SANDAG purchases Batiquitos land for open space

North Coast Current

A parcel originally slated for a 19-unit housing development along Batiquitos Lagoon has been purchased by the San Diego Association of Governments to preserve as open space, the organization announced April 7.

The 50-acre property, known as Batiquitos Bluffs, is located southeast of the lagoon in the cities of Encinitas and Carlsbad. It’s made up of two parcels along La Costa Avenue, off El Camino Real.

The largest parcel, proposed for the housing development, is 47 acres within Encinitas. The smaller parcel, 3.5 acres, is connected to the lagoon in Carlsbad, SANDAG stated.

“The preservation of the Batiquitos Bluffs property is just the beginning of our efforts to enhance the environment and quality of life in the I-5 corridor,” SANDAG Chairman and Santee City Councilman Jack Dale said in the announcement. “Over the life of the North Coast Corridor Program, we expect to spend $250 million to preserve and restore sensitive coastal habitat and improve coastal access at the same time as we build transportation improvements to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.”

SANDAG made the $6 million purchase in partnership with Caltrans on March 30 under the TransNet Environmental Mitigation Program, part of a regional voter-approved, half-cent sales tax for transportation projects administered by SANDAG. The environmental program funds conservation to mitigate transportation projects, the organization said.

The Batiquitos land was purchased to mitigate the impacts of the Interstate 5 North Coast Corridor Program, approved last August by the California Coastal Commission, according to SANDAG. The massive I-5 project stretches from 27 miles from La Jolla to Oceanside and includes widening for express lanes and transit connectors, and coastal rail and transit enhancements.

Environmental protection and coastal access upgrades are also part of the project, SANDAG said.

The Batiquitos property will be transferred to a conservation and land management organization.