By Ken Williams | Editor
More traffic. More congestion. More noise. And worsening air quality.
That is the environmental determination by the city’s Planning Department for North Park and Golden Hill in the next 20 years.
The cautionary warning can be found in the draft Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) prepared in connection with the North Park and Golden Hill Community Plan updates. The PEIR is required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
“The analysis conducted identified that the project could result in significant impacts to the following issue area(s): Transportation and Circulation, Air Quality (North Park only), Noise (Ambient Noise and Construction), Historical Resources (Built Environment and Historic Districts), and Paleontological Resources (Ministerial Projects),” the document states.
The PEIR was published on May 31, triggering a deadline of July 14 for the public to comment on the findings. To read the PEIR, go online to bit.ly/1PjacLp.
Simultaneously, the Planning Department is updating the community plans for Uptown, North Park and Golden Hill since they are contiguous areas. Local planning groups, which are advisory boards to the city’s Planning Department, have been hard at work for the past six years making recommendations for the updates. If the timeline holds up, the City Council could approve the updates by year’s end or early in 2017. The documents set policy for development through at least 2035, when build-out is expected to be reached.
On June 8, a subcommittee of the North Park Planning Community held a special meeting at the North Park Recreation Center’s Adult Center to begin examining the PEIR.
Rene Vidales, the subcommittee chair, focused the meeting on Roadway Segment Analysis, Mitigation Framework and Intersections.
Vidales noted that almost half of the 11 major intersections in the greater North Park area would be negatively impacted by build-out.
Intersections that will be impacted during peak hours, both morning and afternoon, are:
- Madison Avenue and Texas Street
- University Avenue and Interstate 805 northbound ramps
- Upas and 30th streets
Intersections that will be impacted during the afternoon peak hour, are:
- El Cajon Boulevard and 30th Street
- El Cajon Boulevard and I-805 southbound ramps
- University Avenue and 30th Street
- University Avenue and Boundary Street
- North Park Way/I-805 southbound ramps and Boundary and 33rd streets
Additionally, the report notes that “the proposed North Park CPU and associated discretionary actions would have a cumulative traffic related impact on 43 of the 95 roadway segments within the study area.”
The environmental analysis points out that the efforts to mitigate or reduce the impacts were recommended in the Impact Fee Study (IFS), but most were not supported by the proposed update. The subcommittee members snickered at that statement, saying that the IFS hasn’t been made public yet.
The analysis identifies the one mitigation effort that did get included in the proposed update, which the subcommittee members approved. This would revamp the North Park Way/I-805 intersection with Boundary and 33rd streets, which currently is a bottleneck because of the “all way” stop signs. The proposed solution would be to signalize the intersection and add a second left-turn lane in the southbound direction on Boundary Street and widen the I-805 southbound on-ramp to add an additional receiving lane. There also is a call to widen Boundary Street to a four-lane collector road from University Avenue to North Park Way.
Another mitigation effort proposed in the update would call for a restriping of Madison Avenue, from Texas Street to Ohio Street, so that the two-lane collector road would have a continuous left-turn lane.
Other mitigation recommendations, apparently found in the phantom IFS, call for some drastic measures that subcommittee members are adamantly against. One would widen Texas Street to a six-lane major arterial from Adams Avenue to El Cajon Boulevard, and a four-lane collector road from El Cajon Boulevard to University Avenue. That would require bulldozing homes, including in a historical neighborhood.
“We said ‘No!’ to road widening,” said subcommittee member Vicki Granowitz, who is chair of the North Park Planning Committee.
Members promised to find out whether the report took into consideration the plans by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) to build bicycle lanes throughout the community or the much anticipated University Avenue Mobility Plan, which the City Council approved on July 27, 2015. The mobility plan, which will transform University Avenue from the Georgia Street bridge to the I-805 overpass, is expected to go to the construction phase later this year or by early 2017.
The PEIR is expected to be discussed further by the full North Park Planning Committee at a future meeting.
Meanwhile, the consultant firm Kimley Horn has released a “technical memorandum” called the Uptown, North Park & Golden Hill Community Plan Update Mobility Study for Future (2035) Conditions. The 222-page document was compiled for the Planning Department in conjunction with the Community Plan updates and recommends mobility improvements. To read this document, visit bit.ly/24GJoM7.
The Kimley Horn report discusses SANDAG’s “Transit First” goal, which includes plans to add a trolley line along Park and El Cajon boulevards to San Diego State University. Streetcars are planned on 30th Street from Adams Avenue to Downtown; on Fourth and Fifth avenues from Hillcrest to Downtown; and on University Avenue and Park Boulevard. Additionally, bus Routes 10, 11 and 120 would be converted to Rapid status.
All of these transit changes are expected to be implemented between 2020 and 2035.