Native Plant Garden to be Added to Sunset Cliffs Park

by on January 8, 2014 · 14 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach

sunset cliffs from airBy a local activist

Where else can you walk from OB to a nationally-known natural wonder without crossing the street?

Not everybody knows that Sunset Cliffs Natural Park  starts at the point between Ocean Beach and Point Loma at Adair Street, where the cliffs and ocean view run alongside Sunset Cliffs Blvd. There is a kiosk, a sign, and a bench there, but the barren trail doesn’t provide the cut-grass ambiance we ordinarily associated with city-owned parks.

That’s about to change. This entry point will soon become an experimental garden for native plants. Designed by Clayton Tschudy, a botanist with Cal Native and presented by David Fleitner from the San Diego Native Plant Society, work will begin as soon as permits are in place. This is the Entryway to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.

First proposed in March 2013, this project doesn’t share much in terms of grandeur with the Ocean Beach entryway. The design work was volunteer and a pilot project of the California Native Plant Society. The plants will be funded by donations, and the work done by volunteers. The city will assist by providing the right-of-entry permit required to make the project happen.

The Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Council (SCNPC), a Parks and Rec advisory committee, has been active in the planning from the first proposal with a committee chaired by Debbie Blum, council member. What kind of advice did they provide? The design includes flexible, naturalistic planting beds which can be moved, and no cactus to attack unsuspecting joggers. The January 6 SNCP meeting provided the latest data for this planned entryway.

Right across the street from the Hippie House  and its native plant landscaping, this new project itself is a picture of ambition. Whereas the Ocean Beach entryway turns dirt into cement, this project will turn a cement-like dirt lot into a garden.

There will be no paths constructed. Instead, some areas will serve as pathways for foot traffic by not being planted. These non-planted areas will serve as access roads for emergency vehicles, with a 12 foot access width provide for lifeguard truck access. The plants themselves are selected to protect the view – a maximum of 3 /2 feet in height except for those next to the building wall on the boundary.

This is not the only project planned for Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.

Most people think of the park as the area below Point Loma Nazarene University. That area is known as the hillside park. It also has an extremely ambitious Trails Project planned by the city with a grant from the California Coastal Conservancy, also reviewed and supported by the advisory council. The Hillside project was recently approved as a Process 3 permit by the City of San Diego hearing officer, but it has been appealed by local residents who feel it does not include enough drainage. Extensive discussion and a slide show at the January 6 meeting resulted in a vote to continue to support the Hillside Improvement Project.

No, you don’t have to be a Point Loma resident to be a member of the council, and a few memberships are available. Meetings are the first Monday of every month at Cabrillo Rec Center on Canyon Street, 6:45 PM. Everyone is welcome to come; this is a City of San Diego, not a Point Loma Park, and yes, if you are from OB you can provide that unique OB point of view by becoming a member.

Will the entryway plants really survive? Not everyone is so sure. This street-side park area is more parking lot than park. The wind blows plants right out of the ground occasionally. Still, if it works, other areas along Sunset Cliffs will be selected. It’s worth a try. So we will see – which is done first – the OB Entryway or the Sunset Cliffs Park entryway?



{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Cliffs Surfer January 8, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Very well written and informative article on what is one of San Diego’s jewels, thank you.


Local Walker January 8, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Looking forward to the improved trails south of Ladera St. & green plants growing in the barren cliff spaces along Sunset Cliffs Blv’d


Susan Krzywicki January 9, 2014 at 5:17 am

I look forward to seeing this excellent project come to fruition. Native plants make the ultimate “California” statement – our heritage and a great ecological benefit combined.

Local residents and tourists alike will enjoy this garden.


Phil Lawrence January 9, 2014 at 9:07 am

I love it! Great article and great addition to the neighborhood. It’s noteworthy that the very first sentence mentions not having to cross the street. That’s true if you left West of Sunset Cliffs Blvd. For the rest of us, there isn’t a single safe place to cross between Olive Tree Market and Ladera. Maybe a crosswalk somewhere along Sunset Cliffs could be added at some point. Regardless of my griping, I love the plan for a native plant garden.


Judy Swink January 9, 2014 at 11:33 am

This is a great idea and I look forward to seeing it develop along with the new trails for the “hillside park” portion of Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.

However, the Cabrillo Rec Center is on Canon Street although it is pronounced Canyon. It’s just Canon Street is lacking the tilde over the ‘n’ which, in Spanish, indicates pronouncing ‘y’ following the ‘n’.


SD citizen January 10, 2014 at 5:48 pm

I “adopted” several plants in this garden. Looking forward to enjoying it!


Susan Lewitt January 10, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Thank you for this wonderful article. this project is a step in the right direction and I hope more individuals and communities follow this example.


Patricia Fishtein January 10, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Can’t wait until this project is complete and all can enjoy the beauty of the native landscape!


Joan January 10, 2014 at 10:09 pm

The native plants will be beautiful! Native plants can survive and thrive when managed correctly. Let’s all start looking at every bit of vacant/scarred land as a potential native garden. Much of our vacant land is really just a failed “conventional” landscape that wasn’t kept up. This park is great work by some talented volunteers.


Hei-ock Kim January 11, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Thank you very much for writing this article. You’re helping to raise awareness that landscaping with native California plants is one of the best (and easiest) strategies for improving ocean water quality, reducing erosion, restoring healthy soil, and limiting water consumption. A well-maintained native garden benefits the OB community and beyond – body, mind, and soul!


Tish Berge January 11, 2014 at 7:31 pm

So excited to see OB embracing native plants. So true to the naturalistic, “organic” vibe we love in the community. What a great way to honor the local beauty and habitat.


Sue January 13, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Thank you for highlighting this prospectve garden on Sunset Cliffis When finished
it should be lovely and add a beautiful and interesting area for local and out-of-town residents to enjoy as they stroll along this area. Lets all get involved and purchase a plant for the park.


Purva Between The Parks October 1, 2014 at 1:19 am

Highly energetic blog, I enjoyed that a lot.

Will there be a part 2?


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