Pacific Beach residents express displeasure over city’s traffic plans for Diamond Street

A bicyclist traveling along Diamond Street in April 2022.
A bicyclist traveling along Diamond Street in April 2022, when partially closed to vehicle traffic due to its “Slow Street” designation.
(Steven Mihailovich)

Concerns over short-term vacation rentals also raised


Contention over the city’s continuing transformation of Diamond Street into a bastion for non-vehicular travel was the climax of the May 17 Pacific Beach Town Council meeting even though the topic was not on the evening’s agenda.

Four of the seven speakers during public comment said they live on the street and expressed their vehement opposition to the ongoing implementation of traffic calming measures. They said they are being implemented without regard for impacts to or request for input from affected residents.

“We don’t want this to happen,” said Laurice Tomlinson, a 48-year resident of Diamond Street. “We’re going to try everything that we can to fight this. We pay our taxes. We pay lots of money to live there. ... We are just very frustrated with this. This is the only street in San Diego that’s being treated like this.”

The display of neighborhood resistance was prompted by the next phase of Diamond Street’s overhaul, in which plastic yellow posts, or bollards, will be erected at its intersections with Cass and Fanuel streets this summer.

The bollards will be placed along the center line of Cass and Fanuel, forming a barricade that will prevent thru traffic for vehicles traveling either west or east on Diamond. It will also prevent left turns onto Diamond from Cass and Fanuel.

Although narrow gaps in the bollards will allow non-vehicular traffic, such as bicycles and skateboards, as well as pedestrians to continue, cars and other motorized vehicles on Diamond Street would only be able to turn right at those intersections.

For a project created in part to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by promoting alternative mobility, 54-year Diamond Street resident Richard Ambler noted the irony.

“(They) want us to stop at the bollards and you have to turn,” he said. “If you want to get to about where you are, you have to make four left hand turns or four right hand turns. So then we’re generating carbon and carbon footprint and ozone and all the other crap that they’re worried about.”

As one of the longer east-west streets in PB, Diamond Street was identified as a potential bike path in the PB Community Plan updated in 1995 and subsequently chosen as part of the PB Pathways network produced by civic non-profit beautifulPB.

During the initial wave of the COVID pandemic in spring 2020, the city created the Slow Streets program for Diamond and other city streets to open them up to make them safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, skaters and other travel by closing segments of the road to all automotive traffic except by residents, delivery and emergency vehicles. The city eventually disassembled all the slow streets except for Diamond Street, which ran from Ingraham Street to Mission Boulevard.

The traffic calming measures are the latest manifestation in the evolution of Diamond Street that’s neither wanted nor needed, Tomlinson argued.

“Diamond Street has always supported cars and bicycles, skaters, etc.,” she said. “I’ve noticed that over 40 years, we’ve had no incidents. ... This is where we live. These are our residences. We don’t want it turned into a boardwalk.”

Recalling how bicyclists, pedestrians and others harassed residents merely driving home when Diamond was a Slow Street, 28-year Diamond Street homeowner David Valia wondered why other city streets are excluded from the enhancements being meted out solely to Diamond.

“I just don’t understand why we’re going to get more noise, going to get more abuse and we haven’t had any say in the matter,” he said. “No one else gets these opportunities. Why isn’t it that these things are being rotated around so everybody gets to enjoy what we had to enjoy and endure? It’s only been Diamond Street. I’m not quite sure why it’s always been us.”

Araceli, a Diamond Street resident who didn’t divulge her surname, said she worries negative consequences of the latest development might be greater than just restricted car access at intersections.

“You can keep it a Slow Street but don’t put the bollards up,” she said. “That’s all I’m asking. It will affect the prices on our property.”

Since the meeting merely afforded an opportunity for residents to air grievances, Valia asked how to get direct action.

“(Diamond) is a nice, quiet street,” he said. “Now it’s become a laboratory for every silly idea the city has. ... I guess the question I have is, do we have to go to litigation and get an injunction against this because it just doesn’t seem like anybody is listening to us?”

In other topics, PB Planning Group Chair Marcella Bothwell (who is also a town council member) discussed the city’s ordinance on short-term vacation rentals, which took effect on May 1.

On the city’s website they are referred to as a short-term residential occupancy.

While all licensed short-term rentals must post a sign with contact information in front of each property, Bothwell said residents can also type an address into an app on the city’s website to get the name and phone number of the responsible party, who must respond within an hour to complaints, such as after-hours parties.

If there is no resolution, Bothwell advised people to report the incident on the city’s Get It Done app in order to build a case against a specific property since, she said, police enforcement is unlikely for complaints that are typically low priority.

“It’s kind of a shame that we’re the ones who are ending up enforcing it, but it’s just what it is,” she said. “So we’ll figure out who the bad actors are and over the next six months we’ll get the data and see if we can make it work.”

The city’s website at also allows users to download a list of all licensed properties citywide.

Board member Denise Friedman said she and a group of neighbors will use the list to conduct a test on the 25 short-term rentals in Crown Point south of Moorland Street.

“We’re going to start checking to see if the signs are on them,” Friedman said. “We’re going to check and see how many are using ADUs (accessory dwelling units) that are built since 2017. And we’re going to test out how you go about filing complaints for problem properties. We hope to bring that model forward to other communities and show them how we did it.”

The city’s ordinance limited the licenses to 1 percent of the city’s housing stock, but without a stipulated distribution, PB Planning Group member Iain Richardson confirmed that most of the 7,200 licenses went to properties on or near the beach.

“Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, La Jolla and Ocean Beach have half the city’s licenses” Richardson said.