Rancho Santa Fe committee still seeking direction on signals vs. roundabouts

For more than 15 years, the Rancho Santa Fe Association has discussed, debated, analyzed and agonized over the potential of roundabouts as a solution to traffic congestion on Del Dios Highway/Paseo Delicias. Another town hall meeting is in the works to gather public input on possible solutions, now that the Association’s intersection committee has completed a study of what traffic signals might look like at the intersections at Via de la Valle, El Montevideo and El Camino del Norte.

The board has the option of certifying the county’s environmental impact report, preserving both roundabouts and signals as solutions, or recommending that the county certify traffic signals instead of roundabouts. As signals are less costly at $1.5 million versus the $6 million roundabouts, the funding for signals could be identified and construction could commence in the next two years, according to Larry Roberts, associate planner. A funding source for the roundabouts has not yet been identified, so construction may not occur for at least five or six years.

Residents expressed frustration in how long the process has taken and didn’t want to see this board “kick the can down the road,: “stick their heads in the sand” or “drop anchor.”

“The people living on these roads are impacted by excessive traffic every morning and afternoon,” said resident Daniel Bunn, noting that the roads most affected are El Camino del Norte, Lago Lindo, Mimulus, Avenida de Acacias, La Granada, Via de Santa Fe, and La Valle Plateada. “Roundabouts are a time-consuming and unrealistic burden to approve, fund and complete if selected …Wasting more time imposes a serious penalty to those living with this traffic problem at the end of their driveway every day. Please support installing traffic signals and get prompt closure on this long-overdue issue.”

A town hall meeting within the next few months would allow the board to gauge the community’s current sentiments and hopefully build consensus, said RSF Association President Ann Boon.

“This is a huge decision for the board and the community,” Boon said. “The decision that we make as a board will have a permanent impact.”

The Association last held a meeting on the subject in February 2013. A large crowd attended as the board decided its response to the county’s draft environmental impact report on the roundabouts. At that meeting, the board took a “passive position” of not opposing the certification of the report with the recommendations that the county reduce the diameter of the La Valle Plateada/Montevideo and the Via de la Valle roundabouts and do a complete study of traffic signals at those intersections.

The Association also voted to form the ad hoc intersection committee to work with the county on traffic signal design, as the alternative was never studied or designed in great detail.

At the 2013 meeting, the community was divided over the issue, without a clear consensus to approve signals or roundabouts. Some favored roundabouts and some were strongly against them. Many said they would like to see traffic signals; others said traffic signals would set a bad precedent in the effort to keep the Ranch rural.

At last week’s meeting, no one spoke in favor of roundabouts, and several community members present strongly urged traffic signals.

Don MacNeil, who said he has attended every meeting on the subject for the past 10 years representing the interests of the Village Church, reiterated the church’s opposition to roundabouts as they will result in the taking of their property through eminent domain and the loss of 23 spaces from their parking lot.

RSF resident Lisa Bartlett said roundabouts would drastically alter the face of Rancho Santa Fe forever; and while no one really wants traffic signals or roundabouts, the signals are far less intrusive for everyone who lives in the community.

Speaking on behalf of resident Gerald Parsky, attorney Lisa McGee said traffic signals are a cost-effective solution that doesn’t intrude onto private property next to the intersections. Parksy urged the board to “expeditiously recommend” traffic signals as a solution to a problem that has been in existence for too many years,

“I’d like to see it done while I’m still able to drive,” agreed resident Linda Hahn.