City council OKs plans to extend River Path Del Mar


The Del Mar City Council on June 1 unanimously moved forward with plans to extend River Path Del Mar, a stretch of land between San Dieguito Drive and the San Dieguito Lagoon.

In a 4-0 vote, council members adopted a mitigation program and approved a conditional use permit for the project, linking River Path Del Mar with the Lagoon Viewpoint at the Old Grand Avenue Bridge. Mayor Al Corti recused himself from the issue because he has property within 300 feet of the project site.

River Path Del Mar is part of the San Dieguito segment of Del Mar’s scenic loop trail, a seven-mile hiking trail around the city’s perimeter that is divided into seven key sections. It provides pedestrian access along the river’s south edge between the river mouth and Jimmy Durante Boulevard.

The extension will advance the path east from Jimmy Durante Boulevard to the Old Grand Avenue Bridge viewpoint and bring the scenic loop trail one step closer to a future connection at the Crest Canyon segment.

A joint project between the city and the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, the extension is estimated to cost $475,000 for design, environmental review, construction and mitigation. To date, $286,500 has been secured for the project, including $101,500 from the conservancy, $20,000 from the city, $10,000 from the Riverview project development agreement and $5,000 from the Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley.

The project advanced further in September, when the conservancy received a $150,000 grant from the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program facilitated by County Supervisor Dave Roberts. The funds are designated for design and environmental work and must be used by Sept. 13.

The roughly 2,965-linear-foot extension includes two planned alignments. The primary trail will allow pedestrians to walk near the river and lagoon, and the secondary trail will take users along the east shoulder of San Dieguito Drive. There will be three connections between the two alignments.

The trails will be constructed mostly with decomposed granite, but portions of the secondary trail will include colored concrete and paved areas near San Dieguito Drive and Jimmy Durante Boulevard.

Also, there will be two overlook areas with benches and two picnic areas with trash cans near San Dieguito Drive and the Old Grand Avenue Bridge. Cable post fencing will be installed at limited locations along both trails for public safety and to create a buffer from identified brackish marsh habitat. There will also be two time-limited parking spaces on the east side of San Dieguito Drive.

The project will include minor grading and debris removal. In addition, the California Coastal Commission is requiring that 0.36 acres of coastal sage scrub be planted in areas where disturbed habitat, ornamental and eucalyptus trees exist.

There are approximately 27 trees in the project area: 17 eucalyptus, seven palms and three non-natives. To extend the path, nearly all of the eucalyptus trees along San Dieguito Drive will be removed.

Mitigation areas will be as far away from the lagoon edge and lower elevations as possible in order to preserve future wetland migration or lagoon restoration work.

The project spans 15 parcels, eight of which are privately owned and require public access easements. City staffers have conducted 25 outreach meetings and are working to complete the necessary authorizations from the various property owners.

The project is expected to go before the California Coastal Commission later this summer. Construction is set to begin in October and is expected to take about two months.