Serge Dedina And A Crew Of Dedicated Surfers Meet With Arnold Schwarzenegger

posted by / News / June 24, 2005

Serge Dedina and a crew of dedicated surfers meet with Arnold on International Surfing DayWhen the {{{Sierra}}} Club’s Owen Bailey contacted me about spending International Surfing Day in Sacramento to lobby against the construction of an insane toll road next to Trestle’s, my first thought was, “Dude are you crazy.”

Although he is one of California’s most dedicated coastal warriors, Owen is not a surfer. So he does not understand the first law of California surfers–never, ever, ever, ever, go inland during the summer.

There was no way that you were going to get me to spend the first day of summer and the first ever International Surfing Day in Sacramento. Anything beyond the geographical range of June Gloom might as well be the Gobi Desert.

Realistically, though, the power center of California surfing is not divided between Steamer’s Lane and Trestles. The real power center for making decisions about the future of surfing and our way of life is in Sacramento.

When it comes to making decisions on what beach will be destroyed, who will receive a permit to pollute our favorite surf break, and what tax monies will or will not get spent to keep our ocean clean and pristine, the suits and ties of Sacramento own us lock, stock and barrel.

Because every developer, polluter and powerbroker with an interest in our coast has their legions of minions running around non-stop at our state’s capital talking to legislators, agency bureaucrats, and our governor, to make sure their interests come first, and our desire to surf clean and pristine waves, comes last.

You want to save Trestles, Rincon, {{{Imperial}}} Beach, or {{{Malibu}}}, then get used to the idea that the power brokers won’t come to you. You have to go to them. Or better yet, get about 1,000 of your best friends to sign a longboard asking the governor to save your imperiled surf break, put on your best Hawaiian shirt and hop on a flight to Sacramento.

Then get to work talking story in the dingy offices of our state’s capital to every California Senator and Assemblyperson you can find about why saving our surf spots is the most important thing they will ever do.

That is how 30 of California’s most passionate ocean warriors representing the Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation and Wildcoast from up and down California, spent International Surfing Day, in a heroic effort to save Trestles.

After a mid-morning team briefing by the Sierra Club’s Elizabeth Lambe, our motley group that included Surfer’s Journal publisher Steve Pezman and women’s pro surfing pioneer Jericho Poppler, along with Surfrider’s Ed Mazarrella, made our way to the state capital and wandered through the labyrinth of the capital to meet every influential Republican and Democrat representing the California coast to ask them to sign a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger to save Trestles.

Trestles local Brian Alper, recently returned from a trip to Playa Hermosa, passionately informed the Director of Policy for Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante, why having the Surfing Pro Tour visit Trestles was good for the economy. Stinson beach surfer Scott Tye was right at home defending surfing and our coast to the staff of Joe Nation, a hardcore endurance athlete and legislator from Marin.

In the end 38 legislators signed onto the letter.

The highlight of the trip was a visit to the office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger with the signed letter and a San Clemente Surf Company longboard signed by what looked to be close to a thousand San-O and Trestles surfers asking the Governor to save their beloved surf breaks from destruction.

We never expected to actually meet the Governor. The longboard almost never made it through security.

But in the end, I think the great Karma of our team spreading surfer cheer throughout the Capital must have worked. While waiting to see the Governor, Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, a former legislator from Santa Cruz stopped by and told us of his experience surfing with Richard Schmidt.

Thanks to Cabinet Secretary Terry Taminnen, a former Santa Monica Baykeeper, and his Deputy Drew Bohan, the former Santa Barbara Chanelkeeper, and good friends of surfers, we actually made it into the see the Guv.

When Governor Schwarzenegger came out into the meeting room, he shook our hands, said hello, and laughingly talked about how Gerry Lopez taught him to surf in Maui, “The waves were huge and I spent four hours mostly swimming.”

We briefly hit our talking points about why Trestles–ground zero for surfing in Southern California—needs to be preserved. I thanked the Governor for passing the Ocean Protection Act. We invited Schwarzenegger to come down and surf Trestles, and then after saying goodbye about half our group retreated to the historic Crest Theatre for an evening of free beer and Endless Summer II while the rest of us flew back to the beach.

Even if we were over a couple of hundred miles from the coast, it wasn’t a bad way to spend the first ever International Surfing Day.

So whether you spent June 21st surfing clean waves, picking up trash at your local spot, or talking to someone about protecting our lifestyle, you know that the fight to save Trestles and every other threatened surf break on our planet is far from over.

But on the day when we got to show the world why surfing matters, we collectively proved that nobody and I mean nobody, can defend our coast and ocean with as much passion and integrity as a surfer can.

Serge Dedina lives, surfs and works in Imperial Beach, California, and is the Executive Director of Wildcoast. He received the SIMA “Environmentalist of the Year” Award in 2003.

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