Sponsor Spotlight: We’d like to send a huge wave of thanks to Heal the Bay’s featured Coastal Cleanup Day 2022 sponsor, Water for LA. Learn more about how Water for LA is empowering residents to be part of LA County’s water supply solution.
THE FUTURE of Los Angeles Countydepends on a water-literate public that understands how simple individual actions impact the complex networks that make up our water system and the health of our coast and waterways. Topics like recycled water, flood protection, water pollution, and conservation are important and should feel as accessible as discussing the latest Dodgers game.
The truth is we can no longer afford to take our water or our environment for granted. It took a monumental effort to grow this improbable metropolis out of our arid soil. We met that challenge, but we face new threats to the sustainability and success of Los Angeles.
Water for LA is a program to transform LA County residents from passive water consumers to empowered and informed water advocates dedicated to sustainability and health for all. This is why we are glad to sponsor Heal the Bay’s 2022 Coastal Cleanup Day events. Our team will be on site in Santa Monica supporting the clean up and providing more information to attendees about how they can make small changes to their water use that make a big impact.
As a trusted resource on all things water, Water for LA leads campaigns that educate the public and foster more sustainable behavior to help ensure the region’s future.
Our water goes through an epic journey to reach the taps in our homes—sometimes it travels far, moving across mountains and through miles of pipelines, and sometimes it goes through complex processes locally at our water recycling plants and through groundwater cleanup. And we each have our own journey with water. Water for LA’s 2022 campaign—My Journey with Water—identifies simple behaviors, such as sweeping your driveway instead of spraying it down, that we can each adopt to keep our beaches and waterways clean AND conserve water.
Water for LA envisions an LA County where residents understand and nurture their relationship with water—where it comes from, its connection to the rivers and lakes upstream, and how their actions impact their neighbors, region, ocean, and the planet.
Where else can we build a community of fierce water advocates? As the saying goes: only in LA.
Sponsored by Water for LA. On Saturday, September 17, 2022, more than 4,583 Heal the Bay volunteers gathered across LA County to remove 11,298 pounds of trash and 313 pounds of recyclables from our watersheds, neighborhoods, and coastline. We’d like to send a huge wave of thanks to all of our Coastal Cleanup Day 2022 volunteers, organizers, and sponsors!
Usually this time of year, we are hosting our annual volunteer party (and eating donuts!) to celebrate Super Healers – an elite squad of Heal the Bay volunteers who have gone above and beyond. Even though we still can’t gather, we still can recognize and thank our volunteers. Let’s celebrate our 2021 Super Healers!
The past year was full of adversity and challenges. As our physical doors closed in March of 2020, Heal the Bay’s work never stopped. Even during times of uncertainty, it was no surprise that our connected and passionate community of volunteers continued to help out in a big way.
Although we are unable to gather all together for our annual volunteer recognition party, all of the staff at Heal the Bay felt it of the utmost importance to recognize the people we so greatly rely on to keep our ship smoothly sailing. From the depth of the ocean, we thank each and every one of of volunteers for your dedication and support.
Aquarium Aquarist Volunteers: Rachel Watson, Nadya Sharif, CJ Leede, and Elina Babay
The 2020 pandemic led to the Heal the Bay offices closing and the Heal the Bay Aquarium closing its doors to the public. However, during this time of masks and social distancing, there was one population that remained unaffected and (clearly) flippant about any of these health regulations – the fishes, crabs, sea stars, and local aquatic species of the Santa Monica Bay housed at Heal the Bay Aquarium. Despite LA County closures, these incredible animals still required daily care and support by the essential workers of Heal the Bay. With such strict limitations, it is without a doubt that we were able to uphold such world class care because of an All-Star team of volunteers that fared the tumultuous seas to help out. Rachel Watson, Nadya Sharif, CJ Leede, and Elina Babay deserve the highest recognition and Giant Squid sized gratitude for their dedication, hard work and passion in supporting the livelihood of the animals at Heal the Bay Aquarium. On behalf of Heal the Bay, myself (Laura Rink – Associate Director of Ops), and all the fishes of the deep blue sea, we give great thanks and appreciation.
