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University Avenue biking lane to gobble up 29 parking meters

Posted: November 3rd, 2017 | News, Top Story | No Comments

By Ken Williams | Editor

Switch to angled stalls nearby to add 48 spaces

In Hillcrest, a bustling neighborhood where finding an empty parking stall can be a challenge in the business corridor, any loss of parking spaces is fought tooth and nail. But not so on Oct. 31 when the City Council voted unanimously on a plan that will remove 29 parking spaces along University Avenue to make way for new bike lanes.

The plan had the support of bicycling advocates and Circulate San Diego, and even the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA), which traditionally opposes the removal of parking spots in the business hub.

The city will remove 29 parking meters along University Avenue in Hillcrest, from Sixth Avenue eastward to Vermont Street, to construct a bicycle lane. (Google Maps)

“I think it certainly is a win-win for the community,” District 3 Councilmember Chris Ward said at the council meeting.

“It’s projects like this that are going to help breathe new life into Uptown, increasing ways in which residents can get around town.”

Benjamin Nicholls, executive director of the HBA, said the plan is part of a grand compromise involving city officials, bicycling advocates, the HBA and the Uptown Community Parking District (UCPD).

“We have always supported bike lanes that do not result in a net loss of spaces,” Nicholls said.

Gerrie Trussell, executive director of the UCPD, said her group was supportive of the plan.

“The Hillcrest Parking Committee, a subcommittee of the Uptown Community Parking District, worked diligently with the Hillcrest Business Association, Mayor Falconer’s staff and several city departments to develop this win/win scenario,” Trussell said. “It is a good example of encouraging bike paths without sacrificing parking.”

What sold the plan was the proposed switch to angle parking on streets near University Avenue. That will result in an additional 48 parking stalls, bringing a net gain of 19 parking spots in the business district.

Circulate San Diego — a nonprofit dedicated to advancing mobility choices such as public transit, biking and walking — applauded the council’s decision. The nonprofit is also part of a coalition of 20 organizations behind the Vision Zero campaign to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in San Diego by 2025, a strategy the City Council adopted in 2015.

The “vote to shorten the gap on University [Avenue] is a key step toward improving safety on one of San Diego’s most dangerous Vision Zero corridors,” said Maya Rosas, advocacy manager with Circulate San Diego.

The City Council decision fills in a critical gap in the bike lanes through the heart of Hillcrest. Bicyclists have complained for years that University Avenue, one of the busiest streets in the Uptown area, is not safe to bike.

But in 2015, the Transportation Committee of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) voted down a compromise plan with broad community support that would have improved biking along University Avenue between Washington and Normal streets. That created a significant gap in the Uptown Bikeways project to connect Hillcrest to Downtown, Mission Valley, Mission Hills and North Park.

With bike lanes already planned along Fourth and Fifth avenues from Downtown to Hillcrest, bicyclists turning onto University Avenue would have been thrust into unprotected traffic. That’s when the city — not SANDAG — decided to step forward to find a workable solution to fixing most of the gap, which will construct bike lanes along University from Fifth Avenue to Park Boulevard.

The remaining gap is on a narrow portion of University Avenue from Washington Street to Fifth Avenue, and there are no plans at this time to resolve the problem.

The removal of the 29 metered spaces will result in an annual loss of $50,000 in parking revenue, according to city documents.

To make up for the loss of parking on University Avenue, the city’s Street Division plans to convert parallel parking spaces to angle parking at these locations:

Eighth Avenue from University Avenue to Washington Street (west side), adding 11 stalls.

Tenth Avenue from University Avenue to state Route 163 onramp (east and west sides), adding eight stalls.

Essex Street from Tenth Avenue to Vermont Street (north side), adding 14 stalls.

Essex Street from Vermont Street to Richmond Street (north side), adding 15 stalls.

“HBA argued for the spaces on Essex and the side streets to off-set the bike lane losses,” Nicholls said.

To keep updated on the Uptown Bikeways project, visit bit.ly/1CZmHnJ.

To learn more about Vision Zero, visit bit.ly/21G50Oe.

— Ken Williams is editor of Uptown News and can be reached at ken@sdcnn.com or at 619-961-1952. Follow him on Twitter at @KenSanDiego, Instagram at @KenSD or Facebook at KenWilliamsSanDiego.

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