Cardiff and Encinitas residents and visitors, we thank you for your incredible outpouring of support to help us ensure that the Coastal Rail Trail project doesn't alter the rustic charm of our community!
On March 30th, the Encinitas City Council voted 4-1 to look further in to an alternate route for the Rail Trail. You can read more about their decision in the San Diego Union-Tribune article.
So what was the Coastal Rail Trail project about, you ask?
- The Coastal Rail Trail would have taken approximately $8 million from our city coffers to create redundant biking and walking paths that already exist on Hwy 101 and replicate them on the San Elijo Avenue and Vulcan Avenue corridor, costing tax payers millions of dollars more than simply improving or expanding the existing biking and walking infrastructure.
- The Coastal Rail Trail would have fenced off our time-honored access to local beaches, literally creating a fence along the entire San Elijo and Vulcan Avenue corridor from E Street to the Chesterfield crossing, leaving very limited access for residents and visitors trying to access the beach on foot.
- The Coastal Rail Trail would have greatly reduced access to already depleted free parking near the coast and our favorite beaches, forcing you and your family to seek limited alternative parking on Hwy 101, clog up parking on coastal neighborhood streets, or pay money to utilize the beachside parking along and adjacent to the campgrounds. Residents who currently accommodate delivery truck services, construction personnel, sanitation service, and day to day visitors would have had their parking moved or completely taken away, exacerbating conflict arising from illegal parking and endangering motorists and bikers.
- The Coastal Rail Trail would have created safety challenges and intensified hazards to homeowners along the corridor, sanitation personnel, delivery trucks and our first responders. Paramedic services from at least three dispatch areas regularly utilize San Elijo and Vulcan Avenues on emergency calls. Residents along San Elijo/Vulcan Avenue would have had to contend with increased bike traffic when using their driveways, as would our Firefighters as they head to emergency calls.
- The Coastal Rail Trail would have severely impacted our ability to drive along our city's main thoroughfare, San Elijo/Vulcan Avenue, because the Southbound lane would have been converted into a auto/bike shared lane (a "sharrow") and a painted bike lane would have been added to the Northbound lane, despite the fact that the Rail Trail itself is supposed to be a dedicated multi-use path.
- The Coastal Rail Trail would have lead to an at-grade train crossing near Montgomery that will exacerbate the train noise and horn noise in the heart of our city, right next to our Elementary School, just as the NCTD's initiative to double the track is leading to significantly higher train traffic through our community.
- The Coastal Rail Trail would have paved over and gentrified the natural, scenic coastal landscape and close off open areas that serve dog walkers and others who use and enjoy these areas daily
- The Coastal Rail Trail would have created other concerns, such as lighting along the trail corridor that not only affect residents along the corridor, but would have drawn undesired night visitors and lead to increased noise complaints, loitering, public drinking, vandalism and potential increases in home crimes (as evidenced by crime statistics adjacent to the Encinitas Community Park), leading to increased city expenditures to address public safety issues.
Sadly most Cardiff residents hadn't even heard about the Coastal Rail Trail and we needed to change that. We are the community that is impacted by it, making it urgent that we become informed and active in our cause. The Encinitas City Council, comprised of our elected officials, has certainly heard of it because on May 20, 2015, three council members, Catherine Blakespear, Lisa Shaffer and Tony Kranz, voted in favor of implementing the Coastal Rail Trail measure along the San Elijo and Vulcan Avenue corridor against the objections of Mayor Kristin Gaspar and Mark Muir. This 3-2 vote, one that has the potential to change the character, nature and daily life for local residents, wasn't widely advertised to the public despite the enormity of its impact, and it took place with only a small contingent of residents informed enough to be there to debate it. This quaint coastal city of ours, cherished by its residents as a unique and unequalled place to live and work, would have changed in the shadow of the Coastal Rail Trail.
Our goal has been to tell our elected officials, in no uncertain terms, that the San Elijo and Vulcan Avenue corridor of our city is something the City Council should and will value and protect as we the citizens do, and it is most certainly not a canvas for political pet projects or a feather in the cap of public agencies purporting to serve the greater good. In the midst of other high priority infrastructure projects in Encinitas that require millions of dollars to fund, the Coastal Rail Trail was both bloated and redundant, and would have adversely impacted the lives of a great majority of residents. The San Elijo Avenue corridor is a natural and enduring part of Cardiff, a legacy of responsible beach access, parking, and transportation that we want to continue to enjoy and one day leave to our children.