On December 17, a group calling itself the Clairemont Residents for Common Sense called a meeting with City of San Diego senior traffic engineer Gary Pence to discuss the loss of two lanes on a main artery in Clairemont.
Citizens had awoken one morning to find a section of Clairemont Drive between Burgener and Denver restriped, changing it from two lanes in both directions to one lane with a bike path. This stretch of road being a main artery to the I-5, commute times got a little bit longer.
About 50 citizens attended the meeting at the South Clairemont Recreation Center, with councilmember Donna Frye representing the mayor's office. Opinions on both sides of the issue were hotly debated. Donna Frye had to remind everyone present to keep it civil. Residents stated that the restriping caused significant delays during peak hours and stated that the City of San Diego did not gather input from the community before changing the flow of traffic.
Gary Pence showed statistics on accidents in this downhill area. He shared strategies the City had employed before changing the lane configuration. Mr. Pence also committed to improving communication between the traffic department and the community. Although one group of Clairemont residents demanded that the street be immediately restriped to the old configuration, a surprising number of residents (over 50 percent) preferred the new single lane due to the enhanced safety of all the road users, including bicyclists.
Interestingly, Bay View Plaza, which lies at the foot of Clairemont Drive and Denver Street, will be undergoing redevelopment soon. Construction is due to start in January. The 4.5-acre property will be updated into a 66,000 square-foot urban contemporary retail, commercial and office complex. Stores are scheduled to be opened by January 2011, bringing a long-awaited major grocery store, a sit-down restaurant, a fast-food spot, a coffee shop, and a deli to the area. A hair salon, financial services, and other businesses will be included in this new complex.
The local residents can only wait and see how traffic will be affected by the construction in the upcoming year, with traffic flow limited to one lane in each direction.