Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Three Hour Tour

We had a great tour of Walk the Wash with Beth from SANDAG, Seth from KOA, Jasper, Sharon, and myself who are all on the Mission Hills Town Council.

KOA is the firm hired by SANDAG to do the implementation.  Seth is a local resident (Normal Heights) and knows the arteries of Mission Hills well.  He lived in Hillcrest 10 years too.  He's done work in Little Italy, and his firm is doing very cutting edge things in Long Beach currently.

We all met at Gelato Vero at 9 a.m.

Ideas from our discussion and brainstorming during the tour:

- the gateway to our Mission Hills community is very car-centric, and finding a balance of more parking, less freeway feeling, more access for pedestrians and cyclists is our challenge.

- the connector between Washington and Old Town is one way.  It would be a major victory to have 2-way auto traffic on San Diego Ave.  Because this is a bike project though, what if we at least had a 2-way bike path to Washington? Anyone who lives in Old Town or N Mission Hills who wants to go downtown, or to the India St. North area, rides down Pringle to SD Ave.  Then they cut through SD Ave illegally.  The legal route would take a rider 1 mile out of their way, and includes several hills, and across some major freeway off and on-ramps. Shouldn't bikers be able to get from North Mission Hills to the 5 Points Area in the most intuitive, convenient manner?

While we were standing there, evaluating the options, we encountered this man, riding his bike the wrong direction on the one-way portion, and then he rode on the curb when he ran into traffic.

Seth watches a cyclist ride the wrong way down a one-way street.

- Washington Street from the 5 off ramps continues it's freeway like feel.  Cars have to wait at long lights at the 5 Points intersection, so when it's their turn to go, they are eager to get up the hill.  Accelerating both up and down it beyond normal speeds is pretty typical.  I know because I've done it myself!  But when you're walking or biking we need the opposite to happen.  What if Washington was 1 lane either way?  That would allow for bike lanes, and more parking for the 5 Points businesses, which are a destination point for many.  What if the lights at India and Washington were not lights but round-abouts?  That could keep traffic moving too.  The lights are so long at Washington that if I'm ever leaving a parking spot outside Saffron, I have to wait for the light to change because of the back-up of traffic.  An island would keep that traffic moving, and facilitate better parking flow.

- the University exit serves very little purpose because it exits right into a very residential area.  What if we made that exit and on-ramp open only to bikes and pedestrians with a pocket park at the top?  What if cars coming up to Mission Hills and Hillcrest stayed on Washington all the way to Goldfinch?   They could access the uptown business district more easily, and the residences would have less traffic, and less noise.  The top of the street would be turned into a cul-de-sac.  It has great views down the canyon and into the harbor.  It is a natural place for a park, and if it had things like a water fountain and a bench, it would be a beautiful place to start a work-out, or take a walk.

Let's close this area off to cars. It's a residential area.  Let's make a small park, and start our  bike and pedestrian paths here.

- the Washington Street Trolly stop is orphaned by the freeway, and the traffic intersections.  Could we integrate it better?  Would people use it more if they could access it better?  The old Mission Brewery buildings are beautiful, but cut off from the community.  So is the skate park.  Would art along the underpass, and better sidwalks and medians provide more continuity? 

The folks at Gelato Vero had input too:
- can we please have a left-turn from Washington to India on a green arrow only?
- can we please have no right on red from India to Washington?
They witness really bad accidents on a regular basis.  A roundabout traffic island could mitigate those.  And it would provide a major landmark for a welcoming experience to the gateway of Mission Hills.

All of these points are just ideas.  All of them are from voices of the community.  If you have ideas, you should let us know by contacting us.

Thanks to Beth and Seth for both working on the weekend!  We appreciate it!

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