Impacts of roundabouts a concern for Village Church

The Village Church in Rancho Santa Fe has alerted its members of the impacts of the proposed roundabout project planned for the Paseo Delicias/Del Dios Highway corridor by the County of San Diego. The County recently released a lengthy draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) and the period for public comment ends on Feb. 28, 2013. In the meanwhile, the Rancho Santa Fe Association Board of Directors will take up the project on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 9 a.m. at the RSF Garden Club. Because it is so controversial, a larger than usual number of members are expected to attend the meeting.

Village Church Pastor, The Rev. Dr. Jack Baca, has encouraged members and neighbors to get familiar with the project and to express their views to the County and the Association board. He observed recently, “This project will have a tremendous impact on our Village, on Del Dios, on Paseo Delicias, on our neighbors, and especially our church and preschool. If this project is approved the first impact will be the taking of about 23 parking spaces from our church and preschool. This is vitally necessary parking for our members and guests.” Those spaces are mandated by the permits the church has obtained from the County and the Association. The church does not want those displaced to have to park on adjacent streets.

The Village Church Preschool is immediately adjacent to one proposed roundabout. Church officials worry about the difficulty for parents of preschoolers in accessing the parking lot while there is an 18-month or longer period of construction. Parents worry about the dangers of construction, the dust, the noise, and the access problems.

Neighbors have expressed concern about the substantial impact on them as well. Elder Don MacNeil has heard from numerous residents along Paseo Delicias. He observed “neighbors and the church will lose parking, driveways, access, stately trees, mature landscaping, walls, privacy and more. One street will even be cul-de-saced. When the project was proposed and explained to the Association years ago, the roundabouts were expected to be around 80 feet in diameter. Now they are estimated at 110 feet and could grow larger. No doubt the old budget estimate of $4.5 million will grow exponentially, as well.”

Another concern the church’s neighbors have expressed is the traffic being rerouted through quiet neighborhoods for 18 months or more. Trucks, busses, commuters, emergency vehicles, motorcycles, horses and bicycles are a bad mix for our semi-rural streets right now. We know that regardless of what route the County prefers for these vehicles, people will go the way they want. Right now the church is burdened with morning cut-throughs in its parking lot by impatient commuters. They enter the east side of the campus and exit on Las Colinas by the Preschool. This problem could get much worse during construction. Those sneaking around lines of traffic poses a substantial danger to the children arriving for preschool classes.

The County’s DEIR makes much of the concern that residents have about the environmental impacts of the project. The most interesting finding is that the roundabouts have substantial environmental impacts, and are not the best answer, and that, in their findings, the “Signalized Intersections Alternative would be the environmentally superior alternative.”

The church wants to be a good neighbor and is sensitive to those who believe in roundabouts over traffic signals. We want to preserve our semi-rural character as much as anyone, but we also recognize that the 20,700 ADT’s (cars) on Del Dios today are hardly a semi-rural condition. We hope our friends and neighbors are sensitive to the effects this project will have on us and the neighborhood and will carefully decide what is best for our community.

— Submitted by Elder Don MacNeil on behalf of The Village Church