Richard Nixon photo

Remarks Announcing Plans To Make Land in Camp Pendleton, California, Available for Public Recreational Use.

March 31, 1971

Ladies and gentlemen:

I am sending today to the Secretary of Defense a directive that he is to report to the House and Senate Committees on Armed Services that 6 miles of beach and 3,400 acres of upland, which presently are part of Camp Pendleton, will be declared excess and will become available for public use.

In the case of the beach property--and Mr. Ehrlichman will brief you later with regard to the technical details--in the case of the beach property, 3 miles of it will be available starting this Sunday, because there will be approximately a 30-day, and maybe a 45-day period, in which the two committees have an opportunity to veto the President's declaration of the property being excess. If they do veto it, and I do not expect them to, that would mean that we would have to reconsider what we are doing.

But in that 30-day period, and particularly with the Easter vacation period coming up, we have arranged on a temporary basis to lease 3 miles of beach, the best beach, right in this area, so that starting Sunday all of the many people that like to go to the beach in the Easter vacation period will have 3 more miles of the best beach in the world to go to.

I should point out that this action, while it deals with property very close to my home in California, relates to the whole Nation, but I should also point out that what we are doing here has triggered my thoughts with regard to activities throughout the Nation. Just 2 years ago I was walking along this beach, and I realized that here in southern California there were millions of people who wanted to go to the beach, and that when you go by Santa Monica or Long Beach or any of the other great beaches that I used to go to as a youngster, that they are just too crowded these days, and there is a great need for more beaches where people can go.

Consequently, I checked and found, and with the cooperation of the Marine Corps, that they did not need the total of 18 miles of beach which they presently occupy. So we have worked out that this 6 miles will be declared excess, and that in the future, millions of particularly young people in California, and older ones as well, that enjoy the beach will have greater access to this property which has been closed since World War II when the Marine Corps took it over for obvious reasons.

In addition to that, having made that decision 2 years ago with regard to this particular property, I asked that a survey be made of all properties held by the Federal Government, properties held by the Department of Defense, by the GSA, by the Veterans Administration, by the Department of the Interior.

Over half the land, for example, in the Western States is owned by and controlled by the Federal Government. This is apart from parklands. This is land which is used by, controlled by [the Federal Government], and denied to the public, as far as their use is concerned.

Much of this use is not proper in terms of the best use. And consequently, this is the first of a series of announcements that will be made over the next few months in which, in all sections of the country, in northern California as well as in southern California, in the East, the North, the South, announcements will be made whereby we will declare excess property that presently is being used by the Federal Government or some agency of the Federal Government, but in a way that we have determined is not the best use.

That means that then the State, in this case, gets the opportunity to use this as parkland. In other cases, it may be determined that property, for example, that is in the middle of a city may be turned over to the tax rolls, and the funds that are acquired thereby can then be used to develop parks.

In any event, this is an indication of the scope of this program. I say that it probably wouldn't have happened unless I had taken a walk on the beach 2 years ago at San Clemente and walked an extra mile and saw the great possibilities and decided that the time had come for Presidential initiative, Presidential initiative which has overridden, I must say, very deep and understandable bureaucratic opposition and very deep and understandable opposition in some segments of the Congress, only because Members of the Congress at times were reflecting the views of the bureaus. Most Members of the Congress, I am sure, will applaud this decision.

Note: The President spoke at 10:55 a.m. at the Western White House in San Clemente, Calif. Shortly after his remarks, the President boarded his helicopter for an aerial inspection of the Camp Pendleton beach front property.

On the same day, the White House released a fact sheet on the Camp Pendleton property and the transcript of a news briefing on the President's action by John D. Ehrlichman, Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs.

Richard Nixon, Remarks Announcing Plans To Make Land in Camp Pendleton, California, Available for Public Recreational Use. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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