The county’s Planning Commission is now scheduled to hold its next hearing on planned updates to the County of San Diego’s public road standards December 18.
A hearing had been scheduled for October 23, but the all-day October 9 hearing on the proposed 2,700-residence Stonegate Merriam Mountains development resulted in additional discussion on that item on October 23 and the Planning Commission had not yet recessed for lunch by the time a vote was taken after 1:30 p.m.
The continuance allows for a more comprehensive hearing opportunity.
The last update of the county’s public road standards was by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in July 1999.
The addition of 19 new road classifications has not been opposed, but community groups have expressed a desire for flexibility while fire protection professionals seek adequate emergency access.
The existing circulation element road classifications are expressway, prime arterial, major road, collector, town collector, light collector, rural collector, rural light collector, rural mountain, and recreational parkway.
The 17 additional circulation element classification categories would be major road with intermittent turn lanes, boulevard with raised median, boulevard with intermittent turn lanes, community collector with raised median, community collector with continuous left turn lane, community collector with intermittent turn lanes, community collector with passing lane, community collector with no median, light collector with raised median, light collector with continuous left turn lane, light collector with intermittent turn lanes, light collector with passing lane, light collector with no median, light collector with reduced shoulder, minor collector with raised median, minor collector with intermittent turn lanes, and minor collector with no median.
The existing non-circulation element road classifications are residential collector, residential, residential cul-de-sac, residential loop, industrial/commercial collector, industrial/commercial, industrial/commercial cul-de-sac, frontage, alley, and hillside residential.
The proposed revisions would add the rural collector and rural residential classifications.
The proposed changes would also revise pathway standards to provide consistency with the county’s Community Trails Master Plan and update provisions to address current engineering practices.
The pathway updates incorporate existing Community Trails Master Plan design and construction guidelines, eliminate the requirement that the pathway be contiguous with the curb, and provide clarification that additional right-of-way may be necessary where pathways are required to exceed ten feet in width.
The revisions to address current engineering standards would update reference documents, include additional guardrail evaluation and installation guidelines consistent with the California Department of Transportation traffic manual, refer to industry standards and guidelines regarding the evaluation and installation of roundabouts and signalized intersections, refer to engineering guidelines regarding intersection sight distance criteria, and reduce intersection spacing criteria for private driveways and private roads which intersect with a public road and serve no more than 20 dwelling units.
Currently driveways or private roads must be separated by at least 300 feet if entering a circulation element road and by 200 feet if entering a non-circulation element road.
The proposed revision would reduce the separation distance for driveways serving fewer than 20 dwelling units and entering a non-circulation element road to 100 feet.
The road standards update proposal was first heard by the Planning Commission on April 24.
Community group representatives supported the additional classifications but expressed concerns that the road standards did not take into account rural community character and desired additional flexibility while San Diego County Bicycle Coalition executive director Kathy Keehan noted that the new or widened roads needed to accommodate bicycle traffic.
The Planning Commission formed a subcommittee, which held meetings on June 5 and July 17. The July 17 meeting saw the release of a draft document titled “Flexibility in County Road Design.”
The Planning Commission also held a July 31 hearing during which Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District fire marshal Cliff Hunter noted that fire safety professionals were not involved in the subcommittee meetings and noted that some proposed widths did not meet fire standards.
An additional subcommittee workshop was held September 25.
The current language of the proposed revision to the County Public Road Standards now states that all requests involving exemptions to adopted community right-of-way development guidelines will require input and a written recommendation from the local community planning or sponsor group while all requests for exemptions involving road widths, angle of departure, or vertical clearance will require a letter from the fire authority with jurisdiction.
Although the director of the county’s Department of Planning and Land Use can override those recommendations, any such decision will involve a letter containing reasons for the director’s determination. (A director’s decision can be appealed to the Planning Commission.)
A project applicant may request an exemption by completing a request form which includes alternatives considered and consequences of compliance, and a community advisory group may recommend that an applicant process an exemption request if standards for the project do not conform to an established community plan for the area.
A rural residential collector would be designed to accommodate an average daily traffic volume of between 1,500 and 4,500 vehicles while a rural residential road would service an average volume of less than 1,500 vehicles.
Both are intended to serve areas with lot sizes of at least two acres, and on-street parking would be prohibited.
The standards for both include a total right-of-way width of 48 feet, a pavement width of 28 feet between the curb faces, and a minimum pavement thickness of three inches of asphalt concrete pavement and six inches of Portland cement concrete pavement.
All circulation element road classifications have a minimum lane width of 12 feet, as do all non-circulation element residential road classifications other than hillside residential, which does not have a specific minimum width.
The proposed rural residential and rural collector classifications also require 12-foot lanes.