Del Mar to send letter to NCTD affirming city’s rail-related positions

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

Two Del Mar council members will be sending a letter to the North County Transit District affirming the city’s position on rail-related issues, in response to comments made by Councilman Dan Quirk that did not align with the consensus of the council.

Quirk has been representing Del Mar on the NCTD board of directors for the last year and a half. He has often advocated for eliminating the rail lines that run along the Del Mar bluff in favor of an increased regional investment in autonomous vehicles.

During a May 2 meeting, council members said they were concerned that Quirk was violating council policy that requires the city’s representatives to accurately reflect the city’s position when dealing with other agencies.

The letter was spurred by an April 21 NCTD meeting, when Quirk gave a presentation about ridership drop offs and called into question the viability of the Coaster.

“The NCTD executive director reached out to the City to confirm whether or not the opinions expressed in the presentation represented the official position of the Del Mar City Council, which they did not,” read a report by council members Terry Gaasterland and Dave Druker, the alternate NCTD board reps.

“It’s extremely important that we, as a council, work together to ensure that our policies are understood by other representatives in the region,” Druker said during the meeting. “So as we advocate for removing the train from the bluff, as we advocate for the regional transportation plan, as we advocate for safe crossings that there is no doubt in any legislator’s mind that this is what the city of Del Mar wants.”

For the second time this year, Del Mar Mayor Dwight Worden raised the possibility of removing Quirk from the NCTD board because his views on the future of the rail line were not consistent with the city’s. Worden cited communication between Quirk and NCTD staff about the future of the rail.

“You were advocating to sunset the trains, close the trains and turn it into a hiking trail,” Worden said. “That is so far off of what our policy is.”

He added, “I’m concerned if you stay in that seat, this is going to be an ongoing problem.”

Quirk said he wanted to raise concerns he’s had about ridership on trains and buses. He also said he would “be more careful” in his communication about those issues to outside agencies.

“I view my responsibilities as broadly for the NCTD, not just what’s going on in Del Mar,” Quirk said. “There are a lot of things going on outside of Del Mar, and there are a lot of sensitive issues within Del Mar.”