Residents attempting to knock down North County Transit District’s fence plan

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
SANDAG rail projects
The North County Transit District wants to build a fence where trespassing is a problem along the railroad right-of-way.

Beachgoers do not want anything to get in their way from enjoying a day on the coast, but the North County Transit District (NCTD) is saying enough is enough.

There are plans to build miles of chain link fences along the railroad track that spans the southern California coastline. Residents are trying to fight the plan, and officials are joining the crusade.

NCTD says the 6-ft-tall chain link fence will be installed in areas where there are frequent trespassers on the beach that sometimes result in damage to the railroad system, delays in service and injury or death.

NCTD wants to build the barrier without approval from the cities that are impacted, and have filed a petition with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to waive the need for oversight from the city of Del Mar and the California Coastal Commission for the fence and other projects related to safety on and around the tracks on the bluffs.

Erosion is chipping away at the bluffs, making land around the tracks vulnerable. The San Diego Association of Governments is in the process of stabilizing the bluffs and improving the drainage, and there are plans to move the tracks inland.

Del Mar, which voted a while ago to prohibit fencing, and the San Diego chapter of the Surfrider Foundation have asked the STB to deny the petition.

“Despite its best efforts throughout its 168-page petition to try and manufacture one, NCTD fails to present an actual, present controversy or uncertainty that could be resolved by the issuance of a declaratory order,” said the city of Del Mar in a statement.

NCTD spokeswoman Kimy Wall says the application to the STB addresses broader issues to eliminate regulatory uncertainties about rail maintenance and upgrades.

Traffic on the rail corridor has been on the rise. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 62 trains were using the tracks daily. That number is expected to increase to 101 by 2030. Cameras, lights, speakers and signs also will be installed at various locations, and the fencing project is expected to cost between $2.4 million and $2.8 million.

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