A small but vocal group of business owners at University Heights attacked San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and City Hall in a hastily organized protest Monday morning.
While the group criticized the city leaders, the teams began working on Park Boulevard in the next phase of the city’s renovation plan.
These are new protected bike lanes that owners say will be removed from the coveted parking spaces.
“I’m incredibly frustrated,” said Susy 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 neighbors ”.
“I think the mayor is more concerned with urban life and density than he will be with small businesses in this area,” business owner Ben Evans said.
Protected bike lanes will eliminate 88 parking spaces along a one-mile stretch of Park Boulevard between Adams and University avenues.
City officials, however, are quick to point out that there will be 165 parking spaces left after the bike lanes have been installed.
“The city has continued to analyze parking in the area and has found that it can add 55 more spaces to cross streets in the area by turning angled and parallel parking into front parking on many side streets that intersect with Park Boulevard.” , said Anthony. Santacroce, a senior public information officer in the city of San Diego.
The new bike lanes will be arranged next to the sidewalk, adjacent to a three-foot safety lane. There will be a parking lane outside the safety lane, next to a single lane in both directions.
Neighbors are concerned that the project will force delivery trucks to park in the middle of the street, blocking both lanes. There is also concern about potential bus and emergency vehicle access.
“Where will all our customers park if we lose this car park?” Evans asked. “How are we supposed to do in business?”
Business owners said their complaints and concerns were ignored by the city.
“I’ve been in business for 30 years, and this is the first time I’ve felt threatened because the city wasn’t on my side, the city wants me to stop doing business,” Lance Stratton said. “I’m not grateful.”
A representative of Gloria noted that the Park Boulevard bike lanes were convened a year ago in three different plans: the City Bicycle Master Plan, the Uptown Community Plan and the North Park Community Plan, each established with a major public contribution 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 Rolland, Gloria’s deputy director of communications. “We need to make cycling safer for residents, and that’s why Mayor Gloria is creating more and more protected lanes. The mayor is also committed to meeting the ambitious goals of the city’s Climate Action Plan to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions, and reduced car travel and increased bicycle travel are an important part of achieving these goals. “
Stephen Whitburn, who represents the district and District 3 in City Hall, also supported the project.
“Bike lanes are a necessary safety measure,” Whitburn said. “Too often we hear about accidents and terrible tragedies with cyclists. City Hall staff are looking to add parking spaces to nearby streets. In addition, our office continues to emphasize the importance of the city communicating. with residents on projects in our neighborhoods. “
Although business owners have spoken out, several University Heights residents said they were happy with the efforts to make roads safer for cyclists.
“You know, I live here and I use Park Boulevard to get places,” an unidentified resident said. “I’m really excited to be able to ride my bike safely around my neighborhood.”