Parents call for traffic calming at Paul Ecke Central


Residents want a plan for walkable streets to place an emphasis on traffic calming in front of Paul Ecke Central Elementary School.

They expressed this goal during a Feb. 9 Traffic and Public Safety Commission meeting, which included an agenda item unveiling a draft plan called Let’s Move, Encinitas. The document recommends safety improvements around schools and well-traveled walking routes throughout the city.

A dozen public speakers, with more supporters in the audience, called for infrastructure such as sidewalks and flashing lights on adjacent Vulcan Avenue to slow down cars. They also said the school doesn’t have enough drop-off or pick-up zones.

“The current traffic situation at Paul Ecke Central is just plainly unsafe,” said Paul Ecke Central Principal Adriana Chavarin.

Chavarin said traffic improvements are especially needed in light of the school’s growing enrollment. She added traffic calming would also benefit those who frequent the Leucadia Farmers Market on Sundays at the school.

“I like riding my bike to school, but I usually don’t feel safe because all the cars go super fast and they’re super close,” said Paul Ecke student Sasha Fielder, referring to narrow Vulcan Avenue.

Christine Andrade, the school’s safety monitor and crossing guard, said it’s often tough to stop the unceasing flow of cars going by on Vulcan Avenue.

“We just need to help make it easier for walkers and bikers going into our school,” Andrade said.

Other parents said car congestion, which peaks during student pick-up and drop-off times, should be addressed at Union Street, a stone’s throw north of the school. And to bolster walkability and safety, two parents encouraged the city to move forward with building a rail undercrossing at nearby El Portal Street.

Last fall, the city missed out on grant funding for the El Portal Street undercrossing, along with another undercrossing in Cardiff.

Commissioner Brian Grover agreed with the public speakers and said Paul Ecke Central improvements should be prioritized in the Let’s Move, Encinitas plan.

“Most schools in Encinitas are not located on a roadway that carries so many non-school related trips,” Grover said, adding Vulcan Avenue is a third choice for many when Interstate 5 and Coast Highway 101 are clogged.

Grover requested that city staff capture the public comments as an appendix in the draft plan. He also asked that the final plan show the criteria used to rank projects. That information could help the Encinitas City Council make funding decisions, he said.

For Paul Ecke Central, the Let’s Move, Encinitas draft recommends enhancing pedestrian crossings along key parts of Vulcan Avenue, traffic calming along Hygeia Avenue, completing a sidewalk network in the area and increased enforcement to promote safe behavior for pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists.

Christy Villa, associate civil engineer with the city’s Engineering and Public Works Department, said the public’s comments would be documented and included in the draft. The final plan is due to go to council next month.

The Let’s Move, Encinitas effort launched in 2012 and has been shaped by a task force of representatives from neighborhoods, public agencies and schools, as well as public input online and at community workshops.

The city, in conjunction with the nonprofit Circulate San Diego, obtained an $183,000 grant from the California Department of Transportation to put together the Let’s Move, Encinitas plan. And the city contributed $27,000.

The plan looks to provide the city with a blueprint of necessary projects and also make Encinitas more competitive for grants.