The Rancho Santa Fe Association board gave San Diego County the green light for traffic signals over roundabouts for problem intersections on Paseo Delicias/Del Dios Highway at its May 7 meeting.
The board’s decision took into consideration the overwhelming community preference for signals over roundabouts, expressed at an April 29 town hall meeting in which 76 percent of the 156 people in attendance favored traffic lights.
Board member Rochelle Putnam, who has been working on this intersection issue for the past seven years, said no solution is ideal. If Rancho Santa Fe had its way, it would have engineered the roads a lot wider and installed roundabouts — but the fact is, the community’s roads are narrow and the roundabouts would be much larger than they could have anticipated and are very impactful on surrounding properties.
“It’s very critical that we stay engaged and work with the county on our concerns about lighting, aesthetics and safety to make sure the community and the people who come through are well-served,” Putnam said.
RSF Association Manager Bill Overton said he has received an additional 21 emails since the April 29 meeting, 86 percent in favor of signals. He also noted that at a town hall meeting held in February 2013, while only 34 people attended, the percentages were identical in favor of signals.
Overton said the board’s approval means that the county could work quickly to install signals, whereas roundabouts would probably take five or six years to be completed because of the high cost of the $6 million project.
Board member Philip Wilkinson said they have sat on the problem long enough—morning queues can be 100 cars deep at the stop sign, residents along the corridor have to endure cut-through traffic and they continue to have trouble pulling out onto the road during peak hours.
“I’m a big supporter of the rural aesthetics of roundabouts; however, I understand the sense of urgency and the need to do something,” Wilkinson said.
One member in the audience said that 156 people was an “inadequate” sampling and not the majority of people in town. He said straw polls and emails are not representative of the community, and he suggested it be put to a community-wide vote.
RSF resident Dick Doughty said the town hall meeting should not be characterized as an official Association meeting. He said many in attendance were not Covenant members, but members of the Village Church.
The board members strongly disagreed, saying that the problem has been ongoing for a long time and the discussion of roundabouts versus traffic lights just as long — about 15 years.
“What stone has possibly been left unturned?” board member Kim Eggleston asked, noting that it would be impossible to get 1,900 responses and that they will never please everybody.
“To say the community hasn’t had input is mind-boggling to me,” agreed resident Lisa Bartlett. “Anybody who has wanted to has had incredible opportunities to speak up.”
Board members Jerry Yahr and Heather Slosar said they felt they had adequate information and community input to move forward.
“As board members it’s our jobs to represent the community,” Putnam said. “The people who showed up are the most impacted, and we owe it them to come up with a solution.”