This District open space has a long and colorful history of land use, dating back to the Depression era. The sand dunes of what are now Seaside and Sand City were unincorporated hinterlands (back country) with a remote homestead scattered here and there. At that time, environmental consciousness was not exactly a household topic. So, not unreasonably, the peninsula cities hauled household refuse to this site and burned it.
By 1945, peninsula communities had grown significantly and were experiencing a post-war population boom of sorts. The time had come to close the “burn dump” and convert it to a then acceptable “landfill” style refuse dump-site. This new use was municipally operated by the peninsula cities and the county. But like most landfills of that era, it was an attractive nuisance for gulls, scavengers and flies. Perhaps it was the flies that prompted the community to break from the County and incorporate into a Charter City. Seaside incorporated in 1954 and the landfill was closed the following year.
The dump remained closed for almost 15 years before an entrepreneur tried to make a profit on the property as a go-cart race track, which lasted the summer of 1969 and then quietly disappeared. So too did the asphalt pathways under a carpet of ice-plant that was introduced by Caltrans when it began construction of this portion of Highway 1. Again, the land lay silent for many years.
After other unsuccessful attempts by investors to develop the land and several years of the property being “orphaned”, the Park District acquired the first deed of trust on the 26-acre property in 1995. This put the District into a good position to coordinate the subsequent remediation work necessary to move the landfill material back away from the eroding shoreline.
During 1995-96 the remediation work at the landfill site was conducted with the assistance of the California Integrated Waste Management Board. The landfill material was dug-up, sorted and what was recoverable and recyclable was removed. The rest was re-buried behind the projected 50-year erosion set-back and capped with new sand. The final conversion of this property into full public benefit included restoration with native coastal dune habitat and the construction of an extension of the Monterey Bay Coastal trail, which includes one of the most breathtaking views of the bay to be seen from the trail.
In 2007, the name of this property was changed from Landfill Dunes Preserve to Eolian Dunes Preserve, in reference to the wind-swept dunes that dominate the landscape. The Dunes are a great open space to walk and take in the amazing views of the bay.