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Transportation On El Cajon Boulevard Is Subject Of Town Hall

A pedestrian surrounded by cars crosses El Cajon Boulevard in City Heights, Jan. 11, 2017.
Kris Arciaga
A pedestrian surrounded by cars crosses El Cajon Boulevard in City Heights, Jan. 11, 2017.
Transportation On El Cajon Boulevard Is Subject Of Town Hall
Transportation On El Cajon Boulevard Is Subject Of Town Hall GUEST: Sherry Ryan, professor of city planning, San Diego State University

How did transform a crowded car oriented business corridor into a model transit oriented community. It's a challenge. El Cajon Blvd. Businesses are pursuing with their 2020 plan. The vision is to make this historic mid city thoroughfare into a showcase of modern urban living with an emphasis on affordable housing and public transportation. A town hall meeting to get public input for the boulevard 2020 plan will be held tomorrow night and organizers are hoping to unveil the plan in January. And joining me is Sherry Ryan. She is professor of city planning at San Diego State University. And she'll be speaking at the town hall meeting tomorrow night. Sherri welcome. Thank you. Morning. Now remind us if you would why El Cajon Blvd is an important street in this city. Well first you have to look at the connection it provides across the city. It's really one of a kind if you look at the city that connects all the way from the western one of the westernmost points urbanized points in the city all the way to the eastern boundary of the city. And so it's really a prominent corridor in the sense that it provides connection and directness of travel. Indeed. Share your expertise is in transportation plan. In your opinion what kinds of changes are needed on elkhound Boulevard. Well interestingly if you take a look at the community plans that are relevant to the Boulevard it's a dense mixed use very vibrant land use plan and the transit that's recommended for that corridor is actually light rail transit and so you have the combination of high density land uses with high capacity transit. That's what Okon Boulevard should be. Now when light rail you're talking about trolley about that trolley line is not set to go in for quite some time. That's true but it is in all of our regional and local plans so that's a good sign. It's but yes sooner would be better. There is also a desire to see more people get out of the car and get on bicycles especially for a short distance hop along the boulevard. But the challenges involving that is that some businesses have fought the idea of eliminating parking spaces to widen the streets for more bike lanes. So how how do you get around that. I think the challenging mode for Elkhorn Boulevard is cycling and I would say the current plans right now do not do cycling justice. The current plans along that corridor now for cycling is either what's called Class 2 or Class 3 that would be a striped bike lane or a signed bike route and for the prominence that that corridor holds and the connection and the directness that it provides across a very large portion of the city of San Diego. We need a more prominent bike facility there and Diego Regional Plan proposes bike Boulevard on the parallel roadways. But we really do need something prominent and we need to have the space for some prominent cycling facility along Okon Boulevard so we could envision something like a center running high capacity transit like like rail streetcar or bus only center running median running transit and leave the space near the businesses for parking walking and cycling. So I think I think something like that would kind of give elkhound Boulevard the status and the vibrancy that it that it needs. One of the transformational aspects long Elkhorn Boulevard that's already started is the many new high rise apartments that are going up. How do these new living spaces fit into the new vision for alcohol and Boulevard. As I said the current plans provide for and show an incredible amount of density along Oklahoma Boulevard. So when as you see this construction of high high density buildings that's what's allowed in the plans in the western portion of the community in the North Park Community Plan densities up to 145 dwelling units per acre are being planned for and that's something along the lines of seven to nine storey structures so very dense so. So what's happening is is a function of what the planning process came up with and the eastern portions of the commune the corridor densities up to 73 dwelling units per acre are already envisioned. So that's quite dense that's something on the order of five to seven storey buildings. So the the plans really accommodate the kind of density that needs to be there. So it's just a matter of the plans being implemented and coming to fruition what kind of pressure does this put on the idea of coming up with a transportation plan for elkhound Boulevard considering that that high density housing is already underway. Some of it is already being lived in. So do you think that you need that this area needs to come up with. Transportation plan that can accommodate that kind of density. I think the people who want to live in that environment. So the density is going in. What about the transit. That's that's the essence of your question. I think the people who gravitate towards purchasing or renting the units that are going to be provided in this high density they already understand mobility they may or may not have a space to park. They're probably adept at Micro Mobility the scooters and the cycling and the other modes that have evolved very very recently or their transit riders. And so ideally I would suspect what will happen is people who are okay with that kind of environment choose to live there first and the people who aren't okay with that kind of environment they need to see how it's going to work before they're willing to. But I think there are a lot of benefits that come about with that kind of environment namely you don't have to own a car which is very very costly. You don't have to worry about parking if you live in close proximity to your work. That's a short trip on transit a short trip on Micro Mobility short bike trip. And so there are just a lot of benefits with living in a dense urban environment. What kind of participation are you hoping for during tomorrow's meeting. I think it's an educational process. You know ideally feels like an authentic process where we want to hear from community members and we want to integrate their good ideas in a future for alcohol Boulevard and we hope to and to be encouraging and to to help community members understand what this with this vision is for Al Cohon Boulevard Tamar's Town Hall which will focus on mobility issues will be held at The Rock Church in City Heights and doors will open at 5 30 and I've been speaking with Sherry Ryan professor of city planning at San Diego State University. Sherry thank you. Thank you so much.

How to transform a crowded, car-oriented, business corridor into a model transit-oriented community — it’s a challenge El Cajon Boulevard businesses are pursuing with their Blvd. 20/20 plan.

The vision is to make this historic mid-city thoroughfare into a showcase of modern urban living, with an emphasis on affordable housing and public transportation.

A town hall meeting to hear from experts and get public input on transit for the Blvd. 20/20 plan will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Sherry Ryan is one of the speakers at the town hall. She is a professor of city planning at SDSU. She joins Midday Edition to discuss her recommendations for the thoroughfare.

Organizers are hoping to unveil the plan in January.