State sea-level rise laws advance as urgency surges

As sea levels creep ever higher, state efforts to address it are surging, with Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday signing the first of five ocean-related bills awaiting his consideration.

That bill, SB 1, formally adds rising seas to the list of issues to be addressed by the California Coastal Commission. It also creates a new entity to coordinate sea-adaptation efforts across multiple agencies, and it establishes a mechanism to provide up to $100 million a year in grants for local and regional governments to prepare for higher waters.

Related measures on the governor’s desk include a program to buy homes jeopardized by the rising sea and a bill calling for a study of a possible early warning system for coastal bluff collapses.

“SB 1 puts down a marker,” said Donne Brownsey, vice chairperson of the Coastal Commission. “It’s a starting point. I think we’re going to see a lot more sea-level rise legislation in the future.”

The commission has been addressing issues related to the rising ocean for more than a decade as part of its responsibility to address coastal hazards, but the new law explicitly adds “sea-level rise” to the list of principle responsibilities outlined in the Coastal Act of 1976.

“When they wrote the Coastal Act, nobody was thinking of sea-level rise,” Brownsey said, noting the growing recognition of the threat.

Opponents of the measure, by Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, include the state Association of Realtors, the Building Industry Association, the Orange County chapter of the Association of California Cities, and the cities of Newport Beach and Del Mar.

Members of those groups have complained that the Coastal Commission unnecessarily interfers with coastal development, including restrictions on seawalls. The commission prefers maintaining the beaches, when possible, by allowing them to migrate inland, and has rejected some seawall proposals that would eventually eliminate the sandy recreational spaces.

A joint argument issued by opponents before passage by the Legislature said SB 1 “would give the California Coastal Commission unbridled authority over sea level rise.”

However, Brownsey said there is no new authority given the commission in the new law — that it simply modernizes the list of commission priorities. Susan Jordan of the Coastal Protection Network said the change of language should remove all doubt over the commission’s jurisdiction on the matter.

“What it does is make clear to those who try to assert that the (commission) does not have the authority to address sea-level rise that not only does it have the authority, it has the responsibility,” said Jordan, whose non-profit was one of at least 10 environmental groups to endorse the bill. Additionally, the cities of Carlsbad, Santa Barbara and Alameda backed it, as did the League of California Cities and the San Diego Association of Governments.

SB 1 doesn’t directly allocate money for local and regional ocean-related grants. But it provides the mechanism for distribution for as much as $100 million annually once appropriate funds are available, such as the $612 million aimed at sea-level rise that was part of the $15 billion climate package signed by Newsom on Thursday.

SB 1 also increases from $1.5 million to $2 million the grants available for environmental justice programs to address the effects of sea-level rise on disadvantaged communities, along with an allocation for that program.

The collaborative coordination component of the bill, to be overseen by the Ocean Protection Council, will help avoid duplication of efforts and conflicting strategies employed by the Coastal Commission, the Coastal Conservancy, the state Lands Commission and a host of other state, regional and local entities.

“The coordination role for the Ocean Protection Council is critical in … providing needed resources and support to local, regional and even state agencies responsible for coastal planning and implementing resilience actions,” said Alyssa Mann of The Nature Conservancy.

Threatened homes

The Ocean Protection Council, which provides sea-level rise projections for other agencies to plan by, has set benchmark targets to prepare for 6 feet of rise by 2050 and 7 feet by 2100.

Every dollar spent in pre-disaster preparation can avoid $6 in public and private losses afterward, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

But those preparations can be particularly challenging when it comes to moving homes, roads and sewage plants inland. While a 2.8-mile stretch of Highway 1 in north San Luis Obisbo County and a coastal sewage plant in Morro Bay have been moved away from the ocean, such adaptation will be more difficult in urbanized areas.

SB 83 is an attempt to address of homes threatened by the rising sea. The bill by Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, establishes a program for the state to loan money to coastal cities to buy such properties from homeowners and rent them out as long as they’re still safe. That rent money would then go back into the loan program.

Dan Jacobson of Environment California called the bill a “smart, innovative idea.”

“We applaud the Legislature for this kind of out-of-the-box thinking,” he said. “These ideas provide a viable exit strategy.”

