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Deal closer for Del Mar blufftop fencing

surfer train pic.jpg
Posted at 4:44 PM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 12:37:46-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The fight over how much fencing should be put up along Del Mar's famous coastal bluffs could be coming to an end.

Trains pass over the bluffs daily, but surfers, walkers and joggers have been crossing the tracks illegally for decades.

On Thursday, the North County Transit District board met to discuss a new compromise with the city of Del Mar over the fencing.

"Both parties have come closer to the center. The distance is smaller," said Del Mar councilwoman Terry Gaasterland, also an NCTD board member. "We're a hair's breath away from closing the gap entirely."

The fight over the fencing has been going on for more than a year. North County Transit District says pedestrian incidents pose a threat to rail operations and district liability. It proposed a six-foot-tall welded wire mesh fence to run along the coastal bluffs, including on the popular upper bluff, nowhere near the trains.

"That's going to look awful, so many people use this to walk their dogs, walk on the bluffs, it's beautiful here," said Lisa Grandelli, a Del Mar resident who crosses the tracks to get down to the beach and surf almost daily.

Del Mar pushed back. And last month, NCTD gave the city a Feb. 28th deadline to accept its terms for a modified, scaled-back fence that could keep the upper bluffs open. Otherwise, it would move forward with the full six-foot-tall fence. For the modified fence, NCTD would want Del Mar had to assume liability for any issues that happen on the upper bluff. Gaasterland said the city reviewed NCTD agreements with other coastal cities, and is now ready to accept that.

An NCTD spokesman said the agency was also hoping to work out a compromise with Del Mar.

"We continue to work collaboratively with the City and the Coastal Commission, and are hopeful we can reach an agreement regarding the modified fencing plan," he said.

Gaasterland said she understands some fencing will be required along the tracks, but expressed optimism about legal crossings on the bluffs near 7th and 11th streets.

On Thursday, the North County Transit District's board met behind closed doors to discuss the compromise. It decided to continue negotiating with Del Mar to reach an agreement. The Del Mar City Council could discuss it Tuesday.