09 • 16 • 2017

California Legislative Session Wraps Up: Ocean and Coast Bills Headed To Gov’s Desk

By Jennifer Savage

Sure, usually if you're glued to your computer screen on Friday night, it's because you're bingeing on Netflix or getting inspired for the next morning's dawn patrol by watching surf flicks or maybe you're checking out the latest, greatest ocean documentaries. But last Friday, the hot action unfolded across laptops throughout California courtesy of the final day of the California state legislature. As the legislative session wound to a (very late) end, those of us in the policy world remained glued to the live-stream to see which of the bills we cared most about would make it to the governor's desk. While not everyone is as engrossed in the process of bills becoming laws, everyone is impacted by whether or not they do – so why not take part in the final step?

Below is a list of bills Governor Jerry Brown must decide whether or not to sign by October 15. You can encourage him to support ocean and coastal protection by signing them into California law.

  1. Send a letter or postcard to: Governor Jerry Brown, c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814
  2. Call his office at (916) 445-2841
  3. Submit a comment online.

Beach Access

SB 42 – Martins Beach Access

Restoring access at Martins Beach remains one of Surfrider's priority campaigns. SB 42, co-written by Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, creates a subaccount within the California State Lands Commission’s budget that can be used to pay for portions of a public right-of-way from Highway 1 to Martins Beach. The subaccount can accept money from public, private and nonprofit entities, including San Mateo County which will likely contribute matching funds. The bill provides the commission with the option to transfer up to $1 million of existing money in the Kapiloff Fund into the subaccount, but specifies that other money in the subaccount must be used before Kapiloff funds are used. 

AB 250 – The 'Coastal Cabins' Bill

Authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, AB 250 would create a program to reduce the cost of campgrounds, cabins, hostels and motels along the state’s coast for low- and moderate-income families by directing the Coastal Conservancy to create a low-cost overnight accommodations program. “Too many California families simply can’t afford a trip to the beach,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher has said. “Rental rates are astronomical. Throw in parking, gas and all the other expenses and you have a situation where our beautiful ocean is out of reach for many hardworking families.”

SB 5 – California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act

SB 5, co-authored by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, allocates $3 million to parks and water systems, subject to a vote by Californians next year, the single largest investment in the history of the United States to park-starved communities. Once signed into law, SB 5 would create the first bond measure in state history to focus on social equity, including access to parks for all Californians and targeting water and flood control investments to the areas with the most unmet need. The measure responds to the state’s most important water, flood, and resource needs. The bond measure also includes critical funding for coastal and ocean protection and restoration. (More in the Los Angeles Times.)

Plastic Pollution

SB 386 – Banning Smoking in State Parks and Beaches

SB 386, authored by Steve Glazer, D-Orinda would ban cigarette smoking at state parks and beaches, helping to reduce the amount of cigarette butt litter in some of California's most precious places and eliminating a significant source of pollution along our beaches. (Note: AB 725, a similar bill authored by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Greenbrae, also passed, but is much weaker than Glazer's legislation.) 

Ocean Protection

SB 290 – Marine EntanglementSB 44 – Coastal Oil Well Clean Up

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, has two coastal protection bills moving forward to the governor's desk.

Senate Bill 44, the Coastal Oil Well Clean Up and Remediation Act, will require that the California State Lands Commission plug old “orphaned” oil wells in California waters when the original oil company that operated the well is out of business and cannot be held responsible. Recent survey work by the California State Lands Commission has identified approximately 200 of these so-called “legacy” oil wells off the coast of Santa Barbara, more than previously thought. Summerland Beach has approximately 192 of these wells, and the other eight are located in the Ellwood and Rincon fields off the Santa Barbara coast.

Senate Bill 290 would create an emergency grant program for authorized organizations that respond to stranded marine mammals and to marine wildlife that have been entangled in fishing and other gear. Last year, 71 whales were reported entangled along the California coast. A record 6,000 stranded sea lions, harbor seals, elephant seals, and other mammals were rescued off the California coast in 2015-2016. The Pacific leatherback sea turtle is the California state marine reptile, and is also listed as critically endangered. Last year, two sea turtles were reported entangled and only one of entangled turtles was released alive.

SB 50 – Public Lands Protection Act

SB 50 is authored by Senator Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, and designed to block efforts by the Trump administration to exploit California resources. It would be the first law in the country that could effectively block the sale or lease of federal public lands in the state. “Imagine a world in which parts of Yosemite National Park would be sold off and developed, the giant redwoods in Redwood National Park could be logged, or parts of Lassen, Kings Canyon, Death Valley, or Joshua Tree could simply be put on the auction block.  This idea was unthinkable until recently when it became an all too real possibility,” Senator Allen has said. “This legislation gives the state a viable method to help prevent the unthinkable sell-off of these national treasures.” 

California is home to 45 million acres of federal lands, such as national parks and national monuments, managed by a variety of agencies including the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture.