Plan to Hike_logoAnother successful Hike to Plan, Plan to Hike event was held on a warm, sunny day at the San Dieguito River Park Trail on Saturday, May 31, 2014. Co-sponsored by the APA California Chapter San Diego Section and the California Planning Roundtable (CPR), the hike sold out at 30 persons who collectively contributed $850 towards California Planning Foundation Student Scholarships that are given annually to planning students from colleges and universities throughout California. After an overview of the history and ecology of the River Park Trail and its planning by Shawna Anderson, AICP, Principal Planner with the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority (JPA) and Mark Carpenter, Senior Associate at KTU+A, we split up into two groups to hike about 4 miles of the 55 mile trail that runs from the ocean at Del Mar to Volcan Mountain, just north of Julian.

This multi-disciplinary lecture and hike started at the brand new San Dieguito Lagoon outdoor classroom, an 80-seat amphitheater nestled in a slope overlooking the restored wetlands. Shawna Anderson described the unique aspects of a JPA, its structure, benefits and potential pitfalls of this single-purpose government agency. She discussed the challenges of routing trails and other park facilities through existing neighborhoods, community engagement, and the many regulatory hurdles involved. Participants learned of specific recent examples of park projects and the planning involved in bringing them to fruition. For example, Southern California Edison recently completed a 150-acre tidal wetland restoration project at the San Dieguito Lagoon and SANDAG has plans to restore another 50 acres in the near future.

 

San Dieguito River at low tide

San Dieguito River at low tide

The JPA utilizes planning consultants and landscape architects to assist in planning some of its projects including feasibility studies, master plans, and detailed construction documents. Shawna and Mark (KTU+A) prepared the Reach the Beach Feasibility Study which studied alternative trail alignments to bring the Coast to Crest Trail to the beach in Del Mar. Mark discussed his experience with community outreach, land use challenges, and environmental issues. Both Shawna and Mark also planned, designed, and permitted the Horse Park segment of the Coast to Crest Trail constructed in 2010. Participants hiked this unique section of trail and discovered how the San Dieguito River Park overcame many obstacles in planning this trail.

Mark points out how boardwalk on part of the trail continues toward the coast

Mark points out how boardwalk on part of the trail continues toward the coast

As the pictures show, the hike had a variety of views of the river and estuary and nesting birds and water fowl that make the river trail so active. The trail also extended under the Interstate 5 freeway to a boardwalk that paralleled the nearby San Diego Fair Grounds and the Del Mar racetrack. At the end of the hike, we all returned to the open air classroom (site of the future Visitor’s Center) for a lunch of gourmet sandwiches, chips, fruit and drinks. A great time was had by all.

The Hike to Plan, Plan to Hike event was originally started by CPR for the purposes of both an educational and fun outing for planners, as well as to raise funds for student scholarships. The event was coordinated locally by Darin Neufeld from the San Diego Section with assistance from Stan Hoffman with CPR. The event is also eligible for 3 AICP CM credits.