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.