Welcome to “Get to Know,” a weekly series highlighting Surfrider staff, chapter activists, friends and other folks we think people who care about California’s ocean, beaches and waves ought to know! We recently did a round of leg (that’s pronounced “ledge” as in “legislature”) visits in California’s capitol and thought we’d share some highlights and how-tos with you… Friends, we introduce Your State Electeds!
Team Surfrider, consisting of Healthy Beaches Manager Shannon Waters, California Policy Manager Jennifer Savage, California Policy Coordinator Mandy Sackett and Northern California Policy Coordinator Delia Bense-Kang, braved dumping rain and howling wind to visit many, many, many offices in California’s state capitol last week – 20 to be exact. Our goal? To thank our champions, introduce ourselves and Surfrider’s priorities to new members of the legislature, and to find out what kind of ocean- and coast-related bills our representatives are planning for the 2019 session.
We prepped by studying up on our representatives and making sure we each had relevant talking points to share with them, even practicing what we planned to say to build our confidence. With four of us and a multitude of topics, we wanted to be sure to be both informed and concise!
(Note: You have the chance to experience this yourself if you sign up for California’s Ocean Day Sacramento.)
We kicked off our ambitious tour at the office of newly elected Assemblymember Tasha Boehner Horvath, who represents Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad and Encinitas. A former Encinitas city councilmember and third-generation Encinitian, Boerner Horvath is particularly proud of the city’s 2018 Climate Action Plan, which was awarded the Outstanding Planning Document of the Year last year. “I’m big on coastal preservation,” she told us. Music to our ears!
Next up, we visited the office of Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, who represents San Mateo and, along with Senator Kevin de Léon, co-authored last year’s SB 5/Prop. 68, which will send $4.1 billion toward outdoor recreation, land conservation and water projects.
And then we were off to meet with Senator Scott Wiener, who represents San Francisco and is looking to pass an ocean bill large in scope… stay tuned for details! From there, we dashed off to meet with Assemblymember Marc Berman, whose district includes Martins’ Beach and the soon-to-be-public Tunitas Creek Beach, a wonderful victory for public access to California’s coast! Also on our list, Monterey Bay’s Assemblymember Mark Stone, who already lives and breathes Surfrider’s coastal protection mission, and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, whose district suffered from both a mass shooting and a major fire nearly simultaneously last year. We commend her response to both – our L.A. chapter is involved in Woolsey Fire relief efforts – and know she stands firmly on the side of environmental well-being.
We also met with Majority Leader – and avid surfer – Assemblymember Ian Calderon, who represents Whittier, co-authored the bill making surfing California’s state sport and agreed with us about the need to address sea level rise impacts now:
From there we met with Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell from Long Beach, then dashed off to meet with Senator Ben Allen, longtime champion of the environment and whose district includes Santa Monica, South Bay and Torrance. Senator Allen has a significant bond measure, SB 45, Wildfire, Drought, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2020 in the works… Similarly, expect good things from Malibu-Santa Monica rep Assemblymember Richard Bloom‘s office, particularly when it comes to microfibers.
We also chatted with Assemblymember Bill Brough of South Orange County, a district already heavily impacted by large tides and storm surges. Hopefully next time we visit, he’ll invite us out on the lovely patio adjacent to his office – not everyone in the Capitol has such a perk. (Seriously, the lack of sunlight in most of these offices can’t be a good thing.)
Next up, Assemblymember Jim Wood, whose Northern California district has been hard hit by wildfire disasters and who deeply understands the imperative for increasing resiliency when it comes to the impacts of climate change.
We ended the day with San Diego’s Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, whose dedication to expanding coastal access took shape in the form of 2017’s AB 250, promoting more lower-cost accommodations on the California coast. She also successfully authored AB 2369 last year, cracking down on illegal poaching by commercial fishing operations in California’s marine protected areas.
Of course, that was just Wednesday! We still had two days to go…
Thursday took us first to the office of Senator Ben Hueso who represents Imperial Beach as part of his district. Last year Senator Hueso authored a resolution urging the federal government to take immediate action to adequately address cross-border pollution in the Tijuana River Valley, a water quality crisis that our San Diego chapter also continues to prioritize.
We also visited the office of Assemblymember Phil Ting, whose district encompasses San Francisco’s Ocean Beach and the Farallon islands and met with Assemblymember Marc Levine, who represents Marin and Sonoma. Assemblymember Levine was one of the first California legislators trying to ban single-use plastic bags early on and continues to fight the good fight for our coast.
This brings us to Day 3 of our leg tour and Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, friend of our South Bay chapter and co-author of the bill that made surfing California’s state sport.
We were thrilled to get to know Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, a Surfrider supporter and new Orange County representative. She’s very keen on preserving and protecting our coast, and we look forward to supporting her forthcoming legislation doing just that.
Naturally we enjoyed meeting with Martins Beach champ Senator Jerry Hill‘s staff, as well as with L.A.’s Senator Henry Stern – he of the annual Surf Summit. Senator Stern’s on a mission to help more inland kids get to the beach and we are wholeheartedly on board! We also visited Senator Steve Bradford‘s office – he represents San Pedro and beyond – and look forward to future opportunities to work together.
That’s what all this was about after all, not just a chance to get all of our steps in, but to speak to decisionmakers and their staff about what Surfrider’s thousands of member and supporters care about. We must remember that our elected officials work for us! Visiting the Capitol can be intimidating, even for the experienced, but everyone has the right (and, some would say, obligation) to reach out to their representative, whether by email, phone or in-person visit.
Want to follow along as ocean and coast legislation moves through the legislative process? LegInfo is a great resource. You can register and track key words to make sure you don’t miss anything that comes forward.