Thursday, February 02, 2017

Bike Committee Wrestles With 19th Street - Both Ends


19TH STREET ISSUES DOMINATED THE DISCUSSIONS
The Costa Mesa Bikeway and Walkability Committee met again last night at the Costa Mesa Senior Center from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. to continue their tasks.  Last night those tasks included heavy doses of 19th Street.  Most of the committee members were present
PACKED HOUSE
I arrived about five minutes late after my dash from Corona del Mar and missed Public Comments.  As I entered the room I found the audience section packed with interested residents, eager to hear, and participate, in discussions to be held.
WEST 19TH STREET BIKE TRAIL
First up was the much-flogged West 19th Street Bicycle Trail Project, which extends from the end of West 19th Street into Talbert Nature Reserve.  This issue was recently discussed by the City Council, who directed staff to return it to this committee for further vetting.  There's not much to vet because the issue at hand - the development of an environmental report for the proposed project - is already approved.  Nevertheless, the committee gave the issue a thorough going-over.
CINDY BLACK SAYS NO...
Resident and environmental activist Cindy Black - not a member of the committee - was invited to present a short slide show reflecting her opinion of why this project as presently constituted is a bad idea.  She showed slides of the current, rain-drenched condition of the area in question and also showed examples of recent illegal removal of vegetation.  She also questioned why, since the City of Costa Mesa does not own this property, we should be spending any money on these studys.  She showed images of protected and endangered species that would be impacted by the planned concrete roadway.  Five members of the public addressed this issue, too.  The committee ended up spending an hour dissecting and discussing this subject.
EAST 19TH STREET TRAFFIC CALMING
Next up was the other end of 19th Street - the so-called East 19th Street Neighborhood Traffic Managment Project.  This issue drew many of my Eastside neighbors to discuss it, particularly in context with a similar project completed a couple years ago on Broadway, which parallels East 19th Street in that part of town.  In a nutshell, this project will place traffic calming measures the length of East 19th Street from the city border at Irvine Avenue westward to Fullerton Avenue.  These consist of chokers at the intersections of all cross-streets, which will slow the traffic and, in theory, make it safer.  The project is funded by Federal Safe Routes To School funds.
MOST NEIGHBORS SUPPORTED THE PROJECT - EXCEPT ME
All of the neighbors who spoke supported this project - except me.  I opined, based on my more than 43 years of living in this neighborhood, that slowing traffic on 19th Street - much of which is headed for the terminus of the 55 Freeway at Newport Boulevard - will result in drivers seeking relief on parallel streets - most likely 20th Street and Costa Mesa Street.  My view was singular among those in the room.  Others praised the Broadway project, indicating it is now quieter and safer.  They addressed this project in similar terms, indicating that the traffic currently moves too rapidly through the neighborhood.  This project would certainly slow it down.
MONUMENT SIGNS AND SHARROWS
This project, which includes a monument sign at Fullerton identifying the area as "Eastside Costa Mesa" and a similar, but smaller sign near the intersection of Irvine Avenue, has funding for $855,000.  Discussion included the wisdom of actually designating East 19th Street as a "bikeway", including the application of "sharrows" markers along that route that would, could, should alert drivers of their responsibility to share the FULL lane with bicyclers.
MOVE IT FORWARD
After a 45 minute discussion the committee voted - 11-1 - to recommend moving forward with this project.  Member Cindy Brenneman voted no.
VACATION OF RIGHT-OF-WAY AT FULLERTON AVE./19TH STREET
Next up was the discussion of the vacation of right-of-way of a piece of city-owned property at the corner of 19th Street and Fullerton Avenue.   Following a short, fifteen minute, discussion, the committee voted 8-4 to recommend moving forward with the vacation plan.

UPCOMING PROJECTS
The committee also briefly discussed upcoming projects - Merrimac to the Golf Course rehabilitation and the Arlington Bioswale, which is 90% through the design process.

FUTURE DISCUSSIONS?
During the discussion of potential future agenda items the following issues were proposed:
CYCLE-CROSS EVENT?
Jim Erickson suggested they discuss a CycloCross event at one of the parks, or at least consider a skills clinic.  The group seemed to favor a further discussion.

GREEN COAST DAY AT OCC?
Flo Martin suggested a discussion of the Green Coast Day event in April at Orange Coast College, referring to local bicycler Roy Duval.  She also mentioned that he, Duval, has a source for new bicycle racks and would install them free of charge throughout the city.  That will get further discussion.

CLOSE THE LOOP
Staff liaison newly-anointed Public Services Director Raja Sethuraman, suggested they close the loop on some existing issues - the original list of projects and funding for them plus the Bike Master Plan itself.
"POLICIES" VS. "RECOMMENDATIONS"
Chairman Ralph Taboada inquired whether the new City Council will address the "Recommendations" vs. "Policies" issue that was sidetracked by Councilmember Jim Righeimer.

COMMITTEE COMMENTS
During Committee Member Comments several issues were addressed.
Jim Erickson suggested these comments might be restricted to 2 minutes.
Jim Kane had a laundry list of issues, including congratulating Sethuraman for his recent promotion; the recent award bestowed on the City for the Harbor Boulevard Bike Trail; the new bike racks at City Hall and the Senior Center (he suggested lighting the area at the Senior Center for safety); a Walkability webinar that was being conducted soon; he wondered about the Placentia Avenue bike crossing signal project, which seemed to have stalled; he complained about the Harbor Blvd. Bike Trail expansion joints, which apparently give riders a good jolt when crossing them and he asked about spacing of the Tanager Bike Trail posts.

Flo Martin also addressed the Harbor Blvd. Bike Trail, and wondered if the lights are on 24 hours and also addressed the bumps on the trail.  She also wondered about the cost of the new bike racks.

Taboada mentioned a recent trip to Ft. Collins, Colorado and observed many bicyclers out in 18 degree weather.
RAJA COMMENTS
Sethuraman told the group the Placentia Bike Signal project was stalled because of a problem with the contractor, who has been replaced by another via the Bonding company and the project should be completed soon.  He told us the new bike racks cost $500 each. He told us the posts at the Tanager trail would be widened.  He also mentioned that the discussion of the upcoming OC Marathon routes would be on the agenda at the next City Council meeting.  He also mentioned a Shuttle Transportation project with OCTA that would move from the South Coast Plaza area to the Lab/Camp location allowing residents and visitors to move between those two venues via public transportation.  Currently there is a shuttle from South Coast Plaza to Disneyland.
KUDOS, AGAIN...
The meeting adjourned to their next meeting on March 1st at 8:56.  Once again, I was impressed with the way this particular committee works.  They manage to vet issues without rancor, reach well-reasoned conclusions, considering opinions of the other members carefully.  Last night, due to the large turnout of residents to discuss 19th Street issues, Taboada held a light rein on the discussions and actually permitted brief comments by members of the public outside the normal Public Comments segment on each issue.  It made for a very comfortable situation and most viewpoints were heard and considered.  Kudos, once again, to the members of this committee for their diligence and dedication to these important issues.

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