Among the other sea-level rise bills on the governor’s desk, AB 66, by Tasha Boerner Horvath, D-Encinitas, would have Scripps Institution of Oceanography study coastal cliff collapse in Del Mar and Encinitas, and explore the possibility of developing an early warning system.

AB 63, by Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, would allow marine restoration in marine-protected areas, which are now off limits to such work. Restoring kelp beds, for instance, can help offset some consequences of sea-level rise by fortifying breeding grounds and reducing ocean storm surges.

AB 72, also by Petrie-Norris, would streamline approval processes and address other bureaucratic hurdles for sea-level rise efforts.

“Time is of the essence as seas continue to rise along our coast, and we cannot waste resources trying to navigate unnecessary green tape,” she said.

Newsom has until Oct. 10 to sign or veto this year’s legislation.

Surfing dogs, sand castle contest and festivals happening at OC beaches this weekend

Summer might be officially over, but the fun in the sun continues along the Orange County coastline.

The beaches are busy this upcoming weekend with several events to check out along the coast – everything from the U.S. Open of Surfing, a surfing dog competition, beach festivals and a sand castle contest that has been going on for nearly 60 years.

And with the summer season coming to a close, that means more parking and sand space for locals as the tourist crowds ease.

Surf City lives up to name

Want to see surf competitions up close? Surf City has plenty of action this weekend, whether it’s watching some of the world’s best surfers on the south side of the famed Huntington Beach Pier or the best canine surfers on four legs further up the coast at Dog Beach.

At the pier, the U.S. Open of Surfing will continue through Sunday, when the final surfers will battle it out for valuable points and a coveted U.S. Open title.

Jack Robinson surfs in the U.S. Open of Surfing at the pier in Huntington Beach, CA on Monday, September 22, 2021.The competition field is 96 men and 64 women, including some of the top 34 men and 17 women from the World Championship Tour. The World Surf League Challenger Series events allow up-and-coming surfers a chance to earn points to make it onto the next year’s World Tour and also gives World Tour surfers a safety net if they are in danger of falling out of the top rankings. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

It’s a much smaller event than previous years, with no mega festival and just a few booths on the sand, but the surfing action has been heating up all week with more than 150 competitors from around the world entering the event.

Up the coast at Dog Beach between Seapoint Avenue and 21st Street will be the Surf City Surf Dogs, kicking off at 8 a.m. and running through 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25.

The surfing dog competition is free to watch. Pooches have 12 minutes to catch their best five waves, judged by local celebrities and surf judges, who score based on confidence level, length of ride, and overall ability to ride the wave, according to the event announcement.

There will be more than just the competition, with family-friendly activities and pet adoptions, a canine play zones, vendor booths and food trucks.

The event is held as a fundraiser, with past charities including the French Bulldog Rescue Network, Westie Rescue of Orange County, Golden Retriever Rescue, Barks of Love, OCSPCA, and Huntington Dog Beach.

 

The Hawaiian Surf Club of San Onofre will hold its annual Polynesian Festival on the Community Center lawn in San Clemente on Saturday, Sept. 25 (File photo/SCNG)

Hawaii vibes on the coast

Traveling isn’t easy right now and going to the islands is getting harder with more pandemic restrictions put in place, but you can still get transported to a tropical getaway on Saturday, Sept. 25, during the 31st annual Polynesian Festival in San Clemente.

The event is put on by the Hawaiian Surf Club of San Onofre, with volunteers bringing live entertainment with luau-style dance performances and music, arts and crafts and more than 35 vendor booths at the San Clemente Community Center, 100 N. Calle Seville.

This year will also have a vintage Woody car show along Avenida Del Mar. Admission is free to the public with “plate lunch” food available for purchase.

The Ohana Festival is happening for two weekends at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, the first shows starting Friday, Sept. 24, with an encore performance the following weekend Oct. 1 and 2.

If you don’t want to battle traffic and parking troubles, stay clear of that stretch of beach, which can get congested during the big concert.

The 59th annual Sandcastle Contest will take place at Corona del Mar State Beach on Sunday, Sept. 25

Sand castle contest

Groups will be forming elaborate artworks using tiny grains of sand at Corona Del Mar State Beach on Sunday, Sept. 26.

The event is a longtime tradition going back 59 years. This year’s theme is “Explore the World!” with cash prizes and bragging rights up for grabs.

