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President Ronald Reagan with a surfboard that only went right and was made by Hansen Surfboards. Photo via Hansen Collection
Columns Waterspot

Waterspot: The politics of surfing

I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat and yet I am very political, and suggest that all surfers participate in the democratic process at least at the local level.

If not, we have no right to complain when laws are passed that prove detrimental to our second home, the ocean.

This requires a bit of time and effort to study various proposals before showing up to voice our opinions for or against them at town hall meetings.

In the past these issues were more obvious with topics being discussed like a series of breakwaters that were once proposed along the California Coast.

One such breakwater was scheduled for our own Cardiff Reef.

Can you imagine one of the most popular breaks in our community being entombed behind boulders?

Obviously it never got built, but further north, Dana Point was buried along with several quality reefs.

One of the best south swell reefs in Southern California has not seen a wave bigger than a boat wake for over half a century.  This all happened while surfers complained or silently observed the destruction before moving on to other surf spots.

More recently, surfers successfully rallied against a proposed toll road that would run through the famed surf breaks of Trestles. 

I applaud those who successfully halted the asphalt before raising their voices against the nuclear waste from San Onofre that was about to be stored on the beach there.

While the protests did help, those on the front lines realize that the fight is never quite over and that these same issues will rise again.

Far subtler are issues like seawalls, sand replenishment and jetties, all of which can alter the shapes of our reefs and local beach breaks for better or worse.

So, why not for better?

Sand replenishment and jetties can benefit everyone: tourists, homeowners and surfers.

Unless surfers speak up, however, the breaks we hold dear will be at the mercy of the blind progress machine.

One surf spot that has benefited from a jetty while increasing sand flow to adjacent beaches is Ponto in Carlsbad.

George’s in Cardiff, on the other hand, has never fully recovered from the sand replenishment from a few years ago.

Where sand and rocks are placed makes all the difference between a surfing break getting better or worse.

But the results don’t have to be left to chance — there are those who study wave formations and should be consulted on such matters.

That’s where we come in — the next time you hear that an alteration is being planned at your local surf spot, get involved. Find out all you can about the project and attend any pertinent meetings.

We the people have the power to shape the type of towns we want to live in as well as the types of waves that break on shorelines. 

We in North County have been blessed with many great surf spots. We have all benefited from them and now they need us to repay the favor.

I for one have cast my vote for more and better surf spots.

Longboarders, shortboarders, males, females, SUPS and bodyboarders unite!

It will take all of us pulling from the same end of the rope to protect and enhance our surf spots.

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