Before the year’s end, motorists near Laguna Beach High School may get the chance to roll through the town’s first traffic-easing roundabout thanks to a City Council vote Tuesday.
Combined with another decision to award a contract for development of a mobility plan for Laguna Beach, the council took steps forward in complying with the state’s “complete streets” mandate to make streets accessible to cyclists and pedestrians as well as vehicles.
The council first approved the concept of a trial roundabout in January, one of several modifications suggested by Riverside transportation consultant Fehr & Peers. Then, the council also approved more visible pedestrian crosswalk markings on Glenneyre Street as well as shared-lane street markings, known as sharrows, and bike route signage on Cliff Drive and Glenneyre to discourage cyclists from Coast Highway.
After awarding a contract in April, the council reviewed the completed designs this week.
Fehr & Peers conceived the trial roundabout for the intersection of Glenneyre and Cress Streets. Even so, council members Toni Iseman and Bob Whalen opposed the location because it would require reducing traffic lanes on Glenneyre for a block on either side of the roundabout. Instead, they proposed and approved the traffic-smoothing device for Catalina Street and Los Robles, a confusing intersection for motorists where residential streets merge from five directions.
Resident Theresa Cordova commented that small changes can help sway public opinion in favor of larger changes and lauded the trial roundabout as a “toe in the water” in Laguna’s exploration of more significant complete streets options.
Such options might soon be on the table. The Council also approved a $200,000 contract with Irvine’s RBF Consulting to prepare an enhanced mobility and complete streets plan.
RBF was one of five firms competing for the task, funded because staff sought and won a $180,000 Caltrans transportation planning grant. The grant requires that the city match 10 percent of the award.
Principal planner Scott Drapkin explained that Caltrans stipulates that preparation of the plan include a significant public outreach effort along with meetings with relevant city commissions. He also outlined concurrent efforts underway to improve the city’s often clogged circulation, such as an analysis of mobility on Laguna Canyon Road, a review of the city’s bus and trolley service and implementation of a parking management plan. Drapkin said that staff plans to hold combined outreach meetings when these studies have overlapping subject matter and will ask the individual firms to work together on similar issues, share data and schedule a joint community workshop in October.
“I’m excited to see this go forward,” said Chris Prelitz, chair of Laguna’s complete streets task force, praising Drapkin and Director of Community Development John Montgomery for their effort to pursue the grant.
Resident Billy Fried called the news of the plan “awesome, fantastic, amazing,” and thanked staff for finding the grant money. “This is really thinking about tomorrow,” he added.