SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Resident in Del Mar are fighting back against the recent crackdown on pedestrians crossing the railroad tracks.
On Sunday, the city's mayor hosted an event called Take Back the Tracks in support of a call by residents to reduce ticketing.
"I didn't realize it was something you weren't supposed to do or something that was illegal," said Frank Stonebanks.
Stonebanks says he was cited last month for illegally crossing the train tracks near the bluffs.
"Each town has its own particular tactical issues. For us, we just need one more place where we can safely cross the tracks and get to the public beach, which is our right," said Stonebanks.
The North County Transit District is stepping up its safety laws with a $400 ticket for people caught illegally crossing the tracks. The effort comes after several people were killed recently by trains in the North County. During a meeting last week, the city council voted unanimously to urge the NCTD to limit its ticketing push.
"We certainly don't approve of the trespassing, but some way to reduce the fine or make it into a warning the first time because people are used to seeing those signs, but they haven't been enforced for most of their lives in Del Mar," said Ira Sharp, a local resident.
Train service was suspended over the weekend due to maintenance. Some residents say the lull in service led them to imagine what life would be like in Del Mar without tracks running through their community. Some residents believe the best way to solve the trespassing issues is to simply relocate the tracks away from Del Mar, especially since train traffic is projected to increase.
"The tracks are eroding. They can't carry the volume and weight of trains and they're increasing the number of trains on the tracks so the pressure is even greater," said Mayor of Del Mar Sherryl Parks.
However, a plan to eliminate the tracks in Del Mar would take decades to accomplish and there is no funding sources for the estimated $1 billion price tag. Others support the enforcement effort citing safety and they want to see the district install at-grade pedestrian crossings similar to those in Encinitas and Oceanside.
"Both of those towns have solved this issue of access to the beach," said T. Patrick Stubbs. "But, there has to be a safe way to do it and there is a safe way, but Del Mar has not looked at this issue."
Even with train service suspended, the transit district is reminding people to only use legal crossings, because trespassing laws are still in effect.
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