History of the Area
In the 1860s, two Swiss families acquired two former Spanish land grants,
which stretched from Scott Creek in the north to Laguna Creek in the south. They formed the Coast Dairies & Land Company.
By the 1920s, these families had moved back to Switzerland, but they and their heirs continued to lease land to local farmers and dairy operators.
Much of this stretch of coast remained more or less as it had been in the 19th century. Plans to develop this area in the 1960's
were ultimately quashed by Proposition 20 (1972) and the Coastal Act (1976). In 1998, the Trust for Public Lands acquired the land,
and in 2009 completed the transfer of the land to the State of California, to be managed by the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).
In addition, in October of 2012, the rail corridor which runs directly through this area, was acquired by the
Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission.
Together, this means that the vast majority of land in this area is now publicly owned.
Along the coast, this land has remained primarily in agriculture — and this is appropriate since the historical character
of this area is inextricably interwoven with the area's farms. The farms are also important economically, and of course because they provide
humanity's most valuable resource — food.
But the DPR's focus is public access and recreation. So, while maintaining the agriculture, it should also encourage
compatible uses of coastal trails along the ocean and parallel to the railroad corridor for public recreation and transportation.
The goal of Run by the Sea is to highlight the incredible resource that now lies in the public trust, and to encourage
this and other sustainable recreational uses that allow the broader community to experience the area in harmony with the farms.
The Wacky Backstory
This event supports the coastal rail trail from Davenport to Santa Cruz - so why isn't the run from Davenport to Santa Cruz? Well, even though most of the land in the area is publicly owned, the government agency that owns it (SCCRTC) does not officially condone any use of their property. Ask for permission to have a run on their land, and the answer is "No".
So instead we're running at Wilder Ranch, carefully avoiding the railroad right of way. Some runners have asked why we have a beach crossing in the Run by the Sea instead of using the rail connector trail. The answer, again, is that the SCCRTC won't allow it. The farm trails that aren't adjacent to the tracks are open to recreational use (since those belong to CA State Parks). But the SCCRTC claims that liability concerns prevent them from permitting recreational use anywhere near the tracks, even for events with liability insurance. Lest you think the SCCRTC is an anti-recreation bureaucratic blob, it just isn't so — it has worked extremely hard to acquire and plan for the trail. Soon, hopefully, they'll work through the liability issues and eventually actually build the trail! Then the Run by the Sea can take its rightful place by the tracks and go from Davenport to Wilder Ranch! On behalf of the rebels who've already run this route, we can hardly wait!
What Does This Run Support?
This event supports groups that work to promote the coastal rail trail from Davenport to Santa Cruz. These include:
- Santa Cruz Friends of the Rail & Trail (FORT) is the community voice for building the 32-mile Coastal Rail Trail. FORT has advocated for over a decade for public acquisition of the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line, and now that the purchase is complete, FORT is working to support the timely construction of the trail. One of FORT's key roles is to enhance the public interest and widespread project support to help our elected officials know that the rail trail is a valuable priority to our community.
- People Power began working to promote the concept of a Santa Cruz Rail Trail in the early '90s. Among other things, the group advocates for development of facilities that encourage human-powered transportation.
- Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks is dedicated to the preservation of our area's natural environment and cultural history. Much of the proposed rail trail north of Santa Cruz passes directly through State Parks land.
- Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC)
is the local government agency that acquired the rail property and is tasked with developing rail trail and rail uses.