Number of usable Del Mar Mesa Preserve trails under debate

Those who use the trails on Del Mar Mesa made it clear to the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) last week that they want a workable trail system, not one that shuts them out.

At a public hearing on Feb. 25 to review the Del Mar Mesa Preserve management plan and its controversial trails plan, the many users in attendance — from those who have been biking the mesa for years to young users who have just discovered the open space — said they think trails are a better resource for conservation than fences.

They said that without their presence as responsible users since the trails were closed in December 2008, the area has been increasingly used for illegal dumping and underage drinking. They also contended that that the area has been damaged by illegal uses such as four-wheel drive vehicles.

“I urge the CAC to ask for more trails that the community can accept,” said Rob Mikuteit, representing the San Diego Mountain Bike Association.

“With (just a few more trails), I think you can get the community to buy into (the plan),” said Allen Kashani, a member of the Del Mar Mesa and Carmel Valley Community planning boards.

Others, such as CAC member Brian Swanson, disagreed that there should be more trails and found the trail plan devised by the city’s open space division of the Parks and Recreation Department, the California Department of Fish and Game, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service more than enough.

He said the number of trails forged illegally through the preserve is inappropriate and that recreation is not the CAC’s priority but that preserving the habitat comes first.

“I urge the agencies to stand firm to preserve the land, which is what they are supposed to do,” Swanson said.

The CAC will vote on the plan at its March 18 regular meeting, although the San Diego City Council will have the final say sometime this spring.