UNDEVELOPED SEASHORE AREAS IN CALIFORNIA (Southern Portion)
LOCATION: Twenty-five miles south of Lompoc and 45 miles west of Santa Barbara.
ACCESSIBILITY: By 20 miles of graded or surfaced road from State Highway 1.
DESCRIPTION OF AREA: Point Conception embraces approximately ten miles of shoreline, composed mostly of intermittent rock outcrops and sandy beaches. Low coastal bluffs predominate behind the beaches and vary in height from 10 to 100 feet. Upland from the shore, flat terrain extends inland for a distance of from 1 to 2 miles. The gently sloping beaches are narrow but clean, light-tan in color and are scenically attractive. Point Conception itself is a 200-foot promontory well known to mariners. It is sometimes referred to as the Cape Horn of the Pacific, and is generally associated with the strong prevailing northwest winds which are characteristic in this vicinity. Several sand dunes 10-15 feet high are found near Point Conception, but are limited to only a few acres. This unique, large, grassland "seashore wilderness" is the most relatively undisturbed coastal area in southern California. Of particular biological interest is the fact that it is within this section of the coast that the northern and southern California marine fauna and flora meet and overlap.
PRESENT USE: The U. S. Coast Guard maintains a lighthouse on Point Conception. The Southern Pacific Railroad also has a right-of-way through the area. The remainder is undeveloped and is used for the grazing of cattle.
ANALYSIS: Point Conception is one of the largest remaining undeveloped coastal "wilderness" areas of its type found from here south to Mexico, and has excellent scenic and biological values. It is an important area, and one that should be preserved for appropriate public use.
San Miguel island
LOCATION: Approximately 25 miles south of Point Conception and 45 miles west of the city of Santa Barbara.
ACCESSIBILITY: By boat or plane.
DESCRIPTION OF AREA: This island averages 2 miles in width and is approximately 8 miles long. It encompasses about 14,000 acres; most of the island is from 400-500 feet in elevation, reaching a maximum height of 861 feet. Much of the native vegetation has been stripped from the land by extensive overgrazing and subsequent severe erosion. This activity, however, was stopped in 1950, and the vegetation is beginning to re-establish itself on the denuded hills. Rolling hills, deep eroded ravines, rocky plateaus and sand dunes dominate the upland scene, while the 24 miles of shoreline include sandy beaches, scenic cliffs, caves, tidepools and promontories. Native vegetation, which occurs mainly in a number of pockets, could re-establish itself over the island in time, if given adequate protection. Historically, the island is the burial place of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the discoverer of California.
PRESENT USE: There is no active use by the U. S. Navy, which presently administers the island. Other than occasional use by yachtsmen, visitation is limited to scientists studying the biological or archeological aspects that afford a fertile field for such studies.
ANALYSIS: San Miguel island is believed to be of national significance. Its principal known values (in addition to archeological and possibly paleontological values) include extensive unspoiled scenic ocean beaches, unique vegetative cover and a truly outstanding display of wildlife.
LOCATION: Twelve miles west of Santa Barbara.
ACCESSIBILITY: By Highway 101 and improved side roads.
DESCRIPTION OF AREA: Ellwood Beach is a narrow but attractive sandy beach extending from Coal Oil Point northwest for approximately one mile. The upland along the western portion is a low, flat 50-foot coastal bluff, sections of which are wooded. This coastal bluff affords excellent protection for the swimming beach. The eastern portion is relatively low and has the wider beach. An excellent 50-acre lagoon frequently used by waterfowl is adjacent to the area.
PRESENT USE: The area is undeveloped except for a few oil wells and storage tanks which are adjacent to the shoreline near the western end.
ANALYSIS: Accessibility and proximity of Ellwood Beach to the city of Santa Barbara warrants its acquisition for public recreation purposes and for conservation of its natural values. The area is on the Division of Beaches and Parks plan of acquisition, although it has been assigned a relatively low priority.
Santa Rosa island
LOCATION: Ninety-five miles west of Santa Monica, 40 miles southwest of Santa Barbara, and 35 miles southeast of Point Conception.
ACCESSIBILITY: By boat or plane.
