Extracted from "Close-up: Lee Stein"Originally published in The Daily Transcript on July 9, 2010By Rebecca Gos

When the solution is obvious to Lee Stein, he acts. He doesn’t just sit there; he does something about it, and he does it in a big way.

For example, when Stein and his wife of 34 years, June, tired of train horns blaring insistently past his Del Mar home office, signaling their approach to a railroad crossing, Stein started looking for an alternative. He researched federal railroad law, involved the city manager, the North County Transit Board and the Del Mar City Council, and formed a Quiet Zone Committee.

Before a year was up, the group had tested the viability of installing a quieter, stationary wayside horn that could be signaled remotely by an approaching train and was working on securing an exact cost estimate by mid-July.

Stein “is the fellow that’s the spark plug,” Quiet Zone Committee chair Hershell Price said. “He’s a born leader.”

The Wayside Horn Project: A Quieter Del Mar Is Within Reach!

The Del Mar Quiet Zone Committee, a volunteer group of Del Mar residents, has launched a community campaign to raise $378,317 for the construction of a wayside horn at the railroad intersection at Coast Boulevard. This project will greatly reduce the train horn noise as trains pass through Del Mar. Many of us witnessed the live test in Del Mar of an actual wayside horn in Spring 2010, and it really makes a difference! To learn more about the benefits of the wayside horn, and to see the impact on our community and your home, keep reading!

Find Out How You Can Make A Donation To The Wayside Horn Project.

There are three available options for contributing to the Wayside Horn Project, allowing you to choose the option that best meets your individual circumstances and preferences. The options are outlined below, including potential tax considerations, refundability, and potential issues if you are giving through a private foundation or donor-advised fund.

Questions? Carolyn Kling, president of the Del Mar Foundation, is happy to discuss these options with you. Reach her by phone at 619 417-1017.

1. Sign a Wayside Horn Pledge Form: You can pledge an amount to be paid when the Del Mar Quiet Zone Committee informs you that it has sufficient donations and pledges to fully fund the project. Note: This pledge is non-binding and can be withdrawn at any time without penalty or recourse. Though we encourage you to donate now to the City or the Del Mar Foundation, this option is available for those who prefer to donate only when the project is certain to be funded, especially when refundability through the City is not a viable option because you are giving through a private foundation or donor-advised fund.

For your consideration, please click here to download the Wayside Horn Pledge Form. DMQZ Pledge Form.pdf

2. Donate to the City of Del Mar: You can make a tax-deductible donation of $250 or more directly to the City of Del Mar Wayside Horn Account, a special account set up by the City to hold funds until the project has been fully funded. If the project does not fully fund in the amount of $378,317 by June 30, 2012, your contribution to the project will be refunded to you in full. NOTE: The year you are eligible to take a tax deduction may be an issue, since your contribution may not be considered a qualifying donation until it becomes nonrefundable. Also, a private foundation or a donor-advised fund may not be able to make a refundable contribution. Please seek advice from your tax advisor, foundation, or fund as to how these issues may affect you.

Click here to download the City of Del Mar donation form. Wayside Horn Construction Donation -City of Del Mar.pdf

3. Donate to the Del Mar Foundation : You can make your donation in any amount through the Del Mar Foundation. Note: Because the Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community foundation, donations are tax-deductible when made, and cannot be refunded. In the event the wayside horn project is not fully funded, the Del Mar Foundation will confer with you and direct your donation to another worthy community project in accordance with your preferences.

Click here to download the Del Mar Foundation Donor Disclosure form. DMF Wayside Horn-Donor Disclosure Form.pdf

What Is A Directional Horn And How Can It Help Del Mar?

Federal regulations require that train engineers sound their horn when they are a ¼ mile from the Coast Blvd crossing, to ensure that a horn at least 92 decibels may be heard at a point on the roadway 100 feet from the center of the closest track. So train engineers blast their horns much louder from a distance to comply with the regulation.

Using a traditional horn, meeting these requirements creates a significant noise nuisance to Del Mar residents and visitors. At the Coast Blvd crossing, two-directional / wayside horns could be installed to greatly reduce the noise nuisance on the Del Mar Community.

