A stalled plan to put a bike boulevard through a San Luis Obispo neighborhood continues to flummox city leaders and anger residents.
SLO Planning Commissioners opposed yet another iteration of the more than 2-year-old Anholm Bikeway Plan on Aug. 14, unanimously voting against sending support to the City Council for a proposal that would redistribute traffic in the neighborhood to create a safe throughway for bikes traveling between downtown and Foothill Boulevard.
- Photo By Peter Johnson
- NOT IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD Dozens of SLO residents in the Anholm neighborhood attended a city Planning Commission on Aug. 14 to protest a bike boulevard that would divert vehicle traffic onto Chorro Street.
The city's newest plan calls for installing a traffic diverter on Broad Street to force cars onto Chorro Street, which would increase traffic on Chorro but reduce volumes on Broad for bicyclists. It also includes other traffic calming measures, like speed bumps, on both streets.
City transportation officials scaled back the plan from its previous version—a protected, two-way bike lane—after it drew the ire of the neighborhood for its elimination of 73 on-street parking spaces. Staff's alternative plan, presented on Aug. 14, preserved all parking and resulted in an estimated 65 percent reduction in vehicle flows on Broad.
But planning commissioners said they couldn't support the bikeway's impact on Chorro, which, per the plan, would take on a 55 percent increase in traffic and demand reclassifying it as an "arterial" street instead of a "collector" street in the general plan. Commissioners appeared frustrated by wanting to support SLO's bicycle and climate action goals, while also having serious qualms about the project. A "no-win situation," and "a square peg in a round hole," is how Commissioners Chuck Stevenson and John McKenzie described it, respectively.
Dozens of Anholm residents attended the meeting and most voiced their displeasure for the project. The commission allotted 10 minutes of public comment to neighborhood homeowner and mayoral candidate Keith Gurnee, who presented an alternative design for the bikeway. City staff claimed that Gurnee's plan would lead to increased traffic volumes on both Broad and Chorro streets.
"The real preferred resolution is to leave things as they are," Gurnee said.
Residents took issue with the city's traffic diverter on Broad, which would be installed just south of the Foothill Shopping Plaza, where California Fresh Market and other stores and restaurants are located. Locals complained about the prospect of driving around the diverter and onto a busy Foothill Boulevard in order to do their shopping. Several public speakers also expressed concerns about the safety of Chorro after residential developments at 22 Chorro St. and 790 Foothill Blvd. (across the street), are built out. Some pleaded with the city to drop the push for a bikeway altogether.
"I'd like to see this project die and go away," a resident said.
The City Council will meet on Sept. 4 to revisit the proposed bikeway and determine next steps. The council is not required to follow the Planning Commission's recommendation in making its decision on the project, according to city officials. Δ