The original planned route stretched from Juniper to Howard streets. The modified plan added another six tenths of a mile north to Adams.
When is a project not a project? That’s what lawyers for North Park dwellers who have sued to maintain access to their homes on 30th Street want to know.
Maybe it’s when you add a plus sign to the old title, like when plan Option A became Option A+. Maybe it’s when you break ground. City employees swear under oath that the plan to remove parking on 30th Street in order to create bike lanes is not a project. The judge decided he won’t order them to stop working on their plans until after the court case is heard.
Supporters say the city will create more parking on nearby streets.
By city logic, the removal of 450 parking spaces along 30th Street won’t be a project until the construction is completed. Even then, it won’t be a project that requires review under the California Environmental Quality Act. Repeated calls and emails to the city attorney did not elicit a response for comment. However, city documents filed in the court case are publicly available and have been reviewed. The city maintains there are no engineering designs and plans, and therefore, there is no project. But a stop-work order would increase costs for the not-yet created effort by $250,000, the filings say.
The 30th Street bike lanes non-project idea was launched in November 2018 when Matt Stucky, an attorney and member of several North Park neighborhood groups, decided his 7-year-old daughter needed to be able to bicycle to get ice cream. Stucky, who numbers among his friends City Council District 3’s policy director Kathleen Ferrier, first proposed the idea in November 2018 at a meeting of the city’s defunct Bicycle Advisory Committee. Since the city was already tearing up 30th Street for pipeline replacement, he said, it seemed like a good time to reconfigure the street by adding bike lanes. The original planned route stretched from Juniper to Howard streets, creating Class IV cycle tracks and eliminated 420 parking spaces. The modified plan added another six tenths of a mile all the way north to Adams, but promises to leave 100 of the 550 parking spaces along the 2.4 mile route that’s host to homes and apartments, businesses and restaurants.
Supporters say the city will create more parking on nearby streets and continue to point to the pay-to-park parking garage on 29th St. and North Park Way as a solution to lost parking.
Those living there and businesses say that they will be harmed by the loss of parking – including blue handicapped parking spaces residents and businesses paid for that will be eliminated or moved blocks away. They’ve faced opposition from their own city council representative, Chris Ward, who at one point told a 30-year resident that if parking was important to her, she should live somewhere else. His staff said he later apologized.
The plan went to the North Park Planning Committee in March 2019 for its first properly noticed presentation. Business groups along the route that had been working on the idea for several years – including hiring and then firing Ferrier – over her insistence on removing as much parking as possible despite their goal of balancing business, resident, and cyclist interests.
In May 2019, Mayor Kevin Faulconer ordered the city to proceed with designing the project, called Option A. But the city now says that was scrapped for a new project on 30th from Juniper to Adams called Option A+.
Everett Hauser, ranked as one of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition’s Top 10 riders this month, had also been hired by the city as its mobility program manager a month before the first discussion at the bicycle board and was present for the discussion heard by three of the board’s 11 members.
In a sworn declaration to the court, Hauser describes himself as “the project manager for the proposed bicycle facility along the 30th street corridor.” He promises that there are no engineering plans drawn up for Option A+. But, he swore, to delay the lanes until an environmental review could be done would cost the city an additional $250,000.
Sherman argues that when Faulconer issued the May 16, 2019 memo ordering the city staff to design the 30th Street route, then set to run from Juniper to Howard street, he created a project that must be reviewed for its impacts. Changes to that original plan do not release the city from its legal obligation, he says.
“This is all smoke and mirrors,” Sherman says. “They said it’s not a final design until it’s built. But we know it can’t go to final design until it’s approved.”