Long recognized as one of the most beautiful, undeveloped pieces of property on the Southern California coastline, the Strand at Headlands project sets new standards for conservation.
The Strand at Headlands is a sun-drenched landscape of cascading slopes, white sand beaches, and commanding coastal cliffs, all converging at the Pacific Ocean. The site encompasses 121 acres, with the westerly 30 acres consisting of 180 foot cliffs that make up the “Dana Point” landform, visible for 20 miles up and down the coast.
The entire site stretches 1.2 miles along the coast; it includes the 6-acre Strand Beach, and was formally owned for more than 60 years by the Chandler family. The Chandlers, who also owned the Los Angeles Times newspaper, were prominent Southern California real estate developers. After spending 23 years attempting to gain project approvals for the Headlands property, in 1998, they sold the property to Sanford Edward.
Recognizing the controversial nature of the site, Sanford set out to design a project that would preserve its sensitive habitat and create a one-of-a-kind community. The final project, as approved by the California Coastal Commission, included nearly 70 acres of public parks and open space, three miles of coastal trails, and countless community amenities. The public amenities at the Strand far exceeded those required to develop the property, thus by granting and preserving lands in excess of what was required, the project qualified for a federal conservation tax credit.
The 30-acre Headlands Conservation Park is a prime example. It will be preserved and managed in perpetuity in a private trust; the Conservation Park contains over 150 plant and animal species that are native to coastal Southern California. Several rare and indigenous plant communities are found in the park, including southern coastal bluff scrub, maritime succulent scrub, mixed chaparral, and coastal sage scrub. The Strand also contains a number of public trails, coastal and beach access paths, scenic overlooks, and a Nature Interpretive Center, that maximize public coastal access and ocean view opportunities, while conserving the natural resources on the Headlands. These trails provide a comprehensive system that reinforces the relationship between the Strand community, the public beaches, Dana Point Harbor, and the Pacific Ocean.