Beach Report Card Press Conference May 20, 2009

The December 2008 freeze on bond funds has meant that all "California Clean Beach Initiative" projects that were underway last year have been put on hold until funding can be freed up.

The December 2008 freeze on bond funds has meant that all "California Clean Beach Initiative" projects that were underway last year have been put on hold until funding can be freed up.

So it’s that time of the year again, when Heal the Bay releases its annual “Beach Report Card” that grades California’s beaches from a scale of A to F.  For this awesome occasion, I worked my ass off for almost most of last week and the beginning of this one to help Heal the Bay get the word out to the various Spanish media outlets doing in-Spanish press releases, executive summary, and contacting members of the Spanish media (attention Spanish-speaking media folks, if you haven’t reported on Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card and need information in Spanish, visit this site).

In addition, I was fortunate enough to be at this morning’s press conference at the Santa Monica Pier of Southern California; at one point one of the reporters pointed to the beachgoers that were already out on the beach so early in the morning (it was around 11 a.m.) and asked “is it safe for them to go into the water?” (the reporter was referring to people on the part of the beach that is located on the north side of the Santa Monica Pier, which typically has a better water quality compared to the south side of Pier, according to Heal the Bay’s online Beach Report Card; in fact, the south side is usually sporting a big ol’ “Do Not Swim” warning sign).  I couldn’t help but notice how the majority of the people on the beach were mostly young and Latino.  This is no surprise, being that many of them come from farther “inland” communities that get extremely hot around this time of year … and of course Santa Monica Beach, for those of you that don’t know, is a major makeout dating spot-it can actually be quite romantic in the evening. 

I was not the only one to make the observation that most people in the water were Latino though: well-respected and public health expert Dr. Aliza Lifshiftz (she is often featured on the local Univision station and La Opinion), who was kind enough to join and speak at the press conference, also noticed the demographic makeup of those that were going in the water.  For us Latinos, water quality and its condition is extremely important and personal to our health (it can cause serious health problems) because we are the ones that are more likely to go swimming in those  polluted beaches because of lack of monitoring programs, failure of agencies to post notices, or simply because we dont’ have the access to information or political levers that other racial groups have.  To make matters worst, the state budget crisis has forced many agencies throughout the state to either scale back or completely suspend their beach water quality monitoring programs that aim to keep us all safe. 

Amid all these bad news, you may ask yourself, “well what can I do about it? how can I help?”  Well for starters, you can help by checking out the Beach Report Card Annual Report  and look up your favorite beach and demand of the local officials in charge of that beach to do something about it to repair the condition of the water.  You can also do your small part: join one of Heal the Bay’s beach cleanups (which is especially important, being that the Beach Report Card itself identifies only fecal bacteria and does not take into account actual street trash that ends up in the ocean).

Update: we received quite a few coverage in the local media:

Some television stories:,0,5432753.story

Some of the many newspaper articles:,0,6689209.story