Creating a Loop Lite transit system


Don’t look now Carmel Valley, but just when you thought traffic couldn’t get any worse, along comes three projects that will soon bury you in vehicles.

A combination of the 22nd Agricultural District’s approval of the Del Mar Fairgrounds Master Plan, the City of San Diego’s approval of a huge expansion of the Flower Hill Mall, and Kilroy’s proposed 23.6-acre One Paseo mixed use development, will, when complete, turn Carmel Valley into a parking lot unless we act fast.

The result of these three commercial and mixed-use projects will substantially add to the total square-footage of development in the coastal zone. Yet, future plans for highway/transit improvements within this same coastal zone will lag at least 10 to 20 years behind the development.

This is unconscionable — and government at its worse. Unfortunately, government is not the one that will suffer. We will.

And Carmel Valley will not be alone. These unmitigated environmental impacts will affect the quality of life within the communities of Torrey Pines, and the cities of Solana Beach and Del Mar, too.

What can we do now to fight back against this traffic?

Currently, the 22nd Ag.’s answer to this traffic fiasco is to fund a seasonal shuttle service during the Del Mar race season and the San Diego County Fair. North County Transit District would provide the shuttle line from the Solana Beach Train Station to the Del Mar Fair-grounds. A similar private transit shuttle would link the Fairgrounds to the City of Del Mar’s hotel and restaurant complex.

Though helpful, this shuttle service won’t solve the problem, and is not the complete answer.

I have proposed to the 22nd Ag. and to senior management of Kilroy’s One Paseo development that they fund a more permanent solution. We need transit that will work in and out of our communities. A system called “Loop Lite” would build on the seasonal shuttle routes, yet still include the rail stations in Solana Beach and the fairgrounds. Loop Lite would be vastly expanded service that would include the Cedros District, Flower Hill and One Paseo.

The development of this more complete shuttle partnership between NCTD and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority would also provide service to the La Jolla Super Loop system and provide more links to University Town Center.

To me, transit is nice, but only if it is accessible. Bringing this expanded shuttle to those who will ride it will certainly represent a major planning step forward.

Do we have the will and futuristic vision to enact such a bold step forward into modern transit? Since this is a North County Transit system, I will encourage our new County Supervisor of the Third District and, hopefully, our new councilman in the City of San Diego’s District 1 to help provide the leadership needed to gather all the regional partners for a roundtable forum to discuss the creation of the Loop Lite transit system.

We cannot build another freeway to get us out of this planning mess. So we had better explore this option — and fast.

Dennis Ridz

Chairman of the Torrey Pines Community

Planning Board