years and my issues are twofold: It would have been nice to have had a heads up that this was being implemented. And, Diamond is a main thoroughfare. I don’t understand why Diamond was chosen. Overall, I’m not super thrilled. I’ve seen more negative than positive. I’m really hoping this isn’t a long-term solution.”
Of slow streets in PB, District 2 Councilmember Dr. Jennifer Campbell said: “We’re doing it as a trial, and we want to see how it works. I don’t think it’s going to be a long-term thing. It’s just until we can get more parks and public spaces open.”
Added Campbell: “People are pushing to open things indoors, but as a physician, I can tell you we are a lot safer outdoors (with pandemic) than indoors. We need more space outdoors. It’s now illegal to be outside without a mask, and COVID is the most contagious virus we’ve ever faced because it’s airborne.”
During a slideshow presentation, City planner Alyssa Muto told PBTC, “This is a temporary re-purposing of our streets within the City for increased pedestrian and bike activity allowing for physical distancing. We have a survey up at sandiego.gov/tsw/programs/slow-streets-program. We want to hear what the community thinks about slow streets.”