Over the last few years the safe routes to school movement has been growing across the United States. Cities like Encinitas, who suffer from decades of car-centric mobility planning have come to a crisis point that has rallied communities together looking for improved ways to walk and bike to school. I got my civic start with safe routes to school in Leucadia and fought for mobility improvements, so projects like the Starlight Drive access are particularly important to me.
Before the Council was the recommendation to accept an "irrevocable offer of dedication" and create a path to connect the public street to the park and add a small gate that would only be open during park hours. This project massively increases safer access to bike and walk between the two Cardiff schools (one K-3 and the other 3-6). Any of the alternatives were unacceptable and would have increased car usage, which ultimately makes it more dangerous around the schools for pedestrians and bicyclists.
There is no doubt that is project will create change. A large, positive change for a vast number of residents and a concern about the impact for a few of the neighbors. The irrevocable offer of dedication to the City enables the City at any time to basically transition a private road to a public one at the City's discretion. This is publicly available information. As for the gate, there was no evidence of any "deal" where there would never be a gate installed.
In my opinion, parks with walls limit access, increase driving and decrease usage of very expensive public assets intended for public purposes. I empathize with the local homeowners but the overwhelming positive impact on mobility in Cardiff that this project will create outweighed all other arguments. We voted 4-1 (with Muir voting No) to accept the offer of dedication (either for a path or full road as to be agreed with the immediate homeowners) and install a small gate to the Encinitas Community Park that will only be opened during park hours.
Banner photo courtesy of Scott Chatfield.