The event is put on by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce and typically brings out spectators who watch the teams scramble to make their creations.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Big Corona State Beach.

These two surfers are $100,000 richer after winning “The Ultimate Surfer”

Two surfers are $100,000 richer and will be competing among the world’s best next year after winning the new reality TV show, “The Ultimate Surfer.”

The winners, announced late Tuesday, Sept. 21, during the season finale, are familiar faces in the local surf scene, both growing up as serious competitors on the amateur circuits with longtime aspirations to break into the rankings of the globe’s best.

Tia Blanco, who grew up in San Clemente before moving to Oceanside in recent years, beat out Hawaii’s Brianna Cope in the final episode. Ezekiel Lau went up against Koa Smith, both from Hawaii, with Lau the victor, putting him back on the World Championship Tour.

The episode, aired on ABC, started by telling the story of the surfers’ lifelong dreams of making the World Tour and the struggles along the way. Lau talked about making the World Tour when he was just out of high school, but struggling among the top surfers once there.

“Now, I feel like I found my stride,” he said. “I want to win a world title one day and know what I need to do to get there.”

  • The Ultimate Surfer reality show held its finale on Sept. 21, 2021, with surfers Tia Blanco, who grew up in San Clemente, and Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau, winning $100,000 and three wild card spots to surf among the world’s best during the 2022 World Tour. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

  • The Ultimate Surfer reality show held its finale on Sept. 21, 2021, with surfers Tia Blanco, who grew up in San Clemente, and Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau, winning $100,000 and three wild card spots to surf among the world’s best during the 2022 World Tour. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

  • The Ultimate Surfer reality show held its finale on Sept. 21, 2021, with surfers Tia Blanco, who grew up in San Clemente, and Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau, winning $100,000 and three wild card spots to surf among the world’s best during the 2022 World Tour. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

  • The Ultimate Surfer reality show held its finale on Sept. 21, 2021, with surfers Tia Blanco, who grew up in San Clemente, and Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau, winning $100,000 and three wild card spots to surf among the world’s best during the 2022 World Tour. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

  • The Ultimate Surfer reality show held its finale on Sept. 21, 2021, with surfers Tia Blanco, who grew up in San Clemente, and Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau, winning $100,000 and three wild card spots to surf among the world’s best during the 2022 World Tour. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

  • The Ultimate Surfer reality show held its finale on Sept. 21, 2021, with surfers Tia Blanco, who grew up in San Clemente, and Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau, winning $100,000 and three wild card spots to surf among the world’s best during the 2022 World Tour. Kelly Slater, seen here, made an appearance on the season finale to show how to ride a wave at the Surf Ranch. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

  • The Ultimate Surfer reality show held its finale on Sept. 21, 2021, with surfers Tia Blanco, who grew up in San Clemente, and Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau, winning $100,000 and three wild card spots to surf among the world’s best during the 2022 World Tour. Kelly Slater, who created the wave pool where the series was held, made an appearance on the last episode. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

  • The Ultimate Surfer reality show held its finale on Sept. 21, 2021, with surfers Tia Blanco, who grew up in San Clemente, and Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau, winning $100,000 and three wild card spots to surf among the world’s best during the 2022 World Tour. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

  • The Ultimate Surfer reality show held its finale on Sept. 21, 2021, with surfers Tia Blanco, who grew up in San Clemente, and Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau, winning $100,000 and three wild card spots to surf among the world’s best during the 2022 World Tour. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

  • The Ultimate Surfer reality show held its finale on Sept. 21, 2021, with surfers Tia Blanco, who grew up in San Clemente, and Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau, winning $100,000 and three wild card spots to surf among the world’s best during the 2022 World Tour. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

  • The Ultimate Surfer reality show held its finale on Sept. 21, 2021, with surfers Tia Blanco, who grew up in San Clemente, and Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau, winning $100,000 and three wild card spots to surf among the world’s best during the 2022 World Tour. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

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Blanco credited her dad with sharing his love for the ocean and surfing with her and supporting her along her journey.

“Getting these (World Championship Tour) spots would be a highlight of my career,” she said going into the show’s ending. “To win this and prove I can surf on that level would be amazing. “

There was a celebrity appearance by 11-time world champion Kelly Slater, who helped create the Surf Ranch, a man-made wave in Lemoore, near Fresno, where the show was filmed. He gave them tips during practice and surfed with them to show them how it was done.

