The Rancho Santa Fe Post

RSF Board Drafts Letter to County Recommending Roundabouts; Next Phase In Intersection Update Begins

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On November 2, community surveys on intersections were tallied with roundabouts advancing over traffic signals as the preferred recommendation. Now, Rancho Santa Fe residents are wondering what’s next.

The County will need to finalize the Environmental Impact Report before construction begins. According to earlier reports, building roundabouts will take 18 months to complete. This time period includes the planning, development, and construction phases.

During the RSF Association Board’s November meeting, a discussion arose on how to expedite the County’s approval process, followed by further debate between community members over the Board’s decision to recommend roundabouts to the County.

Although, with such a wide margin of support for roundabouts, it seems likely that this debate is finished.

“I think we have tried to run the most open and transparent process possible. I stand by the voice of the community, and I feel the results are strong enough. My recommendation would be to endorse this survey and pass it along to the County,” Overton explained.

Overton illustrated that the 58 percent return rate is phenomenal compared to the average 32 to 49 percent return rate over the past nine years.

Secondly, a 73 percent choice on anything in Rancho Santa Fe is a very wide margin, Overton said. For comparison, the three most hotly contested items in 2014 had vote margins of 52 to 48 (Covenant Club Feasibility), 53 to 47 (2014 Elections), and 50.5 to 49.5 (Garden Club).

Those whose properties are heavily affected would like to see customized traffic solutions for each intersection. However, the Board and Manager Bill Overton have described the process as an either/or debate up to this point.

“It is not as if we are running away from all possible solutions, but to get the community to agree on either roundabouts or signals was difficult in the first place,” Overton said.

RSF resident Glen Griffin also explained that customized intersections are not possible because roundabouts “are designed to be synchronized.” Therefore, installing a traffic light at one intersection and a roundabout at another would defeat the purpose of installing roundabouts in the first place, he added.

The process now will be handed over to the County, although members of the Board did question if the community could have any further input.

“We can give them opinions, but there are certain guidelines the County will have to adhere to,” RSF Association Planner, Larry Roberts said.

For example, the Association previously negotiated with the County to decrease the radius of the roundabouts from 118 feet to 110 feet. Also, in order to adhere with the Ranch’s dark sky policy, the County agreed to install lower lighting as opposed to higher lighting.

As far as expediting the process, the County must first finalize the EIR. Next, the finalized project is queued into the County’s schedule based on a cost-benefit analysis. If the finalized project ranks above the County’s minimum cost-to-benefit calculation, it gets built, but if it falls below that line the project gets moved into the next funding cycle. However, this process is flexible, Roberts said.

Even though there is still debate concerning the prospect of customized intersections, one thing the community can agree on is that something needs to be done soon or there could be a catastrophic accident, Overton concluded.

The Board then voted unanimously, with RSF Board President Ann Boon being absent, to send a letter to the County recommending efficient construction of roundabouts along the Paseo Delicias/Del Dios Highway.