On May 10, members of the Hillcrest Town Council voted in opposition of SANDAG's Mid-City Rapid Bus project, a new ten-mile bus route between San Diego State University and downtown.
The vote adds to the growing list of community groups that have come out against the proposal. In recent months, Uptown Planners, Hillcrest Business Improvement District, North Park Planning Group, University Heights Community Association, and the University Heights Community Development Corporation have criticized the plan.
The residents say the new route down Park Boulevard, and the new bus-stop at the corner of University Avenue, will reduce parking and deliver gridlock, exhaust, and transients to an already packed street corner.
"Councilmember Todd Gloria supports the project and the design along Park Boulevard, even in face of heavy community opposition," writes one Hillcrest resident in an email.
Todd Gloria's office responded with the following statement: "Councilmember Gloria is aware of opposition to the project and has been successful working with SANDAG and City staff mitigating many of the stated reasons for opposition, including the following.
A. Loss of parking spaces: Most of the community groups took positions on the project when up to 33 public parking spaces were proposed to be removed. Along with neighbors, Councilmember Gloria shared his concern with the project planners. They reconfigured the plans, resulting in a net gain of 16 parking spaces.
B. Preference for streetcar or other rail service instead of rapid bus service: The Bus Rapid service was approved by voters as part of the TransNet extension, meaning its operations and maintenance are fully funded. That service will continue until a streetcar project is funded. Councilmember Gloria championed streetcar service for this area, which is now planned and was included in the 2050 Regional Transportation Plan. The phasing of those projects has not been finalized, but Councilmember Gloria continues to advocate for projects like streetcars to be funded sooner than highway projects. The Mid-City Rapid Bus project will preserve this precious right-of-way to ensure the desired streetcar project can be realized.
C. Safety: Some community members have raised concerns that the transit line will be operating at high and unsafe rates of speed. The Rapid Bus is so named because of the signal prioritization and limited stops that are part of its operation; it will obey all current speed limits.
D. Historic preservation: The historic terrazzo sidewalk outside the former State Theatre on El Cajon Boulevard near Euclid Avenue was at risk of being removed for one of the signature Bus Rapid stops. Thanks to Councilmember Gloria’s intervention and local historic preservationists, the proposed bus stop was moved down the block and the terrazzo was preserved.
There remains one major concern of some neighbors: the proposed closure of Polk Avenue at Park Boulevard. This closure is necessary for the Rapid Bus to operate efficiently. Traffic from Polk will be able to access Park, but it will not be able to cross it. Understanding that the people who regularly use this route to SR-163 will need an alternative, signal synchronization is happening on Washington Street to allow for all traffic to flow more efficiently in the corridor, at Councilmember Gloria’s request."