A little more than 50 acres in the Batiquitos Lagoon in Encinitas and Carlsbad will no longer become a 19-unit housing development. The San Diego Association of Governments and Caltrans purchased the space for $6 million to preserve it, officials announced Tuesday.
The Batiquitos Bluffs is made up of two parcels that span La Costa Avenue and El Camino Real in Encinitas. The largest parcel is 47 acres and mostly covers Encinitas; the smaller parcel reaches into the lagoon in Carlsbad and is three and a half acres.
The 50.5 acres of land is a crucial part of the water in that area, as it acts as a buffer that protects the water quality of the lagoon, conservationists say.
The purchase was made to fulfill environmental commitments promised last August under the I-5 North Coast Corridor Program (NCC), which was approved by the California Coastal Commission. These requirements focus on coastal rail and transit enhancements, environmental protection, coastal access improvements and an express lane project.
“Over the life of the North Coast Corridor Program, we expect to spend $250 million to preserve and restore sensitive coastal habitat and improve coastal access at the same time as we build transportation improvements to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions,” SANDAG Chair and Santee Councilmember Jack Dale said in a statement.
SANDAG made the purchase under its Transnet Environmental Mitigation Program (EMP), which is a half-cent sales tax to fund habitat conservation to alleviate the effects of transportation projects. The land will eventually be overseen by a conservation and land management organization to make sure the area is properly cared for.