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By Shawn Raymundo
The California Department of Parks and Recreation has signed an updated lease agreement that allows it to continue operating the San Onofre State Park for another three years.
The amended lease agreement, the terms of which went into effect on Wednesday, Sept. 1, and expire on Aug. 31, 2024, extends the 50-year lease of the property for three years while the CDPR and the U.S. Navy continue negotiating a new long-term lease.
“With this extension, most terms of the original lease still apply, and California State Parks will continue managing operations of the park,” Marine Corps Installations West at Camp Pendleton said in a joint press release with the parks department on Wednesday.
The state has leased the land—on a portion of Camp Pendleton—from the Department of the Navy since 1971. The 50-year lease was set to expire on Tuesday, Aug. 31. However, as anticipated, all parties have agreed on a short-term lease while they iron out new terms, as well as complete land and environmental surveys.
On Tuesday, the press release explained, “California State Parks signed a lease extension allowing time for the required real estate surveys to be completed in preparation for the execution of a new lease.”
According to the amended lease agreement that San Clemente Times has obtained, the state parks department must make an initial payment of $1 for the extension—the same price the state paid for the original lease in 1971.
However, by 2024, the state will owe the Navy the annual market rental value of the property for the additional three years of the lease. The parks department can either pay the Navy with state coffers or with in-kind consideration, according to the agreement.
Under the 1971 lease agreement, the state was given roughly 2,000 acres of property for public recreation, beaches and campgrounds. That year, the San Onofre State Beach was officially created under a Presidential Decree, according to the San Onofre Parks Foundation.
Steve Long is the founder of the local nonprofit that has for years led educational programs and campaigns to preserve San Onofre and San Clemente State Beaches.
Long recalled that about five years ago, he and the foundation’s founding president, Bob Mignogna, began assembling stakeholders who would be helpful in “gently” nudging officials from the two departments to the negotiating table, reminding them of the lease’s impending expiration.
“It led to the interaction of state parks and the Department of the Navy,” Long told San Clemente Times last week. “But that’s all handled (negotiations) at the internal level and while we developed good friendships, and have had folks from both sides that have shared information with us; that’s how we’ve come to this point.”
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.