Rail Realignment

The Fairgrounds’ governing body (22nd DAA Board) is expected to push back on Tuesday against a Fairgrounds rail realignment, linking it to the City’s affordable housing proposal for fairgrounds property.


The Board is scheduled to vote on Tuesday, February 20 on a proposed “Exclusive Negotiating Rights Agreement” that would establish a 2+ year process for the negotiation of “a mutually acceptable long-term ground lease agreement for development of affordable housing” on fairgrounds property by the City of Del Mar. This item is paired on the Board’s agenda with a resolution expressing the 22nd DAA’s firm opposition to any realignment “that impacts operational, economic, environmental, and planning needs at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.” The resolution pointedly notes that fairgrounds property “may be unable to serve as an affordable housing site for the City of Del Mar should a plan move forward to run train tracks through or across District property.”


The resolution also states that the DAA’s “top public transportation priority is the swift construction of a seasonal rail platform that will reduce vehicular traffic during major events at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, thereby improving local air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” The U.S. Department of Transportation recently awarded $53.9 million for the replacement of the San Dieguito Railway River Bridge, an aging wooden trestle bridge, and a special events platform at the Fairgrounds.


The resolution is additional and more formal pushback from the 22nd DAA after “a Del Mar City Councilmember began to publicly support a push for SANDAG to re-study a potential realignment…through District property,” per the Report in Wednesday’s Board materials. In December, after the City received a strongly-worded letter from the 22nd DAA, the City Council added language to its guiding principles on SANDAG’s Realignment program, calling for the realignment process “to respect and protect the operational, economic, environmental and planning needs of the 22nd DAA and of the proposed Del Mar housing program on the fairgrounds.”


The Board’s Agenda and Packet are here.

Councilmember Worden has proposed study of an alignment option with both portals on public property, which would obviate the need to take private homes or businesses for the realignment.


In a widely-distributed email, Councilmember Worden has proposed an alignment option, “the Public Portals option,” which he asserts will greatly reduce impacts on Del Mar, including placing staging and construction work at a south portal located in the City of San Diego, near Pump Station 65, in the I-5 right-of way. His proposal would have tunnel boring starting from the south portal, removing excavated tunnel material by rail through the south portal, and delivering beach-quality sand by rail to Del Mar’s north beach (dog beach).


He also identifies public property for the north portal , using “existing rail and road right of ways by the fairgrounds.”


Because this option avoids impacts to the San Dieguito Lagoon, the San Dieguito River, and would relocate the existing tracks that run through the Penasquitos Lagoon, Worden believes that this option would increase the chance for support from the Coastal Commission, Solana Beach, the Fairgrounds, and other stakeholders.


Additional details of Worden’s “public portals” option are here.