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Los Rios Still Needs Better Signs, Residents and Merchants Say

The second of three community forums aimed at gathering suggestions to improve traffic flow in the historic district was held Tuesday.

Signs that more clearly direct visitors to parking in, and rougher pavement that slows cars without giving kids in strollers “shaken baby syndrome” would improve traffic flow in the Los Rios Historic District, merchants and residents said Tuesday night.

At a community form, they balked at plans that would either restrict traffic to one way on Los Rios or create turnarounds at the north and south ends of the street, saying they don’t want any pie-in-the- sky plans that the city could never afford.

Since the 1990s, when long-term planning began for the oldest continually occupied neighborhood in California, the residents and merchants have asked for better signage, “but it was never dealt with,” said Sheree Ito of

Tuesday’s meeting was the second in a series of three aimed at finding solutions to bring more foot traffic into the area—simultaneously decreasing the number of cars that travel through and slowing them down. Residents and merchants also said they want to deter teenage bicyclists from speeding through the area, give more access to the disabled and fix drainage issues north of .

"This is not about making big changes or negatively impacting historic areas," said Teri Delcamp, San Juan's historic-preservation manager.

Delcamp said she and city staffers are working to install new signs in the historic district but must first find $15,000 to do it. In September, the City Council approved the addition of new signs to improve traffic flow in the short term, and scheduled the community forums being conducted now as a part of its long-term planning.

Among the ideas presented by MIG consultants Tuesday to address needs in the area:

  • New paving on Los Rios Street. Examples included mosiacs of decomposed granite, different patterns of granite blocks and pre-cast concrete that give a cobblestone-like appearance.
  • More benches in the heart of the district that face outward to the streets and pathways so bystanders can enjoy a cup of coffee or an ice cream cone while people-watching.
  • The addition of new signs at Del Obispo Street at Adelanto Street; for Del Obispo at Los Rios Street and Adelanto at Ramos Street that will direct visitors to the parking structure at Verdugo Street; and for parking in Los Rios Park. 

The consultant's presentation of three alternatives to reroute vehicular traffic through Los Rios was met with skepticism and criticism. The alternatives include eliminating either northbound or southbound traffic on Los Rios Street or adding turnarounds at Ramos Street at Los Rios Street and at River Street and Los Rios Street.

Although the latter alternative would still allow limited two-way traffic between the turnarounds, those at Tuesday's meeting said it would be too confusing to visitors and would take away from the historic feel of the neighborhood.

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