Encinitas City Council members Kristin Gaspar and Mark Muir recently went on the record about why they voted against the Cardiff Rail Trail (they were on the other side of the 3-2 vote). I am compelled to respond to their inaccuracies and scare tactics.
First of all, Gaspar and Muir sound like a broken record on the subject of the trail’s popularity. They claim it is opposed by a majority of residents. That’s just not true. The rail trail project enjoys a great deal of support in Encinitas.
Our Friends of the Cardiff Rail Trail volunteer group has over 1,100 engaged local supporters. This list grows every day. We have hundreds of strongly supportive letters and emails from residents. We polled Encinitas in December and found that the city supports the trail by more than 2:1.
Trail supporters are not as vocal as trail opponents, forming a quiet majority. But we understand that the trail will benefit all of us, improving safety, increasing accessibility, and connecting our communities together.
Second, Gaspar and Muir overstate the negative effects of the project, using words like “dramatically” and “drastically” to describe how the trail will change the environment and reduce parking along San Elijo. With all due respect, that is way too much drama. In reality, the trail will complement rather than replace the natural environment between Chesterfield and Montgomery, winding through the area and making it accessible to people of all ages and abilities. Trail designers will carefully preserve features that give this place its special character.
To the north, from G Street to Santa Fe, the trail route is currently a dirt parking lot next to a busy road. It’s unsafe and unpleasant for walkers, runners, and cyclists. The new trail will be a huge improvement here, creating a safe, accessible, and pleasant route for pedestrians and cyclists to get to the beach or into town without dodging cars.
As for parking, there won’t be a “drastic” reduction in available spaces. Cars will still park along north San Elijo, but they’ll be parallel parking in a lane separated from the trail. Some parking will be traded for space to walk, run, ride bikes, and push strollers, but that’s a trade-off worth making.
Finally, Gaspar and Muir fault the City Council majority for their planned at-grade railroad crossing over the tracks at Montgomery Avenue (which comes with a traffic light and a pedestrian crossing on Rte. 101). Gaspar and Muir seem to want to wait for some perfect and idealized plan for the crossing that could take a decade. We need safe and legal access to the beach now. Let’s not wait. Let’s move forward.
-Mike Verdu of yesrailtrail.com.