Education Volunteers: Laura Schare and Crystal Sandoval
Extra special thanks to our rock star Education volunteers, Laura Schare and Crystal Sandoval (also a past intern), for continuously providing support from in-person field trips at the beginning of the year, through virtual camp programs, and now virtual field trips. Laura also helped put together and deliver one of our Knowledge Drops presentations on Community Science. She helped teach about iNaturalist, the City Nature Challenge, and how community science can help inspire everyday people to learn more about nature and science in genera.
Beach Programs: Club Heal the Bay at Santa Monica High School
Club Heal the Bay at SAMOHI is a student-led club dedicated to protect the health of our local shoreline and watersheds. Steps they’ve taken toward this goal include conducting beach cleanups, discussing the reduction of their carbon footprints, fundraising for reusable sanitary products, informing students about sorting out waste, and advocating for a stronger MS4 permit.
MPA Watch: John Wells
Since joining Heal the Bay’s MPA Watch Program in February 2020, John has conducted over 140 MPA Watch surveys, accounting for nearly HALF the total surveys completed last year! We are so grateful and fortunate to have this increased attention to our MPAs at a time when we have an exceptional need to record unprecedented changes in human recreational and consumptive behavior in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you so much John for your contribution, we couldn’t have done it without you!
A little more about this All Star: John Wells has lived in four states, two of which are located near the ocean: Arizona, California, New York, and Colorado. When everyone else was moving in the opposite direction, John moved back to Los Angeles from Colorado Springs upon retirement in 2018. He earned degrees in Biochemistry from Cal State LA and UCLA, and ever the environmentalist, he worked as a chemical analyst measuring EPA Priority Pollutants in the 1980’s. More recently he explored careers in grounds and building maintenance and instruction in school bus driving. Due to a love of hiking and the great outdoors, the MPA Watch program is a natural fit for him, and the MPA Watch program remains an excellent source of safe, outdoor activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. He doesn’t consider performing MPA Watch survey’s a “work,” as he greatly enjoys doing them.
Speakers Bureau: David A. Weeshoff
After retiring in 2005, Dave became a volunteer at International Bird Rescue in San Pedro, CA where he assists in the care of sick and injured aquatic birds and directly observes the impacts of poor water quality on their health.
In February 2006, he joined the Speaker’s Bureau to address ocean pollution issues with audiences ranging from pre-school through adults, and has done so for over 21,000 people. He was a Regional Stakeholder and helped design the Marine Protected Areas off the Southern California coast.
He has traveled to the Arctic, Antarctic, and many other bird habitats worldwide, and shares his photos including penguins, whales, turtles, and polar bears with audiences to highlight the impacts of pollution on our natural world.
Site Captain each Coastal Cleanup Day 2015 through 2020
Awarded SuperHealer Award for 2006
Awarded Jean Howell Award 2009
Science & Policy: Michelle Allen
Michelle Allen has been crucial in maintaining momentum for our LA River camera trapping project in partnership with SAMO and the NPS in 2020 and again in 2021. A dedicated volunteer, Michelle began with Heal the Bay in 2018 as part of the summer Stream Team where they collected water quality samples at two sites in Malibu with another exceptional Heal the Bay volunteer, Christina Huggs. The two made a great community science team and went on to explore another Heal the Bay science program, wildlife camera trapping along the LA River! Again, Michelle’s reliability and enthusiasm for science shown bright to keep our data collection going, even during the most unprecedented times. You are truly a pleasure to work with Michelle and we couldn’t have done it without you! We are so grateful and you continue to make such a positive impression on so many of us at Heal the Bay.
