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NCTD's refined fencing proposal would eliminate uncoated chain-link fencing and replace it with post-and-cable and vinyl- coated fencing.
Railroad tracks in Del Mar. File photo
Community CommentaryOpinion

Commentary: Del Mar residents being railroaded by their mayor?

It is long overdue for Mayor Dwight Worden to recuse himself from any decisions regarding fencing along the railroad tracks. His track record has shown publicly that he sides with the railroad and considers them “our friend.”

At Feb. 28 Del Mar City Council meeting, Mayor Worden voted YES to accept fencing along Del Mar’s Upper Bluff Coastal Trail. Fortunately, he was in the minority and the motion failed.

The next day the California Coastal Commission stepped up to protect Del Mar’s Coastal Bluffs.

To review his history, in 1992, Mayor Worden was the attorney for the railroad track operator, North County Transit District (NCTD), when they acquired the tracks and took over maintaining them on behalf of the Atchison-Topeka-Santa-Fe Railway, now Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway, or BNSF.

During 2020 to 2022, Mayor Worden has referred to NCTD as “our friend” in public meetings.

They are NOT Del Mar’s friend.

They have taken legal action against the California Coastal Commission and the City of Del Mar through a petition to the federal Surface Transportation Board in Washington, D.C., to ask for the right to install fencing in their right-of-way anytime, anywhere, with no environmental review.

Last week on April 8, Mayor Worden sent a letter to his “friend” Matt Tucker, executive director of NCTD, acknowledging “Matt’s” intention to fence the upper bluff above the track, and then Worden laid out an easy path through the City’s permitting process, as follows: “If NCTD proposes to stage on several City streets simultaneously, there is the ability to batch the request into one encroachment permit.”

Why on earth would Mayor Worden help NCTD streamline their City permits for fencing our Bluffs? Especially when NCTD has done no environmental review or meaningful geotechnical analysis.

Two beautiful trails run along the Del Mar Coastal Bluffs — one west of the tracks above the ocean, and one high above the railroad tracks on the east.

The upper trail, Del Mar’s Upper Bluff Coastal Trail, runs from 9th Street south past Del Mar Woods.

This rugged but accessible beauty is a precious natural resource for the entire San Diego region.

This natural trail is used by many and easily entered from the street ends in Del Mar, and there is no train track on the upper trail.

Mayor Worden is the railroad’s friend, NOT the city’s friend. It is time for him to recuse himself from all matters related to railroad operations in Del Mar, especially fencing.

Worden’s prior relationship with NCTD puts him in conflict with the City’s and residents’ interests, as shown brazenly in his most recent communications with his friend “Matt.”

Pam Slater-Price is a former San Diego County Supervisor in District 3 (1992-2013) and a Del Mar resident since 1997.