The two noise footprints below depict the area impacted by the sound of the train horn and AHS™ respectively. The comparison of the train horn and AHS™ shows a dramatic difference between the areas that are impacted at specific decibel levels. By examining the 80 decibel contour on the two footprints it can be seen that the area impacted by the AHS™ is a fraction of the size of the 80 decibel contour produced by the train horn.

See the difference the directional horn would make for YOUR house.

Before The Horn - Red area = 90 dBs+ / Blue area = 80-90 dBs
After The Horn - Red area = 90 dBs+ / Blue area = 80-90 dBs

Let's Discuss What The Automated Train Horn Is And How It Can Help

What is an Automated Horn System™?

The Automated Horn System (AHS™) is a wayside horn system activated by the railroad crossing warning system. The AHS is mounted at the crossing, rather than on the locomotive, to deliver a more consistent audible warning to motorists and pedestrians while eliminating noise pollution in neighborhoods for more than one-half (1/2) mile along the rail corridor. The Federal Railroad Administration Train Horn Rule has defined the wayside horn as a one-for-one substitute for the train horn.

Sound Comparison of a Train Horn vs. the AHS™

Locomotive engineers are required by the new FRA train horn rule to begin sounding the locomotive horn at a minimum of 15 seconds prior to the train’s arrival at the grade crossing. They are also required to continue to sound the horn until the train arrives at the crossing.

If the train horn is to be an effective warning device for the motorist, it must provide a sound level capable of initiating a response from the driver when the train is approaching the crossing. Unfortunately the sound level required to achieve that response and the location of the train relative to the crossing creates a significant noise impact on the community.

A Proven Technology

The AHS™ is the only proven innovative railroad signaling device that significantly improves safety for motorists and pedestrians at railroad-highway grade crossings while dramatically reducing the amount of noise pollution created by train horns along rail corridors in populated areas.

AHS™ is designed to sound like a train horn. The sound files in the Automated Horn System™ were digitally recorded from an actual locomotive horn. Upon receipt of the signal from the railroad’s crossing warning system, AHS™ mimics the train horn warning by cycling through the standard railroad whistle pattern until the train reaches the crossing. Once the train enters the crossing, the AHS™ ceases to sound its warning. A Universal Quiet Zone Indicator (UQZI) notifies the locomotive engineer that the AHS™ is functioning properly. When the locomotive engineer sees that the UQZI flashing, the routine sounding of the train horn is not required. If however, the engineer detects an unsafe condition at the crossing sounding of the train horn will be required. Coordination with the railroad operating company is essential since the AHS™ is directly connected to the railroad’s crossing warning system. Additionally, the railroad operating company must issue instructions to their train crews regarding the sounding or non-sounding of the train’s horn.

Timeline For The Quiet Zone Committee


  • Sept 24 – Del Mar residents invited to L’Auberge Hotel for information regarding train horn noise
  • Oct 26 – Meeting held by City at Del Mar City Hall Annex
  • Nov 30 – Meeting held by City at Del Mar City Hall Annex
  • Dec 16 – Wayside Horn Presentation to Quiet Zone Committee


