Saturday, July 13, 2024

Orange Avenue Will be Getting a Makeover

Janique Bulawa / Unsplash

Every week, the City of Coronado receives a phone call: How’s that decrepit traffic light face plate replacement coming along?

As a part of the city’s downtown beautification project, that light – and much more – will be getting a makeover. City Council on Jan. 16 opted to move forward with projects to enhance the city’s downtown core as well as to create a more cohesive aesthetic, with uniform benches, bike racks, and news stands, accented in Coronado green.

City staff presented several options to council: Under Option 1, for $4 million, the 100 and 800 blocks of Orange Ave. could be fully enhanced, with replaced street furnishings, lighted trees, uniform crosswalks, and more.

Under Option 2, the city could enhance every block from 100 to 1300 (ending at RH Dana Place) for an estimated $8.7 million.

City Council agreed that addressing every block was important, and that having a cohesive look is part of what gives Coronado its charm. Although the expense is high, council noted, the $8.7 million plan yields 13 completed blocks, rather than just two under the $4 million plan.

“When I think of Coronado as a resort destination, as we were founded, and I think about the type of downtown our business district and residential community deserves,” said Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey, “I think we should try to set the standard that people would want to come to Coronado to visit, that our residents would want to frequent our downtown, even if it wasn’t adjacent to the beach.”

The caveat, as always, is funding.

“I don’t know that we have the money to pay for it,” said Councilmember Carrie Downey, suggesting that the city first address Option 2A – replacing the street furnishing for all blocks, and then Option 1 – doing a full-scope rehabilitation in the 100 and 800 blocks, whose infrastructure needs it.

Option 2A carries an estimated cost of $1.6 million. (A fourth option, 1A, would be to replace only the street furnishings for the 100 and 800 blocks for about $700,000.)

Council ultimately supported Downey’s suggestion, but was torn on sequencing: Address infrastructure problems on the 100 and 800 blocks first, or street furnishings? They decided to send both options to staff for guidance on both order of and phasing for the improvements, potentially stretching the timeline for completion to spread the cost over more time, rather than finishing in 2026 as originally proposed.

“I would like to approve at all now,” said Councilmember John Duncan. “And then if, for budgeting reasons, or even for learning reasons, we could stretch the timeline so that the estimated completion isn’t necessarily fall 2026 for all of those other blocks.”

The council agreed that both the beautification efforts and the safety issues presented by items like the terrazzo outside Village Theatre, which needs repair, are important to address, voting unanimously to send the matter to the capital improvement projects subcommittee for more direction on timeline.

Both Bailey and Councilmember Mike Donovan sit on the city’s CIP subcommittee. The two will use insight from the council’s choices on individual items (outlined below) to guide the subcommittee’s future recommendations.

Councilmember Casey Tanaka, who was in support of improving the city’s downtown, cautioned that the city has multiple other capital projects in the queue: The Cays Park redesign, with its $30-35 million price tag, the Winn Room renovation and potential expansion, with its $3.28 to $9.72 cost, and more.

“We have a lot of things looming, and at some point, we’re going to have to start saying no to things,” said Councilmember Casey Tanaka. “I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice if we keep discussing things in isolation from where we’re at in the overall budget.”

Tanaka suggested the council have a meeting to discuss its capital improvement plans against its budget.

“At some point, we need to have a more thoughtful discussion about what we think we can afford in a year, or in five years, and then prioritize,” he said. “Is this something we put to the top of the list? Or do we say, ‘Hey, I know an easy way to save $8 million.’”

Some parts of the project – including unifying crosswalk design and traffic light face plates – must be approved by the California Department of Transportation, which oversees the maintenance of Orange Ave.

The council voted unanimously to send the matter to the CIP subcommittee for direction on sequencing, directing the subcommittee to consider council opinion on the following individual beautification items.


The terrazzo sidewalk near the Village Theatre on the 800 block of Orange Ave. is cracked and degraded and needs replacement. It was last repaired in 2011 for $95,371.

City staff presented three options: replacing the existing terrazzo and substrate in kind for $165,000; replacing the theater entrance terrazzo only for $88,500; or replacing the whole thing with concrete for $66,000.

Council supported the first option.

Tree grates and lighting

Council supported implementing square tree grates and installing wrap lighting on all trees. Downey asked that staff look into LED lighting in effort to decrease electricity use.

The council also supported maintaining the current grey, historic street lighting already installed along parts of Orange Ave. Staff looked into implementing green lighting to match the city’s branding, but it was not feasible. Downey again asked that staff investigate whether the city could save electricity by using a different type of lighting.

The city will need to address getting power to the trees as well as bringing electricity to the parts Orange Ave. that do not have it.

Benches, trash cans, news stands, and bike racks

A test version of a “Coronado green” trash can.

Council agreed on standardizing the city’s benches and selected a design using green wrought iron legs and a light wood, potentially incorporating a medallion with the city’s logo on it. Council suggested using the city’s memorial bench program to help offset some of the cost.

The city decided on green trash and recycle bins, which will be labeled as such, and will cost $3,000 each, or $72,000 per block. It also decided to paint news stands green and install matching bike racks.


To standardize the look of crossings along the avenue, the city will need to work with Caltrans, which maintains that road. Staff estimates each crossing will cost $15,000.

Megan Kitt
Megan Kitt
Megan has worked as a reporter for more than 10 years, and her work in both print and digital journalism has been published in more than 25 publications worldwide. She is also an award-winning photographer. She holds BA degrees in journalism, English literature and creative writing and an MA degree in creative writing and literature. She believes a quality news publication's purpose is to strengthen a community through informative and connective reporting.Megan is also a mother of three and a Navy spouse. After living around the world both as a journalist and as a military spouse, she immediately fell in love with San Diego and Coronado for her family's long-term home.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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