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It’s a Public beach!
Betty Wheeler | Seaview Avenue

Photo Betty Wheeler.

This “private property” sign was posted at entry points to Del Mar’s beach for many years, at least into the 1970s. The backstory: Nancy Ewing’s history of Del Mar notes that the Del Mar Civic Association (DMCA) was formed in 1931 as “an outgrowth of the former Del Mar Republican Club,” with its regular meetings open to men only. It was reactivated in 1938 so that the William G. Kerckhoff Company could deed the beach to it, to ensure that the Del Mar beach would “be held for all property owners in Del Mar and their guests,” in line with Kerckhoff’s wishes.
Not mentioned on the sign: the beach below the high tide line (nearly all of the sandy beach) was subject to a public trust easement held by the State. These public trust rights, established when California became a state in 1850, ensured access to Del Mar beaches to all the public, and not just property owners or local residents, signage notwithstanding. Many saw these signs as giving Del Mar a “black eye” and contributing to an image of elitism. The DMCA disbanded in 1985, after quitclaiming its beach rights to the City.




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