North County Report: The North County Case for Expanded Transit - Voice of San Diego

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North County Report: The North County Case for Expanded Transit

North County's transit agency makes its case for raising taxes to improve services, and a developer asks Escondido to annex county property so it can build more homes near the San Diego Safari Zoo Park.

North County Transit District Chief Matthew Tucker laid out the case for funding transit improvements in North County through a potential ballot item to raise the TransNet tax this week in a commentary published by the Union-Tribune.

“To maintain our quality of life in this region, we must have a comprehensive transportation toolbox that includes highway and street improvements, freeway widening projects, filling potholes and improving traffic flow,” Tucker said, hitting the notes that many North County electeds want to hear.

Adding public transit is important for maintaining North County’s quality of life, economy and environment in the face of continued growth, he said.

Tucker mentioned a few specifics that will require substantial investment to make transit more useful, like adding a second set of tracks along rail lines and improving bridges so trains can run more frequently. (That’s going to undermine one advantage of the train North County residents know and love: ducking out of commitments in San Diego because of the limited schedule. “Oh jeez, look at the time. I really have to get to the station ‒ it’ll be hours before the next train.”)

He also alluded to adding commercial and residential space to transit centers in Solana Beach, Oceanside, Carlsbad and Escondido, which would add revenue and riders. Of course, that still leaves much to be desired at a number of stations between the transit centers.

The agency has run a deficit for the past six years, but Tucker said 2015 was a record year for ridership and revenue, and the agency has turned around its budget and is running a surplus.

In other North County transportation news:

• A long-term plan by Caltrans to revamp the I-5 corridor will get its start in Encinitas with new bike and pedestrian paths. (Encinitas Advocate)

• The missing link of Poinsettia Lane in Carlsbad will be constructed in an area that was charred by the 2014 fires, to accommodate new housing. (Union-Tribune)

Growing the City

A developer near Escondido is asking the city to annex 350 acres from the county so it can build a 550-home community.

Maya Srikrishnan reports that because the property is currently in an unincorporated part of the county, Concordia Homes is only allowed to build 27 homes. If the developer gets its annex, it’ll have the right to pursue the bigger project. And this ain’t the first time around the block for this plot of land (or rather, the first time someone’s tried to put neighborhood blocks here, around which one could go). The Escondido Planning Commission already rejected a similar planned development over environmental and safety concerns.

“In 2003, the Escondido planning commission recommended that the City Council reject Valley View Estates, a previous project proposed on the same plot of land. The commissioners said the developer couldn’t possibly mitigate several environmental and safety impacts of the project,” Srikrishnan writes.

New Priorities in Carlsbad

As Carlsbad puts some distance between itself and the vote last month on Measure A, the city is turning its attention to three other projects that will temporarily affect beach access at popular locations. All three are still in the design phase, but the city is weighing the timing of construction, which is expected to run from October to June, according to The Coast News.

Ocean Street has seven beach access points, with stairways that need to be rebuilt and improved with better lighting. The Terramar and Tamarack neighborhoods, meanwhile, are looking at road design changes to improve beach accessibility.

At least at Terramar, a neighborhood south of Cannon Road and a really bad surfing spot that is definitely not worth checking out, the parking situation creates a few safety issues between cars, and bicycles and pedestrians. The city says both Terramar and Tamarack also suffer from traffic flow issues.

• Meanwhile, one columnist lays out some other priorities for the city.

(Disclaimer: I work in IT at the Surfrider Foundation, which advocates for protecting beach access)

All I Got to Do is Act Naturally

Guns. Drugs. Car chases. HOA meetings.

A new crime drama on TNT is tapping into Oceanside’s grittier side, with the premiere of ‘Animal Kingdom’ on June 7. Some people (me) say if the show is successful, it would give the city some major cool points. Others are worried it won’t paint a pretty picture of the town.

To be fair, I never experienced the gangs, and the troubles on Hill Street. I only moved to the big city a few years ago from a small town in New England, desperate for the cultural cachet of a “gritty surf community.”

Catch the trailer here. Auditions are Friday.

Also in the News

• Escondido has a new assistant city manager. (Times-Advocate)

• Poway hired three people of its own, including one who will oversee many city services. (Pomerado News)

• A judge lifted the temporary restraining order against an Escondido Union School District trustee. (Union-Tribune)

• A monthly symposium of marijuana-smokers at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas has one neighbor fuming. (The Coast News)

• Encinitas could decide the fate of the Rail Trail Wednesday night. (The Coast News)

• Escondido is crafting a plan to build a new library. (Union-Tribune)

• A cave has opened up on the bluff near Terramar, that surf spot that is really quite awful. (Union-Tribune)

• Men’s Journal said Carlsbad is an “athlete’s playground” and one of the best places to live. (Men’s Journal)

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