Wednesday, May 30, 2012
May Policy Updates:
The month of May was very busy for the Surfrider Foundation. Several dedicated Surfrider volunteers and Staff members spent numerous hours at City Hall and working the halls of our State Capital. All of our hard work paid off—in just one month we scored victories for California’s coast and ocean! Well done!
Don’t Mess with the Coastal Act (really, we mean it).
In February, Surfrider learned about a piece of legislation that was written to gut the Coastal Act. The poorly written legislation (AB 2211, Jones) would have fundamentally altered the law so that new coastal development would be approved that would otherwise not be allowed under the Coastal Act’s existing provisions. For us “coast-huggers” the Coastal Act is like our bible—the law of the land. No other state in the Nation has such a protective law on the books that ensures responsible development, protects scenic landscapes, secures recreational opportunities, and preserves critical habitats and species. When Surfrider learned about the bill, we hit the ground running and partnered with diverse organizations to stop the bill. We created resources explaining the impacts of the bill and began reaching out to Committee members in Sacramento that would ultimately determine the fate of the bill. Read our Committee letter here and our Factsheet here. After weeks of lobbying and hard work, on May 7, Surfrider testified at a Committee hearing in Sacramento where we successfully garnered all the votes needed to kill the bill (final vote was: 6 to 3). This was a huge victory for Surfrider! Thanks to all of our partners who worked tirelessly with us.
Tijuana Trash and Sewage
At the end of May, a group of Surfrider activists and Staff members piled into a bus and crossed the Mexico border—not to surf waves, but to better understand the pollution problems surrounding the Tijuana River Valley. Quite frankly, it was a jaw-dropping experience. The amount of trash and pollution entering the Tijuana River Valley (and eventually heading back to the United States via ocean currents) is utterly depressing. The problems originate in small villages surrounding Tijuana. Unfortunately there is a rampant problem of dumping trash in canyons where these small villages are located (the waste often comes from outside companies, industry and unfortunately local hospitals). To make matters worse, these villages have little, to no, sewage infrastructure to capture their waste and transport it to local treatment plants. While visiting a local village we met up with Alter Terra and 4 Walls International, two organizations working to reuse trash for construction in the community. Next, we headed to Herrera Wastewater Treatment Plant to see how captured sewage is treated and learn about more efforts to improve wastewater management. Finally we headed to the border to see where the Tijuana River meets the Pacific Ocean. Check out pictures from our trip at the San Diego Chapter’s Facebook page for the local campaign working on pollution problems along the border.
Building a Bigger Beach.
Surfrider is pleased that the County of Santa Barbara is planning to make a beach bigger! Here’s how it will eventually work…. for years, rock revetments have been piled on the beach at Goleta County Park to supposedly deal with winter storm erosion. However, in 2009, the Coastal Commission told the County they need to start making plans to remove the rocks (the permit to place rocks on the beach was only temporary and did not provide a long term solution). Not only is the County removing the rocks, but they are also conducting an Environmental Impact Report to review the best way to go forward which includes a concept Surfrider calls “managed retreat”. Managed retreat allows the shoreline to advance unimpeded. In order for the beach to flow naturally (and thus grow in size) buildings and other infrastructure are relocated inland. In order to implement managed retreat, the County is analyzing moving the rocks, a large parking lot, and some utilities inland. Listen to this radio blurb about the project with quotes from a local Surfrider activist!
One, Two Punch!
Both Los Angeles and Santa Barbara City Councils voted last week to move forward with banning plastic bags at local stores! Los Angels will soon become the largest city in the Nation to ban bags. Surfrider helped organize and testify at the city council hearings and we are celebrating even though the bans won’t “happen overnight” and have a few extra steps. Essentially, these important votes set into motion a process that includes an environmental review, enactment of an ordinance, and a “phase-in” period. But make no mistake-- the votes last week signify the largest step in eliminating plastic pollution from our waterways and ocean in southern California. Several celebrities attended the LA City Council hearing (including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Amy Smart, Sharon Lawrence and Rachelle Lefevre). Here’s a great article. Here's a great write up from Surfrider about the next steps to officially lock in the votes!