With the recent “code red for humanity” alarm issued by UN scientists about the urgent need to change human activities that are causing climate change, it’s a good moment to remember that we can succeed in changing human activities, for the betterment of the environment and sustainability.
One heartening example right here in Del Mar: the conversion of the Fairgrounds’ South Overflow Lot (SOL) to restored wetlands, which are now, four years after the ribbon-cutting, close to fully recovered. Wetlands are one of the best carbon uptake systems, so this restoration is important to Del Mar’s climate change goals.
Current photos, compared to pre-restoration photos taken by former mayor and long-time lagoon advocate John Gillies, show the profound difference the restoration has had on our environment. The story of this hard-fought restoration action is recounted in the Sandpiper’s July 2017 editorial, “It Took An Army.”
THEN: The first photo below shows the South Overflow Lot circa 1990, with more than 200 parked cars. Jimmy Durante Blvd. bisects the photo at about midpoint, lined on both sides by palm trees; cars below that are in the SOL. The building in the foreground is the location of today’s Batter Kay Associates building at 2195 San Dieguito Dr. NOW: The second photo shows the SOL today, with functioning wetlands taking the place of the parking lot.
Below, the South Overflow Lot as seen from the Jimmy Durante Blvd. bridge that crosses the San Dieguito River. THEN: In the first photo below, circa 1989, everything from the river bank, at bottom, to and a little beyond the three semi-trailers stationed by the 22nd DAA along the palm trees, is the SOL. NOW: The second photo shows the SOL from the same viewpoint today, with functioning wetlands taking the place of the parking lot. (Click on an image to view a larger version.)
The first two photos below show the kind of grading and filling that occurred for decades, without permits or approvals, in order to park cars in this wetland. The third photo shows a view of the restored wetlands, looking in the same direction. (Click on an image to view a larger version.)
The first photo below shows grading and filling work close to Jimmy Durante Blvd.. The second shows work near the edge of the river. The third photo shows a view of the restored wetlands, looking south, toward Viewpoint Brewery and Del Mar Blueprint. (Click on an image to view a larger version.)
Vintage photos: John Gillies. 2021 photos: Betty Wheeler