Albatross Drive — a 500-foot long, one-way street near UCSD Medical Center — is taking a turn for the better, at least in the minds of at least 79 percent of the street's residents.
With a unanimous vote Tuesday night (May 4), Uptown Planners approved a petition submitted by Andrew Kemal to have the city switch the short street's direction from southwesterly to northeasterly.
Chairman Leo Wilson, who served as the non-voting chair, praised the petition as "democracy in action."
Albatross Drive, which has 19 houses, has effectively become a continuation of Montecito Way west of Front Street in the maze of streets around the medical center, residents said. Albatross is about a tenth of a mile directly south of the main hospital, with the end of a canyon between the hospital and the north side houses.
"There's not much reason for anybody to be on that street," Kemal said. "What we've witnessed is quite a lot of traffic — the city counted over 200 cars every day — that has to do with the medical center. It's mainly traffic from the hospital that turned the wrong way and they have to just keep going."
It wasn't much of an issue for residents until they started raising children, he added.
"The only sidewalk is on the north side of the street, so my daughter has to cross the street to get on the sidewalk," Kemal said. The one resident who wasn't home to sign the petition showed up at the hearing to give Kemal her thumbs up on the project, raising the percentage by more than five points.
Tom Gabrielli is also raising children — a 13-year-old and 8-year-old twins — on the street. He supports the change, but spoke for the one resident who opposed it.
"The problem for him is that his driveway comes out right before the end, so he's worried he'll have a hard time using it, which may happen," Gabrielli said.
The city's traffic engineering department did initial studies — finding 270 cars a day driving the street — and approved of the direction change, a city spokesman said. The department also did a similar study 11 years ago when they changed Albatross from a two-way to a one-way.
"The city said if we don't like it, we can petition to change it back," Kemal noted.
(corrected 5/6, 7:50 p.m.)