Residents hope to establish Marvin Gerst Trail


An effort is building to name one of Carmel Valley’s most popular and well-used trails in memory of Marvin Gerst, an avid defender of San Diego’s sensitive open space preserves. Gerst, who passed away on May 11 after a long fight with Parkinson’s disease, played an important role in the establishment of the Carmel Valley Restoration and Enhancement Project (CVREP) trail, which is traveled daily by bicyclists, jogging strollers, dog walkers, horseback riders, runners and those just enjoying a leisurely walk.

While the area will always officially carry its “bureaucratic” CVREP name, longtime friend Anne Harvey hopes the “anchor” pathway he helped create can be known as The Marvin Gerst Trail.

Harvey and Lisa Ross of the Friends of Del Mar Mesa, made their initial presentation on their proposal to the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board on June 23. They will have to also get approval from the Ocean Air Recreation Council.

“There was no stronger advocate for trails than Marvin Gerst,” Ross said.

After Gerst moved to San Diego in the 1970s, he and his beloved Appaloosa horse Scout enjoyed riding throughout the wide open space that is now Carmel Valley, Torrey Hills, Pacific Highlands Ranch and Del Mar Mesa.

In 1982, Gerst purchased a horse ranch next to Carmel Creek, just south of what is now SR-56.

Harvey met Gerst back in the 1980s at a Sorrento Hills planning meeting (Sorrento Hills is now present-day Torrey Hills), when they both objected to the approved community trails plan being just SDG&E service routes. When the bulldozers came with the giant wave of development, Harvey said Gerst wanted to be involved in the process so that there would always be trails, for equestrians and other users. Harvey said back in those days, trail users weren’t taken seriously, dismissed as “birdwatchers and mushroom gatherers,” a customer that the new developments didn’t think they would likely have. And developers said no one would have horses in the future, Harvey said.

“It all changed when a Building Industry Association study in the early 1990s showed that the number one thing that homeowners were looking for was access to trails and open space,” Harvey said.

When the development plan for Carmel Valley Neighborhood 8 was being established, as a property Gerst had only one request — he would not cooperate until he got a trail traversing all of the properties, connecting from the east end to the west end —that trail now known as the CVREP trail.

Carmel Valley Community Planning Board Chair Frisco White said Gerst was a very respected community asset.

He was on the Del Mar Mesa Community Planning Board for over 10 years and served as an advocate for the preservation of the rural landscapes in the San Dieguito River Valley as a member of the San Dieguito River Park Citizens Advisory Committee and its Project Review Committee.

Gerst also served on the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Citizens Advisory Committee and, for several years, was its chair.

“Marvin Gerst was a tireless champion of protecting and preserving all the things that make living here so precious,” wrote Pam Slater Price, the former District 3 San Diego County Supervisor on the Friends of Del Mar Mesa Facebook page.