Proposed fencing project along Del Mar bluffs draws some community backlash

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DEL MAR, Calif. – A proposed right-of-way fencing project more than a year in the works along the Del Mar bluffs has residents and city leaders at odds over its implementation.

The project proposed by the North County Transit District comes as a measure the public transportation agency says “promotes rail safety and ensures reliability.” Last week, the agency released a modified fencing plan in response to public feedback, cutting the overall length of the fencing in half to about 6,900 linear feet, about half of which is slated to be at a height of 4 feet or less, the plan shows.

Working in collaboration with the California Coastal Commission and the city of Del Mar, an agreement on the proposal is expected to be reached by Dec. 31.

But some residents oppose the fencing project, arguing Monday that it blocks access to the bluffs.

“The work that is being done is instead all about cutting off all access to this bluff for all of us whoever revered it for the past 100+ years,” resident Drew Cady said.

Other concerns expressed by some during the virtual meeting were about overall safety with a new fence.

“It is a fire evacuation route,” Tom Grindle said. “For a number of us in Del Mar, it’s our last means of getting away from a wildfire.”

“Common sense tells us something is fragile,” Karen Lare said. “Don’t drill fence posts into them only causing more destruction and putting in new places for the water to intrude and erode the sandstone.”

The transportation agency said it refined its original plan “community-sensitive while advancing increased safety and continued access to the trails on the upper bluffs.” It scraped the proposal from the original plan calling for 6-foot chain link fence throughout in favor of the modified proposal which calls for post and cable fencing for much of it, according to its report.

The report also notes its geotechnical review found that proposed fencing would “not impact the stability of the bluffs or the trackbed support, nor promote additional erosion/bluff retreat.”

Del Mar Mayor Terry Gaasterland was among those residents with serious concerns, pointing out this project is one of several in the area also in the planning stages.

“This is why you are hearing from the people of Del Mar,” Gaasterland said. “This is why we are terrified at what you’re presenting and it’s not just for the people of Del Mar. This is for everyone who uses this last two miles of natural beautiful coastal bluff and trail.”

Monday’s meeting was for the NCTD to continue to gather feedback on the project.

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