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Coastal Commission approves fairground wetlands, Crystal Pier work

A proposal to restore the 9.55-acre south overflow lot at the Del Mar Fairgrounds to wetlands and a plan to repair the Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach were approved by the California Coastal Commission last week.

The plan for the fairgrounds lot, which has long been the topic of discussion due to its transient vernal pools, is to create three marsh habitats and an upland transitional habitat, and restore intertidal mudflats.

The attempt to restore the south lot to functioning wetlands will require the consolidation of parking in the eastern overflow lot and what is currently a golf driving range.

The eastern overflow lot also will be used for pumpkin patches, Christmas tree sales, trailer storage and various logistical functions.

To further protect the wetlands, plans also call for the transfer of 4.5 acres south of the Horse Park along the banks of the San Dieguito River within the leasehold to an entity sanctioned by the Coastal Commission.

To facilitate the plan, it will be necessary to conduct 6,000 cubic yards of grading in the eastern overflow lot and the driving range so the parking may be transferred from where the wetlands are being created.

The 22nd Agricultural Association, owner of the fairgrounds, restored wetlands in November 2013, but the Natural Resource Defense Council submitted a letter arguing that it still didn't have a vested right to use the south overflow lot at the current levels.

By using the lot, the 22nd Agricultural Association was found to be in violation of the California Coastal Act. It is now moving to correct the violation. As part of this accord, the agricultural association has agreed to pay $5 million between now and next year to make the improvements.

Also last week, the California Coastal Commission, working out of Pismo Beach, approved plans to make substantial repairs to Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach.

Originally constructed in 1927, the pier is at the end of Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach.

The 872-foot-long pier is unusual in that it is under two different ownerships: The city owns two thirds and leases one of those thirds to Willis M. Allen, which also owns a third. (The first third is where the Allen family’s 30-room Crystal Pier Hotel is located.)

The Allen family leases approximately 240 linear feet west of the section it owns from the city and it is currently developed with 14 rental units, the bait shop and a storage unit. The westernmost portion of the pier is owned, operated and maintained by the city of San Diego as a public fishing and observation point.

The pier is constructed on 370 pier pilings. Surveys have found that 17 of the pier's timbers will either need to be repaired or be replaced. The damaged pilings are within the Allen family and the city's ownerships. Pending the required permits, work on the pier is expected to take about five months.

Work on the pier has been extensive since a major storm event damaged much of it in 1983.

In 1986, the city submitted a request for the reconstruction of the city’s portion of the pier. Also in 1986, Willis M. Allen submitted a request for reconstruction and expansion of the middle (leased) section of the pier to match the width of the eastern (private) section, and constructed six new rental units in the expanded section of the pier.

This request also included the relocation of the existing Bait & Tackle and Shell Shop.

Most recently, in July 2013, the Coastal Commission approved the demolition of two of the vacation cottages and subsequent reconstruction of two new vacation cottages while expanding the decking behind them six feet to the north.

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1 UserComments
Bob Craig 1:13pm February 19, 2014

I would like to see the pier enhanced with more amenities for pedestrians/people: - A casual eatery providing seating to enjoy the scenery - A route for bikes to access - How about some kind of small dock to allow boats to tie-up and access from the water - Solar lighting - Viewing area to watch swimmers/ sea-life, surfers, sunset etc. - Maybe an exercise area - Improved/enlarged place to fish In other words a better place for people to experience the ocean environment

Del Mar Fairgrounds

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2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.
Del Mar, CA 92014

Del Mar Fairgrounds Executive(s):

Tim Fennell

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