Friday, March 30, 2012


Surfrider Foundation Rocks 5th Annual Ocean Day

All 73 Advocates!

Imagine what the halls of our state Capitol would like with 73 ocean advocates and experts (from 45 different organizations) running around.  It was a sight to see!  Surfrider Foundation is on the Steering Committee of Ocean Day and we were deeply involved with organizing the day.  We sent a diverse group of people to attend—including Staff members (Angela Howe, Sarah Damron and Stefanie Sekich-Quinn,); and superstar activists from southern California (Belinda Smith from the San Diego Chapter and five high school students who participate in Surfrider Clubs in Orange County).

Lawn Event
In just one day, we managed to meet with 100 decision makers to discuss ocean issues and potential threats.   In addition to our legislative meetings, Ocean Day was comprised of other great events including: a kick off with Assemblymember Brownley, a lawn event highlighting the value of our oceans, a CSU COAST luncheon, and Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Seafood reception featuring Governor Jerry Brown speaking.
Assemblymember Brownley giving Kick off speach 

The overarching theme of Ocean Day was focused on the economic importance of our ocean and coastline. Our ocean economy contributes $46 billion dollars annually to the state and provides over 400,000 jobs for California’s economy. 

Gov Brown speaking at reception   
We focused on the fact that clean water/beaches/watersheds equal dollar signs for businesses, tourism, and local economies.   And of course, we also stressed that irresponsible coastal development, overuse of the ocean resources, and pollution put our ocean economy at risk—in turn, impacting jobs, lessening economic input and causing harm to environment.  Finally, we highlighted the 40th Anniversary of California’s Coastal Program and the Clean Water Act in which we discussed success stories. 

Ocean Day wasn’t all about being philosophical with elected officials—we were there to lobby specific bills!  Here are some of the issues and bills we talked about:
  • Climate Change Impacts: 80% of California's 38 million residents live within 30 miles of the coast. Sea level rise; huge, storm-driven waves; beach erosion; ocean acidification, and other climate change impacts pose direct threats to the state's valuable coastal resources and communities. ACTION: Support the State Coastal Conservancy to direct funds for work addressing climate change impacts for the public benefit, SB 1066 (Lieu).
  • Desalination: Currently, no statewide desalination policy existing to provide rules for building a desalination facility consistent with the law, hence it is irresponsible to consider fast-tracking desalination projects. ACTION: Oppose Desalination Streamlining, AB 2595 (Hall).
  • Protect the Coastal Act: California‘s coastal communities draw approx. 200 million visitors each year, resulting in $6.1 billion in direct state and local tax revenues. Protecting coastal resources from increased development is critical for maintaining sustainable economic growth. ACTION: Oppose weakening the Coastal Act, AB 2211 (Jones).
  • Plastic Bag Ban: $300 million is spent each year by California agencies to pick up and dispose of litter along with countless volunteer hours. We use 10 billion plastic bags per year – 500 per person annually. Over 40 communities in our state are currently covered by a plastic bag ban. ACITON: Support a statewide plastic bag ban, AB 298 (Brownley)
  • Polystyrene Ban:  Expanded polystyrene or "foam is a petroleum-based plastic that is not recyclable and doesn’t biodegrade. Foam containers can also be toxic to humans by leaching chemicals into our foods. Pieces of foam are ubiquitous at beach cleanups and the California State Water Board found that foam is the most prevalent trash on beaches.  ACTION: Support a ban on polystyrene, SB 568 (Lowenthal).
We look forward to next year’s Ocean Day!  Go here to see more pictures from the day.  
Surfrider activist (Belinda Smith) with her team and Assmblymember Garrick
Surfrider Youth!  Bring it!
Thank you to our 2012 Steering Committee members:
Conservation Strategy Group
CSU Coast
Environment California
Heal the Bay
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Natural Resources Defense Council
Ocean Conservancy
Ocean Science Trust
San Diego Coastkeeper
Seventh Generation Advisors
Surfrider Foundation

Friday, March 23, 2012


March Policy Update

No Butts About It!

In the beginning of March, Surfrider Foundation attended the “The Environmental Impact of Tobacco Waste Summit”.  This two-day conference focused on environmental impacts of cigarette litter and possible policy solutions to curb the growing problem.  Several diverse organizations joined the conference, including people from: California Coastal Commission, Public Health Departments, University of California, Caltrans, Ocean Protection Council, State Water Resources Control Board, CAL FIRE, and many others.  

Surfrider has been working on cigarette litter since the mid-nineties through our “Hold On To Your Butt” campaign.  Not only are cigarette butts toxic because of chemicals released from filters when submerged in waterways, but filters are made of plastic and never biodegrade.  Surfrider is excited to be part of a diverse coalition of people working to curb cigarette litter through policy reform.  Learn more here.

State Park Protection.

Surfrider Foundation attended the 10th annual Park Advocacy Day (PAD) in Sacramento hosted by the California State Parks Foundation.   PAD is a lobby day for park activists to speak with policy makers about threats to our state parks.  One of the main topics we covered was the pending closure of 70 parks due to budget cuts. During our discussions, we highlighted how closures actually create an economic burden for the state.  First, local communities lose money that would have come from park visitors and secondly, the state is forced to deal with public/environmental safety issues, vandalism, and illegal activities taking place in parks (which is happening at some parks that are already closed). 

Surfrider deeply cares about our state parks because the most popular parks in our state are located along the coastline.  In addition to talking to legislators about park closures, Surfrider also lobbied on behalf of SB 580.  This park protection legislation ensures that our parks are not looked at as the “path of least resistance” for development.  The bill clearly spells out that state parks cannot be used for “non-park purposes”.  If no practical alternative is available, and the project goes through, the public must be compensated by receiving land that is fair market value or equivalent in environmental value.   State parks should not be considered “fair game” for development proposals that would seek to use them as places to build new infrastructure!

Dude, where’s my Beach?

Beaches around California used to be more abundant—especially in parts of San Diego County.  Unfortunately seawalls constructed on bluff tops by private landowners have starved our coastline of sand that would have naturally migrated to our public beaches.  At the March Coastal Commission hearing, the San Diego Chapter won a decade long fight against seawalls.  The Commission voted unanimously to set a timeline that will require the City of Solana Beach’s Local Costal Plan (LCP) to include a mitigation fee for the loss of public beaches.  In addition, the City must also reevaluate individual seawalls every 20 years to analyze their need, environmental impacts, and possibility of removal.   Way to go San Diego Chapter! The homeowners built the seawalls, now they have pay for the use of our beach!  Check out a recent article about the victory here


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  CA Policy Manager:
Stefanie Sekich-Quinn

Southern California Field Manager:
Nancy Hastings

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