Story Poles Show How Open Space and Ocean Views Would Have Been Lost to Development. Archive NC Times 2004 by Bill Wechter


We Saved a Place for You
Video: 3.5 minutes

We Saved a Place for You highlights community efforts in The Campaign for Gateway Park during the Conservancy's 25th Anniversary.



For more than 20 years, the community fought to protect the Gateway Property (named Harbaugh Seaside Trails): rare and remaining open space tucked between Solana Beach and San Elijo Lagoon, just east of Cardiff State Beach along Scenic Highway 101.

In December 2011, San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy purchased the property for $3.75 million.  Fourteen local champions stepped forward to loan the Conservancy the funds to acquire the property. Support poured in, over 1,200 supporters donated to the fundraising campaign – a testament to community resolve and generosity. In January 2015 the land was saved and renamed Harbaugh Seaside Trails. Its new name honors The George & Betty Harbaugh Charitable Foundation's gift of $1.15 million, which secured the property.

 A Torrey pine casts shadows at Gateway Park (Photo: J. DeCelles)

Why We Saved Harbaugh Seaside Trails 

A Place to Appreciate
As you travel Coast Highway, or walk your dog along the trails, you take in the views of the Pacific Oceaand San Elijo Lagoon. You are filled with appreciation of its natural beauty, your connection to nature, and are reminded to breathe and relax. 

Your Gift to the Future
Protected open space ensures that the views we enjoy today will be there for generations to enjoy tomorrow. 

Community Trails
New trails will be added to connect the Coastal Rail Trail. Native plants will delight the senses, educating all to the importance of habitat for butterflies, birds, and other wildlife. A viewing deck will offer stunning views of the coast, surf, and classic California sunsets.

A Buffer for Wetlands
Harbaugh Seaside Trails is a natural buffer to San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve, one of San Diego’s most diverse coastal wetlands. As we increase the buffer zone at its periphery, native plants and animals will prosper.

Bird watching is exceptional from the elevated vantage point of the park. This is habitat for native plants and animals, including Cassin’s Kingbird, Bewick’s Wren, and Cooper’s Hawk.

Ridgway's Rail (photo: C. Mayne)



The Gateway to Conservation

Located across the highway from Cardiff State Beach, the 3.44-acre site has long been sought after by real estate developers and potential property owners. Repeatedly over recent years, the property was visually distinguished by numerous story poles (see photo at right) jutting up from the property, representing the prospect of commercial development on the hotly debated parcel.

Residents from cities surrounding the lagoon long felt this landmark property worthy of remaining open space. San Diego County’s approval of The Inn Suites project in 1986 was the impetus for Solana Beach residents to vote for cityhood.

Special places, like San Elijo Lagoon, stay protected through vital community support. Thank you for joining us to connect communities, and to protect nature.


Community Links

San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. EIN # 33-0358660.