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July/August 2009 home page

Del Mar Civic Association
Frieda Reid, Cuchara

Before Del Mar incorporated in 1959 community affairs were informally managed by the Del Mar Civic Association. In the 1930s, when the South Coast Land Company decided to liquidate its assets it wanted to dedicate a portion of the beach from 18th to 29th Streets to the citizens of the area to prevent its falling into private hands. This led to the formation of the Del Mar Civic Association (in the very beginning open to men only) as the watchdog of the beach property. It consisted mostly of beachfront property owners who were assessed a mandatory $2.00 per year. Signs were placed at street ends “For Civic Association members only” but were removed several years later.

Eventually the Association took on wider responsibilities and up to the incorporation in 1959 acted as a volunteer “city council” for management of city enhancements in addition to the beach. The association took a major part in fact-finding for incorporation efforts though it did not make a recommendation.

After incorporation the Association, with Tom Pearson as a leader, continued its community service. Members planted trees on city property, took a lead in Camino D el Mar landscaping and park acquisitions, constructed the tennis courts and organized the very successful annual beach parties (real beach barbecue prepared overnight by a city café owner, ambrosia stored in Zel’s liquor store refrigerator and including the introduction of the Del Mar Lemon Cake.)

The beach property, consisting of a long boardwalk in front of the beach houses, was eventually donated to the city. In 1985 the Civic Association was disbanded as the Del Mar city government now carried out its main functions. However its efforts are still evident in many parts of the town and it was a real community builder.


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