  • Jan 5 – Larry Richards, Lee Stein, Hershell Price, Bryce Rhodes, Jim Benedict, Don Coordt, Casey Sullivan, and Pete Glaser meet to further train      horn effort (This group of people – whether in its entirety, or a fraction of this group– will be referred to below as the “Quiet Zone Committee”)
  • Jan 14 – Quiet Zone Committee Meeting
  • Feb 4 – Quiet Zone Committee Meeting
  • Mar 4 – Quiet Zone Committee Meeting
  • Mar 8  Request to conduct a test of the wayside horn made at the Del Mar City Council Meeting
  • Mar 17 – City Council Approves the installation of the Wayside Horn at the Del Mar train crossing
  • Apr 13 – Lee Stein meets with Parametric Sound to learn about their “sound technology” for possible train horn solution
  • Apr 22 – Wayside Horn Test in Del Mar
  • Apr 26 – Quiet Zone Committee Meeting
  • May 25  Del Mar City Council train horn workshop
  • Jul 19 – Del Mar City Council meeting at City Hall Annex
  • Jul 27 – Quiet Zone Committee Meeting
  • Jul 29 – Lee Stein meets with Parametric Sound to further discuss their “sound technology” for possible train horn solution
  • Aug 2 – The City Council issues its approval for the City Manager, Karen P. Burst, to execute the design agreement with NCTD for the Wayside Horn System in the amount of $17,548
  • Oct 13 – Quiet Zone Committee Meeting
  • Oct 20 – Quiet Zone Committee Meeting
  • Oct 25 – Lee Stein meets with graphic designer to produce Quiet Zone brochure
  • Nov 15 – NCTD and the City of Del Mar signed the a contract for the Wayside Horn System Design
  • Dec 7 – Lee Stein hires web designer to design Quiet Zone website
  • Dec 31 – Quiet Zone Committee Meeting


  • Jan 10 – Quiet Zone brochure printed
  • Jan 25 – Wayside Horn presentation at City Council meeting
  • Feb 25 –NCTD preliminary cost estimate received
  • Mar 2 – Open House Event with the Quiet Zone Committee, City of Del Mar, and North County Transit District
  • Mar 9 – Quiet Zone Committee meeting with David Scherer
  • Mar 28 – City Council meeting to discuss approval of train horn project–vote postponed until April 11
  • Apr 11 – City Council vote was postponed a second time until May 23rd
  • May 23- City Council unanimously approved the train horn project
  • Aug 10 – Quiet Zone Committee Meeting – Committee members start requesting pledges. Updated brochure created
  • Aug 24 – Quiet Zone Committee Meeting – Status on funds/pledges being raised
  • Sep 27 – Quiet Zone Committee Meeting
  • Nov 15 – Lee Stein and Hershell Price meet with Matt Tucker of NCTD to inform him of the Committee raising $175,000 in pledges so far. Mr. Tucker will discuss with the Board of Directors the possibility of funding the remaining amount.
  • Dec 6 – Quiet Zone Committee Meeting – Discuss upcoming NCTD Board Meeting, Lee Stein to attend.
  • Dec 15 – Lee Stein attended the NCTD board meeting and agenda Item #12 passed unanimously for $200,000 of NCTD funding to go to the Wayside Horn Project provided that all pledges are collected and received by the City of Del Mar within 45 days.

The Following Information Is Adapted From The Presentation Made By David Scherer To The City Concil On January 24, 2011

Project Breakdown

Council authorized a contract with JMD Planning and Engineering for a preliminary study of the railroad crossing at Coast Boulevard for $18,000. The Quiet Zone Committee funded the City of Del Mar for this study and the technical drawings.

Wayside Horn Presentation To Del Mar Quiet Zone Committee - 12/16/09

What is a Wayside Horn?

  • Stationary horn system loacted at the crossing only
  • Sounds like a locomotive horn, but faces the ocean, not the homes
  • Reduces noise pollution in neighborhoods located near grade crossings
  • Improves safety for motorists and pedestrians
Example Wayside Horn Set-Up
The Dream | Before The Horn - Red area = 90 dBs+ / After The Horn - Blue area = 80-90 dBs

Field Test

Del Mar – April 22, 2010
May 17, Quiet Zone Committee came before Council and advised test was a success and sought approval to move forward with design of system.

Contract with NCTD for Design

On November 15th, City Manager Karen Brust signed contract with NCTD for Design of Wayside System. The Quiet Zone Committee funded this contract at a cost of $17,548.

Estimate For Complete System

As of March 16, 2011 the estimated costs by NCTD for full build-out of Wayside Horn System is $363,317.

Download a .pdf version of the estimate.

