Monday, March 25, 2013

Martin's Summer - 1997

Martin's Summer 1997 from konrad Wallace on Vimeo.

Pure. Unaldulterated. Fun.
Open Martin's Beach!

Archive footage of a fun day at the beach. Footage courtesy of Bruce Jenkins.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

THE SEA by Ron Croci

Credit Ron Croci
           Shortly after we arrived in California, around the same time I discovered the salt flats, my Father took me to the Pacific Ocean, which was a short car ride from our house. I would have found my own way there but I was only 12 and I need a ride. My Dad was a fisherman and a sailor so he was used to seeing the Ocean, but me, I had never seen anything like it. We went there to go surf fishing; or rather my Dad did as I didn’t know how. I remember it was very cold and overcast with stormy clouds rolling overhead. The Sea was Grey, and the surf was big and churning. Sea birds and Seals were everywhere. We walked down a steep trail to a small sheltered cove, to a place called MARTINS BEACH. Behind us were tall coastal cliffs that reminded me of a giants fantasy castle. The beach sloped steeply and the shore break rumbled furiously. The salt spray mixed with the scent of the animals had a rich sharp smell that could have been called stinky, but actually fresh and alive. I was mesmerized. Sitting there on the edge of the sand, staring at the thundering surf gave me the same feeling of vertigo that a person gets when they look over a cliff and feel like jumping. It was as though I were a zombie that could walk with out blinking into the jaws of the Ocean never to be seen again. Of course I did not. I just sat and stared. After watching my Dad for a while I wondered down to a flat rocky ledge. There was a tall cliff with a sharp corner. And when I walked around this corner what I saw surprised me.
           Here was a large sea cave, about 30 feet high and a hundred feet deep. The bottom was an enormous tide pool with clear calm water gently washing back and forth.  This was Magic. The walls were dripping wet, and shimmering with silver light from the reflections of the tide pool. All over the walls crabs, snails and many large bug like sea creatures were running in all directions then stopping to stare at me with their eyes on the ends of long stalks. The sound of the waves in the distance echoed off the walls. The real treasure though lay at my feet. The water in the tide pool floor was about twelve inches deep and completely covered with Sea life. It was as though I stood on top of an enormous piece of jewelry totally encrusted with every kind of jewel imaginable. I got down on all fours and stared. Sea Urchins, tiny Eels, Star Fish, lime green Sea Grass, Snails, Crabs, little fish, and most things I didn’t even know of blanked the bottom. I waded into the icy water and was beside myself with delight. I grabbed in every direction. It was as though I wanted to embrace the whole pool. My Dad was a ways off but keeping an eye on me. It was safe in there and he knew it, so he let me play around and amuse myself. Well, amuse myself I did. Sticking my fingers in Sea Anemones and watching them close. I tried to catch little silver fish that were like swimming shards of glass. Then to my amazement I saw a little Octopus. It was only six inches wide as it sat on a seaweed covered rock changing colors.
            I spent the afternoon there among the sparkles and reflections, absorbed in all the colors of red, green, purple and black, turning over rocks to see entire colonies of living wiggling creatures. It seemed there was no end to it. Then I looked up to see my Dad peeling blue and black shelled mussels from the rocks.  We went home after that and cleaned the four inch mussels and put them into boiling water. After several minuets they opened up and I could see their orange flesh. We dropped the muscles in hot butter and lemon juice. Their salty marine flavor took me right back to that cave of jewels.
             I have returned there many times and have always delighted in observing the life in this shimmering grotto. This story has no moral or dark tale of redemption. Nothing weird really, just a wonderful experience a twelve year old boy had as he realized for the first time the power and beauty of the Pacific Ocean.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Surfrider Foundation Sues to Open Martin’s Beach to the Public

(entire original story linked here)

In the Surfrider Foundation Complaint filed yesterday, Surfrider Foundation cites the violations of the beach access protections of the California Coastal Act.  Specifically, the property owner cannot add new development or change the intensity of use of coastal land without a Coastal Development Permit.  The development here comes in the form of new gates, new signage and even the use of armed guards to deter public access.  

Throughout this enduring and multi-faceted campaign, and now with the new litigation filing, our organization is merely asking for the long-cherished right to access the beach, as is protected by the laws of the state of California. 

Photo credit: Ed Grant 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Seawall Threatens Martin's Beach

Seawalls are beach killers.  Placing a hardened structure on the beach in an area of wave runup causes the wave energy to reflect off the structure and back at the beach, resulting in further erosion of the beach seaward of the wall.  So imagine our surprise and distress when we learned that San Mateo County had approved a 963 foot long seawall--stretching the beachfront road at Martin's--in an attempt to protect the road from the encroaching ocean. 

The property owner applied for an emergency permit through the County to protect the road from erosion.  What's most interesting about this is that the intent of an emergency permit is to fast track a project through the permitting process when the project purpose is to respond to an emergency event, such as episodic loss of beach in a winter storm.  Anyone who's been to Martin's probably has seen clues that the beach has been experiencing erosion for a long time, such as the narrowing of the sandy beach over time, or the block wall at the south end of the beach.  So, it's hard to see how this qualifies as an emergency event.  

Another interesting and arguably non-emergency component of the project is the proposed demolishment of the old restrooms to construct a fire turnaround.  The need for a fire turnaround seems negligible at best, especially given that there has never been one in the history of the property.  The conspiracy theorist's take on this is that the turnaround would facilitate the destruction of another visitor-serving facet of the property and further obfuscate the property's historic use by the public.  

In any case, the County saw fit to issue an emergency permit and did so on January 28.  However, because it was an emergency permit, there was no public process around it, nor was there in-depth consideration of project alternatives.  There wasn't even public notification of the permit issuance until after the fact!  Surfrider didn't learn about the permit until February 11.  

After unsuccessfully working to convince the Planning Commission that the project was unlawful and should be halted, and attempting to appeal the project to the Coastal Commission (which apparently isn't possible with emergency permits), all we could hope for was that the Coastal Commission would step in and assert jurisdiction, since most of the project area lies within lands of the state.  With lines drawn and stakes in the ground, the Coastal Commission swooped in just in time with their boundary determination on March 8, asserting their jurisdiction and requiring the applicant to obtain a permit from them.  

So now, we wait to see if an application is filed.  Stay tuned!