After tentatively approving a test reduction of traffic lanes on Glenneyre Street to accommodate bicyclists last October, the City Council on Tuesday kicked that option to the curb. They agreed to other measures, such as sharrow shared-lane street markings, more boldly painted crosswalks and the investigation of intersections suitable for a trial roundabout.
At the Oct. 2 meeting, the council directed the Planning Commission review the transformation of the six-block section of Glenneyre between Thalia and Calliope to a complete street by adding bike lanes, reducing the number of traffic lanes from four to two and adding a shared middle left-turn lane.
The modifications were selected from several alternatives suggested by transportation consultant Fehr and Peers, hired to evaluate options for Laguna to comply with a state mandate to make streets accessible to cyclists and pedestrians as well as vehicles.
Ultimately, the commission rejected the council’s proposal and recommended a traffic study along a larger section of Glenneyre, a trial roundabout at a location to be determined and beefing up the visibility of crosswalks with striping and reflectors. Improved crosswalks carry an estimated $50,000 price tag.
This week, the Council members were swayed by constituents who disagreed with their initial decision to trim traffic lanes along Glenneyre, a secondary artery when Coast Highway is closed or subject to congestion. “I just imagine what it would be like without those lanes,” said Iseman, who cited a large volume of mail from disgruntled residents.
“I’m with Toni,” said Pearson who admitted she too heard from residents opposed to the proposed lane closure. “I think we need all four lanes,” she said, and noted the lack of public turnout in support of the lane closures.
Complete Streets advocate and former task force chair Les Miklosy, reached after the meeting, expressed reservations about Glenneyre as a Complete Streets project. “The purpose of Complete Streets interventions is to re-mix the mode-share between walking, biking, busing and motorists equally,” he said. “Adding a round-about or a crosswalk to an intersection dominated by motorized traffic will do nothing to re-mix the mode-share.”
Michael Wilkes, a member of the city’s Design Review Board, told the council he supported a broader evaluation. “We need to study aspects of the whole corridor more,” he said. “Complete Streets is about more than spending dollars. It’s a different way of thinking,” he continued, adding that he’d “like to see Glenneyre be a location where we really focus.”
Getting bikes off Coast Highway, preferably before summer, should be a priority, said resident Chris Prelitz, speaking for himself rather than as chair of the Complete Streets committee. Sharrows on Glenneyre but also signs on Coast Highway will improve awareness of the alternate route, he said.
Council member Bob Whalen suggested looking at other solutions for making Glenneyre a complete street, such as eliminating street parking on one side, which could be offset by building pocket parking structures. “If we’re not willing to look at off-street parking and give up some on-street parking, we’re not going to change the look we’re going for with Complete Streets,” he said. Council member Steve Dicterow cautioned against reducing existing parking before first providing replacement spaces.
At the final tally by the council, bike lanes lost traction while enhanced pedestrian crosswalks, sharrows on Glenneyre from Forest Avenue to Bluebird Canyon Drive and a search for a trial roundabout carried the day.
In other business, the council renewed a contract with Waste Management that incorporates savings and added services.
R3 Consulting Group helped negotiate the contract, which resulted in a 10-year pact. It includes a two-year freeze on rates for commercial customers and adds new recycling programs to achieve a 50 percent landfill diversion rate citywide by 2014. Currently 51 percent of residential waste is recycled, but only 11 percent of commercial waste due to space constraints for the added containers.
The council also approved permits that allow development of added college dorms and a restaurant at 793 Laguna Canyon Rd., which exceeds current building height limits and allows for a three-space parking reduction.
In pursuit of a view ordinance, Mayor Kelly Boyd announced that he has formed a committee that includes Planning Commission member Ken Sadler, Design Review Board member Roger McErlane, landscape architect Bob Borthwick, attorney Larry Nokes, architect Morris Skendarian, emergency disaster preparedness committee member Sue Kempf, landscape architect Susan Whitin and resident Chris Toy. The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 4:30 p.m. at the Community Center, 380 Third St.
Iseman encouraged attendance at the first public meeting on airplane noise to be held on Monday, Feb. 4, at 4:30 p.m. in the Council chambers.