Assemblymember seek special surfing reserves designation
A new bill making its way through the California Legislature would create a specific process for designating state surfing reserves to protect and promote these coastal zones.
AB 2177 from Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, is modeled after California’s Scenic Highway Program, which establishes a protection and enhancement responsibility for areas of roadways that require special conservation consideration.
A surfing reserve would be defined as a specific area that features protected waves, surf zones and surrounding environments and would recognize the surfing area’s environmental, cultural and historical significance.
Assemblymember Irwin’s bill would require the California Coastal Conservancy to establish specific criteria and an application process for designating coastline areas as a state surfing reserve. The conservancy would consider the area’s wave quality and consistency, surf culture and history and environmental characteristics for the program, according to a fact sheet provided by the assemblymember’s office.
“California has a long history of celebrating the unique qualities of our coastline, with our state leading the country in promoting access and protection of our surfing zones,” Assemblymember Irwin told the News-Press. “This designation will serve to recognize the cultural, historical, economic and ecological importance of surf zones that make our Golden State proud to be home to some of the world’s best surf destinations.”
California’s surfing industry generates $140 billion in annual economic activity, according to the fact sheet from her office. Surfing is California’s state sport.
Chris Keet, founder and advanced coach at Surf Happens, touted the surfing community in Carpinteria and Santa Barbara County as “community and soul-driven.” He said it’s important to balance growth with maintaining local flora.
“We don’t want our beaches to turn into concrete jungles, a bunch of parking lots,” Mr. Keet said.
This bill has not been previously introduced, a spokesperson for the assemblymember said.
The bill was second-read last week after unanimously passing out of the Natural Resources Committee.