La Jolla streetscape plan gets approval from permit and traffic review boards

Having already received the green light from the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance Committee, a village streetscape improvement plan was approved this week by the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee and Council. traffic and transport.

The DPR committee voted unanimously on Dec. 14 to approve the proposal in concept and said it “looks forward to considering any specific plan that may come before us.” The next day, T & T’s board of directors voted 6 to 1 to approve the plan. The planned district ordinance committee voted unanimously on Nov. 8 to support the first phase.

The Streetscape Plan is a $ 15 million project to renovate Girard Avenue between Silverado and Prospect streets and the area known as “The Dip” in Prospect. The planned street improvements in the public right-of-way include the extension of the curbs, paving, landscaping, lighting, the conversion of Prospect northbound to a public pedestrian route between Girard and Herschel avenues and the conversion of the south side of Prospect in this two-way traffic area.

Applicant’s representative, Mark Steele, founder of architecture and planning firm MW Steele Group, said the project was sponsored by the La Jolla Community Foundation and Enhance La Jolla, which administers the Assessment District of maintenance of La Jolla. Through the MAD, Enhance La Jolla has the capacity to work within the public right of way.

The four phases include the creation of a plaza at The Dip on Prospect Street, the establishment of a mid-block intersection in the 7800 block of Girard Avenue, the renovation of the intersection of Girard and Wall Street. , and the addition of landscaping and pop-outs (curb extensions at an intersection that help make pedestrians more visible and slow down car speeds on the bend) on Girard at Silverado Street. Throughout the four phases, plans include improved landscaping, benches, and additional lighting and artistic elements.

President of the Community Foundation Phyllis Pfeiffer, who is also President and CEO of the La Jolla Light, said about $ 1.5 million was already available to complete one of the four phases.

The renovation of Girard Avenue / Wall Street should be done first due to the availability of funding. There is no safe command for the other phases.

In the first phase, “you get a large space in front of Peet’s [Coffee], good benches, interesting lighting, and that would be a place for a direction sign that tells you where things are, ”Steele said, referring to the Girard / Wall project. “We are going to create a buffer between cars and people.”

Steele said this will include public art and possibly decorative paving.

“We wanted to allow everyone to see what the village can be and have more excitement before doing The Dip,” said Steele, who added that the team “is getting ready to do the final design. “but has not yet applied for a permit for any phase.

DPR review

Among the topics discussed by DPR members was how alfresco dining might affect the execution of the plan.

Administrator Angeles Leira said she walks a lot in the community and over the past two years restaurants have taken to the streets… more people are walking, which is wonderful, but as more people are walking, you have to make the sidewalks as wide as you can make them. Some of our sidewalks are still not wide enough.

She cautioned against putting “too much landscaping” on pop-outs in order to keep sidewalks as wide as possible.

Thanks to the City of San Diego’s Spaces as Places program, restaurants have a mechanism to make their alfresco dining permanent by allowing them to have sidewalk seating and parking spaces with and without. meter in front of their premises as long as they pay a fee, a requirement that so far has not been imposed.

Pfeiffer said she was “very concerned” about the impact of spaces as places on some of the changes in the streetscape and said she needed to know more. “We can’t spend $ 9 million and have somebody put up barriers so that they can put their tables there,” she said.

Pfeiffer said she would review the length of the current outdoor dining permit extension and use that time to contact business owners and raise additional funds.

Steele said the plan includes adding streetlights and finding other ways to light up the street, although details have not been decided.

The plan also includes planting trees and creating a canopy over the street. “People want to get rid of dying trees… but the question remains whether to replace them all the same and make them uniform or add a little variety to make it more informal,” Steele said. “We have heard arguments from both sides, and this has to evolve. “

Pfeiffer said “we will fill where we can fill and replace the dead. … We also want to make sure that the canopy of the trees does not block [building] panels.”

Pfeiffer noted that if a merchant or building owner has planted new trees and they’re healthy, “we’re not going to ask them to take them out.”

T&T Review

During the T&T hearing, President Brian Earley called the cityscape plan “one of the most exciting projects ever in La Jolla”.

Steele said the plan includes “some traffic control and pedestrian control for Girard and Prospect.”

The part of the project at Girard and Silverado, for example, is “really focused on the sidewalk extensions, the landscape, trying to make it easier to cross the Silverado,” Steele said, noting the difficulties at that intersection for pedestrians and drivers. .

Shortening “cross-street pedestrian travel,” both at Girard and Silverado and at an added mid-level crossing on Girard between Silverado and Wall Streets, “will really help a lot,” Steele said.

The area where Prospect Street is one-way, between Girard and Herschel avenues, will become pedestrian-only, Steele said.

“The greatest link from Prospect” (where Girard continues from Prospect to La Jolla Cove), “some of it is two-way, but a lot of it is one-way; it will all become two-way.

The whole plan would remove 37 existing parking spaces but add 34, for a net loss of three spaces, Steele said. He added that there was a possibility of losing “a few more places”.

Natalie Aguirre, board member, praised the streetscape plan, but said that “what I don’t see in this program is something substantial and serious about the parking”. She added that restaurant and retail workers were stationed on the village street, preventing customers from using the squares.

Administrator Donna Aprea asked if landowners in the area support the project. Steele said he was interviewed two years ago and expressed his agreement. He, Pfeiffer and his supporter Jack McGrory have indicated that the team will renew the owners’ advice soon for assistance.

A motion to approve the streetscape plan passed 6-1, with T&T member Tom Brady saying, “It’s such a beautiful plan. And the effort that goes into it and that will continue to be put into it is very important for everyone in La Jolla. ”

Aprea opposed the motion, saying she was “uncomfortable voting today on a project that will be completed in maybe 10 years.” That could change in the meantime.

Pfeiffer said the group plans to start work on Girard in 2022.

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