Looking Back on Big Wins in 2015
December 17, 2015 — 2015 was truly a year of extremes for the Bay. From defeating a dangerous proposal to drill for oil in Hermosa Beach to holding city agencies accountable following a sewage spill at Hyperion, Heal the Bay defended its title as the premier protector of Los Angeles’ ocean and watersheds. It was also our 30th Anniversary–and we definitely proved that 30 year-olds still pack a serious punch! Read on for a recap of Heal the Bay’s greatest hits of 2015, and scroll to the bottom to make an important year-end donation to keep us going in 2016.
What we did: Our staff and volunteers mobilized a grassroots campaign to defeat Measure O, which would have allowed an oil company to drill underneath the ocean in Hermosa Beach. Thanks to our community outreach and concerted advocacy, voters rejected the harmful project by a nearly 7-to-1 margin last May.
Why it matters: Opening up the Bay for oil exploration would have not only posed great environmental risks, it would have set a dangerous precedent for further industrial exploitation of our local shorelines.
What we did: Working with Stanford University, we launched a new beach water-quality forecasting model this summer, allowing us to predict when local beaches should be closed because of bacterial pollution. Buoyed by our successful pilot at three beaches, we hope to secure funding to expand predictive modeling statewide.
Why it matters: More advance public notification about troubled beaches will better safeguard the millions of people who visit California beaches each year.
What we did: We demanded answers following a horrifying sewage spill from the Hyperion treatment plant that left South Bay beaches closed for four days and littered with used condoms, tampons and hypodermic needles. We provided constant online updates to the general public, alerted media, and spurred members of the L.A. City Council and the Regional Water Quality Control Board to demand formal contingency plans to prevent future mishaps.
Why it matters: Our advocacy team remains the first and foremost watchdog of the Bay, holding officials’ feet to the fire when warranted to guarantee that our coastline remains safe, healthy and clean.
What we did: Working with a coalition of partners, our staff scientists published a comprehensive set of guidelines for the restoration of Southern California’s quickly dwindling wetlands. The 9-tenet protocol establishes clear and non-negotiable principles for rehabilitating special places like the Ballona Wetlands, which are scheduled to undergo what will likely be a contentious restoration in the next two years.
Why it matters: Highly urbanized Southern California has already lost 95% of its wetlands, which provide critical habitat for plants and animals. They also supply much needed ecosystem benefits like flood control, water purification, fish nurseries, bird watching and other educational opportunities.
What we did: Heal the Bay hit two important milestones in our 30-year mission to empower environmental stewards throughout California. In 2015, we welcomed our 1 millionth visitor to our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, and participants at our all-volunteer beach cleanups picked up our 2 millionth pound of trash.
Why it matters: Scientific studies and regulatory frameworks can only get us so far. Meaningful change in our region requires participation and passion from people and communities who love our beaches and watersheds.
We love what we do, and we’re proud to be the watchdog of Santa Monica Bay. If you value a cleaner ocean and healthier inland communities, please make a year-end donation today.