Directors of the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority voted in September to hire Mark Ochenduszko as interim executive director of the agency. The 55-mile-long park stretches from the beach at Del Mar to the river’s headwaters on Volcan Mountain near Julian. Ochenduzsco will replace Dick Bobertz, who is retiring after many years of service to the river park.
Ochenduzco served as interim city manager for the city of Del Mar in 2010 and previously held the city manager’s post in Coronado, Cypress, and Campbell. His first day as interim executive director of the river park is Oct. 1.

Birdwing dedication (5/13/14)
A beautiful blustery morning greeted celebrants at the May 13 ribbon cutting ceremony for the San Dieguito River Park’s Birdwing, a new open air class room set above the San Dieguito wetlands just east of I-5. Surrounded by lagoon, wetlands, hillside vistas and a cloudless skies, some 300 River Park supporters including volunteers, donors, designers and contractors, neighbors, staff, and school children took the path from the San Andres Dr. trailhead to the gathering. County Supervisor Dave Roberts spoke of the thriving River Park, now just past its 25-year mark and looking forward to the next 50. Former Supervisor Pam Slater Price recalled the early efforts to win Southern California Edison’s mitigation project, the largest in the country, that has resulted in the restoration of fallow former farmlands into a “Grand Canyon” of river habitat, fish and bird reserves, as well as hiking, bicycling and equestrian trails from Del Mar to Julian. The Park has already scheduled free public programs at the Birdwing through July. 


Restoration of the South Overflow Lot
After long and intricate negotiations between The Coastal Commission and the 22nd DAA, a Feb. 24, 2014 ground-breaking ceremony began the restoration of the South Overflow lot. The first phase of the conversion of the parking lot will create tidal marshes and mudflats.



Grand Avenue Bridge update (10/29/13)
Since the year 2000 the Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley have led efforts to save, restore, and develop the Old Grand Avenue Bridge as a lagoon viewpoint. This effort has reached a culmination of sorts with the installation of five new panels at the end of the bridge.


Sprucing up the Old Grand Avenue Bridge site (07/18/13)
The Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley regularly maintain the lagoon viewpoint at the Old Grand Avenue Bridge as a part of the City of Del Mar adopt-a-spot program. On July 13, 2013, ten friends gathered at the old bridge and controlled some of the excessively exuberant vegetation that was encroaching on the entrance posts designed by Don Coordt. We enjoyed Prosecco and goldfishes after the work.


Access to the San Dieguito Lagoon Boardwalk made easy (06/06/2013)
The Del Mar City Council has authorized the City Manager to execute a 30-year agreement for the installation of parking and interpretive signage at the North County Transit District San Dieguito Drive lot APN 299-100-3300, subject to final approval by the City Attorney. The site was used for recycling until 2010 and has sat vacant since.

San Dieguito River Park users have long sought access to a parking location to leave their cars while they start a walk along the Lagoon Boardwalk. The City anticipates that during most of the year, it will be able to offer the public parking for a limited charge or no fee basis. During the Fair and Race season, the lot will be operated on a market rate basis.

Grading the Lagoon (06/06/2013)
For those interested in the bird and fish counts the San Dieguito Lagoon Restoration Project, the largest mitigation project in the country, passed its first annual public review here on May 7 with flying colors. The few lower marks in vegetation and macro invertebrates caused one audience member to ask “If the fish and birds are happy maybe you are over-weighting the other factors.” The UCSB scientists, under contract with the California Coastal Commission (CCC) to meticulously monitor results for mitigation credits, laughed and explained theirs was a very exact exam dictated by the Commission, and anyway those invertebrates were very important to the overall health of the lagoon.


San Dieguito River Valley Open Space Park Joint Powers Authority meeting (02/18/13)
Changing of the guard. After the election of November 2012, there are now two new JPA Board members: Supervisor Dave Roberts replaces Pam Slater-Price and Mark Kersy is replacing Carl DeMaio as the second San Diego City Council JPA Board Member. Kersy was absent. Next year the Board Chair will be Jim Cunningham, Poway and Vice Chair: Lesa Heebner, Solana Beach.

Dick Bobertz, Executive Director’s Report.
• First wedding in 100 years was celebrated at Sykes Adobe.
• The California Coastal Conservancy tried to recover the $1.5 million cost of purchase of the Boudreau property. The matter has now been settled without disbursement
Budget Discussion.
• Jim Cunningham, Dave Roberts and Dick Bobertz met with San Diego Mayor Bob Filner seeking to reinstate funding for the River Park in FY 13/14. The Mayor will include $254,000 in the budget he will propose to the City Council. This budget will be voted by the San Diego City Council on April 15.
• The issue of $802,346 in deferred contributions was also raised. Filner asked for a listing of these deferred expenses which was presented at the JPA Board meeting. Filner was non-commital.
• Dianne Jacob brought up the issue of the possible near future retirement of Dick Bobertz and Susan Carter. She stressed the need to anticipate the change. In the future these two functions will be merged in a single CEO job. The agreement that defines the structure of the River Park JPA will expire in June 2014. A new agreement has been drafted and adopted by the JPA Board. The future contributions of the City of San Diego and San Diego County will be 31% of the budget, the cities of Poway and Escondido will contribute 13% and the Cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach 6% each. This agreement must now be adopted by the six JPA member agencies before implementation.

Leana Bulay, Interpretive Ranger made a presentation on a science program offered to the park visitors.

Reports were made on the status of lighting at the Lake Hodges Bridge and the Santa Isabel Backcountry Interpretive Center.

San Dieguito River Park news, gleaned at the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting (02/04/13)

  1. Dick Bobertz reported meeting with San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. Filner will restore funding for the Park in San Diego’s budget. The budget needs approval from the San Diego City Council. They did not discuss the “arrears” which now amounts to $750,000.
  2. Before leaving office Supervisor Pam Slater provided $338,000 for the Outdoor Classroom. Another $25,000 to purchase a truck.
  3. Rand Newman, San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy Chair and the Conservancy promised to raise another $150,000 for preliminary work at the Open Air Class room site. He received an offer of a contribution from Kilroy. He asked: should he accept it? Some said yes, some said no….
  4. Rough grading at the Open Air Classroom site will start right away and resume after bird nesting season.
  5. Southern California Edison will close its offices on San Andres at the end of February. The rangers will occupy office space at the Fairgrounds as required by the Cease and Desist Orders, until space is provided at the old SCE offices site.
  6. CALTRANS made a presentation on the RR double tracking. Said that funding is ranked in four tiers. This project is Tier 2, thus scheduling construction for 2030.


Widening the RR track across the San Dieguito River (01/29/13)
SANDAG, San Diego’s Regional Planning agency has undertaken planning and environmental scoping for double tracking a 1.1 mile segment of the Los Angeles to San Diego (LOSSAN) rail corridor, between Solana Beach and Jimmy Durante Boulevard. The project is one of several improvements between Oceanside and San Diego with the goal of double tracking 97% of the rail line by 2030. At the present time 46% of the line is still single track. This particular project will include the replacement of the 96-year-old wooden trestle of the San Dieguito Bridge, a special events 1,000 ft. long platform at the Fairgrounds and pedestrian undercrossing of the track.

The project led by SANDAG will involve collaboration with The North county Transit District, CALTRANS, the San Dieguito River Park JPA, the Federal Railroad Administration and several other agencies. The estimated cost of the whole project is about $100,000,000 with $9.5 million already funded for the preliminary engineering and environmental phases. The only sobering piece of information is that the project is not scheduled for completion until 2030. No changes are planned to the rail line along the Del Mar Bluffs, which is planned to be relocated after 2014.