Open House

  • Hosted by City, Quiet Zone Committee and NCTD to share project with residents.
  • March 2, 2011 at 6pm at the Del Mar City Hall Annex
  • Notice to Residences 300 feet from RR – 8th to 21st Street
  • Signs Posted at 17th and near crossing
  • Web Posting and Web Blast

A Personal Letter From Lee Stein About The Del Mar Quiet Zone

Does the noise from the train horn bother you or your family? If I told you that the train horn can be eliminated would you want that to be accomplished? If so, how much is that worth to you personally? I and a few others have been working on this issue for the past year. As set forth in this package, I can assure you that we can greatly reduce the train noise, minimizing this nuisance to our community.

The cost is $375,000 (+)(-) and we have a window of about 120 days to eliminate the train horn. Are you interested? If we miss the window I am not sure that we will be able to get the various municipal entities properly aligned and focused again.

The timeline shows that we have already funded the City of Del Mar for the design development work. As a result, they have formally signed a contract with the North County Transit District “NCTD” for the design development work. The design is simple and appropriate. Instead of the train blasting the horn as it approaches the 15th street intersection, a “directional” horn will be placed in the intersection facing towards the ocean. When the train passes your home, rather then blasting the horn, it will send a signal to the intersection and a focused horn in the intersection will sound with a minimum footprint. *(In case of emergency, the train operator would still be able to sound his conventional horn.) A map of the sound footprints (current and new) can be found in this brochure. I think you will be impressed at the difference. We facilitated a test attended by the City of Del Mar, the NCTD, the Federal Railroad Administration, and local residents, which was viewed unanimously as successful.

Again, our window is about 120 days. The NCTD design which we funded will enable the formal bidding process and final budgeting. The City and the NCTD will not bid the work unless private funding for the entire project (~$275,000) is committed. Donations are tax deductible (501(c)3). Community recognition and naming rights on a plaque near the intersection are also worth a discussion.

Please contact me as soon as you can with your level of interest in making our community quieter and more serene. Thank you in advance for your support.

Lee Stein

Should donors prefer to make donations via the Del Mar Foundation,
a fund agreement has been drafted:

We Would Like To Thank The Following People For Their Gracious Contributions And Pledges.THANK YOU!!

Brad and Liz Ausmus
Andris A. Baltins
Barry and Judith Becker
Andrew Benedek
Neola Benedek
Jim Benedict
Nelson and Janice Bryne
Ronni Cooper
Tony and Susan Childs
Don and Susie Coordt
Sra. Eva G. de Garza Laguera
Del Mar Beach Villas
The Del Mar Train Partners
Craig R. Harris
Hotel L’Auberge Del Mar
Karen Angelina Kohlberg, ASID
Emmet Lamb
Ed and Dorothy McCrink
Robert B. McLeod
Geno and Penny Munari
Robert J. Neborsky, MD
Phillip L. Preach
Hershell Price
Larry D. Richards
Jodyne Roseman
Lee and June Stein
Tim Sullivan
Villa L’Auberge
WWW Foundation

What Deputy Mayor Carl Hilliard Has To Say About The Quiet Zone.

Del Mar vs. Trains – The latest developments on a quiet zone

What do train horns, rock concerts and chainsaws have in common? One hundred ten decibels of sound to be exact. This means that for Del Mar residents who live near enough to the tracks to hear Amtrak and Coaster horns, daily life can be disrupted and sleep interrupted.

An engineer can honk the horn 16 or 17 times late at night for a single train that passes through Del Mar. Multiply that by the 55 trains we have going through our city every single day and night (with prospects for more to come as the use of rail travel increases in popularity) and you could say that for Del Mar residents who live near the tracks, quality of life has turned into a honking-big deal.

To complicate matters, it’s not simple to create a quiet zone, nor is it inexpensive. Just ask our neighboring community, Oceanside. The city is currently trying to figure out how to raise up to $9 million to silence trains at five crossings. Federal grants are one consideration under debate; so are city funds, which could, of course, impact street maintenance; and then, there’s also the not-so-popular option of assessing property owners near the tracks up to $725 a year.

