Council approved $78,000 to remove and replace poorly growing or dead trees and overgrown invasive plants along the 10-year-old Coastal Rail Trail. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek
Council approved $78,000 to remove and replace poorly growing or dead trees and overgrown invasive plants along the 10-year-old Coastal Rail Trail. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek
Rancho Santa Fe

Coastal Rail Trail to be spruced up with new trees

SOLANA BEACH — Vegetation along the 10-year-old Coastal Rail Trail will receive some much-needed attention after council members agreed unanimously at the July 9 meeting to spend up to $78,000 to remove and replace poorly growing or dead trees and overgrown invasive plants.

The Coastal Rail Trail, which runs along Coast Highway 101, was completed in 2004. Since then no major planting or renovation has been done.

A walk-through inspection was conducted earlier this year by staff members, representatives from Nissho of California — the city’s contracted landscaper — and Councilman Mike Nichols, a licensed landscape architect. Several problem areas were identified.

“Naturally during this last 10 years a large number of plant species just disappeared due to their age,” City Engineer Mo Sammak said. “More planting is needed for the entire corridor.”

In addition to vegetation issues, the walk-through revealed eroded decomposed granite walkways and unacceptable expansion joints in the concrete walkways.

Nissho representatives estimated the total cost of repairs to be $78,000. The current fiscal year budget includes $129,770 for the Highway 101 streetscape project, so about $50,000 is still available for other improvements.

Council members approved the expenditure, which is in addition to the $195,400 yearly landscape maintenance contract with Nissho.

That contract was first approved in July 2013 and was renewed for an additional year at the July 9 meeting.

Once the improvement project is competed there will be about 2,000 plants comprising 10 species along the corridor.

“All of the plants that are being selected are either succulent … or very drought tolerant … so there will be no increase in water demand,” Nichols said. “It’s a lot of the same massings of plants that we currently have out there with the introduction of some new succulent-type plants.

“What they’re planning to do is a lot of work,” he added. “I think the price is fair. … I think it’s a good plan.”

In other news, the city received the Project of the Year Award from the San Diego chapter of the American Public Works Association for the recently completed Coast Highway 101 west-side improvement project.

The APWA develops and supports cities, agencies and organizations that plan, build, maintain and improve communities.

“This is quite an honor,” Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said.

Council members also unanimously agreed to delete the word “advisory” from the name of the Public Arts Advisory Commission.

Councilman Dave Zito said the adjustment made sense since none of the city’s four other commissions have the word advisory in them.

AT&T Mobility was sent back to the drawing board a second time in its effort to secure a conditional use permit for a wireless communication facility on top of the CVS building at 305 S. Coast Hwy. 101.

After first considering the request in March, council members asked AT&T to rework the project because it was too large and boxy.

Representatives said they couldn’t come up with an alternate design that would provide the needed coverage.

Council members requested the company come back during the next meeting with proof that the facility will fill a coverage gap.

As happens every year, there are no council meetings during the summer, although City Hall will remain open as usual.

Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting is set for 6 p.m. Aug. 27.

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