History of the Silver Strand

The Silver Strand is an area south of Washington Boulevard  lying between the Ballona Lagoon and Via Marina and terminating at the Main Channel leading from Marina del Rey Harbor to the Pacific Ocean.  It has been part of Venice since 1905 when the area south of Washington was surveyed and platted. It was called the Silver Strand-Del Rey Tract. The Del Rey Tract also included what we now call the Venice Peninsula on the western side of the Ballona Lagoon. In 1904, Kinney incorporated his holdings in Venice as the City of Ocean Park (not to be confused with Ocean Park in Santa Monica).  In 1911 he renamed his City of Ocean Park as Venice and was  joined in this by the rest of the district. Following Kinney’s death in 1920, the citizens of Venice voted to annex themselves to the City of Los Angeles. Originally the Silver Strand tract was a group of islands and sandbars, not the solid land mass as we now know it. This changed with the discovery of oil in 1929.  Major companies quickly blanketed it with oil and gas wells, some of which remained operative until the mid-1980s.  In the process they used landfill techniques to create a base for roads built to access their wells. The main road on the Silver Strand was named Via Marita which ultimately became  Via Dolce. To the east of the Silver Strand was a remnant of what had once been a vast wetland. It was the site of the Los Angeles Recreation Gun Club, formed in the 1880s to   provide duck hunting opportunities to its members. That area is now Marina del Rey Harbor.

Two factors combined to create the Strand as we know it today. The first was creation of the Marina del Rey Harbor in 1965 which made a dramatic change in the topography of the Strand, the Venice Peninsula and the Ballona Lagoon. The second, which happened almost simultaneously,  was the dwindling supply of “black gold” beneath its soil. Gradually the oil and gas wells were capped.  Developers and individuals began to take note of the potential for residential development on the narrow spit of land we now call the Silver Strand.   The first large parcel to be developed was  the Strand Colony I and II condominiums built  by Harlan Lee in 1974 on the east side of Via Dolce.

The Silver Strand development to the west of Via Dolce,  as currently defined by property records in the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office, began to take shape in 1976 when the first home was built on the western side of Via Dolce which had an existing utility infrastructure. Others followed. In 1979, after following a 7 year battle with the Coastal Commission, owners who had purchased lots west of Via Dolce were granted a permit by the Federal Court. They raised $4,500,000 among themselves to create the sewers, streets and lighting systems necessary to support a residential community called “The Isthmus Landowners Association,” (ILA). The Tract was renamed The Silver Strand. The northern border is Roma Court at Via Dolce. It ends at Topsail Mall.  Its western border is the Esplanade path along the Ballona Lagoon. The eastern border is Via Dolce between Roma Court and Topsail Mall. In 2000, ILA changed its name to the “Silver Strand Marina Homeowners, Inc.”

The southernmost end of the Strand, beyond Topsail Mall and the Channel, remains part of the original Del Rey Tract although,  because of the similarity in architecture and landscaping,  people think of it as a continuation of The Silver Strand Marina Homeowners, Inc. In fact portions of that tract are still owned and were developed by Cliff Rome who, along with his father David Rome, also played an important role in development of the SSMHOA tract.

1902 USGS Survey Map of the western part of Rancho La Ballona, showing Santa Monica upper left down to Port Ballona (now Playa del Rey) lower left. The Venice Peninsula and  The Silver Strand are sited on the two fingers of land to left of  the blue area (the original Ballona Lagoon).

The seaward side of Via Marina facing the harbor is in unincorporated Marina del Rey and governed by Los Angeles County.

A certain amount of confusion arose in the 1980s, when portions of Venice, including the Silver Strand, were assigned a new zip code, 90292, which we share with Marina del Rey. So your mailing address is Marina del Rey, but when you vote, you are a Venetian. If people ask you where you live, you can tell them Marina del Rey, Venice or Los Angeles. And, if you want to be really mysterious, you can tell people you live in the Rancho La Ballona because the Silver Strand was once a tiny part of the 14,000 acre land grant deeded to the Machado and Talamentes families in 1839 by the Mexican government.

3 Responses to History of the Silver Strand

  1. StellaMaris says:

    *Mary Legg.

  2. Great information! Thanks for sharing!

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