The Costa Mesa Alliance for Better Streets has established 8 resolutions for the year that we believe strike the right balance between reasonable and ambitious. We have the right staff and leadership to make real strides toward safer streets this year, and we don't want to slow down the momentum. Please read! You can share this post, or simply the link below (which has the footnotes):
Dear Members of the City Council, City Manager Farrell Harrison and Public Services Director
Happy New Year from the Costa Mesa Alliance for Better Streets! With the election firmly behind us, the new year brings new opportunities to improve our public spaces. Reflecting upon Costa Mesa’s past progress inspires us to count our blessings but also to dream BIG. Here are our eight goals for the City in 2023:
Get kids to school safely, no matter how they get there.
Costa Mesa has been blessed with flat land and wonderful community schools. But we are squandering our inheritance and putting children at risk by expecting them to commute along and across fast, car-dominated streets. Parents drive their children to otherwise walkable or bikeable schools because they know it isn’t safe, which makes the journey even more dangerous for the students who choose (or through economic necessity, are forced) to walk or bike to school. Therefore, this year we call on the City to make school zone policies a top transportation priority:
Implement AB 43, especially in school zones. We know that speed kills. We also know that speed reduces the likelihood a driver will stop at an unsignalized crosswalk and that speed narrows the field of vision of the driver. Thankfully, the passage of AB 43 provides the City with the authority to lower speed limits on qualifying streets, which will help to combat speeding and slow down vehicles. The City should identify commercial and residential corridors that qualify for a reduction in the posted speed limit, especially in school zones. We call on the City to implement at least two such reductions in 2023.
Expand bicycle patrols and prioritize school zones at pick-up and drop-off times. Bicycles allow officers to efficiently patrol the streets while interacting with neighbors and building community trust. This makes bicycle patrol the perfect tool to police traffic violations in and around schools during drop-off and pick-up times. Reckless driving, road rage and parking/bicycle lane infractions, as well as failures to yield at stop signs and crosswalks by both motorists and bicyclists, are all too common around our schools. Before a child is hurt by these chaotic conditions, we ask that at least one additional sworn officer is added to the CMPD bicycle unit, and that dedicated patrols be scheduled intermittently by bicycle officers in school zones at pick-up and drop-off times.
Create and implement a comprehensive traffic calming policy. Due to the presence of fast-moving cars, our neighborhoods are no longer as safe for students walking and bicycling to school as they used to be. Traffic calming can work very well to return slower, manageable speeds to our residential streets. While we applaud the City’s attempts at traffic calming in 2022, we think the outreach, execution and implementation of traffic calming devices can be significantly improved in 2023. The City should adopt a comprehensive traffic calming policy that establishes a clear procedure for traffic calming requests, including resident outreach procedures, demonstration timelines and implementation guidelines, and publish this policy on its website.
Expand beyond the 15-minute car city to the 15-minute transit, bicycle and walking city.
Costa Mesa is close to the ideal of a 15-minute city – by car. Unfortunately, the City falls far short of this ideal if you use a bicycle, transit, or your own two feet to get around. Wide, dangerous “stroads” 5 bisect the City along strong pedestrian and bicycle desire paths, and our transit stops submit riders to the indignities of long wait times and lack of shelter from the sun and rain. Meanwhile, we implicitly subsidize drivers with free and abundant parking that burdens our public rights of way and the flexibility of land use. We are at the very beginning of the City’s transition from a car-centric, suburban city to an urban, multi-modal city. The time is now to take concrete steps towards this transition:
Reinstall bus shelters and review pedestrian facilities around bus stops. We know that some of our bus shelters and benches are sitting in City storage. We strongly disagree with a prior administration’s decision to remove them. It is unfair to ask our transit riders, who are already shouldering long wait times and imperfect routes, to also sit on the ground or on overturned paint buckets in the baking sun or driving rain while they wait. We urge the City to, at a minimum, reinstall all bus furniture in storage in 2023. We further recommend that the City formally prioritize pedestrian infrastructure improvements in and around bus stops, as well as adding additional shelters, benches and trash cans. If Emeryville can do it, so can we.
Bridge the gaps in our walking and bicycling networks. Costa Mesa took a huge step forwardwhen it approved the Active Transportation Plan. However, we have implemented only a fraction of the ATP. Our network still frequently strands residents with disappearing bicycle lanes or missing crosswalks. Worse, it neglects bicyclists and pedestrians at intersections, where conflicts with motorists too often end with life-altering collisions. Finishing the linkages between major walking and bicycle thoroughfares will allow pedestrians and bicyclists to take full advantage of Costa Mesa’s compact layout and excellent amenities. Executing on the proposed W. 19th Street and Placentia Avenue improvements would be a huge accomplishment for 2023. We challenge the City to also complete at least three smaller ATP projects, such as striping missing leg crosswalks, adding leading pedestrian intervals to existing signals, or removing “right on red” for vehicles at intersections with high pedestrian traffic.
Implement the parking permit program approved in 2022. Last year, thanks to this Council’s leadership and vision, the City adopted a best-in-class parking permit program for our residential neighborhoods. We look forward to seeing this farsighted program in action. In particular, we expect the City to actively advertise the program, in English and Spanish, to the residents and to process the application for at least one permit district.
Build Costa Mesa’s emerging reputation as an alternative transportation city.
Costa Mesa is quickly becoming the leading example of good active transportation policy in Orange County. In fact, we understand that our bicycle mode share is one of the best in the area. Let’s continue to build on that reputation. With our neighboring cities are either standing still or moving backward in this area, this year is the perfect opportunity to separate ourselves from the pack and demonstrate the power and benefits of a transformative transportation policy:
Create and implement a comprehensive pop-up bicycle lane and bicycle parking policy for known Citywide events. Our wildly popular Concerts in the Park and the Lions Club Fish Fry are more than just great entertainment – they are also throwbacks to an era when everything moved a bit slower. The idea of bicycling to these events is so nostalgic that hundreds did so with minimal bicycle facilities and ad hoc bicycle parking. And by doing so, they took cars off the road and freed up significant amounts of parking for other attendees. Imagine what a comprehensive policy aimed at creating safe bicycle routes to and secure bicycle parking at these events could accomplish! In 2023, we challenge the City to use at least one upcoming City event to showcase pop-up bicycle lanes and bicycle parking, and to use this event to establish a policy for including such facilities for all City events that meet certain criteria.
Rebalance the transportation budget to prioritize transit and active transportation improvements and maintenance. Time and again, active transportation improvements pay for themselves by lowering the wear and tear on roadways, growing revenue in commercial districts, and improving the health and well being of residents. With so much potential for active transportation, Costa Mesa is leaving money on the floor when it continues to emphasize vehicle throughput at the expense of relatively inexpensive improvements such as protected bicycle lanes and sidewalks. So today we repeat our request from our April 2022 letter to get serious about making Costa Mesa a place to come to, not just a place to drive through, and reflecting this priority in our budget. The City should allocate a sufficient portion of the 2023-2024 FY transportation budget to complete the Active Transportation Plan within six years, and it should continue to aggressively pursue state and federal grants to fund active transportation projects.
This is a big year for Costa Mesa. We expect big things and we will be here to help the City achieve them.
We look forward to working with you.
The Board of the Costa Mesa Alliance for Better Streets