From toddlers to seniors, from passive to active park- and beach-goers, and for people of all ability levels: promoting enjoyable, safe, and accessible recreational facilities and activities have been the unwavering aim of the Friends of the Powerhouse’s efforts from its inception through today.

Through community fundraisers, donations, grants and other activities, Friends of the Powerhouse (FOP) have raised more than $3,000,000 for the benefit of the City of Del Mar.

Current Fundraising Project

Tot Lot Renovation Project

Originally built it the ’90s, the Tot Lot is a barefoot-and kid-friendly “park within a park” boasting swings, slides and climbing equipment nestled within the scenic Powerhouse Community Park. 

Thanks to the Friend’s commitment and contributions a decade ago, the tot lot underwent a its first vast upgrade in 2001.

Once again the time has come to completely rebuild the beloved Tot Lot. Deteriorated equipment which no longer meets code requirement needs to be replaced. This effort will ensure the safety and enjoyment of our youngest citizens for many years to come.

The city has received a major grant for the playground infrastructure. The FOP has pledged to raise $100,000 for playground equipment.

Our goal is to create a Tot Lot that will provide fun and excitement for our young community with slides, swings, and climbing equipment. Help us make this a reality. Donations of all levels will help bring this project to life!

Not Level

Foundation is settling causing unlevel conditions


Structure elements are uplifting from base


Several areas of the play structure have eroded and are rusting


Several areas of the play structure have eroded and are rusting

Not Compliant

Several areas of the play structures no longer meet code and need to be replaced


Water is ponding near structure causing a major hazard

Renderings of new play structure

1999: Powerhouse Restoration

The energy and commitment of what was then called the Powerhouse Restoration Committee were emblematic of successful efforts to come. The Committee, which as it grew over the years would include various City Council members, was spearheaded by longtime Del Mar resident Barbara Harper, founding President . A consensus builder, Barbara gathered together disparate members of the community who united behind the effort to enhance Del Mar’s exceptional quality of life.

In just two years, the group raised sufficient funds to support the detailed restoration of the old powerhouse into the Powerhouse Community Center at 1658 Coast Boulevard. Many people came together to celebrate a Grand Opening on December 4, 1999.

Since then, FOP has raised funds to support what quickly became recognized as a civic treasure. Continued FOP monetary support has ensured upkeep of the Powerhouse Community Center and surrounding public areas. Maintenance and enhancements have helped attract increased City facility rentals for a multitude of uses, including senior activities, weddings and other special events, gatherings and more. Rental proceeds go to City coffers.

FOP continues to support Maintenance and Enhancements for the Powerhouse Community Center

      • $50,000 for building maintenance for first 2 years
      • Public bathrooms (original and refurbished)
      • Heating and sound systems
      • Original furnishings and replacements
      • Refurbished kitchen and interior bathrooms
      • Elevator for handicap access

2012: Beach Safety Center/Lifeguard Tower

Buoyed by its success with the Powerhouse Restoration, FOP next tackled the Lifeguard Headquarters and grim eyesore of a drainage ditch that deterred easy access to the beach. Thanks to FOP’s efforts and generosity of contributors, FOP raised one-third of the total cost required to construct the Beach Safety Center/Lifeguard Tower project, which included turning the ditch into a beckoning boardwalk that provides safe beach access from the street.

In 1964, Gardner Stevens, Del Mar Chief Lifeguard, built the city’s first lifeguard tower at the 17th Street Beach with his own hands and the help of his friend, Jim Baker, Del Mar Fire Chief. By 2008, with both the department and number of beach visitors having grown over the past 44 years, the structure was in a dangerous state of disrepair. Obviously, the facility needed some help from its friends: Friends of the Powerhouse!

Eager to maintain the lifeguard service’s admirable safety record, FOP initiated a series of fundraisers. In addition, the group aggressively sought grants and donations, selling hand-painted tiles, as well as initiating ongoing contribution opportunities such as personalized bricks and planks for the boardwalk and naming rights within the building.

On June 27, 2012, four years after the campaign began, the Beach Safety Center/Lifeguard Tower celebrated its Grand Opening. The efforts of Friends of the Powerhouse and the City of Del Mar earned an award.

Next to the Center, FOP created a history wall and the Bill Teague Memorial Garden. An unsafe and unsightly drainage trench was replaced by a boardwalk to enhance the beauty of the new, safe pedestrian entrance to the beach.

Over time, FOP has contributed several lifeguard rescue boats, beach wheelchairs for disabled beachgoers, and lifeguard safety equipment. FOP has also provided bike racks, outside sinks, and other items needed for the Center to better serve the residents of Del Mar and surrounding communities.

2001: Upgraded Tot Lot

Nestled within the scenic Powerhouse Community Park, the Tot Lot is a barefoot- and kid-friendly “park within a park” boasting swings, slides, and climbing equipment. Thanks to FOP’s commitment and contributions, the upgraded Tot Lot is a vast improvement over the original venue built in the 1990s.

FOP has also made enhancements to Seagrove Park including:

      • Benches
      • Outdoor shower and drinking fountains
      • Landscaping
      • Bike racks
      • Train wall to educate and safety barrier for railroad tracks

Next on the Beach….

A New Powerhouse Viewing Deck

Working with Del Mar architect Howard Gad, FOP has proposed an expanded deck for the Powerhouse. The plan is to extend the current balcony area to create a large second-story deck. Friends of the Powerhouse and the City of Del Mar are working together on this project.

The Del Mar City Council has indicated its support for the expansion and have budgeted the necessary study and construction plans. Friends of the Powerhouse have offered to work in partnership with the city by providing major funding for the addition to the building.

The new addition will provide a place where people can go to relax, come together, meet friends, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the beach below. The plan is to create an open viewing patio off the current second-story porch.

It is conceivable that in the future, either the downstairs patio or the upstairs deck could be enclosed. This is not a part of the current expansion proposed.

In 2019, FOP offered the city plans and most of the funding needed to construct a viewing patio over the lower trellis of the Powerhouse. Unfortunately, this project was put on hold during the Covid pandemic. We expect the city council to proceed with this project when the city’s budget has recovered from the reduced revenues caused by the shutdowns.

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