By Bianca Kaplanek
SOLANA BEACH — Joining their neighbors to the south, Solana Beach council members voted 4-0, with Peter Zahn absent at the April 9 meeting, to send a letter of opposition to the California Coastal Commission in response to that agency’s staff recommendation to remove the boardwalk trail on the south side of the Del Mar Fairgrounds south overflow parking lot.
When the Coastal Commission approved a two-phase restoration project in February to convert the lot back to wetlands, the boardwalk was included in the plans.
Phase one is under way. Coastal Commission staff directed that the boardwalk be removed as part of phase two, for which plans are currently being developed.
According to Del Mar and Solana Beach staff reports, the recommended change was made without any public input.
In its letter, Solana Beach notes the boardwalk trail, built in 2006 with public funds, is a “vital public resource … maintained through private donations and volunteer efforts.”
“It is a cherished public asset that provides educational and recreational access to the coastal wetlands to all of the County residents and visitors,” the letter states.
In the letter city officials say they believe the objectives of the restoration project can be met with the inclusion of the boardwalk.
A statement from the San Dieguito River Valley Joint Powers Authority notes that the boardwalk was designed to minimize habitat impact.
The JPA and Del Mar sent similar letters of opposition to the Coastal Commission in March.
The Del Mar Fairgrounds board of directors agreed at the April 8 meeting to also send a letter of opposition.
“No one wants this change,” Director David Watson said.