Many of us are just waking up to the well orchestrated campaign by the opponents to the Cardiff Rail Trail. There is a sudden blitz of posts on Nextdoor, a discussion on this blog, a web site that generates automated emails to the City Council, and a flurry of articles and op-end pieces.
I am dismayed by the sudden explosion of activity. Those of us that support the rail trail on the east side of San Elijo feel like we've fought this battle already in an extensive series of public meetings which were widely advertised and well attended.
Now we see this attempt to reverse a decision that a vocal minority didn't like. These very loud voices claim to represent a groundswell of opposition to the project. That isn't right. They don't represent the whole community, they are late to the party, and their arguments are biased and one sided.
There is a lot of misinformation that has gone unchallenged for too long. The web site, posts, and op-ed pieces are based on highly biased, inaccurate, and often incomplete data. The strident tone is very reminiscent of the debate we had at the time the proposals were first being considered; back then we felt like we were actually being bullied in some of the public meetings by these folks.
Those of us who love the current plan for the trail are not organized and have been slow to respond to the ambush. However, a few of us have put up a web site with the facts (clearing up some of the fog that our opponents have woven around the issue). Please check out yesrailtrail.com (and if you wouldn't mind, also post as a resource like you did with the web site with the opposing point of view).
Many of us are still hugely supportive of the vision for the east side rail trail. We can't wait for the trail to be built in 2017.
As envisioned, the rail trail will link our community with Cardiff's market area and with downtown Encinitas. It fits beautifully with the other projects in the surrounding area, including the Santa Fe Pedestrian Underpass (thank you for that), the Chesterfield intersection re-vamp, and the Montgomery at-grade crossing. The coordinated development happening here is a rare example of a tapestry of improvements that will level up the whole area. These projects all complement each other.
The alternative that was discussed for the rail trail - which was to expand the existing bike lanes on 101 - will keep the Santa Fe underpass isolated from the majority of pedestrian traffic flow, create a mess on Second Street in Encinitas where the trail hits the city, and leave San Elijo Avenue in a state that's far from ideal.
We are so tired of dodging cars when we try to walk along San Elijo Avenue to Seaside Market or downtown Encinitas from our house... it's aggravating and dangerous given that drivers who are parking are often paying more attention to traffic on San Elijo than pedestrians who trying to walk through what is effectively their parking lot. Also, pedestrians are often forced out into the road with speeding traffic because cars - and large pickup trucks - park at 90 degrees rather than at a slant or parallel. Finally, the area is just not pedestrian friendly or pretty.
We need the trail on the east side of the road. We're thrilled about the plan and are counting the days until construction starts.
We understand that the white-hot issue of the fence along the tracks and the plan for the rail trail are not linked in the way the opponents would like us to believe (this is their #1 argument against the trail). With or without the trail, NCTD will eventually have to fence off the tracks at some point to reduce the potential for fatalities caused by people trying to cross the tracks illegally. This is a major safety issue. The problem will only get worse as rail traffic increases, especially with the double-tracking project reaching completion in the coming years. Fencing off the tracks is a foregone conclusion and is coming whether we like it or not; better to have it accompanied by a delightful rail trail that connects our community together and makes San Elijo a walkable and bike-able corridor.
I hope you hear more from those of us who haven't yet spoken up... who are just becoming aware of what seems like an ambush by trail opponents.
Proud Cardiff Resident
Monday, November 23, 2015
Cardiff Rail Trail supporters respond
Earlier this month we heard from Cardiff Rail Trail opponents. This week trail advocates respond. From the Inbox: