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Piecemeal Complete Streets Plan is a Boondoggle

Editor,

 

When politicians dismantle a grassroots citizen advisory committee and substitute their insider, the result is amateur proposals and misguided leadership demonstrated by these proposals. Here are some comments with a historical context for Complete Streets advocacy in Laguna Beach.

Interventions for complete street infrastructure should be placed:  where traffic data indicate they would be most effective; where alternative transport users have documented their preference; where city-wide planning specifies their usage, as in the Laguna Beach Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, Circulation Element, LB General Plan; and on the LB bicycle route shown by the Laguna Bike Tour Map.

Calling for capital improvement projects and expenditures for complete streets interventions prior to recording traffic data is amateur folly. Recording traffic data in locations where the proposed interventions are located is essential to justify the location is correct.

In 2010, the Complete Streets Task Force differentiated two groups of cyclists before City Council: sport riders using Coast Highway as a coastal route between beach cities and bike commuters, who use residential streets to get around town. The two groups are separate and distinct road users. To advise they are the same is not grounded in reality and it is not the mission of the city to detour cycle traffic on or off a highway.

Three advocate petitions signed by local sport riders argue for sharrows on Coast Highway, one more clue that sport riders are a distinct separate group from bicycle commuters in residential neighborhoods.

A bicycle and pedestrian master plan is essential to assure a homogeneous plan applies city-wide, and to qualify for state and federal funding to pay for infrastructure projects. Laguna Beach didn’t write one. The city should concentrate their resources and staff time on plan completion before building highly contentious and expensive infrastructure in places they are not needed.

The existing sharrows on Cypress Drive and the proposed plan for sharrows on Glenneyre do not appear on the Laguna Bike Tour Map. Both project locations were politically and commercially motivated, but do not contribute to nor begin construction of the bike route.

The Village Entrance was proposed since the mid ‘60s and, despite spending $680,000 on staff salaries, consultants and studies, nothing was ever built. The Glenneyre project on the scale of lane narrowing and roundabouts is another city boondoggle that will never see completion. I would caution residents do not empower the city to begin another study with no beginning, no end, and no benefit.

 

Michael Hoag and Les Miklosy, Laguna Beach

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Comments (3)

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  1. Billy Fried says:

    It saddens me to see people with such good intentions become so addled with hostility that they try to subvert the very things they believe in. Les, the politicians dismantled the so-called grassroots citizen advisory committee because it was more like a grassroots citizens bitch committee. You guys are two very knowledgeable, complete streets advocates. We could really use your participation rather than your condescension. For you to put out such a divisive commentary right at the moment we have achieved some modest but important wins puts your very motivations in question.

    -You refer to Chris Prelitz (the President of Complete Streets) as a political insider. If understanding that open hostility against local government is counter-productive to getting things done, then yes, Chris is an insider. He’s also the most committed environmentalist I know, who shows up at all the meetings and has become a trusted advisor to the city on making our town more sustainable.

    -Of course we know there are two distinct groups of bikers. And of course we need to consider all data when determining any Complete Street interventions. That’s obvious, and it’s exactly what the Planning Commission advocated when considering the impact of shrinking Glenneyre and adding roundabouts: a traffic impact study. It could have been done. but it was killed at Council because of something you didn’t consider: citizen opposition. There are other political realities as to why Glenneyre was the logical choice: liability and safety concerns about encouraging more biking on Coast Highway (not to mention lobbying CalTrans), plus the residents of Catalina opposing any intervention. That leaves Glenneyre, which was wide enough to try the bold experiment of adding a bike lane. As an ardent Complete Streets advocate, why would you call that folly? As it is we got sharrows, an awesome political compromise. That’s how it works.

    -The city has done a good job putting Bike Route signs and sharrows in North Laguna on Monterey, Hillcrest and Cypress. Why is that politically and commercially motivated? With the new $50,000 allocation we have asked the council to add sharrows and signs the length of Cliff Dr, as shown on the Bike Map. And add more bike racks. That would provide an easy route to access for southbound riders of Coast Highway. If we can connect North and South Laguna (to Bluebird and eventually Nyes Place) with bike route signs, sharrows and bike racks, and make it a comprehensive bike route (even if it deviates slightly from the current bike map), don’t you think that is a positive step? And if it is widely embraced, wouldn’t that provide an opportunity to do more?

    Les, I respect your knowledge on the subject, and the endless bike infrastructure you advocate on your blog. But I gotta say, get off the bitch train, man!

  2. While I agree those you call “sport” cyclists, and I, will continue to use PCH and revel in the congestion– because the more congestion the slower motorists must go– a city can reasonably try to accommodate a broader spectrum of cycling behavior by various means. If you’ve gone to Long Beach you seen various infrastructure that attempts to do that. Inviting naive foreign, pannier laden tourists to take a scenic lower traffic route would not be evil. It wouldn’t help many would-be Laguna bicyclists, but it wouldn’t hurt, either.

    Ultimately sharrows and Bikes May Use Full Lane signs on PCH both ways will be the answer. Local business owners will have to grow up and live with that. Meanwhile, it’s a political process: consider you’re Here and you want to get There. Keep pressing for There and you will get There.

  3. Carol Buss says:

    Having served on Complete Streets for several years, first with Les Milkosy and Michael Hoag, more recently with Chris Prelitz and Billy Fried, I have seen many “sides” to arguments both for and against bicycle paths, and safe routes through Laguna Beach for bicyclists. I agree with Billy Fried that “good intentions addled with hostility” subvert the efforts of Complete Streets. The interests of residents and businesses in our community have been considered, and the city is moving forward, one small step at a time, to make the improvements we have sought. Change isn’t happening overnight, but we are moving forward.
    The plans to make a safe trail from Top-of-the-World through Moulton Meadows to Arch Beach Heights was also criticized by Mr. Milkosy, but there are concerns he ignored when criticizing the plans for the trail. The new trail crosses private property, and the owners of that property must give written consent before construction and final plans can begin. The concerns of the Summet du Monde people have been addressed (which I find rather ironic since the property involved is not theirs anyway, and they don’t need the trail because they have their own private road.)
    “You catch more flies with honey than buttermilk”, so let’s encourage rather than criticize the efforts of Complete Streets and the City of Laguna Beach to make our streets safe for bicyclists, walkers, and hikers.
    Carol Buss, 45 year resident of Laguna Beach

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