News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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City’s Leucadia land buy could help preserve civic access

Mayor, Nature Collective official note importance of such purchases to offset losses to development
The Surfer’s Point property’ located at the corner of Coast Highway 101 and La Costa Avenue in Leucadia, is in line to be purchased by the city of Encinitas. (Google Maps photo)

In a unanimous decision last month, the Encinitas City Council approved a purchase and sale agreement with Surfer’s Point LLC, possibly contributing to the preservation of open space.

According to a city news release, Encinitas acquired two parcels known as Surfer’s Point, located at the Northeast Corner of Highway 101 and La Costa Avenue in Leucadia, on Aug. 9.

The land will be purchased for $6 million with a 45-day diligence period and a target close of escrow on Sept. 29, the city confirmed.

There are no current intentions in place for the land, according to Mayor Tony Kranz. The conversation about potential plans will begin once escrow is closed and the land officially becomes city property.

However, Kranz has confirmed that there will not be a timeshare project as previously proposed.

“I do expect it to be open and accessible and a great place to watch the sunset,” the mayor said.

Surfer’s Point had been proposed as a development site for approximately two decades.

“It is in an area of town that has experienced a lot of development, so being able to attain the property and make sure that it is accessible to the public in a way that doesn’t include heavy development seemed very important,” Kranz said.

Preserving coastal land for open space and civic use has been a trend locally, particularly evident through the Nature Collective’s purchase of land for the Harbaugh Seaside Trails in 2011.

The nonprofit’s motivation to acquire the land was to save the particular site for the purposes of conservation for open space.

“With the support of over a thousand donors, we purchased and saved that land in perpetuity as a permitted conservation easement on it,” said Jennifer Bright, the organization’s certified fundraising executive associate director. “When we say we did this, we mean we as a community were able to do this.”

For years to come, the property will remain open space with beautiful views of Seaside Beach and the San Elijo Lagoon, Bright said.

In addition to saving the land from hotel development, 8,000 native plants were planted throughout the property, helping with wildlife habitat and helping the community better understand some of Southern California’s plant communities.

Sharing her perspective on Encinitas; newly acquired land, Bright said, “We are not 100% clear if it will remain open space. … But if it is to remain open space — or a portion of it is to remain open space — we think it would be a really great buffer to the Batiquitos Lagoon.”

Attaining the land could assist in the preservation of open space and align with the City Council’s goal of Evolving and Preserving Community Character, according to the city.

“The pressures to address the statewide housing shortage have definitely impacted our community in a way that isn’t always positive. The housing is necessary, but the traffic impacts and other things are real,” Kranz said. “I think it’s really awesome that we could acquire this piece of land to offset some of those impacts.”

According to the city’s news release, Encinitas is considering using bonds for the long-term financing of the land to reimburse the funding used from its contingency reserve.

For more information about the purchase, visit the city’s website.

Alysse Dodge is a North County freelance writer.