Trails committee created

Planners to give input on DM Mesa

The Del Mar Mesa Community Planning Board is taking a stronger stance on the Del Mar Mesa Preserve trails issue, a hot topic since late last year that has people “fighting over crumbs of open space” according to planning board member Marvin Gerst.

The planning board voted at their Jan. 8 meeting to create subcommittee of its own to deal exclusively on the city’s developing trail management plan for the mesa. A trail plan - which could include the closure of all or many popular trails through the protected habitat of the preserve - is expected by March.

Chair Gary Levitt said that the board needed to meet with the city, the California Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to tell them their views on where trails should and shouldn’t go.

“It’s important for us to take the lead in establishing a long term goal for our area,” Levitt said.

While the trails in discussion are located in the Del Mar Mesa, the Los Penasquitos Canyon Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) was assigned the Del Mar Mesa Preserve issue because it is trail-oriented. The CAC is also an advisory board to the Parks and Recreations Department while the Del Mar Mesa planning group is advisory only to the city planning department. Trails are a parks and recreation issue.

Members of the Del Mar Mesa group lament how the trails have evolved from a pleasant trek where the brush on either side would scrape your legs to a “super-highway” of forged trails. They also said that increasingly cars are collecting on their neighborhood streets as more people go down to hike and bike the mesa.

Call for education

The selected trails committee includes board members Preston Drake, Gerst (who is also a member of the Los Penasquitos Canyon Citizens Advisory Committee), longtime Mesa resident Lisa Ross and Allan Kashani, a board member with great perspective as he is also a mountain biker.

Ross said one of the committee’s objectives should be to educate San Diego City Council members about these trails and thinks most don’t even know where they are and that they exist.

“We have to have discussions with them because ultimately that’s who is going to be flipping the switch,” Ross said.

Gerst also made said at Thursday’s meeting more Mesa residents should join the CAC. Elections will be held Jan. 15. He warned that it wasn’t all “sweetness and light” at the CAC and that some board members there have a “narrowness of vision and a lack of cooperation.”

Gerst also noted that longtime chair Geoffrey Smith is stepping down, opting to run as a member at large instead.