A little more about this All Star: Starting as a student at CSUN, Michelle worked at Heal the Bay during the summer seasons under Dr. Katherine Pease on the Stream Team program collecting samples for water quality in the Malibu Creek area for the River Report card. Now finished with her B.S. in Environmental and Occupational Health and a minor in Sustainability, she works part time and interns for Food and Water Watch on the Take Back the Tap program. She is a Fellow and works with a few different schools all around the country to ban single-use plastic bottles on campuses. Michelle wants to make as much a difference in her community and get as involved in any way in all things environmental. In her free time, she loves to run, dance, go on long hikes, and spend time with loved ones whenever she can. Podcasts are what she listens to while she cleans her house. And, her very cute fluffy kitty’s name is Tamale.
Shout out to those volunteer educators who led or co-led our some of our Knowledge Drop sessions! Stiv Wilson, Dave Weeshoff, Shona Ganguly, Tom Ford, Dana Muray, John Dorsey, Laura Schare, and Brook Peterson.
Heal the Bay’s Advancement Special Events Manager, Inés Ware, kicks off our latest collaboration with K-Swiss and how it represents a very special fish in the Pacific Ocean.
Heal the Bay x K-Swiss is back with another ocean-inspired shoe!This time around it is all about the Garibaldi, our beloved California State Marine Fish.
The Garibaldi is a protected inhabitant of the waters just off the California coast. The fish is well known for their bright orange color and feisty behavior.As one of the most recognizable marine animals in the ocean, the Garibaldi’s bold contrast against the cool blues and greens of the surrounding ocean kelp forest habitat make it a shoo-in for instant inspiration (see what I did there?).
Fun fact: juvenile Garibaldi fish have bright blue spots that fade as they mature.
The K-Swiss team just released a new shoe featuring textured fish scales and an orange exterior, and there’s even akids version withbright blue spots along the sides, as a reference to the unique characteristic of juvenile Garibaldi.
Photo by Monterey Bay Aquarium
These shoes are a perfect pop of color and pair nicely with our Heal the Bay gear. We are stoked to see one of our favorite fish making such a bold fashion statement for the ocean!
On top of paying homage to marine life through its creative design, theGaribaldi shoe features recycled materials.Specific materials include 100% recycled PET linings, 100% recycled polyester laces, Ortholite ECO comfort sock-liner with Bio-based castor bean oil instead of 20% of petroleum, Bloom foam algae-based sustainable midsole foam, and a cellulose-based water-soluble biodegradable hang tag.
All proceeds from the sale of the Garibaldi shoe go toward supporting Heal the Bay’s work to make LA’s coastal waters and watersheds safe, healthy, and clean. We are thankful for K-Swiss’ continued commitment to sustainability and generous support. From volunteering at our beach cleanups to creating shoes with eco-friendly materials to donating proceeds, we applaud K-Swiss for going the extra mile to protect what we love.
Inés Ware, our Advancement Special Events Manager, dives into how Heal the Bay is adapting fundraising programs and focusing on virtually connecting with supporters, including the launch of new live videos and a shift to an all Online Auction.
This year has been one for the books. However, as we brace for a challenging fundraising period as a nonprofit, we are confident we will continue to keep up the good fight to protect clean water.
The health and safety of our supporters, partners, staff, and community is a top priority. Heal the Bay has postponed our Annual Gala until further notice. We also temporarily closed Heal the Bay Aquarium and suspended all public program activities.
Heal the Bay’s Auction is open for bidding on Wednesday, May 20 at Noon PDT and closes Wednesday, May 27 at 9pm PDT. You can text “bringthebeachhome” to 243725 for real-time updates from Heal the Bay about our Auction and Bring the Beach Home live videos.
We have amazing items to offer in our Auction this year, including one-of-a-kind Heal the Bay goodies, luxury getaways, coveted experiences (that can be booked in 2021), and more. View all our Online Auction items and donate to Fund the Bay!
