California law seeks to establish criteria for designation of state surf reserves

The bill proposed by Southern California Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, AB 2177, seems like a logical step toward accomplishing that. It is inspired by the State Scenic Freeway Program of 1963, which sets out both the criteria and the process for establishing a system of scenic freeways for historic or recreational purposes. In turn, development, outdoor advertising, and landscaping are restricted or protected within areas of eligible and designated freeways in California.

According to a fact sheet from Assemblyman Irwin’s office, surfers in the United States spend up to $3.3 billion on local surf trips alone, with “professional surfers” bringing in $140 billion. dollars from surf tourism in California in 2018. As a result, the state has a clear economic interest in preserving its historic surf spots and best waves. Much like the Scenic Highways system, AB 2177 is proposed so that criteria for state surf reserves can be established, hopefully gaining more government-backed protections on its coastline. And it puts the California Coastal Conservancy in charge of approving those designations.

“Like the scenic highways, it would be up to a local government to come up with the designation of a surf reserve. The reserve would consist of a designated stretch of coastline, such as a surf area known as Maverick’s as a surf reserve. The local agency would approach the Conservancy to seek designation approval,” Irwin writes.

A surf reserve would be defined as a specific area that includes protected waves, surf areas and surrounding environments and recognizes the environmental, cultural and historical significance of the surf area.

“California has a long history of celebrating the unique qualities of our coastline, with our state leading the nation in promoting access to and protection of our surf areas,” Irwin told the News-Press. “This designation will serve to recognize the cultural, historical, economic and ecological significance of surf areas that make our Golden State proud to be home to some of the best surfing destinations in the world.”

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