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A Street By Any Other Name

February 06, 1992|KAREN SMITH

If the name of the street you live on were to change, would you feel slightly disoriented? Would you continue to refer to it by the former name? Would you feel a lost sense of identity?

While some residents resist changing a street name to preserve a neighborhood's past, others say new names can help bring a revived sense of community to fast-developing areas.

Changing the name of a street is not only a big adjustment for those who reside and work there, but it also can lead to unforeseen hassles, involving everything from changed business cards to renamed freeway signs.

Despite the drawbacks, a number of streets in North County have received new names late in life. They include thoroughfares--Carlsbad's long-standing Elm Avenue that was changed to Carlsbad Village Drive--and lesser traveled roadways--a portion of E Street in Encinitas that is now named Cole Ranch Road.

Street names are sometimes changed to accommodate growth or new highway construction or sometimes because property owners want to honor a relative by naming a private street after them. Other times residents simply do not care for an existing street name.

When a property owner wants to initiate a name change, they can apply to a city or county planning department. The fee is usually $100 or so and most of the neighbors must agree to the change.

David Turner and his wife, Queenta, have lived on Valley Drive in Vista for nearly a decade. In 1990, when city officials opened a fire station on the street near Monte Vista Drive, a portion of the road was realigned. The stretch of road where the Turner's live was re-engineered into a cul-de-sac to better control the area's traffic flow.

Six months ago, city officials told Turner and his neighbors to choose from three street names, one of which would replace their section of Valley Drive. The first week in January they were told Fireside Lane was the winner. New signs have not yet been installed, which is fine with Turner and a few neighbors, he said. They are anything but thrilled with the new choice and intend to make their voices heard at City Hall.

"It's great that we have a cul-de-sac," Turner said. "We think it's safer that way. But we didn't have much input as far as the name goes. We would have preferred something like Valley Court," to retain a portion of the former name.

Getting people to agree on a street name is difficult at best, said David Shaw, a Vista planning staffer who handles about six name-change requests a year.

"It's a pretty controversial thing when it happens," Shaw said. "A lot of people don't want their addresses changed. It's a lot of hassle for homeowners. It's like they move without moving. They didn't have to pack any boxes, but they have to change their address and their mail and their checks with the bank. They have to tell all of their friends. Even stationery all of a sudden no longer has the correct address."

Renaming streets often occurs out of necessity when streets are expanded or realigned. Older segments of roadway are renamed, usually with the word "old" in it, to differentiate between the new section. This is intended to reduce confusion for motorists and emergency services such as police and fire departments that may have to quickly locate a specific place in dire situations.

In Poway last year, a quarter-mile stretch of Community Road between Aubrey and Norwalk streets was changed to Old Community Road to distinguish between the original and the newly constructed sections, said Oda Audish, a Poway planning staffer.

The same thing occurred in Escondido in 1990 when a portion of Via Rancho Drive was realigned and became Old Via Rancho Drive, said Mary Vivanco, an Escondido planner.

Street names in Encinitas are rarely changed, according to Tom Faulkner, a public works engineer. But when they are, it's usually initiated by property owners and not due to road reconstruction.

A portion of E Street in Encinitas between 5th and 12th streets was changed to Cole Ranch Road a couple years ago to honor a long-established Olivenhain family that still resides there.

Cole Ranch Road resident Norman Dresser said he welcomed the name change because it pays homage to a family that played a role in the area's history.

"E Street never meant anything to me," Dresser said from his home recently. "The Cole family are pioneers in this area. Their family has been here since the original colony of Olivenhain formed about 100 years ago. It's significant in that the roots of the community are being expressed through the name of the road."

Simply not liking a Carlsbad street name was the impetus behind one family's effort to change Gozo Place to Las Brisas Court in 1990.

After the couple moved to the pricey La Costa neighborhood in 1989, they petitioned the city's planning department to change the name.

Karen Zerlaut was one neighbor who objected to the change.

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