Grover Beach residents prevail, city to remove protected bike lanes

October 24, 2019

Newport Avenue during construction of the protected bike lane. The bike lane is next to homes with parking next to traffic.

By KAREN VELIE

The Grover Beach City Council voted unanimously Monday to remove a partially constructed protected bike lane on Newport Avenue, shorty after residents advertised the idea of a recall. [Cal Coast Times]

In mid-September, construction workers began construction on Newport Avenue to include bike paths that run directly next to the curb, separated by an asphalt berm from parking spots, which line the roadway. A few weeks later, outraged residents held a meeting to discuss safety concerns; a meeting attended by Mayor Jeff Lee and Councilwoman Mariam Shah.

Councilwoman Mariam Shah

During the meeting, Lee pledged to halt construction until city officials had an opportunity to look into the citizens’ safety concerns, a promise he did not keep. Shah on the other hand, said the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Coalition approved of the protected bike lane plan, which she called the future of road design.

Meanwhile, neighbors tripped on the berms, a truck drove over one losing a load, and some of the neighbors’ cars scraped on the steep entries to their driveways. Last week, residents began putting “recall” signs in front of their homes.

Lee responded by asking Newport Avenue resident Dan Shannon to meet for coffee at the Red Bean on Grand Avenue on the morning of Oct. 20.

When Lee and Shannon arrived at the coffee shop, they found two close constituents of Lee, former mayor John Shoals and Five Cities Fire Authority Chief Steve Lieberman, sitting inside.

“I was very upset,” Shannon said. “I think they were there to possibly intimidate me to give Lee support.”

During the meeting, Lee asked Shannon if he would take down the signs “if it goes your way,” and Shannon agreed, Shannon said.

Lee gave a conflicting account of his meeting with Shannon; Lee denied asking Shannon if he would take the signs down.

“My decision was based on the public comment received during the entire process – from those in favor and those not in support of the design, staff presentations, community meetings and the desire to have an outcome that works best for the residents, bicyclists and other users of Newport Avenue,” Lee said in an email.

Mayor Jeff Lee

At the city council meeting on Oct. 21, approximately 30 people spoke during public comment. While everyone in attendance supported bike lanes, Grover Beach residents were almost uniformly opposed to the protected bike lane design.

Newport Avenue residents voiced concerns about the loss of parking spaces, a lack of handicap access, and the danger to bicyclists and pedestrians. They repeatedly asked the council to consider the needs of all residents, and not just cyclists.

Attending in support of the protected bike lane, eight members of the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Coalition and several bicyclists from North County said the streets belong to everyone, not just residents of Grover Beach, and that protected bike lanes are safer for cyclists.

“We were displeased that Mariam Shah brought people in from San Luis Obispo, Atascadero and Paso Robles to promote her option,” Shannon said. “They did not care about senior citizens, the handicapped, or the sight impaired. It was all about bikes.”

Shah argued that the Grover Beach residents who spoke at the meeting were older, and not representative of the citizens.

“Is it fair to redesign a professionally designed road at this point?” Shah said. “I would rather see it get a chance. There are voices that are not here. I believe in the intent of this design, to provide biking opportunities that do not exist. This is the way cities are moving.”

In the end, the council voted 4-0 in favor of ripping out the berms, straightening the street, and putting in a buffered bike lane, a lane with a few feet of painted stripes providing a buffer between bikes and the road.


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Stunned

I’m glad the “older” citizenry of Grover took a stand and convinced the council to destroy those stupid looking berms. Thank you folks!


FoxtrotYankee

“Oh no, I have to walk 10 feet from my parked car to my house. It’s so far. I’m exhausted.”


“Oh no, I can’t figure out how to drive around a bike lane. I’m going to crash.”


If only the Greatest Generation could see how their little sensitive boomer babies turned out.


ajdury

The city residents got removed what they never asked for and didn’t want.


That begs the questions:


WHO asked for it, WHO paid for it and WHO approved it?!?


Let’s all hope THAT information get investigated and reported, so the residents can vote with knowledge in the next local election.


That the crazy “design” wasn’t on all the redone streets seems to contradict the whole “it’s the design of the future of safety” argument put up by the decision-makers.


Very curious indeed!


Ricky2

In SLO the residents got what they didn’t want, too, in the Anholm District where these same arrogant bike fanatics messed over the people who live there, and our city council gave them what they wanted — dangerous cycle tracks instead of a bikeway on a quiet street that takes one minute longer to ride but is completely safe. The bike fanatics are mean. Residents will lose more than 100 on-street parking spaces, and the city said that’s OK because they’ll be able to park within 1,000 feet of their houses. When questioned how that would work for frail and disabled seniors, the city said it would be “inconvenient” for the disabled, and the bike people said down with “old white people” because they have no right to park in front of their houses because the streets are for bikes not cars. What a bunch of selfish narrow-minded social misfits have assumed power. Thank goodness the Grover council got it right the second time around. That doesn’t happen with our SLO dictators. No matter how wrong they are, they’re always right — just ask them and they’ll tell you.


obispan

No need to pick a fight with a few residents when you’re cashing in big off felons to run the City’s licensed cannabis businesses, bigger fish to fry.


kayaknut

Mayor Lee knew his special campaign money from the cannabis people would end if he got recalled and he couldn’t risk that.


obispan

Shoals = corruption, that’s his business, and in Grover CITY, it’s pure pay-to-play. I have heard this from City staff for years,


sharshofar

It’s desperately time for a complete change in Grover Beach City Council. Time to vote in City Citizens that care what there fellow citizens want. Let’s be DONE with self serving representatives.


shishkabob141

Easier said than done, Arroyo Grande is full of them too.


Reality Check

The whole idea of the berms on Newport was ill-conceived. Even if it was designed by some supposed “expert”, the “expert” designed something to fit an agenda rather than a design to support the ease of use and safety of the residents. Changing it was a wise choice, but apparently only fear of recall motivated the decision. Too bad the council couldn’t do the right thing without the threat of recall. The council seems to be more interested in catering to cyclists and foolish design trends than caring about the safety of residents and the access to residences.


Ricky2

There was an article in CCN some time back about these bermed cycle tracks. As I recall it, they were called dangerous by top designers who said anybody who advocates them doesn’t know enough to be advocating for bike stuff. BikeSLO fanatics think they know more than actual experts, and the progressive politicians listen only to them..


Gordo

John Shoals and Steve Lieberman were their to intimidate Shannon? Those two knuckleheads are about as intimidating as a class of third graders!


Glad to see the bicycle mafia didn’t get their way this time, but the residents need to stay alert as they will take another run at this issue down the road.


shishkabob141

The Bike Coalition is nothing but a bunch of bullies—just like the two Lee invited to sit in on the coffee shop meeting, Shoals and his overpaid and under qualified fire chief Lieberman.


analyticone

Lee is a coward. He had to bring in the big guys? Who would ever vote for a crybaby who has to get ‘mean’ signs down in exchange for his vote? Oh, and did anyone mention that quid pro quo is illegal?