Safe Trestles Ecological Surf Park

North San Diego, CA

Through one simple topographic move, the ecology and beauty of a coastal bluff is restored, safe crossing of a railroad accommodated, and ADA and emergency vehicle access created while maintaining the cherished natural feel of this world famous surfing venue. The Safe Trestles competition is concerned with the danger posed by active rail lines traversing a pedestrian route used by over 10,000 people migrating to surf on Southern California’s Trestles Beach. The competition generates proposals to eliminate this danger by providing safe access to the beach for surfers and other visitors alike and by preserving the site’s natural wetlands environment. "Elevating Trestles" proposes preservation of the profound cultural and ecological virtues of this place through design intervention. Sensitive landscape design imagines a site that is safe for human users, safe for landscape ecologies, and safe for future growth. Trestles Beach lacks the physical definition necessary to yield an identity robust enough that it might withstand dynamic change from outside, including the prospect of the next ill-thought toll road. “Elevating Trestles” proposes an intelligent physical organization, one that is extremely sensitive to environmental context while taking a comprehensive view of the land to construct a permanent refuge for the surf culture that depends upon it. A new bluff bridges the tracks, allowing several universally accessible and direct ways to the beach. The new bluff avoids fragile riparian zones and creates new wetlands that act as passive deterrents to crossing the tracks; this careful reworking of the land is eminently constructible. On-site borrow pits for the new bluff to emerge as vernal wetland areas, expanding the native landscape ecologies of the site.