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Golden State update: Save SanO, Vote 2020, Coastal Commission battles

Before we launch into your weekly update, an acknowledgment that all kinds of existential crises are happening across our state. COVID-19 continues to dictate how we’re living our lives, wildfires continue to burn and this weekend’s hotter-than-ever heatwave is wreaking havoc. I hope wherever you are, you’re able to find some relief and to stay safe and healthy. 


As we mentioned last week, AB 1080 and SB 54, our super progressive bills aiming to make California a zero waste state, did not get through state legislature. This means that California will not be taking a new leadership role in ending plastic pollution – bummer! This week, the SF Chronicle illuminated some of the behind-the-scenes politics responsible for this disappointing outcome. Regardless, we’ll keep pushing for better policies, at the state and federal levels, and in our counties, cities and individual lives.

In more upbeat news, AB 1426, a bill meant to permanently protect San Onofre State Beach, passed both houses – yay! – and is awaiting the Governor’s desk. Please join us in asking Governor Newsom to sign it into law! 

Vote 2020

To state what seems obvious to most everyone, the most important election of our lifetime is upon us, which means your voice and your vote are critically important. Whether for clean water, healthy beaches, future generations, or environmental justice, we want you to tell us why you're casting your ballot this November 3. (As a 501c3 organization Surfrider does not support or oppose any particular candidate or political party.)

We are encouraging everyone to exercise their constitutional right to vote and to consider how it impacts the world. To this end, we’ve created a super cool page where you can register to vote, tell us what motivates you to vote and maybe end up featured on Surfrider's social channels along with some world-renowned surfers and ocean lovers!

California Coastal Commission

This week brings us three days of California Coastal Commission hearings! We have 3 particular items regarding wildly inappropriate blufftop development coming up – two in San Diego (here and here) and one in Santa Cruz – that we’ll be commenting on. This idea that people fortunately enough to own coastal bluff property should be able to build massive homes and basements and swimming pools and otherwise act as if erosion and sea level rise don’t exist has just got to stop!

We’re also reviewing and will comment on a project in the Pacific Palisades that involves the temporarily bulldozing of sand into protective berms during high tides and storm surges – better than permanent sea walls, for sure, but still a kind of crazy project.

You can tune in to the meetings via the Coastal Commission’s website if you’d like and also check out ActCoastal to learn more about Surfrider’s role at the Coastal Commission. Short version: We keep trying to save the beaches that belong to us, permit by permit, property by property. Hopefully next year will bring forth some legislation that will create better statewide policies and long-term protection of our vanishing beaches.

Sea level rise

After all, even the state’s Legislative Analyst Office agrees. A Report released on Aug 10 sounded the alarm that even with COVID-19, wildfires and an unstable economy, action on sea level rise can’t wait. The report provides direction on what the state’s priorities should be, including fostering regional‑scale collaboration, supporting local planning and adaptation projects, and enhancing public awareness of SLR risks and impacts.

We plan to continue to work closely with state legislators and agencies – especially the California Coastal Commission – to implement the LAO’s recommendations and fight backwards-thinking legislation next year.


Poseidon has been pushing to build this unnecessary, expensive, rate-increasing, greenhouse-gas-emitting monstrosity of an ocean desalination plant in Huntington Beach. We have been, unsurprisingly, fighting it – and continue to do so. The Regional Water Board is weighing whether or not to permit the plant and was scheduled to have its third hearing on the matter (these hearings have so far stretched out over several weeks) on Friday, Sept. 17 but they’ve postponed again. If you’re in the Orange County area, keep pressuring your local elected officials for real solutions to the region’s water needs.