A small but vocal group of business owners at University Heights attacked San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and the city council in a hasty protest early Monday morning.
As the group criticized city leaders, teams began work on Park Boulevard on the next phase of the city’s renovation plan.
New protected bike lanes are in question, which business owners say will take the desired parking spaces.
“I’m incredibly disappointed,” said Susie Holts of University Heights, referring to Gloria. “I despise what is happening. [Gloria] and the city council does not listen to the people or the residents. “
“I think the mayor is more concerned about city life and density more than he will do for small businesses in this area,” said business owner Ben Evans.
The protected bike lanes will remove 88 parking spaces along a section of one mile from Park Boulevard between Adams Boulevards and the University.
However, the city authorities are quick to point out that 165 parking spaces will remain after the installation of the bike lanes.
“The city continued to analyze parking in the area and found that it could add another 55 intersections in the area by converting corner and parallel parking at the head of many side streets that intersect with Park Boulevard,” said Anthony Santacroche. , a senior public information officer in the city of San Diego.
The new bike lanes will be located next to the sidewalk, next to a three-meter safe lane. The parking lane will be on the outside of the safety lane, next to one lane in both directions.
Residents are worried that the project will force delivery trucks to park in the middle of the street, blocking both lanes. There are also concerns about potential access to buses and emergency vehicles.
“Where will all our customers park if we lose this parking lot?” Evans asked. “How should we stay in business?”
Business owners said their complaints and concerns had been ignored by the city.
“I’ve been in business for 30 years and this is the first time I’ve felt threatened that the city is not on my side, the city wants me to give up business,” said Lance Stratton. “I don’t appreciate that.”
A Gloria spokesman noted that Park Boulevard’s bike lanes were called a year ago in three different plans: the City Bicycle Master Plan, the Uptown Community Plan and the North Park Community Plan, each with significant public contributions and review.
“A single death or serious injury on city streets is unacceptable, and in 2021 alone, 16 cyclists were killed in San Diego,” said Dave Roland, deputy director of communications for Gloria. “We need to make it safer for residents to travel by bicycle, which is why Mayor Gloria is increasingly creating protected sails. The mayor is also committed to meeting the ambitious goals of the city’s Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing car travel and increasing cycling travel is a key part of achieving those goals. “
Stephen Whitburn, who represents neighborhood and neighborhood 3 on the city council, also offered support for the project.
“Bicycle lanes are a necessary safety measure,” Whitburn said. “Too often we hear about terrible accidents and tragedies with cyclists. City officials are looking to add parking spaces on nearby streets. In addition, our office continues to emphasize the importance of the city’s communication with residents regarding projects in our neighborhoods. “
Although business owners were vocal, several University Heights residents said they were pleased with efforts to make roads safer for cyclists.
“You know, I live here and I use Park Boulevard to find places,” said an unidentified resident. “I’m really excited to be able to ride my bike safely throughout my neighborhood.”