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Surfrider San Mateo County Chapter Turns 25!

Surfrider Foundation's San Mateo County chapter (Surfrider SMC) turns 25 next week! We wanted to let you know, thank everyone involved and share some of the achievements. 

The Chapter was formed with Surfrider on 4/18/98 in an effort to take on developers, as well as to work on water quality issues and public access protection. The original members would meet at the Montara lighthouse. Eric Nelson, of Powerlines Production, would show videos of us surfing the local breaks and Mike Kimsey, a well respected local environmentalist and big wave surfer, was our first Chair. They eventually grew into a strong action-oriented group. Many of our chapter's original leaders went on to prominent roles in the Environmental space. 

25 years later, our all-volunteer chapter still includes local surfers, paddle boarders, kayakers as well marine biologists and every day people who love our local beaches and ocean. The recent weather and storm damage locally due to climate change is evidence that our efforts sadly will be needed more than ever to keep our ocean, beaches and surf breaks healthy. 

Here are some of the accomplishments over the years Surfrider SMC has been a part of or led:

Citizen engagement at Martin's Beach
Citizen engagement at Martin's Beach
Chapter Meeting
Come join us at a Chapter Meeting (May 2000)
Original chapter at the Lab.
Early Days of  SMC Chapter at the Lab.
SMC Chapter 2020 at the Lab.
SMC Chapter 2020 at the Lab.
BWTF Sampling. 


  • Surfrider SMC has been a consistent presence at all levels of government advocating for environmental protection, enforcement of the coastal act, and for public access to our beaches, notably Dunes and Martin's Beach.
  • The momentous victory in 2018 when the US Supreme Court required that open beach access be provided at Martin's Beach, as it has been for generations. 
  • In 2021 we celebrated another victory for the coast when the California Coastal Commission certified the city of Half Moon Bay’s Land Use Plan Update. Listening to our voice – and those of the almost 1,000 people who responded to a call to action the decision protects this iconic coastal area from major development for years to come.
  • Our water quality program's (Blue Water Task Force) first accomplishment in the early 2000's was aiding in microbial pollutant reduction in San Vicente Creek. This was done by sampling the watershed and working with landowners along the creek to remove point source pollution sources
  • The chapter's BWTF data has been used to advocate for cleaner watersheds in SMC. We conducted the first ever study on the impact of the Pacifica Waste Water treatment plant on Calera creek and local beaches. We found that the clean water released from the plant reduced the bacteria concentration in the watershed.
  • Surfrider has worked with SMC Resource Conservation District (RCD) to do the first bacterial source tracking at Pillar Point Harbor. We continue to work with the RCD to raise awareness of local pollution problems and to bring together communities to implement solutions. Our dedicated BWTF team tests 6 locations for fecal indicator bacteria levels in recreational waters and compare them to water quality standards set to protect public health. Weekly results can be seen here and on our Instagram and Facebook accounts.
  • Surfrider joined the National Marine Sanctuary Working group revising regulation of Jets Skies (Motorized Personal Water Craft) in Marine Sanctuaries. The chapter also joined the sediment management working group.
  • We're most visible on the beach where our Beach Cleanups and Hold Onto Your Butts programs have collected thousands of pounds of waste over the years. These efforts provide a reminder for residents and visitors to keep our beaches clean.
  • We're a big proponent of surfing and water sports and a consistent presence at local surf contests. In August 2021, Surfrider SMC partnered with Ayudando Latinos A Soñar, (ALAS), and City Surf Project, to host a surf camp for 15 kids who had never been on a surfboard. We hope to partner again in 2023. 
  • In recent years, we have been a strong advocate for SMC's Food Ordinance, which was written for each town in the county to reduce single use plastics from local businesses. This proactive strategy is in line with our growing Ocean Friendly Restaurant program. 

Thank you to all of our volunteers and contributors past and present. Here's to 25 year of keeping our beaches and ocean in San Mateo County clean and healthy and to the next 25 years. 

If you liked to become involved, visit our open position page or email

Protect & Enjoy.