Sprawl along I-15
San Diego adds houses, but no roads
May 2, 2001
When the city of San Diego approved the community of Sabre Springs in 1986,
Poway filed suit to block the development because nothing was being done to
mitigate the traffic it would force onto Poway Road and Interstate 15. Poway
lost and, very soon, Poway Road and I-15 became nightmares as nearly 7,000
new residents started commuting.
When Carmel Mountain Ranch, another development along I-15 in San Diego,
came along some seven years later, more protests were raised because no
traffic mitigation was planned. But no one paid any heed, and I-15 became
even more of a nightmare as Carmel Mountain Ranch's nearly 10,000 new
residents started commuting.
Now, San Diego is poised to approve another development, Rancho Encantada,
that will add to the near gridlock of I-15. And, once again, nothing in the
way of traffic mitigation is in the works. That's business as usual for San
Diego planners, whose motto seems to be, "Build it now, and worry about it
The 1,000-home Rancho Encantada definitely will impact I-15, since its
commuters will feed onto the freeway just south of Poway Road, where both
the morning backup is peaking and the evening backup is beginning. It also
will deliver a knockout blow to the already overtaxed Scripps Poway Parkway,
the main access road to Poway's thriving business park.
What has been needed for a long time along I-15 is some kind of long-range
traffic planning. A new north-south freeway, between I-15 and state Route
67, has been on the county's drawing board for years. It is desperately
needed, but it hasn't been built -- and may never be built -- because of
lack of funding.
But that hasn't stopped San Diego from approving developments on city land
along I-15, while, at the same time, downsizing such major connecting
arteries as Scripps Poway Parkway (from six lanes to four) and Pomerado Road
(from four lanes to two lanes). That's traffic planning of the worst sort.
A study by the San Diego Association of Governments five years ago dealt the
I-15 corridor another blow by concluding its population wasn't dense enough
to warrant serious consideration for a trolley extension. That lack of
density is a result of such developments as Sabre Springs, Carmel Mountain
Ranch and Rancho Encantada. They're not "smart growth," as regional planners
call vertical buildup along transportation corridors. They're urban sprawl.
But they had to be, because San Diego closed its eyes to traffic
It's time that the city opened them. A recent Superior Court ruling
overturned the Los Angeles County supervisors' vote approving the massive
Newhall Ranch project just south of Ventura County because no thought was
given to providing water for the development's 70,000 residents. Adding yet
another collection of houses to the I-15 corridor without doing anything to
improve the already wretched traffic conditions would be nearly as
Copyright 2001 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.