Princess Street Public Beach Access

The opportunity to directly experience our beautiful natural resources is an important part of being a San Diegan and a present or future steward of those resources.  That is why ECO San Diego is very committed to supporting appropriate public access.  Nowhere is this more important than along our beautiful beaches.  The Princess Street public access dedication has a long history (see below), but we are happy to announce that ECO San Diego will ensure that there is access to the beach in this location for years to come.

Princess Street featured in LaJolla Light

Here is the latest news La Jolla Light article

The Story of Public Access at Princess Street La Jolla, California

by Tony Ciani

The coastal bluff promontory at Princess Street in La Jolla provides a scenic overlook to Pacific Ocean and intimate pocket beach in the foreground and to the mammoth sea caves and Goldfish Point beyond. The ocean at this location is part of the San Diego – La Jolla Underwater Park and Marine Reserve. It is also part of the designated historic “Spindrift Site” that has yielded discoveries of marine invertebrates, shells and tools dating from 695-1645 A.D., and earlier La Jolla Complex dating from BC 6,000 BC to AD 500. (“Underwater artifacts were first discovered here in early 1900’s’ “La Jolla’s Sunken City.” Michael Arbuthnot, Writer & Producer). Similar discoveries on the point and in the nearby waters by the owner of 7957 Princess Street, Wheeler J. North, PhD were recorded with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography where North was an oceanographer.

Prior to, and during the establishment of the California Coastal Commission, a four year study of public access to the beaches and ocean conducted from 1970 to 1974 by the City’s Park and Recreation Board recommended a pathway used by the public to the small public pocket beach remain open. A street sign located at Princess Street at the head of the trail in the 1970’s identified this point as one of the entrances to the underwater park State Marine Reserve and in 1977-1978. When the California Coastal Commission considered a permit to build an addition to a bluff top house that would block the trail, residents and visitors cited historical use of the ancient trail to the beach. Community and organizations helped document with letters and photographs the publics long use of the path. The testimony from the late 70’s includes letters from swimmers, divers and the scientific community, and was summarized in two letters to the Coastal Commission by the then City of San Diego Park and Recreation’s Aquatic Director, George Loveland and Dorothy Muth, who headed the City’s Park and Recreation Board’s access study.

“The general public use of Princess Street Point and the subject property has been noted to exist for a long time and for access to a variety of recreational activities there and at the adjacent shoreline, e.g., access to the pocket beach for sunbathers and swimmers, skin divers and surfers and for people observing the marine life…” The Point itself has also served as a scenic overlook for sightseers.” (Loveland: 3/20/79)

Therefore, the above subject public access at Princess Street has had over 10 years of study, research and recommendations. Every study and every report/recommendation FIRMLY stated Princess Street access [is] of VITAL IMPORTANCE FOR RETENTION.” (Muth: 3/23/79)

In the 1980 decision to permit the large addition to the 1908 Hopi House, the Coastal Commission unanimously determined this historic trail qualified for protection and required an Offer-to-Dedicate (OTD) for an easement as a condition of approval for the permit. While the property owners finished their project in 1981, they failed to honor the Commission’s decision and record the OTD, but instead, constructed a fence and walls to block off the public’s access to the historic trail. Now, after 36 years of additional public and court hearings on the matter, the current owners have made the offers to dedicate a portion of the land for public access from Princess Street to the sea and along the shoreline.

The coastal bluff promontory at Princess Street in La Jolla provides a scenic overlook to Pacific Ocean and intimate pocket beach in the foreground and to the mammoth sea caves and Goldfish Point beyond. The ocean at this location is part of the San Diego – La Jolla Underwater Park and Marine Reserve. It is also part of the designated historic “Spindrift Site” that has yielded discoveries of marine invertebrates, shells and tools dating from 695-1645 A.D., and earlier La Jolla Complex dating from BC 6,000 BC to AD 500. (“Underwater artifacts were first discovered here in early 1900’s’ “La Jolla’s Sunken City.” Michael Arbuthnot, Writer & Producer). Similar discoveries on the point and in the nearby waters by the owner of 7957 Princess Street, Wheeler J. North, PhD were recorded with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography where North was an oceanographer.

Prior to, and during the establishment of the California Coastal Commission, a four year study of public access to the beaches and ocean conducted from 1970 to 1974 by the City’s Park and Recreation Board recommended a pathway used by the public to the small public pocket beach remain open. A street sign located at Princess Street at the head of the trail in the 1970’s identified this point as one of the entrances to the underwater park State Marine Reserve and in 1977-1978. When the California Coastal Commission considered a permit to build an addition to a bluff top house that would block the trail, residents and visitors cited historical use of the ancient trail to the beach. Community and organizations helped document with letters and photographs the publics long use of the path. The testimony from the late 70’s includes letters from swimmers, divers and the scientific community, and was summarized in two letters to the Coastal Commission by the then City of San Diego Park and Recreation’s Aquatic Director, George Loveland and Dorothy Muth, who headed the City’s Park and Recreation Board’s access study.

“The general public use of Princess Street Point and the subject property has been noted to exist for a long time and for access to a variety of recreational activities there and at the adjacent shoreline, e.g., access to the pocket beach for sunbathers and swimmers, skin divers and surfers and for people observing the marine life…” The Point itself has also served as a scenic overlook for sightseers.” (Loveland: 3/20/79)

Therefore, the above subject public access at Princess Street has had over 10 years of study, research and recommendations. Every study and every report/recommendation FIRMLY stated Princess Street access [is] of VITAL IMPORTANCE FOR RETENTION.” (Muth: 3/23/79)

In the 1980 decision to permit the large addition to the 1908 Hopi House, the Coastal Commission unanimously determined this historic trail qualified for protection and required an Offer-to-Dedicate (OTD) for an easement as a condition of approval for the permit. While the property owners finished their project in 1981, they failed to honor the Commission’s decision and record the OTD, but instead, constructed a fence and walls to block off the public’s access to the historic trail. Now, after 36 years of additional public and court hearings on the matter, the current owners have made the offers to dedicate a portion of the land for public access from Princess Street to the sea and along the shoreline.