The Encinitas City Council voted to table plans designed to overhaul a stretch of Manchester Avenue Wednesday night.
Last June, the City Council hired an engineering company to draft a study in order to address traffic, flooding and safety issues for vehicles and pedestrians on Manchester Avenue from Trabert Ranch Road to 1,000 feet west of Colony Terrace.
“Our goals are to meet current public road standards, to improve sight distance, improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities, to consider future development and to maintain community character,” said Gerard Lumabas from Dokken Engineering.
After gathering input from community groups and holding several workshops, Dokken Engineering drafted three potential plans and presented them to City Council.
The largest of the three plans would have affected more than an acre of land and homeowners in Encinitas. It involved widening the road, adding two bike lanes, putting in pedestrian trails, installing left-hand turn lanes at intersections and straightening particularly curvy sections of the road to make them safer.
To fix drainage problems on Manchester Avenue, Dokken’s study proposed upsizing culvert crossings and installing asphalt berms with curb inlets and other improvements.
Many residents welcomed drainage infrastructure overhauls because of past flooding issues on Manchester Avenue, as well as plans to slow traffic down with reduced speed and radar-traffic signs. However, eight locals spoke out against Dokken’s overall vision.
“We moved here because of the wonderful country nature of this area,” an Encinitas resident said. “We see that being jeopardized.”
Dr. Robert Wilder brought up the issue of property rights.
“I understand that community character isn’t going to fly with everyone here,” Wilder said. “But those of you who believe in things like property rights — I know many people will not allow their property to be taken. I’m one of them.”
Councilman Mark Muir said aspects of the plans should be voted on individually. He said he would consider supporting drainage overhauls, bike lanes and looking for “innovative ways to enhance the slowing down of traffic.” But he wasn’t in favor of large-scale street widening and straightening at Manchester Avenue
With Councilman James Bond opposed, the City Council voted 3-1 (Deputy Mayor Kristin Gaspar was absent) to adopt Muir’s motion to receive the study, take no action and see if separate projects from the proposals could be approved in future council meetings.
“I completely agree that we need to have the drainage issue brought back,” Councilwoman Teresa Barth said.
On another note, Council voted again for a new retirement benefits formula for firefighters. Changes to retirement benefits were already adopted in Febuary. However, the proposal wasn't approved by the state due to wording issues.
According to city Human Resources Director Tom Beckord, with the current system, Encinitas firefighters’ highest pay year determines their retirement benefits. Going forward, the average of three consecutive years of employment will be used to calculate new hires’ retirement benefits.