Mad River Union
McKINLEYVILLE – Plans for the McKinleyville Town Center may include diagonal parking on both sides of Central Avenue just north of Hiller Road.
The design would be similar to G and H streets on the Arcata Plaza, where drivers have to back out into a travel lane to get out of their parking spots and on the road.
The proposal is included in conceptual designs reviewed Sept. 1 by the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC), whose members were generally supportive of the idea, which is intended to slow down traffic.
By doing so, planners hope to make it easier for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel between the two sides of the McKinleyville Town Center, which is divided by Central Avenue.
But County Public Works, which has jurisdiction over roads in McKinleyville, opposes the diagonal parking proposal.
“We have major traffic safety concerns about individuals backing their vehicles into a high volume high speed road,” stated Public Works Director Tom Mattson in an email. “This concept is good where the speed is 25 mph and there are two lanes of traffic with much less volume such as in downtown Garberville or Loleta.”
Central Avenue is the busiest street in the county’s road system. In 2013, when the McKMAC reviewed a Central Avenue pedestrian improvement project, county officials said that Central Avenue averages 18,000 vehicles a day. The speed limit is 35 mph.
Some pedestrians find crossing Central Avenue a daunting experience. The portion of Central in the Town Center has four travel lanes, a center turn lane and bicycle lanes on each side.
McKMAC member Pat Kaspari said that given the current state of Central Avenue, it’s unlikely that he would walk from Pierson Park to the nearby McKinleyville Shopping Center to get a cup of coffee. He would likely drive.
Traffic calming measures, several meeting attendees said, could help connect the two sides of the Town Center and make them walkable.
McMAC Chair Maya Conrad said that without traffic calming measures on Central Avenue, it will be hard to create a “heart” for the Town Center.
The east side of the Town Center extends from roughly Heartwood Drive to Railroad Drive and extends east to include Pierson Park, which is home to Azalea Hall (a community and senior center), the McKinleyville Sheriff’s Office, McKinleyville Library, Activity Center and Teen Center.
The east side of the Town Center includes shopping areas and the McKinleyville Fire Station.
The west side of the McKinleyville Town Center includes the McKinleyville Shopping Center and a retail area where Burger King is located.
County Planner John Miller informed the committee about Public Works’ opposition to the parking proposal, and said planners would continue to work with Public Works on the proposal.
As was noted at the meeting, all of these plans are conceptual. They are not development plans.
Most of the undeveloped property in the McKinleyville Town Center is located behind the McKinleyville Shopping Center and south of Hiller Road. Most of it is owned by the Pierson Family.
County planners will begin working on draft language for a McKinleyville Town Center ordinance, which will be brought back to the McKMAC for review.
After the McKMAC makes a recommendation, the ordinance will come before the Humboldt County Planning Commission and then the Board of Supervisors.