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On Rails

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
July 31, 2001


It seems that commenting on Supervisor Bill Horn's transgressions against the public well being has become a cottage industry for me. All I have to do is sit back and wait for "Bill the bully" to launch one his megalomaniacal manipulations and my next column is served up on a platter. On the Discovery Channel this is considered to be a symbiotic relationship.

Mr. Horn's latest power trip involves ramming a passing track through Encinitas with absolutely no consideration for the people who live and work along the coastal corridor. Quacking and chirping about needing to spend millions in state funds, Bill's real agenda is about sticking it to Supervisor Pam Slater any way he can. And if that means being an attack dog for Marti Minkoff of the North County Transit District so be it. Let's face it, if you need a human pit bull with no sense of ethics, no subtly, and skin as thick as his head, Bill Horn is the man for the job.

It's hard to understand why an elected official, who claims to be fiscally conservative, is willing to commit considerable amounts of public funds to litigation over a matter easily resolved. The city of Encinitas realizes the LOSAN rail corridor must be expanded to accommodate the continuing growth of the San Diego region. Where the Encinitas city council and Bill Horn differ is that the city of Encinitas is committed to the environmental and economical sustainability of the coastal cities of the region.

Not exactly feet dragging, Encinitas is actually trying to move beyond the failed model of "at grade" crossings bisecting communities and threatening pedestrians and motorists crossing train tracks as they go about their daily business. The city of Encinitas realizes that increasing train traffic will also increase air pollution resulting from an increase in diesel emissions. And then there are the issues of bluff stability in Cardiff, and drainage in flood prone Leucadia.

Waiting to do something right should not be seen as doing something wrong. Sadly Bill Horn is unable to make that distinction due to an inability to see beyond his ego, and the money he needs for his next election. Encinitas is taking the lead regarding double-tracking the rail corridor within city limits. This is as it should be. Solana Beach was allow to lower the tracks as they passed though its coastal business district, Encinitas should be allowed to do the same. By trying to force substandard projects on coastal communities Mr. Horn is doing more harm than good, in a very expensive manner.

Bill Horn is not only thumbing his nose at the people of Encinitas; he is also ignoring the recommendations of NCTD staff, who have suggested that the passing track in Encinitas be shelved pending a regional study. Having already invested $300,00 in consulting fees, the city is the process of putting together a comprehensive environmental study that will bring together the California Department of Transportation, Amtrak, and other agencies, to design a rail infrastructure that will serve the needs of the coastal corridor for generations.

On Thursday, Aug. 2nd, at 3 PM, Councilmember Christy Guerin, Encinitas representative to the North County Transit governing board, will once again ask the NCTD board to work with Encinitas as they work to accommodate an expanded rail corridor through their city. Those advocating wise regional transportation planning should make a point to attend this very important meeting. The address is 810 Mission Avenue, Oceanside, CA.

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