Proceeds from our Auction directly fund Heal the Bay’s science, advocacy, community outreach, and public education work. Bid early, bid often, bid generously, and help us continue to keep California’s coastal waters safe and healthy for people and marine life.
Heal the Bay Live Auction Livestreams
Tune in to our special livestream of the Live Auction on Facebook Live and YouTube Live with auctioneer and host Billy Harris on Wednesday, May 27 at 6pm PDT. I look forward to seeing you there.
Although we can’t be at the beach with friends and family at this time, the beaches are still there, along with all the marine life and memories we cherish – and Heal the Bay is still here protecting them.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to spread knowledge and share our passion for our waters. We launched a new virtual educational series, Knowledge Drops, for the million-plus children in Los Angeles who can no longer go to school.And we’re continuing to fight big plasticand EPA rollbacksas they attempt to exploit this global crisis and cut local environmental protections.
However, the temporary suspension of Heal the Bay’s public programs, the closure of our Heal the Bay Aquarium, and the cancellation of our Annual Gala has resulted in a loss in fundraising that we greatly rely on to fulfill our mission. Now more than ever, Heal the Bay needs your support.
We’re more powerful when we come together, so let’s come together for Heal the Bay. Please help us by making a donation to fund our crucial work and participating in our Bring the Beach Home campaign.
How is the beach special to you? We invite you to share your meaningful beach photo and story on Instagram or Facebook and take us all on a trip down memory lane. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to see inspiring beach moments from our community.
We miss you, but just because we are physically apart doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected. Join our weekly Heal the Bay live streams where we’ll introduce new Heal the Bay supporters, share favorite beach memories, and unearth helpful sustainability tips and topics. We look forward to having a fun and positive conversation with you each week.
Our Advancement Special Events Manager, Ines Ware, shares some handy sustainable shopping tips for this Earth Day.
Earth Day is around the corner (literally, it’s tomorrow) and what better way to celebrate than by implementing sustainable shopping practices into your daily life. One person may not be able to do everything but everyone can do something. Small, conscious decisions are like little acts of activism.
Not only does Heal the Bay work tirelessly to keep LA’s waterways clean and safe, protect public health, and educate our community, we are also excited to provide you with ideas to practice sustainability in your everyday life.
Speaking of grocery shopping, we all have to eat, right? If you are out and about for lunch, instead of using single-use plastics to eat your delicious to-go order, try bringing reusable bamboo utensils. Heal the Bay offers bamboo utensils that are easily cleaned and come in a neat carrying case. There are also great stainless steel straws that easily replace plastic straws.
Then, there’s the pesky bottled water with its own set of problems. Did you know that water bottles produce about 1.5 million tons of plastic waste each year? Most water bottles end up in the landfill or the ocean. Have no fear, get your paws on a reusable water bottle for when you need to hydrate on the go.
Sustainable shopping is not just a trend – it may help save the world. However, the biggest impact we can make is creating comprehensive environmental policy that ensures equitable access to sustainable choices. One person can make a difference. One business can make a difference. And, so can we, as one community. For Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting two businesses run by women of color who are proving that it’s possible to be successful, sustainable, and make a positive social impact.
Shopping can be therapeutic for most. The instant gratification of hitting the “Buy Now” button or the bliss of un-bagging all the items purchased at the mall is irresistible. Though these experiences can gift us temporary relief, collectively they are extremely harmful to our environment.
From the abundance of unnecessary plastic packaging that winds up in landfills, communities, and ecosystems to the spewing of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during production and transportation, we need to see clearly that consumerism in the United States has contributed negatively to the health of our natural environment as well as our own health.
Our individual decisions do cumulatively make a big impact. So it is especially important for consumers to shop ethically and sustainably while simultaneously demanding environmentally-responsible policies.
Our Power in Choice
As consumers, we have the power to choose companies that make a difference. And this is something worth acknowledging and celebrating. What’s exciting is that thousands of companies are actively developing innovative solutions. Meet these two company leaders in the beverage industry who are making a positive impact.
