The California Coastal Commission voted Wednesday to move forward with the San Diego Association of Government’s (SANDAG) proposal to stabilize the Del Mar Bluffs and improve public beach access.
There has been a years-long fight over the future of the crumbling seaside cliffs and railway tracks which are compromised due to erosion.
The big picture deals with sea level rise, cliff erosion and the movement of railway tracks, as soon as possible, as they approach the edges of the cliffs. For several years, the rail operator, the North County Transit District (NCTD), has wanted to add fencing around the tracks to deter trespassers and prevent accidents.
It was not popular with residents and netizens who told NBC7 that it was blocking public access.
“I could pull out my fence cutters myself, and if someone tries to run after me to give me a quote, they’ll have to quote me in the water,” one netizen said.
SANDAG has been given the green light to move forward with projects that will stabilize the cliffs with levees, improve stormwater and drainage infrastructure, and add walkways and trails to the 1.6 miles of cliffs . These are all temporary solutions before the main objective of moving the railway tracks in the coming years. The NCTD expressed concern that the SANDAG plan would delay this ultimate goal of moving the railway inland by 2035.
The public comment section of the meeting, held at a Hilton hotel, was made up of residents, scientists, organizations and various stakeholders like the NCTD. The agency said the Coastal Commission and SANDAG are going too far.
A City of Del Mar representative spoke about the city’s desire to delay the plan and cited the need for more time to review the Coastal Connection Study which would inform a better decision. The representative mentioned the need for more data regarding the impacts of construction on residents. Most of the people who spoke from the podium or virtually in support of SANDAG’s plan were not in favor of adding levees but surrendered to the idea that something had to be done soon.
In the end, the commission voted to greenlight the SANDAG plan.
“It is extremely important to move forward with this project with a sense of urgency given the instability of these cliffs,” said a commissioner.
Construction would begin in 2023 and take three years.