Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Sponsor Group Visualizes Future Look


Last updated 1/23/2020 at 1:24pm

Architect Richard Orne has a firm grasp on what the streets, sidewalks, and landscaping in Borrego Springs should look like, and his slide presentation wowed the Community Sponsor Group and attendees at the monthly meeting in the Library Community Room Dec. 5.

Modifications to traffic flow, what he called “traffic calming,” was an integral part of the effort to slow down motorists, both for safety considerations and to perhaps stop and smell the roses of Borrego. He also presented slides on aspects of parking and landscaping designed to put the best face on downtown Borrego. All this and more without a single traffic light.

Yes, there could be marked crosswalks, but as Sponsor Group member Linda Haddock remarked in her summary of 2012 research that was part of the Orne plan showed that unmarked crosswalks were, in fact, safer than marked ones because folks assume all is perfectly safe when crossing in a marked one without looking for traffic. Not necessarily so, according to Haddock’s review. Local law enforcement officers (back in 2012) said there had been no pedestrian crossing accidents, period, at Christmas Circle during their time in Borrego, which was well over 10 years each; and with the addition of marked crossing points, pedestrians choosing to cross outside of the marked crosswalks would take on 50% of the legal liability for an accident from the 100% liability originally being on the motorist without a marked alternative crossing point.

Haddock said, “Our aged population cross to the Circle from where they park their vehicles, especially during the Farmers’ Market, and visitors do the same in volume during Borrego Days and the Circle of Art. To have to walk around to a marked crosswalk would be a major inconvenience as they carry items back to their cars from these events.” She also added that law enforcement additionally noted in 2012 that with more angled parking, they would need to start enforcing all the illegal u-turns regularly made turning into the parking spaces in front of Village Liquor, Jilberto’s and Carlee’s from the opposite side of the road, as but a few examples; and that angled parking is not safer, including for a bike lane behind the parking spaces. “What would happen to the use of the center lane for vehicular left turns with islands, even if flat one?”

In reference to Sunset Drive, Haddock asked if BVA could extend their revitalization plan to include a sidewalk and covered walkway on the eastside, being that it was wider and safer for families with children going from the county park to Christmas Circle due to no driveways, and no parked vehicles to go behind as exist at the BAI.

At the conclusion of his presentation, Orne remarked that his design concepts were but a “wish list,” and that the County’s Planning Services Division had the final word on what could work and what couldn’t, and how much money would be available for design concepts that could work. In other words, it’s gonna be a while before any firm decisions are made by the County. We’ll keep you posted on that one.

The Sponsor Group also unanimously re-elected Rebecca Falk as Chairperson; Bonnie Petrach was unanimously elected to take over Vice Chair duties from Clint Brandin; and Judy Haldeman was unanimously elected Secretary, taking over duties previously handled by Bill Haneline. Petrach preferred to take a summary approach to producing minutes, and that was unanimously approved.

A strong turnout by residents of Rams Hill was somewhat offset by the end result of the discussion concerning the recently proposed “threshold decision,” namely that part of the Rams Hill Development Agreement, currently out for public review and comment, that would restrict certain changes to the Agreement once in place. The upshot was, like in Orne’s renditions of a new downtown Borrego, the decision-making milestone specific to the threshold decision was a long ways off.

As described by County planner John Leavitt, multiple agencies and departments need to sign off on various elements of the overall development plan even before an application is formally filed. This means that the County would not be taking up any aspects of the “threshold decision” any time soon. The Rams Hill group departed, satisfied with the confirmation that no decision was currently in the offing, and that it would perhaps be a year or two before becoming ripe for review.

Near the end of meeting, Falk touched on several announcements for action items that will arise in upcoming meetings, two of which could be highly controversial.

Subjects included code enforcement, a proposed Solar project for La Casa in the triangle formed by the transition from eastbound Borrego Springs Road to northbound Yaqui Pass Road; the Shadeway project from Christmas Circle to the Library; and last but not least, a proposed “Dollar Store” to be located on Palm Canyon Drive across from the Excel gas station on the northeast corner lot (designated C-36) at the intersection of Ocotillo Road. Not to get too much into the weeds at this point, but it has a B-designation by the County and is therefore not subject to Sponsor Group oversight or public input/upset, but rather goes straight to the Building Department for approval.

Make that two upcoming public fireworks displays.

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