From the very first public meeting put on by Caltrans in Pacifica, it was obvious that the state transportation agency had only two plans in mind. Not surprisingly, those same two plans remain as the two build alternatives in the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR): narrow median and landscaped median.
As to protecting coastal resources and minimizing impacts to businesses and visitors, the proposed highway widening fails. This failure results in disturbance and permanent removal of multiple acres of land with biological importance to resident populations of endangered species and their habitat, and taking of land used for commercial and visitor-serving purposes.
Caltrans' build alternatives result in a huge expansion of roadway. Highway 1 would grow from its current 64-foot width to either 130 or 148 feet. And keep in mind that this is for adding just one 12-foot lane. Most of the new roadway is nonessential to the additional lane proposed to help traffic flow. Caltrans should consider consolidating the two existing five-foot substandard shoulders and make one 10-foot standard shoulder.
Under the current widening proposal, impacts are allowed for project elements not essential to increasing capacity of the roadway (improving traffic conditions), supposedly the whole point of the project. The result of this excess is impacts to coastal biological resources, visitor-serving businesses, and existing parking, as well as potentially significant visual impact to the entryway into visitor-serving Rockaway Beach.
Alternative proposals should be undertaken and evaluated. We can find one that removes the non-traffic lane elements and adds a 12-foot traffic lane in each direction. This new alternative should be compared and evaluated with others having the least impact. The current Caltrans build alternatives are unacceptable for all the reasons stated above.
A solution is needed. By working smarter, we can find one, or implement those with fewer or no impacts. Lower-impact alternatives must be considered and the best ones adopted before a Coastal Development Permit is issued. I feel strongly that the vast majority of Pacificans will reject the two Caltrans build alternatives and insist on other solutions and/or alternatives.
William "Leo" Leon
Former City Planning Commissioner