Traffic troubles tenants


Photo by Angelina Hicks

Many students are forced to sit in traffic on the way to school, causing 10-minute drives to lengthen to 30 minutes or more.

Jenna Crowley, Spiritual Life Editor

Veronica Pinillos ‘20 has experienced the high school morning routine for four years: wake up, get dressed, brush teeth, eat, wipe the remaining sleep from the eyes, and drearily climb into the car. Unlike many students, however, Pinillos lives about five minutes away from Cathedral Catholic High School.

Despite this proximity, she sits through 20 minutes of traffic in Pacific Highlands Ranch. She could walk to school in that same amount of time.

“The roads near Pacific Highlands Ranch just are not equipped to handle that volume of cars in that small amount of time,” Pinillos said. 

Pinillos is not the only one who finds the traffic situation an exhausting burden. 

To communicate their frustrations concerning traffic in the area, Pacific Highlands Ranch homeowners have established a website encouraging residents and visitors to urge the city’s completion of Village Center Loop Road.

In early January, bright red signs planted alongside Carmel Valley Road brandished the name of the website: Pacific Highlands Ranch Traffic Nightmare.

“Pacific Highlands Ranch was designed with a circular traffic pattern to link schools, stores, parks and homes,” the website states. “A critical component of this flow is Village Center Loop Road, which is still not complete.”

Upon visiting the site, citizens are encouraged to contact Mayor Kevin Faulconer of San Diego and request the completion of Village Center Loop Road. This road is critical to the community, located near The Village Shopping Center, new apartment buildings, a network of neighborhoods, and multiple schools. The road remains unfinished, with 700 feet left to construct.

The project has been at a standstill for years, and it has disturbed the surrounding population. Residents, commuters, and students express stress regarding current traffic conditions in the area, including those students attending Cathedral Catholic High School.

Kaitlyn Cavanaugh ‘22 is concerned with the current traffic situation and its impact on schools.

“Without traffic, my normal commute to school is around 15 minutes,” Cavanaugh said. “However, traffic in the mornings can make the drive 30 minutes or even 40 minutes long. To avoid being late and [to avoid] traffic, I always have to leave my house by 7 a.m.

“The traffic situation has not been handled well, especially since this is not just affecting [CCHS] students. Canyon Crest Academy students and Torrey Pines High School students have to sit through the traffic as well.”

While the necessary community funds for the project’s completion are available, multiple factors have halted further progress on the road. 

Private owners, the Lin Family Trust, control the property. Currently, the city and the Trust are at a stalemate, as the Trust has no plans to sell the necessary land to the city.

The website created by Pacific Highlands Ranch residents states that both parties should be held responsible for the looming issue.

“The city needs to either get a deal finalized with the Lin Family Trust on fair financial terms, or if the Trust still refuses to budge, at massive detriment to thousands of San Diegans, the city needs to do whatever is legal and necessary to acquire the right of way to build the remaining 700 feet of roadway,” the site states.

Visual created by Angelina Hicks
A map of the Pacific Highlands Ranch area provides a visual of how Village Center Loop Road would look upon completion. The real loop is currently lacking 700 feet of necessary road, this missing section represented above in red.

The private homeowners, who created the website, urge tenants to contact Mayor Faulconer, along with Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry. In this way, residents hope to press this issue as a major priority for the city to handle. 

Mrs. Bry, who is running for mayor in this year’s election, claims she has advocated for this issue since she was first elected to City Council. 

“Within months of taking office, I met with representatives from the Lin Family Trust and quickly got them together with representatives from the City Attorney’s Office and relevant City departments,” Mrs. Bry said in a statement. “I was subsequently informed that the mayor, not the City Council, has the authority to negotiate contracts on behalf of the city. This past March, the mayor communicated to the Lin Family Trust that ‘the city is not proceeding with the project at this time.’ I continue to ask the mayor to resume talks with the Lin Family Trust to build the Village Loop Road, to no avail.”

At this time, Mayor Falcouner has not replied to a request for comment.

The traffic situation in Pacific Highlands Ranch is not new to community conversation. In October 2019, the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board published a letter to Mayor Faulconer in the Del Mar Times newspaper supporting the loop’s completion.

Additionally, according to the Del Mar Times, the planning board gave the city $1 million to conduct a traffic study in May 2018. This contribution would assist the city in finding a possible solution for the traffic issues in all of Carmel Valley, including Pacific Highlands Ranch. Since the idea’s introduction last year, the study has not yet begun.

The residents of Pacific Highlands Ranch have made it clear they will not back down until a solution for this disruption in their community is achieved. Even after years of little to no progress, the community continues to fight for a resolution and make their stance clear to the city. This “Traffic Nightmare” website exemplifies the extent of their unwavering determination.  

“It’s time for the city to step up, finish Village Center Loop Road, and just get it done”, the website said. “We just want our road finished.”