DESCRIPTION OF AREA: Santa Rosa island, oriented in a westerly direction, is approximately 15 miles long, with a maximum width of nearly 10 miles. It is the third largest island of the Channel islands group. The 45-mile shoreline varies in character from bold, high rocky bluffs to long, low spits of bright white sand. Also included are interesting sea caves and attractive sandy beaches. The island itself is generally mountainous, with many deeply eroded gulleys and ravines. The highest point, situated near the middle of the island, is 1,589 feet above sea level. Numerous plateaus exist along the north side of the island. Vegetation is limited to a few small areas of stunted trees and shrubs, while the remainder is mainly grass and low ground covers. Kelp surrounds the greater part of the island, and there are many offshore reefs and rocks. Numerous rookeries for marine water fowl are found along the west side of the island.
PRESENT USE: The Vail Ranch utilizes the majority of the island for the grazing of livestock, with a very small portion in cultivation. The military maintains a small installation at Johnsons Lee on the south side of the island.
ANALYSIS: Collectively, the Channel islands represent the most important undeveloped portion of the Pacific Coast. Recent scientific expeditions prove Santa Rosa island to be rich in archeological and paleontological values. This island possesses many excellent recreation opportunities and natural resources. It merits high consideration as a possible seashore reserve to meet the future needs.
Santa Cruz island
LOCATION: Forty miles southeast of Point Conception, 20 miles south of Santa Barbara and 35 miles west of Point Dume.
ACCESSIBILITY: By boat or plane.
DESCRIPTION OF AREA: Santa Cruz island is the largest of the Channel island group. Situated in an east-west direction, it is 21 miles long and averages 5 miles in width. The island covers more than 62,000 acres, and has a shoreline of approximately 65 miles. Its highest point, near the center of the island, is over 2,400 feet high, but there are many other peaks reaching a height of over 1,700 feet. Inland is a seven-mile long valley which runs east and west with a side drainage running northward to the ocean. In general, Santa Cruz island has the most varied topography and is the most densely wooded of the Channel islands. The shoreline varies in character from smooth, sandy beaches to high, steep, rugged coastal bluffs. Along the shoreline are also many attractive, natural and well protected coves. Santa Cruz is famous for its sea caves, with Painted Cave the largest and most well known. The island supports a large number of plant and animal species which are found only in the Channel islands. Many of these are in existence only on Santa Cruz. The marine ecology of the island includes a prolific and fascinating display of invertebrates, fishes and plant life.
PRESENT USE: The Stanton Ranch, which includes a large majority of the island, utilizes the available grassland for the grazing of livestock. A relatively small portion is under cultivation. Also, a very small portion of the island has been leased to the Navy.
ANALYSIS: The Channel islands represent the greatest recreation potentialities and scientific values on the Pacific Coast. Santa Cruz is adjudged to be of possible national importance and warrants every consideration for acquisition for public purposes. Fortunately, the present owners are following land practices that conserve many of the natural values. It is hoped that in the future they will continue to provide adequate fire protection and properly control grazing until such time as public ownership is feasible.
Santa Clara Dunes Beach
LOCATION: Four miles west of the city of Oxnard.
ACCESSIBILITY: By automobile over three miles of paved road from Oxnard.
DESCRIPTION OF AREA: This area consists of a four-mile straight stretch of clean, attractive recreation beach. The beach is generally level with only slight variations. It is composed of medium-fine textured sand of tan color. Extending inland for one-half mile and along the beach itself are unstable sand dunes from 5 to 10 feet in height. McGrath Lake (3/4-mile long) is included within the area. Considerable litter, resulting from present beach recreation use, is scattered throughout the area. The extreme northern portion contains a marsh which is utilized by various species of waterfowl.
PRESENT USE: A section of the area has been leased to the Navy Department for use as a small arms range. Also, a portion of the beach and upland is to be utilized for oil drilling and for the construction of a power plant in the near future. The city of Ventura plans to construct a sewage disposal plant within the marsh portion of the area.
ANALYSIS: The area is easily accessible and adaptable for public recreation use. The limited amount of available public recreation beaches which exists, together with the rapidly expanding population of southern California, makes this area of considerable importance. It should be acquired for public recreation use. If properly treated, sewage effluent from Ventura, should have little effect on recreation and biological values of the area.
LOCATION: Four miles south of Oxnard and U.S. 101 (Alternate).
