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Residents, surfers blast plan to fence off bluffs

Posted: 4:36 PM, Nov 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-20 01:16:34Z

DEL MAR, Calif. (KGTV) -- A plan meant to increase safety along Del Mar's famous coastal bluffs is being met with deep resistance by residents, surfers and walkers.

North County Transit District says it has obtained grants to fund building a fence to protect the train tracks on the bluffs. It would aim to end 100 years of people illegally crossing the tracks to get down to the beach or take in the views.

The district says it would help prevent erosion and increase safety - six people have been hit by trains in Del Mar in the last two years. 

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The Del Mar City Council will discuss the proposal at its meeting Monday. 

"They put a fence up there it's not going to stop me," said Chris Gable, a longtime Del Mar surfer. "I understand it's a safety hazard since they're upping the frequency of the trains, but I don't think it's going to go over well."

Del Mar Mayor Dwight Worden said the fencing is an overreaction. He said a better plan is to increase education, signage, citizen enforcement, and to build protected legal crossings. 

Residents and surfers say people would cut through or climb the fence, and that could trap them if a train comes - and that the fence could cut off an escape route in the event of a wildfire. 

They also cringe at the aesthetics.

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"The idea that we have no access to the beach and have a fence in front of us is not a good idea," said Karla Leopold, whose home overlooks the ocean and bluffs. 

Del Mar is also discussing placing four legal crossings at various parts of the city, but that would require a $350,000 feasibility study. The earliest that could begin is next summer.