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With parking in mind, Encinitas council approves rail agreement

The Encinitas City Council last week signed off on a cooperative agreement that aims to address rows of parked cars along the train tracks, among other rail issues.

North County Transit District (NCTD) and the city of Encinitas began drafting the agreement in 2013 to establish how the agencies will work together on shared goals.

The document also paves the way for joint projects. For instance, the transit district and the city are eyeing installing a parking lot at the northeast corner of Leucadia Boulevard and Coast Highway 101, on the edge of the district’s right of way.

In areas of Leucadia with limited neighborhood parking, it’s common to see cars parked next to the railway. The trend has become more common because of popular businesses like Solterra opening in recent years.

However, the cars, if parked too close to the tracks, present safety problems. They can also kick up dust, annoying nearby homeowners. NCTD and city officials say formal parking lots along the edge of the corridor would solve these problems.

“This is a critical step,” said Councilman Tony Kranz, the city’s representative on the NCTD Board.

Kranz said it’s important to have the transit district’s cooperation, particularly because the city will soon draft a rail corridor vision. That will identify where to put planned train crossings and the rail trail — a separated path for bikers and walkers.

“It doesn’t make any sense to have a visioning exercise if we don’t have the cooperation of the land owner,” Kranz said.

As a specific benefit to NCTD, the city could let the agency use the overflow parking lot at the western end of City Hall. NCTD is looking for additional parking spaces next to the downtown Encinitas Coaster Station, according to Glenn Pruim, director of the city’s Engineering and Public Works Department.

Besides parking, the agreement encourages the city and NCTD to work together on drainage, coastal access and rail grants.

NCTD’s Board is expected to approve the agreement in the next month or two.

Pruim said the document isn’t financially or legally binding. Rather, it lays the groundwork for more collaboration.

He did not return a request asking further details about the potential joint parking lot by press time.


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