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A Video History of Sand Dune Park

Controversy over the city's most traversed sand pile is nothing new, a local historian says.

The heated exchanges among residents and the city over what to do about an exceedingly popular berm of sand in Sand Dune Park is not without precedent.

Manhattan Beach historian Jan Dennis, the city's mayor from 1986-87, has looked at the dune's origins and chronicled what has been an uphill struggle for its preservation and identity.

The following, provided by Dennis, is a timeline of important dates in the dune's history:

1921: Most of the sandy ridge—composed of sand blown in from the beach via onshore winds—is leveled south of 15th Street to create building lots. In the town's north end, meanwhile, homes are being built on the crest of the dune to provide spectacular ocean views.

1948: The city votes to donate 11.4 acres of the dune—located along Bell Avenue south of Rosecrans Avenue—to the California National Guard for a training post and storage facility. The armory is officially built and dedicated  three years later.

1956: Local residents volunteer to begin work on landscaping and sculpting the dune, putting in more than 5,000 hours and donating materials.

1960: Residents beg the city to help them save the dune. A committee established by the City Council is authorized to build a park at the dune site between 33rd and 27th streets.

1963: The National Guard decides it doesn't need six of the donated acres and returns the land to the city.

1967: Plans for street improvements—including curb and gutter installations on the east side of the unpaved road between 33rd and 35th streets—are approved by the council. The work is completed the following year and makes the dune more accessible.

1970: The city's general plan states that the park should be further developed as a neighborhood recreation center with a shade and shelter pavilion and an emphasis on outdoor activities.

1980: The California Parklands Bond Act provides funds for the renovation of the long neglected park.

1983: The city's Public Works Department administers a $168,700 project to restore the slopes to their former grandeur. To protect the newly landscaped areas, temporary fencing is installed. A new play pavilion and improved restrooms are also added. While maintenance work continues, other problems begin to surface: overuse of the park by nonresidents, traffic, trash, parking congestion and noise.

Bradley Zint April 23, 2010 at 11:17 PM
Great video, Andrew!
Andrew Kersey April 24, 2010 at 01:00 AM
Thanks, Brad. Jan Dennis has some great rare photos and really knows her local history. Thought it was all worth sharing.

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