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Residents, Merchants Plan More Walkable Historic District

The changes are expected to cost $1.8 million; San Juan Capistrano city staffers will seek grants.

Residents and merchants in the are cobbling together a plan to make one of the oldest neighborhoods in California more walkable.

In downtown San Juan Capistrano, the historic district is home to old adobes built by Indians during the mission period that continue to serve as dwellings for a dozen or so residents; others have morphed into small gift shops or restaurants.

According to city estimates, any given Saturday afternoon the small area can draw as many as 710 cars and 1,000 pedestrians. The drivers and walkers share Los Rios Street—where's there's no sidewalks.

The plan includes Los Rios Street, re-fashioning its speed bumps and adding new signs directing tourists to the parking lot at the new .

It will be presented to the City Council in the next two months. All of the changes are expected to cost between $1.8 and $2 million, and would likely be funded in phases as grants became available.

The goal is to implement the changes while simultaneously maintaining the area's historic, rural character.

The final plan is a patchwork of proposals originally conjured up by a consultant, with residents ditching ideas like limiting vehicle traffic to one direction on Los Rios Street. There is a "great desire for two-way traffic," Sheree Ito of  told San Juan's Transportation Commission Wednesday evening.

Ito was one of dozens of residents who attended a series of meetings held in the past few months to focus on ways to improve traffic circulation in Los Rios.

The plan she helped create specifically calls for:

  • Retaining two-way traffic
  • Repaving the street with some type of specialty asphalt paving with a color other than black, from Mission Street to Del Obispo Street
  • Improving drainage
  • Relocating underground water lines
  • Redesigning, relocating and adding additional speed bumps
  • Adding additional landscaping within OCTA right of away (north and south ends)
  • Adding new lighting
  • Installing new benches, trash bins and bike racks in Los Rios Park and Verdugo Plaza facing Los Rios Street
  • Putting in new directional signs in Los Rios Park and Verdugo Plaza facing Los Rios Street

If approved, the plan will become the fourth phase in a long-term planning process to improve the historic district, the oldest continuously-occupied neighborhood in California.

Kim McCarthy July 14, 2011 at 03:53 PM
GRANTS represent tax $$$, if the state of CA is broke and the City of San Juan is $150,000,000 in debt....15% unemployment rate in CA...where in the heck is this money coming from? At what point do Americans begin to realize the trouble we are all in and begin to act accordingly? This is insanity.
Alberto Barrera July 14, 2011 at 04:44 PM
I would much rather see cobblestone or brick pavement than asphalt on such an old street.
Clint Worthington July 14, 2011 at 05:22 PM
Let's see. The City does not have any money. The Redevelopment Agency is shut down. The State is broke. Do you really think that there is going to be any grant money? Another waste of staff time as there is no money for this.
Jenna Chandler July 14, 2011 at 06:18 PM
At one of the meetings, residents talked about putting in cobblestone, but decided it would be too rough of a surface for people pushing strollers, cyclists and the like
CE July 14, 2011 at 06:31 PM
So true, Jenna. Cobblestone and bricks are beautiful, but very difficult for anyone with a stroller, wheelchair, cane, or walker. Also people who have balance problems.

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