“To have this experience, to have him share some knowledge is just really cool,” said Lau, who is in Huntington Beach this week competing in the U.S. Open of Surfing. If he does well there, he could get a spot full-time on the World Championship Tour.

The Ultimate Surfer reality show held its finale on Sept. 21, 2021, with surfers Tia Blanco, who grew up in San Clemente, and Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau, winning $100,000 and three wild card spots to surf among the world’s best during the 2022 World Tour. Kelly Slater, seen here, made an appearance on the season finale to show how to ride a wave at the Surf Ranch. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

The reality show’s final competition came down to the best of three waves, all the surfers posting high scores.

In the end, it was Blanco’s high 9.8 score and Lau’s perfect 10 that earned them the win.

The Ultimate Surfer reality show held its finale on Sept. 21, 2021, with surfers Tia Blanco, who grew up in San Clemente, and Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau, winning $100,000 and three wild card spots to surf among the world’s best during the 2022 World Tour. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

“This is crazy, I can’t stop smiling,” Blanco said. “I’ve never been this happy in my life. It’s seriously a dream come true.”

Lau said it was going to be amazing to surf again on the World Championship Tour.

“I feel like I’m on the right path, nothing can beat this feeling,” he said.

The series, which kicked off Aug. 23, featured a long list of known surfers from Southern California, including Capistrano Beach’s Luke Davis, Malia Ward and Anastasia Ashley, both who grew up in San Clemente, Juli Hernandez from Costa Mesa and Bruna Zaun, who calls Hermosa Beach home.

Each week, the contestants were tasked with battles like balancing on barrels or who could paddle the fastest, but ultimately the eliminations each week were decided after surf-offs on the artificial waves.

The surfers were given trophies made by surf artists Dave Reynolds, of Huntington Beach, and Phil Roberts, of Newport Beach, who had to keep quiet for a year about the project.

“It was a quick collaboration with Phil Roberts and myself,” said Reynolds, who got to surf the waves at Surf Ranch for the first time a few weeks ago. “Getting to work with like-minded people is the best part.”

Grinding in San Clemente in the SC Open

  • Parents and friends watch as skaters compete during the 20th Annual San Clemente Open skate contest which promotes local skaters 17 and under and fundraises for the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 in San Clemente.
    (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Swag and skateboard prizes await skaters as they compete during the 20th Annual SC Open skate contest which promotes local skaters 17 and under and fundraises for the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 in San Clemente.
    (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Skaters wait their turn as they skate on some wooden ramps during the 20th Annual SC Open skate contest which promotes local skaters 17 and under and fundraises for the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 in San Clemente.
    (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Skater Callie Carman warms up in the male and female 6-7 years old category during the 20th Annual SC Open skate contest which promotes local skaters 17 and under and fundraises for the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 in San Clemente.
    (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Skaters warm up during the 20th Annual SC Open skate contest which promotes local skaters 17 and under and fundraises for the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 in San Clemente.
    (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Skater Happy Sager competes in the male and female 6-7 years old category during the 20th Annual SC Open skate contest which promotes local skaters 17 and under and fundraises for the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 in San Clemente.
    (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Skater Happy Sager competes in the male and female 6-7 years old category during the 20th Annual SC Open skate contest which promotes local skaters 17 and under and fundraises for the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 in San Clemente.
    (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Skaters watch the competition during the 20th Annual SC Open skate contest which promotes local skaters 17 and under and fundraises for the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 in San Clemente.
    (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Skater Colton Rocklage competes in the male and female 6-7 years old category during the 20th Annual SC Open skate contest which promotes local skaters 17 and under and fundraises for the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 in San Clemente.
    (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Skater Ryatt Collins gets some air as he competes in the male and female 6-7 years old category during the 20th Annual SC Open skate contest which promotes local skaters 17 and under and fundraises for the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 in San Clemente.
    (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • A skater competes in the male and female 6-7 years old category during the 20th Annual SC Open skate contest which promotes local skaters 17 and under and fundraises for the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 in San Clemente.
    (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • A skater warms up in the male and female 6-7 years old category during the 20th Annual SC Open skate contest which promotes local skaters 17 and under and fundraises for the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 in San Clemente.
    (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Kaydin Chastain competes in the male and female 6-7 years old category during the 20th Annual SC Open skate contest which promotes local skaters 17 and under and fundraises for the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 in San Clemente.
    (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

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All day Saturday, local skaters showed their talents during the annual SC Open.