(Photo of Sashee Chandran, Founder and CEO of Tea Drops)
Tea Drops is a tea company created by Sashee Chandran, a Chinese-Sri Lankan American woman, that offers customers a locally-sourced, quality bag less tea that cuts out unnecessary waste. This process is markedly different than other tea products where polypropylene is used to make the tea bags.
(Photo of bag less tea by Tea Drops)
Sales of Tea Drops products support the Los Angeles-based, Thirst Project, by funding one year of clean water for someone in need – so choosing Tea Drops over other options not only reduces one’s waste footprint, but also contributes to water justice.
Another company promoting ethical production is Grosche, started by Helmi Ansari and Mehreen Sait, Pakistani Canadian partners. The company was built on the idea of ‘profit for change’ as opposed to profit for personal gain. They commit to funding 50-days of safe water for every product sold, including their adorable Shark Tea Infuser.
(Photo of Helmi Ansari and Mehreen Sait, Founders of Grosche)
Grosche has diverted 91% of landfill waste, uses 100% renewable energy, maintains a zero-carbon footprint, and has planted 10,000 trees in Africa and Haiti, while running a banana plantation in South Sudan to help grow food and create income for the local community. Biosand filters that purify water for 10 people, up to 25-30 years, are also offered to communities and families in need.
(Photo of the Shark Tea Infuser by Grosche)
Tea Drops and Grosche are incredible businesses moving in the right direction toward a sustainable future. We can’t stop there. We need to take their lead and advocate for policies that hold all companies and institutions accountable for their environmental impact. And we can’t afford to wait. The recent IPCC report reveals drastic change is needed within the next 12 years to protect our food and water supplies.
When we work together, we will see real change.
Check out HOVE Social Good’s Water Power Box, which features the products listed above. Every box sold gives $1 back to Heal the Bay! And also check out the box dedicated to HER Power to celebrate Women’s History Month.
About the author: Mariana Estrada is a digital advocacy intern at Heal the Bay. She grew up in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles where she enjoys a lively community of close-knit families and great food. She became interested in environmental issues like air quality at an unusually young age due to living in the city. Estrada’s area of focus is combining humanities and environmental issues to create effective and meaningful storytelling that renders real results. She studies English Literature and double-minors in Environmental Systems and Society and Environmental Engineering at UCLA.
Heal the Bay is partnering with HOVE Social Good to show how easy it is to make an impact simply by choosing goods intended to effect change.
We all want to get out there every day to help remove pollution spilling into our waters. Whether that means volunteering at a cleanup, taking water quality samples or building clean water wells and infrastructure, we all want to do good. But, let’s be honest, life gets in our way sometimes.
There is something you can do to push and advocate for change daily. You can shop smarter from socially conscious companies who give back to clean water initiatives.
That’s why we have partnered with Hove Social Good and their delightful Water Power Box featuring products that are making small yet significant changes toward cleaner and safer water for all. In the Water Power Box, you will be introduced to a plethora of eco-friendly items and their meaningful data stories, which show your personal social and environmental impact footprint.
Instead of just echoing the same dialogue about the daunting challenge of the global water crisis, the Water Power Box focuses on identifying the positive solutions taking place all around us.
The collective impacts harnessed in each Water Power Box, at minimum, give between 16-36 months of safe, clean water to someone in need; removes one pound of trash from our oceans; provides 450 sanitary hand-washes to students and restores part of our American rivers.
On top of that, $1 from every Water Power Box sold goes to support Heal the Bay’s L.A. River and Watershed water quality monitoring program. Think of it, one Water Power Box can fund one monitoring bottle to collect water samples and test for harmful bacteria in our recreational waters — this critically supports Heal the Bay staff and volunteers working to clean up watersheds, streams and beaches in Los Angeles County.
Every action, every effort counts and will move us toward improved water conditions. And right now, we need every person in every corner of the globe to work on turning the tide.
