Del Mar council adopts priorities for handling fencing, other bluff-related issues

Coaster train
A Coaster train on the bluffs in Del Mar, where the transit district plans to install a fence to keep trespassers off the tracks.

(Union-Tribune

)

The Del Mar City Council adopted a statement that lays out how the city will handles issues related to the rail line along the bluff.

During the council’s Nov. 23 meeting, Deputy Mayor Terry Gaasterland said the statement will “clarify our approach and how we’re going to look at working with the (North County Transit District) on all the fencing questions.”

The statement follows an NCTD report released in October that outlines a plan to add six-foot-tall chain-link fencing along the train tracks in an effort to reduce trespassing. Del Mar, Oceanside and Encinitas are the three cities with the highest rates of trespassing along the rail corridor. Many Del Mar residents are concerned that the fence would hinder beach access, ruin beachside views and have other potentially negative impacts.

In response to that report, a post on the city of Del Mar’s website from October said the city hasn’t agreed to the fencing.

“Del Mar will be working in collaboration with the California Coastal Commission, (the San Diego Association of Governments), and other regional agencies to ensure NCTD respects the rights, property, environmental and safety considerations along the Del Mar bluffs,” the post continued.

A Del Mar city staff report for this week’s council meeting also mentions an NCTD petition to the Federal Surface Transportation Board that seeks to take away the regulatory authority of Del Mar and the state Coastal Commission over bluff stabilization, fencing and other potential projects on the bluff.

Some of the priorities outlined in the statement are ensuring public safety, allowing the public safe access to the coast, mitigating any impacts to public and private property, maintaining trails and viewpoints, and listening to public input.

Virtually all of the public input so far has been in opposition to the fencing. Del Mar City Councilman-elect Dan Quirk started a Change.org petition that has so far accumulated more than 5,000 signatures. It says the fencing would be “cutting off beach access for thousands of people, ruining the landscape, and creating safety risk for anyone caught inside the fence.”

Del Mar Mayor Ellie Haviland said the city has received support from other government agencies.

“SANDAG and the Coastal Commission have been incredibly supportive to Del Mar and our efforts in working with NCTD,” she said.

Del Mar City Councilwoman Sherryl Parks alluded to the upcoming changes in city leadership, with two new council members to be sworn in next month, and the need to work together on the issue.

“This is a difficult issue,” Parks said. “We all need to be on guard with this.”


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