"We need to get as many people as possible to attend meetings and write letters. We need to drive the City nuts to get them on our side. Wherever they want to put it is fine, as long as they don't put it here," said a resident of Del Mar's Beach Colony during a neighborhood meeting on Tuesday, September 21.
The 30 Del Mar denizens attended the meeting to discuss North County Transit District's proposal to construct a temporary train stop for the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The "neighborhood stop," as some residents called it, would mark the finish line for horserace fans looking to spend a day at the track.
The platform would be placed on a small stretch of double-tracks just south of the San Dieguito River — 20 feet from the nearest dwelling and more than a half-mile from the entrance of the racetrack. Using the additional set of tracks allows for trains to stop without obstructing the commuter railway, and if constructed, trains would stop at the location seven weeks out of the year with as many as 900 passengers per train.
Right out of the gate, neighbors expressed frustration at the lack of public notification and the added noise, traffic, and emissions that the train stop would bring to their beachside community.
"[Executive Director for North County Transit District] Matt Tucker even said during his presentation to the Del Mar City Council that one of the major problems is that people won't be able to find their way back to the stop, especially at night," said Del Mar resident Nancy Fisher during the meeting.
"I feel slighted and grossly discounted by their actions," wrote one resident in an email following the meeting. "I am a strong supporter of public transit and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I am also a strong supporter of due process and public input. What happened here? Residents of Del Mar would like to know."
The odds, however, don't look good for the neighbors. City councilmember Carl Hilliard, who sits on the board for North County Transit District, has gone on record touting the benefits of the temporary train stop, including reduced traffic and increased parking at the fairgrounds. Hilliard was unable to attend the neighborhood meeting.
Seeking information on the lack of notification to residents and whether a "single track" stop north of the river was explored, this correspondent left a message for Del Mar City Manager Karen Brust and emailed North County Transit District Spokesperson Alex Wiggins. Both failed to respond.