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Contract moves city closer to Complete Streets

August 22, 2013|By Barbara Diamond

Laguna Beach officials on Tuesday approved proposals favored by Complete Streets advocates, but stopped short of a trial roundabout on Glenneyre Street.

The City Council awarded a $200,000-maximum contract for the preparation of a Mobility and Complete Streets Plan, approved sharrows and signs directing bicyclists off Coast Highway onto neighborhood streets, enhanced some crosswalks and relocated the site for a trial roundabout from Glenneyre Street.

Council opposition to the Glenneyre roundabout was based on the requirement to eliminate one traffic lane in each direction on a street used more by locals than visitors.

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"The council made it very clear that we did not support reducing lanes on Glenneyre," said Mayor Kelly Boyd. However, it took three votes to get that done, partially due to the absence of Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson.

The council voted unanimously to move cyclists off of the highway and for crosswalk improvements, then split 2-2 on the Glenneyre roundabout. A third vote unanimously directed staff to come back with a design for a roundabout at Catalina Street and Las Robles, as suggested by Boyd.

Public Works Director Steve May said a preliminary plan for that site was already in the files.

Supporters of the Glenneyre roundabout contended that opposition was partially due to fear of the unfamiliar, that a trial installation would reduce concerns once locals became used to it and would make the street safer for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorists — the goal of the state's Complete Streets mandate.

"I do not fear (roundabouts); I grew up with them and they can work," said Councilman Robert Whalen, who opposed one on Glenneyre. "Laguna Canyon Road and El Toro would be a prime location and CalTrans is interested."

Councilwoman Toni Iseman supported both alternate locations.

"I am a big fan of roundabouts," Iseman said.

Diamond Crestview resident Matt Lawson said he isn't.

"Americans — especially us older drivers — aren't familiar with roundabouts and find them confusing if not dangerously distracting," said Lawson, who once lived in an area where roundabouts were common and didn't like them. "Even if we assume that local residents will become accustomed to dealing with these traffic circles, what about the millions of visitors we host every year?"

Lawson said the funding proposed for the roundabout could be better spent on adding bike racks or sidewalks.

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