Establishing a quiet zone has been a hot topic in Del Mar for a while now. The original Del Mar Quiet Zone Assessment Report prepared two years ago described the challenges we face to make the current two-way rail crossing safe. The report offered preliminary cost estimates that rang in at from $400,000 to $2.1 million, taking into account the challenge of creating a quiet zone in a location where there is significant pedestrian activity, limited sight distance because of the long, blind curve and regular trespassing by people who cross the tracks en route to the beach. The report basically recommended converting Coast Boulevard to a one-way street with a unidirectional crossing that would be in effect round-the-clock.

After reviewing the report, the North County Transit District (NCTD) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) requested further pedestrian studies at a cost of $18,000 before they would be comfortable pursuing the quest for a quiet zone. Del Mar’s city manager advised against the expenditure. Instead, city council authorized Deputy Mayor David Druker to work with NCTD on an alternative plan that would focus on a nighttime-only quiet zone. After meetings with NCTD, city staff and the Federal Railroad Administration, Deputy Mayor Druker proposed another review of the site for additional diagnostic purposes.

At our city council meeting on Monday, August 20, 2007, Deputy Mayor Druker recommended moving the quiet zone issue forward by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NCTD to explore and compare two scenarios: (1) a 24-hour quiet zone and (2) a nighttime-only – from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. – quiet zone that could possibly result in a unidirectional avenue.

We expect that at the conclusion of this latest study, which will cost less than $3,500, both the council and NCTD will be able to compare likely construction costs for each scenario. At that time, we’ll know if either is affordable and worthy of further action.

There is no easy fix for the problem – at least no easily affordable fix – but there may be other ideas out there. Deputy Mayor Druker, the City Council and I welcome your feedback and your suggestions. Send them to carl@carlhilliard.com.

  • Don Mosier – Mayor
  • Mark Filanc – City Council Member
  • Terry Sinnott – City Council Member
  • Lee Haydu – City Council Member
  • Mark Ochenduszko – Interim City Manager
  • Eric Minicilli – Director of Public Works

Quiet Zone Committee Members

  • Larry Richards
  • Lee Stein
  • Hershell Price
  • Bryce Rhodes
  • Jim Benedict
  • Don Coordt
  • Casey Sullivan
  • Pete Glaser

Local Press Related To The Del Mar Quiet Zone

Quieter Del Mar train horn will cost how much?

By Jonathan Horn - Posted: Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A group of fundraisers that spent more than $17,000 for the North County Transit District to design a quieter train alert system for Del Mar were unpleasantly surprised last week.

Quieter train horns installed at railway crossing

By Chris Nichols - Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

A group of Del Mar residents weary from blaring train horns liked what they heard Thursday during a test of quieter horns installed at the city’s lone railway crossing.

Trains chug by 52 times a day. The noise is so loud it interrupts her telephone conversations and wakes her husband, Lee, at 2 a.m.. “It’s horrible,” she said. “We can’t tolerate it anymore.”

Quieter wayside train horn tested in Del Mar

By Jonathan Horn - Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

Officials from cities across North County converged on Del Mar Thursday to attend a demonstration of a quieter “wayside horn” train alerting system.

Council Endorses Wayside Horn Plan

By Jonathan Horn - Posted: May 22, 2010

The Del Mar City Council is symbolically on board with the fundraising efforts for wayside train horns at the Coast Boulevard crossing. This still means no city money would go to paying for the system that could drastically reduce noise from trains by replacing them sounding their horn with a quieter, simulated horn located at the crossing itself.

Del Mar group to begin raising funds for wayside horn

By Matt Liebowitz - Posted: Jul 20, 2010

The cost estimate was outlined in a letter sent by the North County Transit District (NCTD) to the City of Del Mar on July 14. The Citizens Wayside Horn Committee is chaired by Hershell Price, and includes Mayor Richard Earnest and councilmember Carl Hilliard, the liaison between the committee and the City Council.

City looks into train horn noise reduction

By Bianca Kaplanek - Posted: March 18, 2010

The test will examine the effectiveness of wayside horns, which would automatically sound at the crossing to signal an approaching train. If approved, the stationary horns would be installed on the east side of Coast Boulevard to blow sound west out over the ocean.