Del Mar council indicates support for regional transportation plan

The Del Mar Civic Center
(Karen Billing)

A majority of Del Mar council members showed support for a wide-ranging regional transportation plan that includes a framework for moving the train tracks off the eroding bluff.

Hasan Ikrhata, executive director of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), and SANDAG staff presented the plan to the City Council at the beginning of its Nov. 15 meeting, before the meeting was cut short due to a power outage.

“This plan is about providing choices for San Diegans, about reimagining the future of transportation, it’s about building major infrastructure for the future,” Ikhrata said.

The $163 billion plan is still pending approval from the SANDAG board of directors, which is scheduled to take a vote on Dec. 10. If approved, SANDAG officials would then pursue a ballot measure on a to-be-determined date.

In addition to moving the Del Mar rail inland by 2035, the plan also envisions free public transportation by 2030, a more thorough network of public transportation options throughout the county and targets for greenhouse gas reduction.

“The fact that railroad relocation of the tracks off the bluff is in this plan and funded with a timeline of 14 years, I have to support the plan,” said Mayor Terry Gaasterland, who represents Del Mar on the SANDAG board of directors. “This has to happen for Del Mar.”

“Most of the people in San Diego County have to get in a car, they have no other choice, there is no other way to do it,” City Councilman Dave Druker said. “This is a huge problem, and we need to throw everything at it.”

City Councilman Dan Quirk said that there have been trends, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, that have led to reduced ridership that the plan should take into account. He said he supports a bigger investment in electric vehicles.

“It would be much more advisable for us all to just pause for a year or two and see where this is going,” he said.

City Councilwoman Tracy Martinez said parts of the plan are “too vague,” specifically as it relates to a potential tunnel alignment when the rail is moved off the bluff.

Del Mar Deputy Mayor Dwight Worden said the plan should advance to the voters.

“If we don’t approve the plan, we’re not even going to give the SANDAG board the opportunity to flesh those out and we’re not even going to give the voters a chance to vote up or down on them,” he said.