What’s in the Water Power Box & how do I get it?
The Clean Water Box is offered in LIMITED SUPPLY. Each box is filled with amazing goods from caring, thoughtful companies doing more, and valued up to $100. A single box is offered at $50. To see what’s included inside the Water Power Box, visit www.socialgoodboxes.com.
Who is behind the Water Power Box?
Hove Social Good’s CEO and founder, Cindy J Lin, previously worked for nearly 20 years at the US Environmental Protection Agency, and was engaged in international and national water protection projects and sweeping environmental policy changes. Currently, she and her team are working hard to harness people-power for good.
HOVE (short for hovering to connect with change) connects people to purchasing with purpose and supports a dynamic data platform to easily examine environmental, health and consumer behavior data together.
Stay tuned because the HOVE Social Good team is working on an app that’ll make it easier for consumers to find companies who are proactively creating programs for environmental and public health, dedicating a clear portion of funds to organizations working on the ground, or adopting a sustainable supply and process chain that minimizes, does no harm, or improves our planet’s condition.
The ultimate goal is to disrupt the current e-commerce landscape by changing people’s behavior in small ways — replacing everyday consumable goods with better choices made by socially responsible and Give Back companies.
As passionate surfers in the Southland, Coastal Co. founders Kevin Tighe II and Mark Healey often see plastic pollution in the water and on the beaches. This year, they decided to take action with their subscription-based, coastal lifestyle startup. As they developed a business plan and launched their new brand, the entrepreneurs made a commitment to a model that would not only promote the surfing culture that they live and breathe, but would also make a positive impact in the world by improving water quality in our oceans.
“Our mission as a company is to deliver the beach life to our members’ doorsteps every season. It’s imperative that we do our part to help protect our oceans and beaches, otherwise, we won’t have much of a beach life to deliver. To accomplish this, wanted to partner with a local non-profit who aligned with our mission and values. Heal the Bay was that perfect partner,” says Kevin Tighe.
A rewarding idea
Once a season, Coastal Co. curates the latest beach-inspired apparel, accessories and lifestyle products which it sends directly to its members’ doorsteps. The special at-home delivery takes a little bit of Cali sunshine a long way to benefit our coastline. Coastal Co. has boxes for both men and women. Each box costs $99 per season and contains over $200 of retail value inside. This Winter, female members will find items such as the limited edition “Sea La Vie” fleece from Alternative Apparel (made specifically for Coastal Co. members), a tropical scented candle from Maui Candle Company, an ethically made beanie from Krochet Kids International, a necklace from Salty Cali jewelry and more. Recent products that could be found in the men’s box include a Nixon Watch, a tee from Drifter Surf Shop in Bali, a flannel from Lira Clothing, a zip-up hoodie from Rhythm apparel and more.
Whenever anyone purchases a Coastal Co. box, proceeds fund Heal the Bay beach cleanups. The partnership funds a couple beach cleanups each month as well as other critical local ocean protection initiatives.
“8 Million tons of plastics are dumped into our oceans each year! If we all do a little, we can do a lot,” states Kevin. “That is why we’ve partnered with Heal the Bay and Pledgeling to help keep our fragile coasts pristine and clean.”
Coastal Co. is also taking steps to remove plastics from their seasonal deliveries while pushing manufacturers and suppliers to consider alternative options that are safer for the environment. In addition to curating non single-use products, the team recycles plastics they receive in the product supply chain before this waste reaches the consumer.
“If we all took one small step forward toward sustainability daily, we’d be much closer to solving our global plastic pollution problems,” says Shelley Luce, Heal the Bay chief. “Heal the Bay is excited to partner with Coastal Co. and Pledgeling because of their long-term commitment to protecting our coast.”
When businesses opt-in to major sustainability initiatives, local community collaboration is key to making an impact. Step in,Pledgeling, a Venice-based tech company that aligns brands with causes around the world to increase their business and achieve a sustainable impact.
