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Unintended results of five roundabouts in Oceanside

Lost parking spaces, two lanes of traffic gone, congestion on side streets, fire truck slow-down

Logan McEniry: "I learned when it first was proposed there wasn't a roundabout in front of my store. It looks like they're trying to hide it."
Logan McEniry: "I learned when it first was proposed there wasn't a roundabout in front of my store. It looks like they're trying to hide it."

These are uneasy times for two mom-and-pop hardware stores in North County.

And it's not because business is bad.

Two Ace Hardware stores, favorites of locals who want to avoid the trek to a big box and who want to support local businesses, are facing closure.

Carlsbad's Ace Hardware, in Carlsbad's core Village area, is scheduled to be demolished and replaced by a five-story, mixed-use development with 218 apartments. That new complex will wipe out the dozen-plus businesses located on four acres just west of I-5 including Ace Hardware and Smart & Final, the only grocery store left serving the Village area.

Oceanside's Ace Hardware on Coast Highway is owned by Logan McEniry, 24, who bought the store shortly after graduating from Marquette University with a degree in construction engineering. He says he just found out January 10 that a "highway corridor improvement"  project will tear out up to ten parking spaces on the corner in front of his store to make way for one of five new traffic-slowing roundabouts. As part of a coinciding "road diet" traffic reduction, the plan also calls for Coast Highway to decrease from two lanes to one lane each way.

Carlsbad's first roundabout at its northern point. Incoming road is Oceanside's Coast Highway.


"[Project manager] Vicitor [Velasco] came into my store and said these are the plans that have been approved for a while," says McEniry. "I learned when it first was proposed there wasn't a roundabout in front of my store. It looks like they're trying to hide it. They knew it wouldn't get passed if it went before the city."

McEniry says his landlord had no idea that a roundabout was proposed for the corner of Coast Highway and Michigan Street.

He says if the plan goes through, the reduced parking and reduced traffic in front of his store will doom Ace Hardware on Coast Highway in Oceanside.

"A lot of my business is grab-and-go. We will lose the whole aspect of that business. I will honestly have to start looking for a new home."

"LTH hates it too;" says McEniry about the Local Tap House restaurant kitty-corner from his store. "Their driveway is being taken away. They are essentially losing a parking lot. They weren't aware of any of this either."

Mayor Esther Sanchez says roundabouts should not kill local businesses on the corner.


McEniry says he reached out to all five council members about the plan. "The Mayor [Esther Sanchez] was the only one who got back to me. She said she would fight on our side to make sure this doesn't happen."

McEniry suggests Oceanside city planners are pushing concepts from Jetsons cartoon concepts over realistic steps forward.

"I studied urban design in college. It's like they are trying to get that perfect utopian design.... It's like the drawings of the flying cars. It's a really good idea on paper until they actually try to do it. If the city actually wanted to do something good for the area, why not fix the sidewalks or find other ways to beautify Oceanside without spending all this cash and changing the whole layout of the city....

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The city of Carlsbad has approached roundabouts on its stretch of Highway 101 differently than Oceanside. Carlsbad started with one roundabout at its north end where it connects with Oceanside's Coast Highway. Some ten years later Carlsbad is preparing to install its second roundabout four miles south on Cannon Road. That second roundabout in the Terramar neighborhood will be ready next year. Depending on results from that roundabout, a third roundabout may or may not be installed at Tamarack Avenue.

Oceanside engineers do not seem to motivated by using data-driven analyses since all five roundabouts will be installed at the same time. These five include one at Civic Center Drive, one on West Street and three others in between on Michigan, Washington, and Wisconsin Streets. Some roundabouts are only two blocks apart. All five are within one mile.

McEniry says he never knew that roundabouts and one-way lanes were even being considered. Two years ago a group of informed South Oceanside residents and business owners told city planners they didn't want either a reduction in lanes or roundabouts in their neighborhood. As a result, neither are planned for South Oceanside.

But there are residents in the greater downtown area who fear the new Coast Highway. Carolyn Krammer who lives two blocks east of Coast Highway says that when southbound I-5 slows to a crawl, traffic naturally diverts to Oceanside's Coast Highway. She says a new, more restricted Coast Highway with fewer lanes, will then "dump all the overflow traffic onto our adjacent residential side streets like Ditmar, and Freeman. What a massive clusterfuck this is all going to be."

