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EDITORIAL: Three Challenges

View from train tracks to Dog Beach.
Courtesy Del Mar Historical Society.
Click to enlarge.

At the top of our priority list should be three extraordinary challenges to life and property facing our community. The first is the perilous condition of the railroad tracks on bluffs whose stability is in serious question. The second is the inevitability of sea level rise threatening our beach community. The third is the high-risk threat from 3.6 million pounds of radioactive nuclear waste stored near the ocean at the site of the closed San Onofre nuclear power plant.

There are no easy solutions to any of these challenges and we applaud the start that our current and former councils have made in addressing each. We spend a lot of thought and energy working on improving our town and the quality of our lives. We citizens and our leaders need to ratchet up the time and attention we devote to these existential threats. All of these challenges require more action than Del Mar can handle alone, but it is vitally important to continue to take what action we can and to use our influence to stimulate action beyond our borders.
Storing nuclear waste near rising sea levels and near earthquake fault lines increases our vulnerability exponentially. Congressman Mike Levin has formed a task force of experts to devise a safe way to transfer the waste to secure sites away from this dangerous location. We should support this task force and urge our local, regional, and national leaders to take decisive action, including financial wherewithal, when the recommendations are presented.

The train tracks on our unstable bluffs are a disaster waiting to happen. In our interview with expert geologist Dr. Pat Abbott, he states the bluffs “in the area between 9th and 11th streets could go at any time.” San Diego’s regional planning agency, SANDAG, recently outlined five possible routes for tunneling the tracks away from their current dangerous location. They are all costly alternatives, but interruption of human and freight transportation will also be costly. Rerouting the tracks is essential. We should get SANDAG to do an economic full cost accounting of a track failure. Another action step Del Mar could take would be to investigate the recent tunneling project in Los Angeles sponsored by Elon Musk.

Sea level rise estimates are becoming more alarming. Our sea level rise plan is currently being reviewed by the Coastal Commission, but we should continue our efforts to make sand replenishment an important first step. Property owners should be looking into engineering technology now to elevate their homes to avoid high tides.

These are difficult challenges that will require continued effort over the coming years. We need everyone to support the local and regional plans to arrive at solutions, and we trust that Del Mar will be a leader in bringing the needed general funds to accomplish these important goals.

The Editorial Board

 

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