Beach city development — Can Oceanside maintain its vitality as our community grows?

Last week, I attended an Oceanside meeting about planning and development on Coast Highway. While the issue is far from decided, I among many residents are concerned about how changes will affect the landscape, the roads and the community. The concern is common among those living in coastal or other treasured areas across the country. And indeed there have been many cases where the issue has gone to court, such as in the Newport Beach’s Banning Ranch case where environmental concerns are at the heart of contention.

But for North County San Diego, most people who live in the area choose to stay because it has that small beach town feel, while at the same time maintaining big city resources available for those who might need it. Having traveled up and down Highway 1 of California several times, I can think of no better place for our kids to grow up.

Businesses Were Struggling Not Too Long Ago

But I also understand the plight of businesses in the area that were struggling to make it through the winter downtown. I remember talking with several of the shopkeepers who told me that they were really concerned about shutting down and having to move out of town because of a lack of business a few years. The recent raising rental costs in downtown Oceanside has not helped matters either. So from a common-sense standpoint there either needed to be a solution of having rent-control for businesses or they need to acquire additional customers.

Downtown Development

Personally, I do not like the idea of building tall buildings with limited access to services downtown. The addition of the high rise residential complex in the heart of Oceanside’s beach community is an eye sore to say the least. It completely blocks the beach skyline from a few really nice sit-down restaurants. Although zoning and development may have already been approved, the fact remains that most residents don’t realize something is going on until the project is finished. There needs to be a measure of intelligent development which will serve to benefit ALL residents of the community and so this is part of the reason why workshops and residential input are all so valuable for this on-going project.

Road Safety Issues

Many residents also discussed a various positions on a two lane or four lane roadway. There was some very good discussion on both viewpoints. While there are pros and cons to both viewpoints, one of my biggest concerns is for the safety of those travelling down Coast Highway. If we want to decrease the number of fatalities, installing a round-about is a good way to do so. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, such improvements decrease intersection deaths by 78-82%.

As a Paramedic, I personally witnessed a dramatic reduction in major vehicle accidents when one was installed around our service area. Therefore, from a safety standpoint, I would agree with their installation. However, it should be pointed out that there can be a slight increase in minor accidents, thus decreasing traffic flow and inconvenience to motorists.

Diagram: Roundabout with arrows to Bicylce Lane treatement, Pavement Markings at Entry, Counterclockwise circulation, Circulatory roadway, Splitter Island, Accessible pedestrian crossing, Landscape buffer, Apron, Central island and Sidewalk or shared use path

(Source: NHTSA)

Solution 

There may not be a perfect solution, but rather there needs to be an appropriate measure of give/take in order to ensure a proper balance as our community grows throughout the next several years. While North County San Diego is considered one of the “last frontiers” of development in Southern California, the people can still maintain our beach community feel at the same ensuring proper growth of sustainability of economic and facility development.

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  • There was a good discussion on FB about this on Oceanside Votes. I live in North County/ O’side beach area too. The traffic on Coast Highway has gotten worse since the lane reduction and bicycle buffer zones were added and I still almost got hit at the exact spot that Logan Lipton tragically lost his life at. A controlled signal at that spot would have likely been the way to go, but at least improvements were made so that a passing bicyclist can now see a car coming and stop in time. I actually think Coast Hwy should be a four lane road at least. Either that or people need to remember to take the 5 to Oceanside Blvd. route instead of Vista wy. To Coast Hwy. It took me a couple of times getting stuck to remember too. I hope that no further ” improvements” are made to our coastline. I don’t understand why the bicycle lobby has brought the issue to the City Council. I still have not seen all these bicycle enthusiasts making use of the new bike lanes that were imposed on Oceanside residents. They still take the sidewalk because it is the safest way to travel by bicycle on a city street. If someone really wants to make our lives better and prevent kids on bikes from being killed on their way to school, then I suggest bringing back the school buses. The air quality would be much improved without all of us parents sitting in gridlock with engines idling waiting to pick up and retrieve our children every morning and afternoon.