Mission Avenue
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The Mission Avenue Improvement Project, started in October of 2013, was completed and open for vehicular and pedestrian traffic on August 19. Access to downtown has been beautified and improved for the better — almost.

Mission Ave. — Before/After

One major change in the $2.5 million plan is not garnering favor with the public. The city installed back-in diagonal parking spaces in several areas — something new to most motorists.

Besides traffic flow, the major reason traffic engineers are supporting back-in parking is to help bicyclists. One is more likely to see an oncoming cyclist when pulling straight out of a diagonal space, rather than backing out.

I visited the area to gauge the public’s reaction and spoke to those who had used the new spaces.

Brooks from Vista said he had problems backing up and staying in between the lines. He prefers regular diagonal parking.

Bob Neal, chairman of the Oceanside Planning Commission, was one of the first to try the parking and said he loves the idea. “Studies show it is a safer way to park,” said Neal. His friend Tom, however, said, “It sucks. Someone will pull right up behind you and not allow you to back into a space.” While Bob was explaining the numerous studies and changes needed in our driving habits, Tom said, “It still sucks.”

Scott had parked near a restaurant where he and a friend were dining. He said he came to Mission Avenue often during the construction period and thought that for all the mess that lasted nine months, he expected a little more. He said the new parking arrangement is “very unusual.”

Several cities in California — Bridgeport, Chico, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Ventura – have switched to back-in diagonal parking in some areas. Leucadia’s ten-year plan for Coast Highway 101, adding five roundabouts and making the area more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, also calls for back-in parking.

An Oceanside official who didn’t want to be identified, said, “We have very strong pedestrian and bike organizations in this city. They make their thoughts known.”

(The limits of “bike-friendliness” may have been pushed since the 2014 law went into effect that requires motorists to give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing. A captain of another city’s police agency told me, after the new law was passed, that his department’s number-one citizen complaint about traffic and safety is cyclists not obeying stop signs, red lights, and turning regulations. Enforcement of violating cyclists has gone up in that nearby coastal town. )

The Oceanside project was also designed to enhance the entrance into town, as tourists come off I-5 heading west on Mission Avenue. The new streetscape project narrows the road to a one-way street and draws visitors onto Coast Highway, the beach, pier, and new high-rise hotels. The ocean is clearly the centerpiece at the end of Mission Avenue.

The five-block project widened sidewalks from 5 to 30 feet, added new landscaping, irrigation, street furniture, and decorative lighting. Several restaurants along the stretch have already established sidewalk-dining areas.

Gumaro Escarcega, the program manager for Oceanside Main Street (a chamber of commerce–type organization) points out that since construction began, five new restaurants on Mission have opened or will soon: Mission Avenue Bar & Grill, Sumo Hut Sushi, Maui Wowy, Alfredo’s Mexican, and an as-yet-unnamed Italian place under construction.

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Visduh Aug. 24, 2014 @ 4:35 p.m.

"Oh, everything's up-to-date in . . . Oceanside . . . City." That one-way street "designed to enhance the entrance into town" may do that. But how about LEAVING town? You can't just drive east on Mission any more. Instead the route is a sort of detour on the next street to the south, and a jig-jog up near Oceanside High. Did the city really listen to the people who have to travel those streets about this?

Back in angle parking has always been a mystery to me. The first place I saw it was in Seattle, fifty years ago. They had some of it along a street next to a workplace. The workers there were the only users. One would park in the morning, leave in the afternoon, meaning it turned over once a day on weekdays. For frequent turnover spaces, such as along Mission, I have major reservations. Not everyone is good at backing a vehicle, and many vehicles have seriously limited rear visibility. Then there is the need to pull past the space and make sure that nobody is right on your back bumper before beginning the backing maneuver. Not fun! I even have those backup cameras on cars/trucks I drive, and those help to degree. But that "fish eye" view isn't always what you need, and everything looks way far away until you bump into it. Plain old regular angle parking works just fine, and if you back out with some slop, nothing is harmed.

But designers don't get paid for keeping two way streets moving in two directions, and they don't get paid for recommending that no changes be made. Oh, and the city council and mayor don't get to have ribbon cutting photo ops when no changes are made.

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nostalgic Aug. 26, 2014 @ 1:14 p.m.

Welcome to San Diego! Coming to Golden Hill soon, on 25th Street, in spite of numerous citizen objections, this trendy back-in parking idea idea which benefits not much of anybody will be the final outcome of a multi-million dollar city of San Diego renovation. Well, they ARE repaving the sidewalks at the same time. Look for banners, planter urns, and benches not suitable for homeless sleeping to complete the project.

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