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.