ACCESSIBILITY: By automobile over hard surfaced or unimproved roads from Oxnard.
DESCRIPTION OF AREA: Hueneme Beach incorporates two and one-half miles of attractive recreation beach having clean, light tan, medium fine-grained sand. A small amount of litter has accumulated. The beach has a foreshore slope of about 4 percent and a backslope of 2 percent. A small marsh and 15-foot sand dunes, partially stabilized with ice plant and sand verbena, are along the back of the area.
PRESENT USE: One-half of the area is owned by the City of Oxnard, and will be used for sewage disposal purposes. Since the City plans to completely treat the sewage, it will not be detrimental to beach recreation. The remaining half of the beach is undeveloped.
ANALYSIS: The section of this area which remains in private ownership should be acquired for public recreation purposes and developed in conjunction with the city property. Immediately to the south are five miles of sandy beaches and an extensive salt marsh, all within an existing Naval Reservation. This installation possesses excellent seashore values and should be retained in public ownership for recreation and conservation of natural values when it becomes surplus to military requirements.
Sycamore Canyon Beach
LOCATION: One mile southeast of Point Mugu.
ACCESSIBILITY: By U. S. Highway 101 (Alternate) which is adjacent to the area.
DESCRIPTION OF AREA: This area covers two miles of shoreline, most of which is attractive sandy beaches. There is a single large sand dune about 30 feet high, located on the eastside or inland from the highway. La Jolla Beach is wide, clean, and gently sloping. Low, unstabilized sand dunes are scattered along the northern portion of the beach. East of the highway at the base of Sycamore Canyon is a small flat area having some shade trees of sycamore, buckeye and willow. This section of the area has a beach that is wide but greatly limited in length.
PRESENT USE: A private trailer camp has been developed at the base of Sycamore Canyon, and the small adjacent beach is being reserved for use by the patrons. The one large sand dune is presently being mined by a private firm. All of the remaining area is undeveloped.
ANALYSIS: The area has potentiality for both park and beach opportunities on a limited scale. It is worthy of consideration for public seashore recreation purposes.
LOCATION: Twenty miles west of Santa Monica.
ACCESSIBILITY: By U. S. Highway 101 (Alternate) and hard surfaced spur road.
DESCRIPTION OF AREA: Point Dume includes two miles of the Pacific Coast. Most of the shoreline is composed of steep 100-foot bluffs, with wide, attractive sandy recreation beaches below. These fine beaches are separated by rocky outcrops where marine plant and animal life is abundant. Point Dume itself is a promontory 200 feet above the sea, below which is a rocky and precipitous shoreline. There are several exposed rocks a few hundred feet off shore from Point Dume, which serve as roosting sites for pelicans and cormorants, as well as sunning places for large numbers of sea lions.
PRESENT USE: The majority of the beach is undeveloped, but three cottages have been constructed along the northwest edge of the area. A subdivision extends to the edge of the bluff, but Point Dume itself is free from any development. The area is presently very popular for fishing and swimming, but access is gained only by trespass over private property.
ANALYSIS: Point Dume is a potentially valuable public seashore area, as it possesses both recreation and scenic opportunities in close proximity to a very large center of population. Very early action will be required in order to preserve the area for public recreation purposes. Otherwise, subdivision developments will make it impossible to acquire. A large portion of the area is included in the Division of Beaches and Parks Five Year Master Plan. Certain sections, however, were deleted from the plan because of local public opposition to state acquisition.
LOCATION: Immediately north of Huntington Beach and south of Sunset Beach.
ACCESSIBILITY: By automobile on U. S. Highway 101 (Alternate) which is parallel and adjacent to the area.
DESCRIPTION OF AREA: Bolsa Chica is a three-mile straight stretch of ocean beach having a width of approximately 100-120 yards from the shoreline to Highway 101A. The sand in the foreshore is fine grained, while the beach is medium grained with a considerable amount of broken sea shells mixed into the sand. The beach upland supports a sparse ground cover. Adjacent to Highway 101A and opposite the beach near Sunset Beach is a lagoon of 40 acres. Though relatively small, this lagoon-marsh type area affords limited but valuable waterfowl and shorebird habitat. Sanctuary status would be advisable.
