10 • 18 • 2018
Require Access Equity at Mavericks Surf Contest
Require access equity under the California Coastal Act at the Mavericks surf contest; highlight that access is about more than physical barriers.
Photo by Erik Aeder
Through our global network of nearly 100 chapters, Surfrider Foundation has long been committed to ensuring beach access throughout the world. Our 20 California chapters staunchly and regularly defend the right to access as guaranteed by the California Coastal Act. The concept of “access” is most often addressed in physical terms such as gates, parking policies, coastal erosion, poor water quality or other clearly quantifiable deterrents; however, access can also be defined – and denied – by less tangible measures including intimidation or an attitude of exclusion. Surfrider must therefore take a strong stand on access equity.
The surf contest at Mavericks has been run contrary to the Coastal Act by historically “reducing access opportunities for a specific subset of people.” In 2015, as a condition of the coastal development permit issued, the California Coastal Commission insisted contest organizers comply with Coastal Act Section 30210, which states that “maximum access… and recreational opportunities shall be provided for all of the people.” Surf contests inherently impact public access by their nature; Surfrider Foundation stands with the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing in demanding a multi-heat Women’s Division in the Mavericks competition as well as equal pay for winners regardless of gender.
We stand by the Coastal Commission’s ongoing determination that contest organizers comply with Coastal Act Section 30210, which states that “maximum access […] and recreational opportunities shall be provided for all of the people.”
The event also comes with significant challenges, including crowd and traffic control, potential impacts on the beach, the Pillar Point bluffs and trails, and various issues related to public vessels and sightseeing. It's critical for contest organizers to engage the community and clearly communicate how they expect to manage those challenges.