Del Mar approves river valley JPA agreement, nudges City of San Diego to pay its dues

By Claire Harlin

The Del Mar City Council on March 4 unanimously agreed to extend a partnership agreement that empowers and holds accountable neighboring cities in maintaining and operating the San Dieguito River Valley. The move served not only as the city’s pledge to continue contributing $60,000 in annual dues to the JPA, but also an effort to set a good example for the City of San Diego, which has failed to pay its dues — about $300,000 annually — for the past three years.

The Regional Open Space Joint Powers Authority (JPA), which includes some amendments, will go into effect after the current agreement expires next year. The San Dieguito River Park JPA was formed by the County of San Diego and the cities of Del Mar, Escondido, Poway, San Diego and Solana Beach.

Don Mosier, who is on the JPA board, said San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has assured stakeholders that funding will be restored, but the city hasn’t taken action.

“We unfortunately are one of the smaller cities as part of the JPA, but we are one of the most important because we sit right at the river mouth and we are such good supporters of all of the JPA,” Mosier said.

San Dieguito River Park Executive Director Dick Bobertz said the park has been held back in increasing new trails in the face of funding setbacks, and hopes the JPA, as well as the trail system, will be “made whole again” sometime this year. There is a specific concentration on linking the trail east of Del Mar from El Camino Real to Crosby Estates. He said the river park has also been held up because two properties on either end of the trail are amid development plans.

The JPA preserves the open space park system along the 55-mile-long river valley that extends from Volcan Mountain just north of Julian to the river’s mouth at Del Mar. It has acquired 2,976 acres for watershed and open space protection, constructed and maintained 40 miles of trails and a 990-foot-long bridge, as well as restored hundreds of acres of habitat for wildlife and a historic pioneer farmhouse. The river park also holds frequent free public education programs and trail walks.

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