It was obvious at last night’s City Council meeting, the CdM BID’s long-term proposal, going back to 2004, was circling the drain. Their lovely design to widen the sidewalk at MacArthur and Coast Hwy was goin’ down.
In the end a compromise of sorts was crafted — the grand design was out. Instead 8 parking spaces within the intersection would be removed and the sidewalk/landscaping will expand to include the width of the parking lane.
Not even the BID was happy with losing the parking places. Bungalow restaurant owner, Jim Walker, wanted all or nothing. “When the experiment ended and the parking came back, business boomed.” But staff wanted to rid the intersection of the parking; according to Public Works’ Dave Webb, two collisions a year happen due to cars attempting to park within the intersection. It’s the only place in Newport Beach where parking in an intersection is allowed.
Councilwoman Nancy Gardner echoed the sentiments of many residents; she wants to replace the 8 parking places while adding her own twist.
This was not a good night to be an Active Transportation advocate.
Of course the beautiful pedestrian-friendly sidewalk widening plan went down to defeat because it inconvenienced motorists too much. Staff had camera images of backed-up traffic on busy summer Sundays. Yeah, unbelievable! Mostly during a 2-hour period from 1-3pm. Clearly, this abomination could not be allowed!
New Councilman Tony Petros was eager to make a contribution. He warned that any changes that resulted in slowing traffic would incur the wrath of OCTA. This almost seemed rehearsed because right on cue, Webb admits he’s received a letter from OCTA insinuating a loss of Measure M funds.
Measure M is the sales tax monies that OCTA doles out to the cities. Break the rules, that is “Cars Rule”, and we could lose access to funding for other legitimate projects. This is how our automobile-saturated society perpetuates itself.
Someday a real leader will come along and instead of cowardly reciting the OCTA boogeyman threats, he’ll actually stand up for citizens wanting to take back their community from the tyranny of speeding cars. But not this night.
No one on the Council wanted to be the bearer of bad news. Mayor Curry had to ask for a motion; all eyes turned to Nancy Gardner. She spelled out the compromise, selection B on the agenda, to remove the parked cars and widen the sidewalk accordingly. Then she adds, “With a comprehensive parking plan for all of CdM, not just these 8 spaces.”
I was seated in the perfect spot to see Dave Webb’s and Tony Brine’s reactions. They had just been given an impossible task; they tried to keep a straight face.
If there were any opportunities to squeeze more parked cars into CdM we’d have already done it.
Yeah, we could further compromise sight-lines at intersections and imperil pedestrians by adding one more parked car per block. What other options will there be? A multi-story parking structure? The BID would love that.
More parking will bring more cars and a further reduction in our quality of life. As a society we don’t want to hear this tautology. Yes, a parking garage would offer some immediate relief, but as Carmageddon should have taught us, it’s only short-term relief.
Any plan to increase parking will bring more cars. More cars means more congestion and a need for more parking — it’s an endless cycle. It’s just that simple, however our Electeds hope to spin it.
Ok, so the 1-block bike lane from Avocado to MacArthur will return, but otherwise it was a terrible reversal of fortune last night. The pedestrian-friendly sidewalk gets gutted while moving cars as quickly as possible gets reasserted. A parking plan adds the worst possible outcome.
The advice of Randy Neufeld keeps echoing in my ear, “Make driving harder and cycling easier.” That’s how Corona del Mar could improve livability and prosper in renewed economic development. Instead we make driving easier at the expense of pedestrians.
Any guesses how this will turn out?