The skate contest, now in its 20th year, features skaters 17 and younger, giving them a place to compete with others their age.

The event, held at Ralphs Skate Court, also raises money for the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation.

Fryer’s First and 10 for high school football’s Week 5

Starting the football week in Orange County with notes, comments and observations …

1. The top 25: We have five voters for the Orange County football top 25. How my ballot might have differed from others this week: I placed Santa Margarita at No. 3 because of the way the Eagles played in the second half of their 42-21 comeback win over Los Alamitos. Santa Margarita outscored Los Alamitos 42-7 in the second half, and that was good enough to beat out Mission Viejo for the No. 3 spot.

Figuring out the bottom five slots in the top 25 was challenging. I went this way: 21. JSerra; 22. El Toro; 23. Brea Olinda; 24. Sunny Hills; 25. El Modena. Although I might pick El Modena to beat Brea when they play each other Oct. 7, Brea beat Sunny Hills and Sunny Hills beat El Modena. JSerra has a 20-0 win over Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, a team Orange Lutheran beat by 18 points.

2. Taking in the Sunset: The top three Sunset League teams, in order: 1. Edison; 2. Los Alamitos; 3. Corona del Mar. Edison would not get outscored 42-7 in the second half by Santa Margarita, which happened to Los Alamitos last week in the Griffins’ 42-21 loss to Santa Margarita. Also, Edison beat San Clemente 42-0 after Corona del Mar beat San Clemente 7-3.

3. Good byes, good games: We’re at about the halfway point of the regular season (already?!?!) so this is a week that many teams take their byes, a week in which they don’t play a game and gives them a break to rest and recuperate before league play starts.

Even in a bye-heavy week, Orange County football has several good games on the schedule, like county No. 12 Foothill (4-0) vs. No. 14 Orange (2-2) at El Modena on Thursday, No. 13 Cypress (3-1) at No. 17 Capistrano Valley (3-2) on Friday, No. 16 Tesoro (1-3) at No. 22 El Toro (5-0) on Friday and Vista Murrieta (3-1 and No. 23 in the Cal HiSports.com state rankings) vs. No. 9 Villa Park (4-0) on Saturday at El Modena.

4. Looking ahead: The Sept. 30-Oct. 2 schedule has plenty of fine league games when league play starts in the six-team leagues. We get Trinity League opener Orange Lutheran vs. Servite at Orange Coast College on Sept. 30 and on Oct. 1 Mater Dei at St. John Bosco, plus Tustin vs. Pacifica at Bolsa Grande High (Empire League), La Habra vs. Sunny Hills at Buena Park High (Freeway League) and Corona del Mar at Los Alamitos (Sunset League).

5. Unexpected: Teams exceeding preseason forecasts include Brea Olinda (3-0), El Toro (5-0), JSerra (2-2), Orange Lutheran (5-0). Teams not as good as anticipated, with plenty of time for improvement, are La Habra (0-4) and San Juan Hills (0-5).

6. Can Servite beat Mater Dei?: That’s the most asked question this season, although Servite-Mater Dei is weeks away. Mater Dei, even with ace cornerback Domani Jackson out for the season because of a knee injury, will have more outstanding players at more positions than Servite will in their game Oct. 23 at Santa Ana Stadium. But it’s always how you play on the day you play.

7. High on the Pacific Hills: That’s a good league. The four teams in it – Irvine, Dana Hills, Laguna Hills and Portola – are a combined 15-2 and all four have very winnable games this week. Of the four, Dana Hills has the most-impressive win, a 29-28 victory over Aliso Niguel.

8. This is the place: Saddleback College’s renovated stadium is the best venue for high school football in Orange County, and maybe Southern California, too, and would be a great setting for CIF Southern Section and CIF State championship games with its separate TV and radio booths and a large room for entertaining CIF business partners.

9. Light that scoreboard up: On Friday, Orange County teams that won their games combined for 1,158 points over 31 games. That’s an average of 37.4 points a game just from the winning team.

10. Silent treatment: The Pro Football Hall of Fame has guys who did less talking in their 15 years in the NFL than some Orange County high school players do in one quarter.