PRESENT USE: The beach at present is a very popular recreation area and is extensively used by trespassers. There are no proper sanitation facilities nor any sort of beach maintenance. It is heavily littered with many kinds of debris and filth, constituting a public health problem. Adjacent to Highway 101A and paralleling the beach is an abandoned Pacific Electric R. R. right-of-way. The Bolsa Chica Gun Club has a clubhouse overlooking the lagoon.
ANALYSIS: Acquisition of the area is urgent due to the impact of increasing population, for it is in close proximity to the heavily populated Los Angeles-Long Beach metropolitan area. If properly developed and utilized, this beach would greatly relieve the existing overcrowded public beaches in southern California. The State Division of Beaches and Parks is endeavoring to acquire a major portion of this area.
San Clemente Beach
LOCATION: This beach is located immediately south of the southern limits of the city of San Clemente.
ACCESSIBILITY: The Coast Highway (U.S. 101) is parallel and adjacent to the area.
DESCRIPTION OF AREA: It extends from the city boundary south for approximately nine-tenths of a mile and inland from the tideline to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad right-of-way, a distance of about 125 yards. The beach varies in width from 15 to 30 yards, with a 4 percent slope. Considerable litter resulting from uncontrolled recreation use and an accumulation of seaweed detract from the area. The portion of the area between the beach and the railroad right-of-way is partly covered with grass and other low ground cover that serves to stabilize the sand.
PRESENT USE: The area is undeveloped except for 2 or 3 beach houses which exist at the extreme northern limit.
ANALYSIS: Although San Clemente Beach is of limited length and width, it nevertheless is a very valuable segment of the southern California shoreline, because of its close proximity to centers of population and the limited number of remaining undeveloped areas suitable for public recreation. Its attributes make it a desirable acquisition for public recreation purposes. A major portion of the area is on the State Division of Beaches and Parks long range plan at the present time.
LOCATION: Thirty-six miles north of San Diego and immediately south of San Clemente.
ACCESSIBILITY: The Coast Highway (U. S. 101) parallels the shoreline at an average distance of one-half mile inland.
DESCRIPTION OF AREA: This portion of the Camp Joseph H. Pendleton Military Reservation has an ocean frontage of 17-1/2 miles. The entire shoreline has a wide, attractive sandy beach, backed by a low coastal bluff. The upland is relatively level and is well suited for camping, picnicking, and the provision of parking areas. Along the shoreline are six tidal marshes which provide good habitat for numerous waterfowl and shorebirds. The marsh at the mouth of the Santa Margarita River is the most significant of these.
PRESENT USE: Portions of the level uplands within the reservation have been leased for truck farming purposes.
ANALYSIS: This is the longest section of undeveloped shoreline south of Los Angeles, and will become increasingly important as the population expands and the need for recreation areas in Southern California increases. The area possesses excellent seashore values, and it should be retained in public ownership for recreation and conservation of the natural values in the event it should become surplus to military needs.
LOCATION: Immediately south of the city of Imperial Beach in San Diego county. The area is one mile north of the United States-Mexico International Boundary.
ACCESSIBILITY: By automobile from the city of Imperial Beach over an unimproved road. Imperial Beach is three miles from the Coast Highway (U. S. 101).
DESCRIPTION OF AREA: This is a fine sandy beach approximately two miles long that is divided into two portions by the mouth of the Tia Juana River. Immediately inland from the beach is an extensive marsh and lagoon of approximately 1-1/2 miles in length and 1/2 mile wide, although a noticeable lack of birdlife was evident for such a fine ecological setting. Raw sewage which is dumped into the Tia Juana River, undoubtedly has considerable effect on the wildlife. Semi-stable sand dunes 3 to 4 feet high separate the sandy beach from the marsh. Considerable seaweed has been deposited on the beach, while litter and debris from heavy human use has accumulated.
PRESENT USE: The beach is being utilized for recreation at the present time, although the property is in private ownership and no sanitation facilities are provided. Beach houses are being built along the shore near Imperial Beach; otherwise, the entire area is undeveloped.
ANALYSIS: This potentially valuable public beach and marsh would render great public service if acquired and properly managed. An existing Naval installation which extends from the southern limits of the area to the International Boundary should be retained in public ownership as a possible addition to this area. It is the intention of the State Division of Beaches and Parks to acquire a portion of the private lands.
Last Updated: 25-Jun-2007