The City of Encinitas just hit a second roadblock on a controversial development project along Highway 101.
Upset neighbors first sued the city, and now they’ve filed suit against the Coastal Commission for approving the plan that calls for thinning a stretch of the highway from four to two lanes in favor of a bike lane, additional parking, a series of roundabouts and crosswalks.
“I can't believe it,” Escondido resident Bill Sparks said. “That doesn't make any sense to me.”
The city says the Leucadia Streetscape Program is going to keep drivers, cyclists and pedestrians safe along a 2.5-mile stretch of Highway 101 near Leucadia Boulevard,
The 101 is the main way for residents along the coast to enter and leave their neighborhood and they drivers worry how much worse traffic will be after the project cuts the highway in half.
La Costa resident Kira Harland, a supporter of the plan, says the safety of cyclists and pedestrians outweighs the concerns about possible worsened traffic.
“Almost every single time I’m in the right lane there's a biker I have to swerve around. Almost every single time,” she said. “I just think the amount of traffic jam that happens here is not as big of a deal as the safety of people biking.”
Nearby business owner Patty Kattus worries the project will hurt businesses like hers that line the highway. She says traffic is bad enough as it is.
“I’ve seen it stretch all the way into Carlsbad,” she said.
She said she’s also seen people parked along the shoulder of the highway wait up to 15 minutes just so they can back out and drive away.
She does acknowledge, however, that the project addresses many of the public safety concerns. She knows something has to change, but still isn’t quite sure the project is the answer.
An attorney for the resident group filing the lawsuits says there is currently no court date set, and fears a resolution will take months.
The mayor of Encinitas, the City Council, and the Coastal Commission would not comment on the lawsuits.
The city expects to discuss funding for the project at a meeting scheduled for March 2019.