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Scaled-down bluff fencing plan raises concerns in Del Mar

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Posted at 5:09 PM, Oct 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-18 20:17:50-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A scaled-down plan to put barriers along Del Mar's picturesque bluffs is still raising concerns in the coastal city.

The North County Transit District is presenting the proposal to the City Council Monday.

The coastal bluffs are a popular attraction for visitors and residents because they run parallel to the city's shoreline, provide panoramic views of the ocean and connect beachgoers and surfers to trails and paths that lead down to the sand. The problem is that the bluffs also share the train tracks with Amtrak, COASTER, and freight trains, which operate daily.

IN-DEPTH COVERAGE: Erosion along bluffs causes concerns for train travel

Crossing the tracks and walking along them is illegal, and North County Transit District wants it to end. While people cross every day, the agency says four in Del Mar have died since 2016. That's why earlier this year it proposed 12,960 linear feet of six-foot-tall fencing to run along the bluffs. After Del Mar pushed back, the agency downscaled the project to half the fencing. In some areas, the fence would top out at four feet, while others would be posts with wires.

“NCTD remains committed to working with the Coastal Commission and the City of Del Mar to develop a community-sensitive solution for the bluffs that promotes rail safety and ensures reliability, while also providing safe and legal beach access and use of the trails on the upper bluff,” Matthew O. Tucker, NCTD’s Executive Director, said in a statement.

But Del Mar Mayor Terry Gaasterland said even this version won't solve the issue while cutting off important access to the beach.

"Forcing fencing that doesn't solve the problem is to me a way of doing something to say you have done something," she said.

RELATED: Local Assemblymember proposes warning system for bluff collapses

Gaasterland said the problem is at the crossing at 15th Street, the heart of the city, and not on the bluffs. She'd instead like to see legal crossings built at various parts of the bluffs, including 11th Street. That would allow people to cross the tracks to get to the trails and paths. She said law enforcement could then increase fines for those who are not using the crossings, ranging between $1,000 and $5,000 with no forgiveness, depending on the violation.

Visuals and more information on NCTD's project can be viewed online here.