News & Reviews News Wire California Coastal Commission threatens action against transit district over safety fence

California Coastal Commission threatens action against transit district over safety fence

By | March 8, 2022

Project to deter trespassers could bring penalties, coastal agency warns

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People jumping off rail line as train approaches
The California Coastal Commission is threatening action if the North County Transit District builds a safety fence to address trespassing on its rail line through Del Mar, Calif. (Trains: David Lassen)

DEL MAR, Calif. — The California Coastal Commission is now threatening “enforcement actions” against the North County Transit District if it builds a safety fence along its right-of-way on the Del Mar Bluffs without obtaining a development permit from the Commission.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the latest twist in the dispute between the transit agency, commission, and city of Del Mar came in the form of the commission’s “pre-cease and desist” letter saying that construction of the fence would violate the state Coastal Act and could bring unspecified administrative and civil penalties, and that the commission could order the fence’s removal.

The dispute between governmental agencies reflects an issue the NCTD sought to address when it took the matter to the Surface Transportation District in 2020. In its original filing, the district asked the STB to issue an order to keep the city and commission from regulating work along the rail right-of-way, citing what it called an “irreconcilable conflict” between rail and coastal-use regulations [see “Digest: San Diego transit agency seeks STB ruling …,” Trains News Wire, Sept. 15, 2020].

The NCTD wants to build the fence to address frequent trespassing along the right-of-way by people walking along the bluffs or accessing the beach below. Del Mar residents have opposed the fence because it would restrict their beach access and spoil views from homes along the tracks.

In an update to its original petition to the STB, the district responded to the commission letter by saying it “cannot in good faith further delay the safety fencing project and risk any additional unnecessary loss of life or injuries.”

The district said that in the 16 months since it began negotiating with Del Mar and the commission, there have been 1,828 incidents, including one fatality, along its right-of-way in the city. Incidents include cases where trains must sound their horns to alert trespassers along the tracks.

8 thoughts on “California Coastal Commission threatens action against transit district over safety fence

  1. Maybe the railroad needs to show-up at the next hearing with a picture presentation titled “Run-Over by the Railroad: A Gruesome Sight”

  2. The California Coastal Commission is an overzealous and duplicative land use planning agency. Let NCTD build their fence in the name of safety first, then apply for the permit after the fact, so that the Coastal Commission may have their all important paper work (and $$) documenting the fence; which is seriously needed, because too many Californians believe they should have uninhibited access across any real estate including railroad right-of-ways, to their beloved beach!

    1. It’s not that Californians believe they should have uninhibited access to the beach, it’s that the state law that created the CCC legally says we’re allowed that access if it exited prior to any restriction placed on it by a private enterprise. This problem goes all the way back to when the line was built, if nothing was done back then to keep people from crossing the tracks to reach the beach, then under the letter of the law, nothing can be done now without approval from the CCC to prevent it either…safety and private property be damned.

  3. Ah, I see the issue. The City of DelMar wants the railroad to build a $4 billion dollar tunnel under the town so their views and access won’t be obstructed. No wonder its at a standstill.

  4. Honestly, the problem is with the City of Del Mar. If they want to maintain beach access then they should put up the dough to build the needed access. Gov. Newsom says the state is in such great fiscal shape, simply apply for a grant to have a pedestrian underpass built.

    How hard can it be?

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