This year at the Surfrider Foundation we accomplished many of our goals for coastal protection in California! We helped raise awareness for the marine life that is affected by oil spills, educated people about protecting coastal ecosystems with living shoreline and nature based adaptation restoration projects, and engaged our network to accomplish many key campaign victories.We even secured $5 million dollars in the 2022 state budget for the California Coastal Commission enforcement division to address hundreds of backlogged coastal access and habitat violations. For an in depth look at all of our 2022 victories, check out our database! Read on to learn more about our successes from this year below.
Slashing Plastic Pollution Statewide
This year, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act (SB 54) that could help eliminate approximately 23 million tons of single-use plastics throughout the next 10 years. It’s considered the most comprehensive and ambitious plastic reduction law in the United States to date. Surfrider also helped pass six local plastic ordinances in San Diego, Los Angeles, Solana Beach, Carlsbad and Encinitas.
California also passed AB 1857 to eliminate the diversion credit for municipal solid waste incinerators and redefine incineration as disposal. Burning trash is energy-intensive and creates harmful pollution; and we shouldn’t be incentivizing companies to continue this practice when they should be focusing on waste reduction!
Right on Track for Rail Relocation in San Diego County
If you’ve ever ridden the Amtrak in San Diego, you might have felt a bit..suspended when you reached the section in Del Mar. Surfrider has been urging the regional rail agency (SANDAG) to move about 1.5 miles of rail off these sensitive bluffs for many years, and this year major commitments towards that goal were secured. While the bluffs in Del Mar will unfortunately face a short term future of public safety stabilization measures (AKA seawalls that cause erosion), SANDAG committed to removing the seawalls and providing secure coastal access trails by 2050 at the June Coastal Commission hearing. Track realignment is strongly supported by locals, Surfrider, and SANDAG, and these commitments set the stage for an exemplary managed retreat of public infrastructure project.
A Historic End to the ‘Stop Poseidon’ Campaign in Huntington Beach
We stopped the proposed Poseidon Huntington Beach desalination plant! In 2005, the City of Huntington Beach approved a permit application to build a desalination plant that would take in 50 million gallons of water per day from the Pacific Ocean. This would have been bad not only for marine life but also would have perpetuated industrialization of the coast, used an enormous amount of energy and raised water rates substantially. Surfrider worked with partners from the Stop Poseidon Coalition to appeal this decision to the California Coastal Commission which resulted in several decades of permitting and legal hurdles. In March, the Commission denied the project, effectively stopping Poseidon forever after nearly two decades of campaigning. Can you hear our deep sigh of relief?.
AB 2248 Said ‘Hell No’ to Seabed Mining in California
We sponsored the Seabed Mining Prevention Act which now prohibits seabed mining in California. Pressure to mine the deep sea is exploding around the world, and this bill sought to stop this industry from ever taking root in California. Authored by Luz Rivas and co-sponsored by Surfrider and Monterey Bay Aquarium was supported by more than 50 non profits, academics and stakeholders including commercial and recreational fishing. California has the largest marine protected area in the world, and we aren’t about to undermine the incredible biodiversity it supports by allowing private industry to tear up the seafloor.
The Surf at Pleasure Point Lives to Break Another Day
We stopped a bad local coastal plan update by Santa Cruz County that would have flown in the face of the Coastal Act by relying heavily on seawalls, including for new development, to address sea level rise. We worked with our local and statewide partners to send a strong message to the California Coastal Commission that we must find innovative ways (living shorelines, retreat, etc) to address sea level rise in a way that will save our beaches and waves – not cause refraction and eroded beaches.
Retreat of San Francisco’s Great Highway Extension Moves Forward
San Francisco Surfrider has been advocating for more than a decade to restore Sloat, a section of South Ocean Beach that is currently flanked by a piece of highway that the City plans to close and turn back into public beach. Prop I would have kept the extension open to cars and steamrolled any plan to get the beach back in action at Sloat. . The measure was defeated in the November election and the chapter is excited to get back to focusing on getting the best possible coastal resilience project at South Ocean Beach.
Clean Water Litigation in San Diego Settled, but not for less
Our ambitious lawyers settled a Clean Water lawsuit for a 75% reduction in contaminated flows to the Tijuana River Valley, where beaches are closed throughout the years due to untreated sewage flows entering the Tijuana River from a wastewater treatment plant in Mexico. This settlement will drastically reduce a toxic cocktail of pollutants that has plagued South San Diego beaches for almost 100 years. Surfrider continues to seek funding for additional projects to fix the violations.
Orange County Parks are about to Look a Lot less Trashy
Orange County Parks has been granted at least 9 emergency flood and erosion control permits over the past decade and a half which is why hard the beach is littered with armoring and sand cubes.. Surfrider raised concerns over the haphazard management of this eroding beach and urged the Coastal Commission and OC Parks to find a nature based project to restore the beach.
At the November 16, 2022 Coastal Commission meeting, the Commission approved OC Park’s nature-based pilot project that Surfrider pushed them to evaluate and design for the North Reach of Capistrano Beach. Unfortunately, the Commission also approved riprap armoring at the South Reach of the beach to protect the existing parking lot in place for seven years, at which point the permit will expire and OC Parks will need to reevaluate expansion of the nature-based project. Moving forward, Surfrider will be pushing for an expansion of the nature based project to the South Reach of the beach as well.
The coast is never saved, it is always being saved! We have many more goals we want to accomplish in 2023 including improving water quality, preserving our beaches and reducing plastic pollution along California’s coastline.