Well, the Santa Maria Times reports this morning that the San Luis Obispo County Planning Department began their public hearings on Nipomo’s West Tefft Corridor Plan; but, they have not completed them. The hearings will re-convene on 1/25/07—yep that’s next year folks! You see, I don’t think anyone on the Planning Staff actually drives Tefft Street on a daily basis–so there really isn’t too much of a sense of urgency out there about what the traffic nightmares are like down here in Nipomo. Regardless, there will be more hearings–just a long way into the future. Before any implementation of the plan, the San Luis County Board of Supervisors will also have to approve the details.
From the Santa Maria Times (by the way–just where was the Tribune–the county’s paper of record–at this hearing?):
“Everything looks great in the planning area (of this plan),” said 2nd District Commissioner Bruce Gibson.
The item is scheduled for more discussion before the commission Jan. 25, and will also have to be approved by the County Board of Supervisors in the spring before it can be incorporated into the South County planning area standards for Nipomo.
Despite being very controversial through its formation, all of the Nipomo residents who spoke Thursday supported the document.
“There have been many supports and many opponents of this plan, and it’s made this plan much better,” said Nipomo resident Larry Vierheilig. “I wish we could implement this plan tomorrow so I could look down Tefft and see how beautiful it is.”
Some of the main focuses of the plan are improvements to bring relief to Tefft Street, which is plagued by traffic that is only expected to rise significantly in the future.
As many as 26,000 vehicles will soon travel between the Oakglen and Mary avenues intersections with Tefft – a 75 percent increase over current figures – according to an engineering report by TPG Consulting, Inc.
To address this growing problem, the plan suggests extending Mary Avenue to Hill Street and installing a median from the highway to Pomeroy Road in phases, which would eliminate congestion from uncontrolled driveways.
Other improvements include developing a traffic signal system at critical places along Tefft and moving the southbound Highway 101 on-ramp from Tefft to Hill Street.
Beyond street improvements, the plan also discusses ways to make the downtown more pedestrian-friendly and suburban to complement Olde Towne, east of the highway. Proposed design elements include decorative paving at crosswalks, street trees and set-backs for corner buildings.
Also emphasized in the document is a preference for mixed-use projects that would have commercial on the bottom floors with residential units on top. Lopes said county staff is trying to develop an expedited hearing process that would allow mixed-use buildings to move quicker through the planning process, as a way to encourage developers to pursue that type of project.
As more developments transpire on this planning issue, I will try and post them here as well.