By Marc Garman
Developers for Chick-Fil-A and CVS Pharmacy designed their project in the Northgate Shopping Center on Admiral Callaghan Lane, insisting on having a left-turn pocket lane for north-bound traffic to enter their parking lot from Admiral Callaghan Lane. Planning commissioners, studied the proposal, visited the site and some commissioners photographed and studied the situation for hours.
The resulting analysis of several commissioners showed that such a turn bay, on a curve, on a hill, in busy traffic, crossing three lanes of oncoming traffic was much too dangerous a proposition. Consequently the planning commissioners voted unanimously to approve the project with the one exception… the requested left-turn pocket lane was too dangerous and should not be allowed.
On appeal to the City Council, the planning commission’s decision to deny the left-turn bay was overruled by all the City Council members and the left-turn pocket lane was granted.
Imagine, a unanimous 7 to 0 decision of the Planning Commission was overruled 7 to 0 by the City Council. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to rationalize or explain such a contradictory decision of the Council. Regardless of their thinking or their motives, their decision was at best naive and misguided.
The end result is embarrassing, costly, and risky to all Vallejoans who drive on Admiral Callaghan Lane to exit the Northgate Shopping Center.
Sadly, the dangerous conditions have proven to be true. [watch the six-minute video covering approximately 40 minutes]. While most minor incidents don’t get reported to the police, there have been many, along with many hundreds of near-misses and indeed several accidents, at least one with serious injuries, adjacent to the disruptive turn-bay.
If there is a lesson to be learned here, it’s to trust the dedication, competence and judgement of an appointed commission with plentiful experience and professional knowledge in such matters, and with no axe to grind or special favors to grant.
So what’s next? The traffic barriers constantly get bumped and knocked over, and the orange barricades require city resources to maintain and replace. Who is going to fix the problem, and who should pay the costs? Perhaps Councilmembers should chip in to cover the cost to reconstruct the traffic island with the landscaping that was removed. After all, they alone are responsible for this fiasco.
The following video was posted on YouTube by Planning Commissioner Tony Adams: