Scan of 1970 map illustrating a proposed marina and its 750 residential units that would have destroyed San Elijo Lagoon.

An Excerpt from:
San Elijo Lagoon: A History of San Elijo Alliance

Efforts of the volunteers of the San Elijo Alliance and San Elijo Lagoon Foundation connect past preservation with present and future efforts to protect the lagoon. Today, the future of San Elijo Lagoon looks bright; however, it wasn't always so.

In 1960 a syndicate of investors purchased 10 lots from the former San Dieguito Irrigation District for $750. As time progressed, land developers Mayfair Development Company, and later Dome Ltd., planned to develop the area.

By 1964 the proposed marina and residential development, which had been increased from its initial proposed size, was presented to the County Planning Commission. The commission voted to rezone 319 acres in the lagoon and approved the project. However, in 1965, the estimated $85 million project was stopped by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The permit to dredge a channel from the lagoon to the ocean was held in abeyance because of the presence of two reefs offshore.

"I think it was 1963 or ’64," recalled Pete Schroeder, one of the early activists. "San Diego County invited Dome Limited (a land development company) down to take a look at the lagoon and try for an economic stimulus package. That process went along fairly slowly, surprisingly enough."

"About 1967, ’68 or ’69, along in there, the County was at the point where they needed some public input before they destroyed this lagoon," Schroeder said. "They had progressed enough to where they had a map that showed a typical kind of marina – a development in there (the middle of the basin) with houses and boat docks – about 750 residences in the lagoon around the edges (refers to image above).

With that much done, the county appointed an advisory committee for San Elijo Lagoon. M. A. (Mary Ann) Nofflett and Carole Bailey had been involved with the county for a lot longer than I had been. When I found out about the potential residential development of the basin, I became very concerned. I really was fond of the place," said Pete Schroeder. Read more.




San Elijo Lagoon:
A History of San Elijo Alliance
Download 33-page Oral History (pdf)

This oral history is a collection of memories from people involved in the early effort to save San Elijo Lagoon from development. This effort produced San Elijo Alliance and San Elijo Lagoon Foundation, predecessors to San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy. In keeping with the policies of oral histories, memories were exactly recorded and no effort has been made to correct imperfectly remembered details or to resolve contradictions.

As explained by conservancy member Dr. Gerald Fecht, retired professor of history and past president of Museum of the San Fernando Valley,
“A collection of oral histories provides a permanent record of the perspectives of the founders and early supporters (and, perhaps opponents). Often oral histories reveal things about organizations … that would not otherwise appear in sterile official documents. The gathering of oral histories follows the general practice of allowing those being interviewed to have “free recall” of their experiences. Even when those interviewed make errors in dates or details, when combined with others, they provide a zeitgeist that reflects the attitudes and spirit that stimulated an event or formed the organization."

This oral history was commissioned by Tom Clotfelter in 2002. Interviews were collected by Peter Schroeder, Eric Lodge, and by Ray and R. G. Jenco Patterson. Compilation and bridging text were provided by Ray and R. G. Jenco Patterson.

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San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy
(760) 436-3944
Info [at] SanElijo [dot] org