$1 million donor secures controversial Gateway Park in Solana Beach

The 3-acre coastal property that had been fought over by commercial developers for decades — and then championed by residents so concerned about their community that it led to cityhood for Solana Beach — has been secured. It will forever be the people’s park.

San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, host of this high-profile Gateway Park, has received a $1.15 million donation to protect this coastal overlook forever. Details of this announcement will be revealed at an on-site press conference Jan. 13. The donor will be announced at that time, as well as the new and permanent name for the park.

The event will take place at 10 a.m., Tuesday, January 13, at Gateway Park, located at the northern edge of Solana Beach along Scenic Coast Highway 101. County Supervisor District III, Dave Roberts, and Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner will present opening remarks. Invited city officials, community leaders, and philanthropists will be in attendance.

The 3.4-acre Gateway property is one of the last undeveloped coastal parcels in Southern California, offering panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean in the “gateway” between Solana Beach and Cardiff-by-the-Sea. For more than 20 years, commercial development proposals threatened this community overlook — until the conservancy purchased the property in late 2011 and began its fundraising campaign.

“If this parcel of land could talk, what a story it would tell,” said Doug Gibson, executive director and principal scientist of San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy. “Where once there was a gas station, it would later be the vision of unsightly story poles boding a fate we couldn’t allow to happen. This major donation marks a very important milestone in the conservancy’s work to enhance San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve and to preserve community character.”

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