“We are excited to bring together two great organizations – Coastal Co. and Heal the Bay – who are committed to truly making a difference. When we can link customers’ purchases to impact that they’re helping to make in the real world, people feel good about the transparency and are more inclined to trust brands that give back to causes they care about,” says James Citron, CEO of Pledgeling.
Heal the Bay Volunteer Giveaway: Win a Winter Box from Coastal Co.
To kick off our partnership, Coastal Co. is giving away a Winter Box (over $200 retail value) PLUS a $50 giftcard from Krochet Kids, a featured brand in the Winter Box! If you’d like to enter the giveaway, please make sure to comment below and follow @healthebay, @coastalcobox & @krochetkids on Instagram. It’s free to enter, but you have to be 18 or older. The winner will be selected on December 21.
Through the end of December, we will share the stories of amazing people whose lives have been changed by Heal the Bay. Now they are changing our region for the better. Please make your Year-End Gift today to support the work of these water warriors.
Ken Seino almost died surfing at Malibu’s fabled First Point. First he was scared, then he was angry. Then with Heal the Bay’s help he took matter into his own hands – flying to Sacramento with us in 2009 to fight successfully for stricter pollution limits. Here’s his story in his own words:
Call me biased, but from the first time I surfed the place, I knew Surfrider Beach was special – dare I say sacred? But the continuous human pollution from Malibu Creek eventually played Russian Roulette with me and it won. I suffered a prolonged illness from a fecal virus contracted surfing here and I almost died from it. The disease damages the heart muscle and even causes your own immune system to weaken you. It is irreversible.
Two surfer friends of mine did die from the very same virus here. They asked me to help them fight for its restoration to the pure and holy place that the Chumash tribe ascribed it to be. In order to honor my friends and honor this place, how could I refuse?
As a member of the Malibu Surfing Association and a Surfrider Beach regular since 1971, I was asked by MSA president Michael Blum to accompany the “A-Team” to Sacramento and speak before the State Water Board.
The State Board was weighing in on whether to support the Regional Water Board’s earlier prohibition of on-site wastewater plants in the Malibu Civic Center area. Opposition to the action was strong with Malibu’s city attorney actually threatening litigation if the State Board upheld the prohibition, which aimed to prevent seepage of harmful bacteria from outmoded septic tanks.
I had heard of last-minute strategies by the city of Malibu to have the septic ban remanded to the L.A. Board because of its contention that the prohibition was “technically unfeasible and politically unachievable.”
So I was worried as I walked into the State Water Board hearing room and sat next to my esteemed teammates. We each spoke, with [former HTB president] Mark Gold wrapping up succinctly all of the issues at stake. We sat down, hoping and praying that our words persuaded the five-member board that would make the final decision.
The city of Malibu arrived with its own A-Team. Euphemized threats of litigation were uttered and Mark Gold was gratuitously misquoted. I hoped that the board would see through this. Other opponents spoke as well. The residents and commercial interests complained how oppressive the ban would be to them personally.
But suddenly, after the last speaker had appealed, the board called for the vote. And in a few minutes, a unanimous vote (5-0) in our favor was recorded. About 90% of the room vacated as the board moved on to other business. We sat there together silent, staring straight ahead, stunned. All these decades of activism, protest and creation of organizations to fight this breach upon the environment and public health, and now the victory had finally been achieved. Is this how it felt at Waterloo? Mark Gold got up from his chair, looked at us and said, “What, did someone die? Hey, we won!”
It didn’t hit me personally until I was on the plane staring out the window as we were coming home. I thought about my own fight for this place I love, and also about Ralph Gambina and Erik Villanueva who died from infections from surfing Malibu. They were vocal in insisting upon this ban of septic tanks in Malibu. This is what they fought for and it is finally a reality. As I stared out the window of the plane at the glistening ocean, I cried for Malibu, but this time they were tears of joy.