San Diego County Chapter


Beach Cleanups

  • By holding an average of 2 public cleanups per month, our chapter provided 8,000 volunteers the opportunity to remove over 11,000 lbs. of trash from San Diego County beaches. Our full analysis can be read here 
  • Totals include 3,000 plastic bottles, 4,000 plastic straws, 17,000 plastic wrappers, 19,000 pieces of styrofoam, and 50,000 cigarette butts. All saved from entering the ocean. 
  • Re-launched our “Beach Cleanup in a Box” program, which allows small groups to use our cleanup supplies & data collection protocol to join the effort to keep our beaches clean. 

Beach Preservation

  • Submitted over 20 letters to the Coastal Commission and the cities of Del Mar, Encinitas, Solana Beach, and La Jolla concerning coastal development and sea level rise. 
  • Successfully advocated the Coastal Commission to overturn Solana Beach’s decision to allow a new construction along coastal bluffs in a hazardous location that would have likely required coastal armoring, i.e. sea walls.
  • Working with ECO San Diego, helped secure $38K in funding to develop a Master Plan to re-open beach access at Princess St. in La Jolla. Access to this beach has been blocked for decades! More info… 
  • Submitted letter w/ over 150 signatures to the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board in response to excessive red curb and 2 hr parking limits on La Jolla Farms Rd. near Blacks Beach. The commission voted 10-2 in favor of our recommendation to expand parking access for surfers & beachgoers. More info…
  • Helped reduce the size and scale of a bluff alteration project at the Ladera Ave access point in Sunset Cliffs.

Blue Water Task Force

  • Our volunteer water quality testing team processed over 100 coastal water samples at 7 beach sites in San Diego county, reporting the results weekly via email and social media to the Surfrider community. See results!
  • Through a partnership with Coronado High School & Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach, we provide hands-on education and engagement opportunities to teenagers in communities directly affected by cross-border sewage flows. We hope to expand this opportunity to additional SD County schools in 2019. More info…

Clean Border Water Now!

  • Untreated sewage has plagued south San Diego County for decades with little to no federal action; after an enormous 143m+ gallon spill in Feb 2017, we decided to take legal action. This year, Surfrider Foundation filed a lawsuit against the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) for repeated violations of the Clean Water Act. We hired a local, bilingual environmental lawyer to pursue this case on behalf of all San Diegans. More info… 
  • Collected 1,613 letters addressed to elected officials in support of clean water in our border region.
  • Successfully advocated Congress to reinstate $10m in funding for the Mexico Border Infrastructure Program after the current administration proposed eliminating the budget entirely. 
  • Worked across the border & with the IBWC to implement a sewage spill notification system to keep the public updated. The system has been used since January 2018. 

Climate Change

  • Provided advocacy that contributed to Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s decision to support Community Choice Energy in the City of San Diego, which will reduce our reliance on fossil fuel-sourced energy. More info…
  • Actively engaged and participating in Sea Level Rise Planning efforts throughout the County (Del Mar, Imperial Beach and Oceanside).

Ocean Friendly Restaurants

  • Registered 48 additional restaurants in 2018, bringing the total number of Ocean Friendly Restaurants in San Diego County to 143. By voluntarily reducing their reliance on single-use plastics, these restaurants stop plastic pollution at its source and pave the way for single-use plastic reduction policies in San Diego County. More info...

Rise Above Plastics

  • Led advocacy efforts to eliminate polystyrene foam (aka Styrofoam) products from being sold and distributed in the City of San Diego, and for straws and plastic utensils to be provided only upon request. In October 2018, the San Diego City Council passed by a 5-3 margin the first reading of this plastic reduction ordinance. More info… 
  • Held over 8 events to increase public awareness of plastic pollution in the marine environment; includes 4 documentary screenings, 3 “Straws Suck” bar crawls, and an interactive event for young children.
  • Gave 10+ plastic pollution presentations to kids at local schools, girl scout troops, etc.


  •  34 “surfer scientists” collected valuable nearshore ocean data by surfing their Smartfins at San Diego County beaches. More info… 

Our Chapter’s success is made possible through the selfless dedication of our volunteer activist network, and through the generous support of our members, donors, and partners. THANK YOU ALL for making 2018 one of our highest achieving years to date! With your support, we aim to increase capacity and achieve even greater victories in 2019!