Judge Allows North Park Bike Lane Project To Proceed Despite Lawsuit
A San Diego Superior Court judge ruled Monday that the city of San Diego can proceed with the construction of new bike lanes on a 2.3-mile segment of 30th Street in North Park while a lawsuit challenging the project continues.
Judge Richard S. Whitney issued a tentative ruling last week rejecting a request from the plaintiffs for a preliminary injunction in the case. Whitney upheld that decision in his final ruling issued on Monday, meaning the bike lanes could be in place as soon as next month.
City officials began exploring design options for bike lanes on 30th Street in early 2019 at the request of cycling advocates in the neighborhood. The project is intended to coincide with the street's resurfacing after the city completes its replacement of a major water pipeline.
The city ultimately decided on a design that would remove street parking from both sides of 30th Street from Juniper Street to Upas Street, and from one side of 30th from Upas to Adams Avenue. Cyclists would be protected from moving traffic with plastic posts, parked cars or both.
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The push for the bike lanes sparked a backlash among residents who said the parking loss would hurt local businesses and the neighborhood's accessibility. Opponents, organized under the group Save 30th Street Parking, eventually filed a lawsuit arguing the project violated multiple city planning documents and the California Environmental Quality Act.
In his decision, Whitney found the plaintiffs were unlikely to prevail with those arguments, and that the city would suffer harm if forced to delay construction until the lawsuit could be resolved. The city said such a delay would cost between $250,000 and $2 million.
Everett Hauser, the city's mobility program manager, told the city's Mobility Advisory Board last week that the pipeline replacement project had been slightly delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that the project is now close to being finished.
"We're probably looking at September," Hauser said.
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Supporters of the bike lanes say they will provide a safe alternative to driving along one of North Park's main commercial corridors, and that they are necessary to meet the city's Climate Action Plan goals of greatly increasing the share of residents who travel by bike.
Andy Hanshaw, executive director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, said interest in bicycling has surged in San Diego as residents seek new ways to exercise and get out of the house during the pandemic.
"The 30th Street project came from a similar desire from the community and we're pleased to see it move forward," he said. "Ultimately, as we've always said, we believe it will also benefit local businesses bringing customers to the area by more transportation options."