DEL MAR — The city of Del Mar has approved plans for a 2,000-foot pedestrian path along the San Dieguito Lagoon, the third and final phase of its multiyear River Path project.
The planned path will extend from the existing trail along the lagoon, ending at the Grand Avenue Overlook, stretching southeast to the Crest Canyon Reserve Trail entrance at Racetrack View Drive. It will include 700 feet of decomposed granite pathway, around 1,300 feet of planked boardwalk, fencing, and a pedestrian crosswalk across San Dieguito Drive.
Once completed, the path can be used for pedestrians to walk, jog, bike and birdwatch while enjoying the lagoon’s natural beauty, according to the city.
The City Council discussed the project in depth on Sept. 18 and adopted design plans by Michael Baker International on Oct. 3.
“We’re looking at something that is going to bring joy to so many people’s lives,” Councilmember Terry Gaasterland said at the September meeting.
Del Mar completed the first two phases of the River Path project in 2015 and 2016, establishing pedestrian paths for segments between Camino del Mar and the Grand Avenue Overlook. The third phase will connect critical parts of the Coast to Crest Trail and the seven-mile Coastal Loop Trail.
While the project is shovel-ready from a design perspective, the city still needs to make up an approximately $1.4 million funding shortfall before construction can begin.
The city has secured funds to cover around half the $2.85 million estimated cost. This includes a $725,000 pledge from the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy and $680,000 in 2022 federal grant funds secured by Congressman Mike Levin (D-CA).
Del Mar’s application for a $1.3 million state Parks and Recreation grant is currently under review, and a site visit has been scheduled with department representatives, city staff said.
“We feel very hopeful that it could be fruitful,” said Del Mar Principal Engineer Karen Falk, stating that they should have a response before year’s end.
The city is also preparing to submit applications for two other $1.3 million state grants and funds from the San Diego County Community Community Enhancement and Neighborhood Reinvestment programs.
Once the project begins, construction is expected to last between four and five months, staff said.
The end of the boardwalk will lead pedestrians to a street crossing area at the intersection of Racetrack View Road and San Dieguito Drive, with solar-powered flashing stop signs, new striping and delineators.
Fall-proof and cable post fencing will be installed on the lagoon side of the trail, in addition to fencing to protect sensitive habitat areas.
City staff said the project was designed to reduce impacts to the lagoon wherever possible, with the path transitioning to an elevated boardwalk in certain areas to avoid grading.
On Oct. 3, the city council also approved the purchase of a vacant parcel of privately owned land where around 160 feet of project trail is proposed.
The city agreed to pay $10,000 for the nearly 10,000-square-foot area near the intersection of San Dieguito Drive and Racetrack View Road. County assessor records value the land at around $1,700 as of this year.