The Rancho Santa Fe Association’s survey on roundabouts versus traffic lights netted a very positive 58 percent return rate, according to RSF Association Manager Bill Overton at the Nov. 5 RSF Association board meeting. The board received very strong direction from Covenant residents, with 73 percent voting in favor of roundabouts, 24 percent supporting traffic lights and 3 percent voting for neither.
The 58 percent rate was impressive, Overton said, compared with nine various votes from 2006 to 2013, where the return rate was 32 to 49 percent.
In the 2014 board elections and fitness center feasibility votes, which had the highest return rates over the past 10 years of 74 percent and 71 percent respectively, the top choice received 52 and 53 percent.
“For a 73 percent choice on anything in Rancho Santa Fe is a pretty big margin,” Overton said.
Overton said the voice of the community was very strong, and his recommendation was to endorse this survey and pass the recommendation on to the county.
The board voted unanimously (with RSF Association President Ann Boon absent) to forward the community’s preference for roundabouts to the county and approve the county’s Environmental Impact Report for the three intersections on Paseo Delicias/Del Dios Highway.
“To me, the vote was very clear that overwhelmingly this community prefers roundabouts,” board member Philip Wilkinson said.
The Association’s long history with this project goes back to around 2002. A Covenant-wide meeting in 2003 resulted in the Association submitting a request for roundabouts to the county, and the next year the Association contributed $125,000 toward a project study.
The first roundabout design meeting was held in 2005, followed by more in 2006. The first draft of the environmental impact report (EIR) circulated in 2008, and in 2010 it was revised to include Rancho Santa Fe’s lighting suggestions.
In 2013, the RSF Association board took a “passive position” of not opposing the certification of the EIR 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 an ad hoc committee to work with the county on traffic signal design as the alternative, because it had never been studied or designed in great detail.
In 2015, the Association board voted to support traffic signals after feedback at a town hall meeting was overwhelmingly in favor of signals.
“We voted on what was in the best interest of the community,” Vice President Heather Slosar said.
Immediately afterward, though, a group of residents challenged the decision and wanted a bigger process. They backed up their request by gathering almost 1,000 signatures. As a result, the board approved conducting the community-wide survey.
Moving forward, Associate Planner Larry Roberts said the Association can have some input on the design of the roundabouts, but the county must adhere to certain guidelines.
The Association has requested that the diameter of the roundabouts be as small as possible — 110 feet, down from 118 feet. As Roberts noted, the smaller they are, the less impact they will have.
At the meeting, one roundabout advocate said the focus now should be on making sure that neighboring property owners’ land is respected.
The Association has also worked with the county about the lighting preferred — less bright, discreet lighting only to illuminate the roundabouts for safety. The fixtures won’t exceed 15 feet in height and will be dark earth-toned or black.
Safe equestrian crossings have also been a stated priority. Pedestrian- and equestrian-height push-button controls would activate in-pavement lighting and above-ground flashing beacons at the crosswalks. The equestrian height push-button controls would also activate advance flashing warning signs located between 400 and 500 feet from the crossings at each leg of the intersection.
Roberts said once there is a defined project, it will be put in the county’s queue and evaluated based on need, benefits and the cost for the funding cycle. The timeline for project construction is not known at this time.