On October 9, some 100 people assembled in the Vallemar School auditorium to express outrage over Caltrans' controversial proposal to widen Highway 1 in Pacifica, which the state transportation agency has grandly labeled Calera Parkway Project.
No attendees at the meeting spoke in support of highway widening, and many wanted alternatives analyzed and considered.
Former mayor Peter Loeb gave a history of the project, noting that voters had stopped the 380 freeway from being extended through Vallemar from San Bruno, and that citizen action had turned the Devil's Slide Tunnels into a positive alternative to a freeway bypass cutting through Montara Mountain.
Former planning commissioner William "Leo" Leon showed images giving a sense of the project's footprint. He said that the project would double the roadway's width and cause potentially significant visual and environmental impacts to existing business and residential frontage on the Highway1 portion of Rockaway Beach. He also raised concerns about the ability of pedestrians and bicyclists (particularly seniors, schoolchildren, and the disabled) to cross a wider highway.
Pete Shoemaker, president of Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives (PH1A), argued that the city should hire a traffic consultant to work on a set of softer alternatives, such as light timing, school start-time shifts, and a pedestrian overpass. He claimed that Caltrans tends not to do simple solutions but that Pacifica needs more complex and subtler solutions.
Attorney Hal Bohner explained that he and Peter Loeb are suing the city because the general plan specifically states that highway capacity should not be increased.
PH1A spokesperson Cynthia Kaufman urged people to get involved in the highway-widening issue. A second public meeting to further discuss alternatives will be announced soon.
Overwhelming public interest in and opposition to the project reflect prior public comments by more than 200 citizens in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
PH1A has asked City Council to hold a public hearing on the project, but council has failed to do so and has not taken any public position on the project. PH1A is asking the city to hold hearings and consider alternatives. Once pending litigation is settled, Caltrans likely will ask the city for permits for the project.
(From a PH1A press release, edited for space and clarity)