Moran Lake County Park
The county wants to hear from residents about the types of improvements Moran Lake County Park needs.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Coast Life

Got thoughts about Moran Lake? County wants your input as it plans park’s facelift

With funds now available for Moran Lake County Park’s first renovation since 1981, the parks department has items from new bathrooms to water quality and monarch habitat on its list — and is hoping residents will weigh in online and in person, too.

With new funding from the California State Coastal Conservancy and Prop 1, the Santa Cruz County Parks Department is aiming to renovate Moran Lake County Park by the end of 2023 — and wants your help.

The 11-acre regional park off East Cliff Drive in Pleasure Point has been popular with locals and tourists since the county acquired it in 1975. Its first facelift was in 1981, with updates to the tidal flow of the lagoon and construction of a parking area and restrooms. In the decades since, however, the lagoon has been plagued by runoff from the urban watershed, leading to poor water quality and degradation.


Here’s how to weigh in on how Santa Cruz County should upgrade and restore Moran Lake County Park:

Public meetings: Thursday, Aug. 19, from 3-6 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 22, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Moran Lake parking area on East Cliff Drive

Take the online survey:

Sign up for updates:

For more information, visit

Director Jeff Gaffney said the parks department has had restoration of the area top of mind for the past few years, and the new funding allows for the project to finally get started.

“We really recognized the importance of natural resource planning, and the urban interface throughout the county,” he said. “We started to recognize some of these critical areas that were big concerns — and Moran was a place we really wanted to focus in on.”

Some of the most crucial aspects of the restoration, Gaffney said, will be to make the area more accessible while also sustaining the monarch butterfly habitat through the ecology and vegetation of the area.

The county aims to include needed public access and accommodation improvements, accessible trail improvements, and drainage improvements, all of which will improve lagoon water quality, climate change resiliency and the wildlife habitat for local species.

The county will be holding pop-up meetings at the park for community members to stop by and learn about the planning process, review projects goals and see previous draft plans. Gaffney also encourages community members to provide their own ideas and priorities for improvement to the park.

“We want to reach out to all the community groups we possibly can,” he said. “This is really as grassroots as you can get, and at the same time to connect us with our environment and our resources.”

“It’s a really great place that we don’t want to lose the use or access of it for the community, and we don’t want to lose the natural resources,” he said.

The first pop-up meeting will take place Thursday, Aug. 19, from 3-6 p.m.; additional information is available on the county website.

Moran Lake County Park
Water quality, monarch butterfly habitat and climate change resilience are all on the county’s list as its plans for updates at Moran Lake.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)