Marine layer of relief
by John Tawa
Speed reduction measures will be implemented on Marine Avenue in a phased approach starting with the simplest first, the Manhattan Beach City Council decided Tuesday night.
The councilmembers, taking account of their personal experiences on the street, based their decision on equity, concluding that residents on Marine between Sepulveda Boulevard and Pacific Avenue had suffered increasing and disproportionate traffic burdens since the mid-1980's.
"I believe in an equitable distribution of traffic in Manhattan Beach," commented councilmember Joyce Fahey to a packed chamber. "There is no reason why our neighbors on Marine shouldn't enjoy the same quality of life as we do."
Thus, the council directed staff to devise a plan to implement many of the measures recommended by consultant Meyer, Mohaddes Associates, Inc. to slow traffic on the residential street, and also came up with a few of its own.
Specifically, the council approved installing stop signs on Marine at Pine and Poinsettia Avenues - with painted crosswalks at those intersections - after many residents stated that the signs would help slow traffic and promote safety. The council also gave conceptual approval to double left-turn lanes from westbound Marine onto southbound Sepulveda; narrowing the mouth of Marine at the northwest corner; installing dual left-turn lanes on the eastbound and northbound approaches to the Sepulveda/Manhattan Beach Boulevard intersection; installing programmable signal heads on eastbound Marine at Sepulveda; and better signage at Sepulveda and Pacific, with language to suggest that motorists try another street.
Enhanced police enforcement on Marine, an anti-speeding public relations campaign, pursuing speed reduction on Marine east of Sepulveda and working with Caltrans to install a triangular forced right-turn device on westbound Marine at Sepulveda all achieved general consensus.
The council, however, stopped short of approving radical measures that would divert significant amounts of traffic from Marine, choosing to implement these measures first to see if they achieve the goals of reducing speed on the street and reducing some traffic.
"I don't think now is the time to distribute traffic to other areas before we try the other approach first," councilmember Steve Napolitano said.
Councilmember Walt Dougher suggested that the city should set goals of a 10 percent reduction in speed and 15 percent reduction in traffic on Marine.
"We need to set a goal we can measure against," he said. "If the goals are not met, then we move to other things."
There was sensitivity among councilmembers to the cost of the recommended measures, estimated to be between $350,000 and $500,000. The council directed staff to bring back implementation plans with high cost and low cost alternatives and the time frame in which they might be implemented. The simplest and cheapest measures - installation of the stop signs, painted crosswalks and signage - will come back to council Oct. 19; the remaining measures will be discussed at a council meeting in November.
In other news, the council agreed to extend the sidewalk dining permit program for a year with some modifications. Only two-seat tables in areas with standard width sidewalks will be permitted and businesses will be permitted to have either tables for dining or chairs for waiting, but not both. The council also directed staff to step up enforcement of the program to ensure that restaurants and other businesses comply with the requirements.
The council also filled two vacant commission seats, appointing Bruce Kuch to fill the Planning Commission seat vacated by Sharon Kaplan, and naming Gerry O'Connor to replace the recently-deceased Laura Dunaetz on the Parks and Recreation Commission.
Finally, the council recognized Manhattan Beach's Minor League Softball team for nine and ten year old girls, which claimed the state championship in August, the city's first-ever little league state championship. ER
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