Opinion: Del Mar being ‘railroaded’?
By Jeff Weitzen, Nancy Fisher, Don and Alexandra Veen and Robin Crabtree
On behalf of Neighbors for a Transit SolutionMany Del Mar residents observed that the rapidly moving railroad platform project proposed for Del Mar’s Beach Colony, north of the tennis courts from 21st to 24th streets, had two faces depending on the meeting you attended in the last few days.
At a neighborhood meeting held in the Beach Colony on Thursday, Oct. 14, City Council members Carl Hilliard and Mark Filanc, along with North County Transit District (NCTD) officials “sought Del Mar community input,” and repeatedly described the project as “early in its planning stages.”
Executive Director of the NCTD Matt Tucker admitted that no market research had been done to support the stated objectives of the project — increased ridership, and reduced traffic and greenhouse gases — and said no cost estimates were available.
Five days later, at an Oct. 19 presentation to the NCTD Board of Directors, including City Councilman Hilliard, it was a project with a $5-$6 million price tag and a fullthroated claim of reductions in both traffic and greenhouse gases, with no quantitative data or detail to support either the cost or benefits. At the same time, no mention was made of issues raised by the 60 residents who unanimously opposed the project in the community meeting or of the more than 200 Del Mar residents who have signed a petition in opposition.
Matt Tucker, who had assured neighbors days earlier that the proposed Beach Colony platform was in its “earliest stages,” told the board, with many of the same neighbors in attendance, that he’s “not taking the foot off the gas pedal of this project.” Three business days and two different audiences had evidently made a world of difference.
Although NCTD Directors were not asked to approve the capital for this project, their Executive Director is now fully focused on completing planning and seeking approval for the residential platform. He dismissed other options as “not optimal” and added detail to the project scope to include stops by the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner. When asked by a board member whether the platform could be used year round, the NCTD’s Chief Engineer Justin Fornelli nodded affirmatively, but Tucker quickly interrupted to say it was for “seasonal” use only.
Many county residents spoke out against the project, but directors offered few comments. When Councilwoman Lisa Heebner of Solana Beach questioned the staff on options, Tucker continued to assert there were none. Councilman and Board Chairman Bill Campbell of Vista, while still expressing his “full support” for Tucker, stated he will consider returning to the Vista Council to discuss removal of its earlier resolution to support the platform.
For more information, or to learn how to sign the petition, go to