Archive for May, 2012

How the West was lost- Part III; ‘Clockwork Orange County’

Monday, May 28th, 2012

stop the waiver

How the West was lost- Demise of the environmental groups of California, Part III; ‘Clockwork Orange County’

Already busy doing everything from saving Bolsa Chica to building Bluebird nesting boxes, Dr Jan Vandersloot took the Ocean Outfall Group show on the road. Accompanied by about a dozen faithful and fearless activists, he initiated what became known as the ‘city by city’ campaign to stop the sewage waiver Orange County was using to dump 240 million gallons a day into the ocean without meeting Clean Water Act minimum standards.

He took it inland, where city councils knew very little about the beach closures, and had to get their info from one among them who sat on the Orange County Sanitation District’s Board of Directors. We chose mainly those cities where the city council meetings were televised, and made our case to those citizens watching at home in horror, as we told them their councilperson was voting for a filthy ocean. These inner city people coudn’t afford to take 5 kids to Disneyland at 100 bucks a child, but they could enjoy a cheap day in the sun on the sand at Huntington, Newport or the Wedge. Vandersloots dozen explained it well, and in cities all over the county, angry people started to fill up the council meetings demanding and end to the waiver.

At the same time, Doug Korthof and I set up shop in front of the Orange County Sanitation District in front of 12 lanes of rush hour traffic at the 405 freeway. We had megaphones, flyers, a website ( and big straw hats with activist buttons. It took 14 months, but in the end, the crowds grew enormous and every car driving by held down their horn, pumped their fists in the air, and carried a STOP THE WAIVER bumper sticker!

Surfrider Foundation (then under Director Chris Evans) sentso many faxes to the district they were overloaded and collapsed! Finally, the sanitation district sent out a truck full of sewage sludge and dumped 6 tons in front of doug and me. It was all over the intersection! I got so sick from breathing it (it contained all the germs from 2.4 million people!) that I was knocked off the corner for about 2 weeks with puss pimples in my throat.

But by then it was too late for the waiver. We were all front page news, and on July 17th, 2002, the Board of Directors themselves acknowledged a ‘public relations problem’, and voted 13-12 not to seek renewal of the dreaded 301h waiver. I remember one of them asking me after the vote, “Now what are you going to do?” to which I answered “I’m going to Disneyland!”

One of the top activists from Orange County involved was Theresa Sears, who alerted me just this morning that the historic vote to kill the waiver was 10 years ago this July. Many of the heroes, Vandersloot, Irwin Haydock, Doug Korthof- are no longer with us.

Perhaps there should be a party?

our founder

our founder

How the West was Lost, Part II- Sewage Terminators, Rise of the Ocean Outfall Group

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

Sewage Terminators

How the West was lost: Sewage Terminators; Rise of the Ocean Outfall Group
by joey racano

…And so the three of us founded the Ocean Outfall Group of California, with a mission to stop the 301h waiver Orange County was using to dump 240 million gallons a day of filthy sewage just off Huntington Beach. Things got really crazy when the beaches were closed on the 4th of july because of bacteria. Despite a lot of lies from elected officials and the Orange County Sanitation District, we knew where it (the bacteria) was coming from. Dr Vandersloot was a dermatologist from Newport Beach who was also one of the nations best environmentalists, brilliant, and altruistic. Doug Korthof was the formost proponent of solar power and electric cars, my teacher, best friend and a lot more, and I was the big trouble maker. Put it this way- when I was a little boy, the neighbors in Long Island bought me a shirt that read: ‘Here comes trouble’, showing great forsight.

I decided to run for Huntington Beach City Council, and it didn’t go over well with the Orange County developers or their own personal police force, the Huntington Beach Police Department. They harassed me to no end, once even escorting me out of town with a police chopper flying above the car after a fiery speech at city hall! Although this picture was photoshopped by a friend as a joke, there was an actual interview on the beach interrupted by the HB Independent when a police chopper did indeed hover mere feet over our heads!

It wasn’t too long before they got wise and started using OC Animal control to try chasing me out of town by constantly taking my dog to the pound. Eventually, they almost killed him and I did have to move away- but not before we made the shot-heard-round-the-world, when we stopped the sewage waiver forever!

Next: Do us a favor- get rid of the waiver!

our founder
      Joey Racano: ‘Weapon of mass discussion

How the West was Lost- the demise of the environmental groups of California

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

My footprint at Little Shell

How the West was lost: the demise of the environmental groups of California    by joey racano

See that footprint there? That’s my footprint. It sits on the sidewalk near the corner of Beach Blvd and Pacific Coast Highway, in front of a salt water wetland called ‘Little Shell’ in Huntington Beach, California. The California Coastal Commission voted to allow a developer to fill it in to build a hundred million dollar Hyatt Hotel surrounded by luxury townhomes. The wetland was small. Saving it only avoided 33 of those townhomes. But it saved the Coastal Act too, which to this day, is still under attack, especially now that Peter Douglas (Executive Director of the Coastal Commission and one of the authors  of the Coastal Act) has died.

Yes, a lot of folks helped me save Little Shell (where just the plant pallet alone cost 1 million dollars- it’s beautiful!), but it was me who got pissed off, made a sign and stood out on the highway like a rabid Hyena for 111 days, and got it done. That footprint to me, to the coast, might as well be next to Armstrong’s on the moon. They ain’t makin’ any more coast, in the words of Pedro Nava.

When the official word came down that the developer and the Coastal Commission and the city of Huntington Beach were backing off (because they were about to lose in court and we had a good lawyer, Paul Horgan), Me, Doug Korthof, and Dr Jan Vandersloot stood out front of the now saved wetland, and made a pact to take it to the next level. Those guys are dead now, but take it to the next level we did.

Next:  Sewage Terminators- Rise of the Orange County Ocean Outfall Group

     our founder

our founder

Joey Racano: ‘Weapon of mass discussion