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Residents and Business Owners Share Frustration with the City of San Diego

| August 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

Over the past couple of months, I have spoken to business owners and homeowners who feel as if their elected officials have lost touch with those they were elected to serve and have chosen to ignore the wishes and needs of their constituents. Below is one of two “Letters to the Editor” that we feel deserves to receive special attention. The other Letter to the Editor is on page 17 of this issue.

Middletown residents continue to be frustrated by the lack of action by the City of San Diego and the Airport Authority to resolve existing speed issues. Now, the situation has worsened because of the traffic issues created by the airport rental car center on India Street.

Over 150 Middletown residents crowded into the Uptown Community Planning meeting July 5th only to be told there was no intention to remove parking on India Street and the one-way access to West Spruce and Redwood Streets. However, what was never mentioned at this meeting and is buried deep within the draft Uptown Community Plan is a mobility study, which reports a much different scenario. In fact, the plan to remove parking and sidewalks on India Street, as well as several feet of existing building fronts is depicted in charts and photographs found in incorporated attachments to the Plan. Additionally, tables refer the proposed removal of the southbound lane of India Street. All of this is contrary to what was represented at the Uptown Planners Meeting and more importantly, public comment regarding the Plan is due by August 8, 2016.

The residents of Middletown have spent a great deal of time trying to find someone in the community to help them. They have been referred from one agency to the next. Their council person Todd Gloria and his office have been of no help. Calls to the Mayor’s office have not been returned. This report once adopted, dictates city planning for many years, and is very difficult to amend or change. It is during this draft and public comment period that change is possible. Long time restaurant owners along India Street also thought this issue was long ago resolved within their area of India Street. This certainly is not the case. The June 4, 2015 mobility report dictates the removal of parking from this parking strapped historic and popular restaurant area.

Representatives from District 3 Councilman Todd Gloria’s office and the Airport Authority were present at the July 5 meeting where residents were loud and clear in their objections to the removal of street parking and the southbound lane of India Street between Sassafras and Redwood. This lane provides the only access to many homes within the area. For more than two hours residents voiced their objections to the City and Airport Authority’s plans. Not once during this meeting did officials at the meeting bring this impending deadline or information to the attention of residents. The information is publically available, buried deep within appendix C to a Mobility Study, which is an incorporated attachment the Uptown Plan.

Residents have been asking for time on the agenda of Uptown Planners to provide input to the new plan, however Uptown Planners has said their agenda is too full and August is the last meeting prior to the deadline to submit comments for this draft report.

Residents are tired by the run around and lack of action by Todd Gloria’s office and the Airport Authority. For over five years, residents of Middletown have asked for traffic calming measures along India Street. Residents have provided inexpensive and efficient solutions asking for stop signs to be installed on India Street similar to those that have been installed along Fourth Avenue from Robinson to Laurel or within Little Italy. The installation of stop signs in Little Italy has proven to be effective in reducing speeds and making it a safer environment for both residents and visitors.

Residents have also provided an effective way and cost efficient way to route the traffic from the residential area of Middletown to the business area. The business owners of Middletown support the proposal. At the July 5 meeting, Keith Wilschetz of the Airport Authority said improvements would need to be made to Pacific Highway and Washington Street in order to move the signage. The crowded room of residents roared as no improvements were made to India or Sassafras Streets prior to the installation of the rental car facility signs. Residents have asked the Airport Authority to work with the City and Cal Trans to have these signs moved.

Also, along the small segment of India Street from Palm to Sassafras, where the residents are most impacted, the posted speed limit is 35. According to an email dated July 20, 2016 from Adriana Martinez of Todd Gloria’s office to residents, more than 66 percent of the cars significantly exceed the posted speed limit. Also within the same email she tells residents that the speeds have decreased since October of 2013. What her analysis lacked and anyone can clearly see from the data she provided is that speeds have decreased but the traffic has increased since there are now more than 3,000 additional cars on this small stretch of India Street from February 2014 to April 2016 compared to a decrease in the volume of cars from October 2013 to February 2014. Simply accounting for the reduced speeds but not factoring the increase in the number of cars provides a false premise the City’s traffic calming sign is the solution.

The irony of all of this is that the existing Community Plan for Middletown which is about 5 pages and adopted February 2, 1988 included the following objectives:

  • Reduce auto/pedestrian conflicts.
  • Preserve views on the western slopes.
  • Improve the appearance of businesses along India Street and the public right of way.
  • Maintain and strengthen the pedestrian-oriented environment within the Washington and India Street commercial zones.

Middletown is located between Little Italy to the south and Old Town to the north. Middletown was established on May 27, 1850 and the streets still carry the names of the original founders. Public comment is due by August 8 on the City’s Plan. Written comments should be sent to:

Kurtis Steiner,
Senior Environmental Planner, City of San Diego Planning Department,
1010 Second Avenue, MS 413,
San Diego, CA 92101
Or e-mail your comments to PlanningCEQA@sandiego.gov
With the Project Name and Number in the subject line.

Please note only written comments, received either via US Mail, hand-delivered, or via email, will be considered official comments in the Final EIR.
PROJECT NAME: Uptown Community Plan Update
PROJECT No. 21002568 / SCH No. Pending
COMMUNITY AREA: Uptown
COUNCIL DISTRICT: 3”

Please write or email your objections before the 8 August Deadline.

Any questions, please email us at Middletown92103@gmail.com.

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