The beachfront area west of Mission Boulevard between Pacific Beach Drive and Grand Avenue — congested by a narrow boardwalk, constrained by a freeway-like boulevard, and blighted by underused private properties — is long overdue for a serious facelift, said Pacific Beach Planning Group (PBPG) member Chris Olson.
“During the 1980s and 1990s, we widened the oceanfront boardwalk south of PB Drive and re-created a recreation-pedestrian mall on the oceanfront north of Grand Avenue,” he said. “This section between PB Drive and Grand Avenue has been long overdue for revitalization.”
Although the area is one of the most popular beach sections in San Diego County, the site has been ignored — even blighted in areas. That is, until last year, when the local planning group determined it would meet head-on the tremendous undertaking to restore the area to a newfound glory.
“We defined the geographical scope of this project to include all public right-of-ways in the four-block area including the boardwalk, Mission Boulevard, Stand Way (the alley) and the east-west roads, namely PB Drive, Oliver, Reed, Thomas and Grand,” Olson said. “This project is unique for PB in that we gathered a group of very experienced local professionals to volunteer their time working with the PBPG to gather all the community input and put it on paper.”
Previous community input from regular monthly meetings included concerns about heavy traffic, much-needed infrastructure repair and the lack of pedestrian, bicycle and business-friendly thoroughfares.
“Mission Boulevard feels like a freeway and it is uninviting for pedestrians and retail activity,” Olson said. “This whole beachfront area is constrained by a congested mix of pedestrians, cyclists, joggers, skaters and street performers. Roadways, sidewalk, bike paths and the seawall are in desperate need of repair or improvement. Some private properties are blighted or underutilized.”
Local professionals, who have logged hundreds of volunteer hours on the project — dubbed Pacific Beach Parks — represent a range of expertise in architecture, sustainability and development to cater to every aspect of the residents’ and merchants’ hopes for the area.
“We are in the conceptual phase, so it is too early for a timeline,” Olson said. “We have a great jumpstart with a vision statement, parking studies, property line maps, conceptual maps and inspirational depictions of PB activities we want to promote.”
Among the notable volunteers working hard with Olson behind the scenes in the early trench work are Hilary Lowe, a local resident and designer; David McCullough of McCullough Landscape Architecture, Inc.; Paul Ross of PB Consulting; Kristen Victor of Sustainability Matters; Graham Flight of Cumming Construction Management; and Matthew Winter of Davis Davis Architects.
The redevelopment project, as currently conceived, includes maintenance of vehicular oceanfront drop-off locations at Grand Avenue and Pacific Beach Drive, the creation of community activity nodes like parks or plazas at Thomas, Reed and Oliver streets, a wider boardwalk with enhanced landscaping and viewing areas, and revitalized alleyways to entice pedestrian, bicycle and storefront activity.
Mission Boulevard too would become re-engineered to stimulate pedestrian use and thriving retail storefronts.
“Further studies are needed to further refine the plan into something that clearly determines what we will actually do and how it will be phased,” Olson said. “The next step is engineering and feasibility studies while we continue to attract community input and support.”
Each month, the volunteer group presents updates on the Pacific Beach Park project to the PBPG during regular meetings. At the last meeting on March 28, planning group members and the public were given a comprehensive presentation of the entire project at its current conceptual phase.
“We have received a lot of positive feedback at all of our public presentations,” Olson said. “If there is one area of question or concern, it relates to changes on Mission Boulevard. The current concept calls for angled parking and narrowing the driving lanes similar to the way they are south of PB Drive in Mission Beach. This concept is probably the most challenging and will require further study.”
Specific costs and sources of funding for the project have yet to be determined, although one estimate provided by Cumming Construction Management, based on conceptual drawings, was around $10 million, said Olson. Funding could come from a number of different sources, including the San Diego Association of Governments-administered Transnet funding or the San Diego City Council’s Capital Improvements Program budget, he said.
Olson urged people to get involved and provide ideas or suggestions. To submit a suggestion or idea, email Chris Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or attend one of PBPG’s monthly meetings at the Pacific Beach/Taylor Branch Library, located at 4275 Cass St., on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m.
Source: SDNews.com Beach & Bay Press
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