Source: Ray Huard, UTSanDiego.com
Pedestrians walk past th Vintage Collectables thrift store on South Coast Highway in Oceanside on Wednesday. (Source: UTSanDiego.com)
Oceanside — Time was, the 3.1 mile stretch of Coast Highway as it passes through Oceanside from Camp Pendleton to Carlsbad was the place to be.
People came to the scenic thoroughfare, then known as Hill Street, to buy new cars and to shop.
There was no Interstate 5, so travelers heading south would stop at one of the many restaurants that lined the highway for a leisurely lunch or dinner.
John Daley’s Café 101 was one of those restaurants.
“My restaurant was put in service 85 years ago to service the people on the highway,” said Daley, a lifelong Oceanside resident.
Café 101 looks much as it did in the 1950s, with a retro car hop feel to it, serving old fashioned milk shakes, steaming chili and comfort food to die for.
Outside, it’s a different story. .
The once thriving street is now a mishmash of used car dealerships, aging motels, service stations, auto supply stores and fast food restaurants.
Daley said as many as 50,000 people drive by his restaurant at the corner of Wisconsin Street every day, many using it as an alternate route when I-5 backs up.
“I don’t have any real benefit “ from the traffic, Daley said.
That may be changing.
In February, city officials will begin to search for a consultant to develop several proposals for reworking Coast Highway in hopes of spurring a revitalization of the once vibrant area along the roadway.
The study will probably take more than a year to complete and cost about $500,000, DiPierro said. He said the city is applying for a Caltrans grant to cover up to $300,000.
An ambitious “Coast Highway Vision Plan” — which was adopted by the City Council in 2009 but never implemented — talked of turning the road into a pedestrian-friendly and bicycle-friendly boulevard with charming shops and restaurants. There would be separate business and residential areas at both ends of the highway.