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Greenery in the Scenery
Freda Reid | Cuchara Drive

 

The bluffs above North Beach. Drawing from a flyer for the 1976
Keep Greenery in the Scenery campaign. 
Click on image to enlarge.
 
Seagrove Park. Photo Bill Morris.  Click on image to enlarge.

 

“Keep Greenery in the Scenery!” is a catchy slogan coined by Payne Johnson in the 1970s. It launched an ambitious campaign to raise funds to plan and landscape two prime parcels of ocean view land in the city, one as a traditional park the other as a natural fully protected preserve.

The two parcels: one and one-half acres at the foot of 15th Street that became our much loved, actively used Seagrove Park, and four and one-half acres on the bluffs north of the San Dieguito River Mouth that became our natural, undisturbed Del Mar Bluffs Preserve.

 

A view of North Beach ("Dog Beach") from the Bluffs shown in foreground. Photo Bill Morris.  Click on photos to enlarge.
 
The Beach from North Bluffs. Note the Powerhouse Stack
just under the bird's wing.  Photo Bill Morris.
 
A view from North Bluffs   Photo Bill Morris.

 

The 15th St. property was originally owned by the Ed Fletcher Company, and though undeveloped, was very tasty bait for future development (There were rumors of a Chart House restaurant!). It was subsequently acquired by the Lion Property Co. a business owned by Del Mar Resident Art Allard. He offered the parcel to the City at a very reasonable discounted price but funds were only available for partial purchase of ¾ acre. The passage of a 1976 bond issue for $250,000 made it possible for the young city to become the owner of the entire piece of oceanfront land amongst other purchases.

The north bluff property had a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean and the San Dieguito River Valley and was especially loved by beach front residents. In 1971 a car dealer from Illinois bought an option on the property from Lester Finklestein and hired a Del Mar architect to design an apartment complex that would stair step down the bluff to the beach. North beach residents were concerned and eventually James Scripps generously offered to donate $250,000 for purchase of 4.5 acres on the western and southerly faces for Del Mar Bluffs Preserve. The rest of the 8 acres on top of the bluff was purchased privately by Helen Woodward thus protecting the whole bluff from development.

The citywide campaign to raise funds for planning and developing these prime properties was launched by active members of the Del Mar Civic Association led by Tom Pearson and supported by a City Council enthusiastically supportive of the effort. It was an exciting time to be part of the young city of Del Mar. Del Marians of all persuasions and abilities worked together. Four hundred people attended a “Stars for Parks” celebration organized by Desi Arnaz and Jimmy Durante (who had homes on the beach near 19th Street in Del Mar). The Lomas Santa Fe Country Club offered its facilities and Hollywood stars including Lucille Ball, Desi Jr. and Lisa Minnelli provided entertainment. Over $8000 was raised for Del Mar parks. This started a campaign to raise the rest of the funds needed and eventually, with the help of the “Greenery in the Scenery” slogan and the response of Del Mar residents willing to work hard to preserve our precious assets we retained two of the most scenic areas of the city for public enjoyment.


 

 

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