Skip to content (press enter)


Save San O – Your Beach Access is at Risk!

A new lease must be signed for San Onofre to remain a state park.
Let decision-makers know how important San Onofre State Beach is to you!

Update 6/11/24
The petition has been closed in order to submit your letters of support to State and Agency officials.
Thank you for adding your voice!



San Onofre State Beach has been a protected beachside haven for over half a century, embodying the spirit of Southern California's coastal culture. In 1971, then-Governor Ronald Reagan and President Nixon signed an order to ensure public access to the beach for generations to come by declaring the area a state park. This executive order stated that only $1 was to be paid by State Parks in exchange for a 50-year lease of San Onofre from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

This August, California’s lease will officially come to an end and a federal statute (10 U.S. Code § 2667) now mandates fair market value for military land leases – a value that we can all assume far exceeds the $1 paid up until this point. A new lease must be signed for San Onofre to remain a state park. Although negotiations are underway and all parties involved in the lease renewal have publicly committed to maintaining public access, the future of public access to San Onofre and the management of this special coastline are uncertain. 

A long-term solution is crucial to maintain uninterrupted access to the beach and essential services, like lifeguard and sanitation services, as well as ecological monitoring, restoration, and wildlife protection.

While the lease renewal has captured the interest of many, the story of San Onofre extends far beyond contemporary lease agreements and even surfing.

Screenshot 2024-04-26 at 14.53.43

Since time immemorial, the village of Panhe has sat nestled among these coastal cliffs and riparian woodlands. Panhe, the place at the water, was one of the largest Acjachemen villages. This abundant land was a regional gathering place, a location for important cultural ceremonies, and a sacred space used for burials. With artifacts dating back to over 9,600 years old, this land remains a sacred site for the Acjachemen people.

Today, San Onofre offers a wealth of both recreation and educational resources in addition to the intrinsic importance of ecological habitats. 

Since the 1920s, generations of surfers have flocked to “San O’s” Surf Beach, drawn by its famed peeling waves and laid-back beachside community. North of Surf Beach’s gentle breaks, Trestles is considered one of the world’s best high-performance waves and is a mecca for surfers from around the globe. Its epic break has regularly served as the site for the World Surf League Finals. 

From a surfonomic standpoint (the study of the economic impacts of surfing), in 2006, it was estimated that surfers spent between $25 and $40 per visit to Trestles alone. With around 330,000 surf trips to Trestles that year, an additional $8-13 million in annual revenue was directed into the local economy. Adjusted for inflation, that same amount of spending in today’s dollar would look more like $12-20 million.

South of the most known surf breaks, San Onofre Bluffs Campground, offers 175 campsites tucked into the blufftop. Switchback paths leading from campsites to the beach, where visitors can access any number of uncrowded beaches and surf breaks that dot the state beach’s coastline. 

Students from elementary school through graduate programs utilize San Onofre as a living classroom where marine ecology and geology lessons come to life within tide pools and along the cliffs. As coastal habitats become increasingly scarce, this uniquely undeveloped stretch of coast offers the last chance to observe many endangered native California species and their untouched coastal habitats.


The impending decisions surrounding the lease hold incredible implications for the future of San Onofre State Beach. As stakeholders navigate a path forward, the commitment to preserving public access and safeguarding the cultural and ecological integrity of San Onofre must remain non-negotiable. 

Despite commitments from California State Parks and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton to maintain public access at San Onofre, anxiety within local coastal communities about the lease negotiations and its potential to impact access, at least temporarily, has been steadily and palpably growing. 

Surfrider is working with the San Onofre Parks Foundation to ensure ocean goers’ voices are heard and this treasured stretch of coast remains open to the public once the current lease expires and that a long term solution to permanently secure public access is put into action.



Sources linked:
Surfonomics Beach Valuation 
San Onofre Parks Foundation