Ace Hardware's McEniry says the new roundabout will make it impossible for the 53-foot delivery trucks to make deliveries to his store. "Now they will have to park on [residential] Tremont Street and haul everything over to us."

Roundabouts are installed with the idea that they improve public safety by slowing traffic on a major thoroughfare.

But what if these five Oceanside roundabouts actually decrease public safety?

McEniry says firefighters will have to drive over the raised area of the roundabouts in order to proceed on Coast Highway.

Four years ago current fire chief David Parsons said that road impairments including dips and traffic-slowing humps impact firetruck delivery time, that they should be avoided by firefighters, and are a consideration in deciding which route firetrucks should take. 

Last week Parsons said by phone that he has not yet had a final review of the new Coast Highway plan and of the impacts the five roundabouts may have. He says his department's approval is a necessary part of the completion of this project.

The newly-built Fire Station number 1 on Civic Center Drive is set to open in May. Coast Highway business owners say Coast Highway is used throughout the day by fire department vehicles rushing to calls for help.

Victor Velasco, Oceanside's project manager for the new Coast Highway traffic plan, was asked why Encinitas and Carlsbad currently only have one roundabout on their stretch of 101 while Oceanside will have five within one mile.

"What I can state is that the city is trying to fit everything within its narrow right of way. This is the reason why some intersections will still have traffic signals.... The roundabouts provide for a better traffic flow through the intersections.... I-5 speed limit is 65 mph but no one drives 65 mph because the road allows you to travel faster. The roundabouts aid controlling the traffic."

Velasco says the city of Oceanside reached out many times with public outreach including four community meetings, two city council workshops, four steering community meetings, all promoted by "extensive flyers a banner was hung across Coast Highway near city hall highlighting the project."

"No one has ever told me that before," says McEniry about his lack of input.

The five-story Carlsbad project impacting Ace Hardware is set to go before the city council for final approval by the end of summer. A city staffer says the existing businesses also including Smart & Final, The Golden T bar and the French Pastry Cafe could be forced to leave as soon as six to eight months after that.

It is unclear what impact Mayor Sanchez's intervention may have on the roundabout on Michigan Street near Ace Hardware. McEniry is hopeful. "The mayor told me she would either have the parking put back in or have the roundabout moved.

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Logan McEniry: "I learned when it first was proposed there wasn't a roundabout in front of my store. It looks like they're trying to hide it."
Logan McEniry: "I learned when it first was proposed there wasn't a roundabout in front of my store. It looks like they're trying to hide it."

These are uneasy times for two mom-and-pop hardware stores in North County.

And it's not because business is bad.

Two Ace Hardware stores, favorites of locals who want to avoid the trek to a big box and who want to support local businesses, are facing closure.

Carlsbad's Ace Hardware, in Carlsbad's core Village area, is scheduled to be demolished and replaced by a five-story, mixed-use development with 218 apartments. That new complex will wipe out the dozen-plus businesses located on four acres just west of I-5 including Ace Hardware and Smart & Final, the only grocery store left serving the Village area.

Oceanside's Ace Hardware on Coast Highway is owned by Logan McEniry, 24, who bought the store shortly after graduating from Marquette University with a degree in construction engineering. He says he just found out January 10 that a "highway corridor improvement"  project will tear out up to ten parking spaces on the corner in front of his store to make way for one of five new traffic-slowing roundabouts. As part of a coinciding "road diet" traffic reduction, the plan also calls for Coast Highway to decrease from two lanes to one lane each way.

Carlsbad's first roundabout at its northern point. Incoming road is Oceanside's Coast Highway.


"[Project manager] Vicitor [Velasco] came into my store and said these are the plans that have been approved for a while," says McEniry. "I learned when it first was proposed there wasn't a roundabout in front of my store. It looks like they're trying to hide it. They knew it wouldn't get passed if it went before the city."

McEniry says his landlord had no idea that a roundabout was proposed for the corner of Coast Highway and Michigan Street.

He says if the plan goes through, the reduced parking and reduced traffic in front of his store will doom Ace Hardware on Coast Highway in Oceanside.

"A lot of my business is grab-and-go. We will lose the whole aspect of that business. I will honestly have to start looking for a new home."

"LTH hates it too;" says McEniry about the Local Tap House restaurant kitty-corner from his store. "Their driveway is being taken away. They are essentially losing a parking lot. They weren't aware of any of this either."

Mayor Esther Sanchez says roundabouts should not kill local businesses on the corner.


McEniry says he reached out to all five council members about the plan. "The Mayor [Esther Sanchez] was the only one who got back to me. She said she would fight on our side to make sure this doesn't happen."

McEniry suggests Oceanside city planners are pushing concepts from Jetsons cartoon concepts over realistic steps forward.

"I studied urban design in college. It's like they are trying to get that perfect utopian design.... It's like the drawings of the flying cars. It's a really good idea on paper until they actually try to do it. If the city actually wanted to do something good for the area, why not fix the sidewalks or find other ways to beautify Oceanside without spending all this cash and changing the whole layout of the city....

Sponsored
Sponsored

The city of Carlsbad has approached roundabouts on its stretch of Highway 101 differently than Oceanside. Carlsbad started with one roundabout at its north end where it connects with Oceanside's Coast Highway. Some ten years later Carlsbad is preparing to install its second roundabout four miles south on Cannon Road. That second roundabout in the Terramar neighborhood will be ready next year. Depending on results from that roundabout, a third roundabout may or may not be installed at Tamarack Avenue.

Oceanside engineers do not seem to motivated by using data-driven analyses since all five roundabouts will be installed at the same time. These five include one at Civic Center Drive, one on West Street and three others in between on Michigan, Washington, and Wisconsin Streets. Some roundabouts are only two blocks apart. All five are within one mile.

McEniry says he never knew that roundabouts and one-way lanes were even being considered. Two years ago a group of informed South Oceanside residents and business owners told city planners they didn't want either a reduction in lanes or roundabouts in their neighborhood. As a result, neither are planned for South Oceanside.

But there are residents in the greater downtown area who fear the new Coast Highway. Carolyn Krammer who lives two blocks east of Coast Highway says that when southbound I-5 slows to a crawl, traffic naturally diverts to Oceanside's Coast Highway. She says a new, more restricted Coast Highway with fewer lanes, will then "dump all the overflow traffic onto our adjacent residential side streets like Ditmar, and Freeman. What a massive clusterfuck this is all going to be."

Ace Hardware's McEniry says the new roundabout will make it impossible for the 53-foot delivery trucks to make deliveries to his store. "Now they will have to park on [residential] Tremont Street and haul everything over to us."

Roundabouts are installed with the idea that they improve public safety by slowing traffic on a major thoroughfare.

But what if these five Oceanside roundabouts actually decrease public safety?

McEniry says firefighters will have to drive over the raised area of the roundabouts in order to proceed on Coast Highway.

Four years ago current fire chief David Parsons said that road impairments including dips and traffic-slowing humps impact firetruck delivery time, that they should be avoided by firefighters, and are a consideration in deciding which route firetrucks should take. 

Last week Parsons said by phone that he has not yet had a final review of the new Coast Highway plan and of the impacts the five roundabouts may have. He says his department's approval is a necessary part of the completion of this project.

The newly-built Fire Station number 1 on Civic Center Drive is set to open in May. Coast Highway business owners say Coast Highway is used throughout the day by fire department vehicles rushing to calls for help.

Victor Velasco, Oceanside's project manager for the new Coast Highway traffic plan, was asked why Encinitas and Carlsbad currently only have one roundabout on their stretch of 101 while Oceanside will have five within one mile.

"What I can state is that the city is trying to fit everything within its narrow right of way. This is the reason why some intersections will still have traffic signals.... The roundabouts provide for a better traffic flow through the intersections.... I-5 speed limit is 65 mph but no one drives 65 mph because the road allows you to travel faster. The roundabouts aid controlling the traffic."

Velasco says the city of Oceanside reached out many times with public outreach including four community meetings, two city council workshops, four steering community meetings, all promoted by "extensive flyers a banner was hung across Coast Highway near city hall highlighting the project."

"No one has ever told me that before," says McEniry about his lack of input.

The five-story Carlsbad project impacting Ace Hardware is set to go before the city council for final approval by the end of summer. A city staffer says the existing businesses also including Smart & Final, The Golden T bar and the French Pastry Cafe could be forced to leave as soon as six to eight months after that.

It is unclear what impact Mayor Sanchez's intervention may have on the roundabout on Michigan Street near Ace Hardware. McEniry is hopeful. "The mayor told me she would either have the parking put back in or have the roundabout moved.

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