The North County Transit District is working to address safety along the bluffs in Del Mar, which runs parallel to train tracks. Under its plan, the district wants to install a fence along the nearly 1.7 miles of coastline. However, the California Coastal Commission filed a complaint against the district to keep that from happening.
The stretch of coastline is frequented by locals and tourists who walk the path on the bluffs, or cross the train tracks below to get to the other side.
Tita Dennis, a Del Mar resident, says she wants the coastline she frequents and calls home to stay the same.
”I’m not a believer to the fence. I don’t believe it’s really going to stop a lot of people from going to the beach from the cliffs here,” Tita said.
Tita’s sister, Bella, feels the same way.
"Why? Why are we going to put a fence here?” Bella Dennis said. “People are going to jump over the fence.”
The California Coastal Commission doesn’t like the idea either and filed a lawsuit against the NCTD.
The commission’s executive director, Jack Ainsworth, addressed the lawsuit in the following statement to NBC 7:
“It is unfortunate that we’ve been forced to file a lawsuit to stop this unpermitted fencing on the Del Mar bluffs. Public safety and public access aren’t mutually exclusive. There is better way to provide safe public access to the beach and along the bluffs that respects State environmental laws. That’s why we are working with SANDAG on a comprehensive public access program as part of the Del Mar Bluffs stability project that will be coming before the Commission in June. We ask NCTD to join us in that effort and avoid this costly litigation.”
In the lawsuit, the commission alleges that, “The NCTD is moving forward with construction of up to six-foot high fences, included welded wire, chain link, and post and cable fencing types in segments along nearly a mile of sensitive coastal bluffs in the city of del mar without first complying with California law.”
The NCTD previously told NBC 7 that 64 people had died along North County train tracks over the last five years.
In response to the complaint filed, Michael O. Tucker, the executive director for NCTD sent the following statement to NBC 7.
“It is disappointing that the Coastal Commission continues its effort to delay the implementation of needed rail safety measures, while also actively promoting railroad right-of-way as ‘public access’ and inviting illegal and dangerous crossings. NCTD has respectfully urged the Surface Transportation Board to make a determination on its related petition as soon as possible.”
According to the Del Mar Bluffs Public update from October of last year, the petition was stated as means that will “provide clarity regarding the authority of state and local governments for their review and requests related to maintenance and safety projects.”
Ashley Block and Taylor Hall, who were both visiting from Florida, said a safer way to access the coast is a good idea.
“I think it’s a little dangerous with the train coming so fast,” Block said. “Like we were standing right here and the train passed and there was someone standing on the other side of the track with a dog and it was like awfully close.”