Solana Beach discusses priorities for next fiscal year

By Claire Harlin

In prioritizing capital projects in the works aimed to preserve and add to the community character, the Solana Beach City Council discussed its top priorities for the upcoming fiscal year on March 20. The to-do list includes improvements at the Fletcher Cove Lifeguard Station — and it’s not the first year the 75-year-old building, which is visibly showing its age, has been identified as a priority — as well as La Colonia Park improvements, the widening of Interstate 5 and the replacement of the Del Mar Shores stairway, which was closed last year due to severe deterioration. Tasks on the agenda include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

Reopening the Del Mar Shores beach access

The council directed the city manager to identify funding and start seeking bids for the replacement of the beach access stairway located north of Del Mar Dog Beach. After its emergency closure last November, the council allocated $100,000 to embark on plans, and the total estimated cost of the project is $1.7 million.

Ott said construction of the steps, built in the 1970s, could begin this fall and will last about 10 months to a year.

Addressing lifeguard station deterioration

The lifeguard station was included as part of the Fletcher Cove Community Center plan, however, that plan got a head start on its recent completion with the help of private funding sources. The city hopes this year to evaluate funding options, develop a building concept, and obtain a geotechnical report on the area surrounding the deteriorating building.

City Manager David Ott said that while part of the building has been patched, he doesn’t think the building will be able to hold up for much longer.

“It’s a harsh environment there,” he said.

Upgrading La Colonia Park

In addressing improvements at La Colonia Park, the city has added the task of completing the Veterans’ Memorial there, which is already designed but not completely built. The project was originally slated to be built with redevelopment money, but that source dried up when the state disbanded redevelopment agencies statewide. In November, the council gave a community group in the area permission to start raising money themselves.

Park improvements carried over from last year include adding features to bring the park into compliance with Americans With Disability Act (ADA) standards, completing final designs, obtaining a coastal development permit and beginning construction. The city estimates the project will cost $4 million.

Getting involved in the I-5 widening project

The city is amid the public workshop phase of the Interstate 5 widening project, for which a cost is yet to be determined. On March 1, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) re-released the public works plan for the North Coast Corridor (NCC) project, a plan that was originally released in 2010 and has since been extensively updated.

On the city’s agenda is reviewing and responding to the plan, as well as the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Depending on how Caltrans responds to the city’s comments, additional review may be necessary.

One of the proposed elements of the plan is a region-wide bicycle trail. Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said the route in Solana Beach proposed by Caltrans doesn’t work well for Solana Beach.

Two public meetings will be held on the plan to gather feedback and answer questions. The first meeting will be held on April 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. at La Jolla Country Day School at 9490 Genesee Avenue in La Jolla, and the second will be held on April 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Carlsbad Senior Center at 799 Pine Avenue in Carlsbad.