Planning Commission tweaks plan for Glenneyre

A proposal to convert a portion of Glenneyre Street into a complete street — one considered to be safe, accessible and comfortable for walkers, the disabled, cyclists and motorists — wasn't complete enough to win Planning Commission approval.

The commission voted 4 to 1 at its Dec. 12 meeting to approve crosswalk striping on Glenneyre between Thalia and Calliope streets, but rejected other options sent to them by the City Council for comment. The options were culled from a study prepared by the transportation consulting firm of Fehr & Peers to identify opportunities to make all of Glenneyre more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly.

"We were concerned about a piecemeal approach," Commissioner Anne Johnson said. "A commission subcommittee of Linda Dietrich and Norm Grossman is already working on the mobility element of the General Plan and a study of downtown parking is also underway."

California's Complete Streets Act of 2007, AB1358, requires the legislative bodies of cities and counties to identify how the jurisdictions, when they revise the circulation elements of their general plans, will accommodate all roadway users, according to City Manager John Pietig.

The bill also directs the Governor's Office of Planning and Research to amend guidelines for the development of general plan circulation elements so that the building and operation of local transportation facilities accommodates everyone safely and conveniently, regardless of their mode of travel.

"There are no deadlines for local agencies to comply," Pietig said. "Whenever cities perform a 'substantial' revision to the circulation element, 'complete streets' components need to be addressed.

"Complete Streets generally refers to streets being designed and operated to enable safe access for all users," he added. "The Complete Streets Act of 2007 is intended to ensure that transportation plans of California communities meet the needs of all users of the roadway including pedestrians, cyclists, users of public transit, drivers, children, the elderly and the disabled."

The City Council at its Oct. 2 meeting sent the commission two options from the consultants' study to make Glenneyre a complete street, but only for a portion between Thalia and Calliope streets.

Alternative 1 — crosswalk striping — involved the least change and cost, probably less than $50,000, and would not impact vehicular traffic.

Striping could be done before next summer.

"I think it is silly to do anything until we do a complete study," said Commissioner Linda Dietrich, the lone vote against the striping.

Sharrows — the painted arrows on pavement to remind motorists they must share the roadway with bicycles — recommended in Alternative 1 for Catalina Street by then-council members Jane Egly and Verna Rollinger was not approved.

The second option reviewed by the commission was designated Alternative 2-A.

Modifications to the four-lane section of Glenneyre between Thalia and Calliope streets would provide the most complete street improvements with the least traffic impacts and costs, in the consultant's view.

To make room for bicycle lanes, one traffic lane in each direction would be eliminated. A two-way, left-turn lane in the middle would prevent turning vehicles from blocking through traffic, according to the study.

However, Glenneyre is reduced to two lanes at the dip across Calliope to the south, seen as a real obstacle by some residents. Cyclists pumping up the incline heading farther south on Glenneyre or to Bluebird Canyon Drive to make a turn toward the traffic light on South Coast Highway could create a bottleneck.

"When you grant somebody a right, you are taking from someone else," said resident Rick Holder, who opposed all options except Alternative 1.

"The design here principally benefits bikers," he added. "This works great in a grid city, but not as well in Laguna's topography."

Complete Streets Task Force Chair Chris Prelitz said the proposed project is only the first pass at making Laguna more multi-modal.

"I am pleased we are finally doing something," Prelitz said.

Implementation of Alternative 2-A would require a detailed plan for signing and striping and a more in-depth traffic and environmental analysis, according to the staff summary prepared by Public Works Director Steve May.

May also indicated that a coastal development permit would not likely be required.

The cost of engineering and environmental documentation would be about $75,000.

There would be no cost of implementation if the striping was delayed until 2015 when Glenneyre is slurry sealed. Otherwise, the cost of implementation would be in the order of $75,000.

The plan will be sent back to the City Council in January with the commission's recommendations.

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