2019-2020 Beach Report Card: the best and worst of California

July 1, 2020 | Environment
2019-2020 Heal the Bay Beach Report Card: 92 percent of 500 California beaches earned an A or B grade during the summer season | Photo: Heal the Bay

Every year, nonprofit environmental organization Heal the Bay assigns A-to-F letter grades to beaches along the California coast.

The grades are based on bacteria pollution found in the waters.

In 2019, 92 percent of 500 California beaches earned an A or B grade during the summer season.

According to the scientists that analyze the water samples, last year had lower than average rainfall, which led to an improvement in wet weather water quality grades.

As a result, less rain means fewer pollutants and higher grades.

The winter season also revealed better results compared to 2018 due to the fact that reduced rainfall resulted in fewer negative effects caused by runoff.

The Honor Roll

The 2019/2020 Beach Report Card's Honor Roll features 20 beaches in Orange County, 11 in San Diego, three in Monterey and Los Angeles, two in San Luis Obispo, and single representatives from Del Norte, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.

Eighteen of the 42 Honor Roll members are open beaches, i.e., sand zones with no obstructions between the beach itself and open water.

Because they experience more wave action and greater water circulation compared to enclosed beaches, they do not have storm drains, streams, or rivers flowing into them.

As a result, open beaches tend to have better water quality.

The best California beaches for 2019-2020 are:

Crescent City, at Battery Point Lighthouse | Del Norte | North
Palos Verdes Estates, at Palos Verdes Cove | Los Angeles | South
Rancho Palos Verdes, Long Point | Los Angeles | South
Redondo State Beach, at Topaz Street | Los Angeles | South
Asilomar State Beach, at Arena Ave. | Monterey | Central
Monterey State Beach | Monterey | Central
Spanish Bay (Moss Beach), at 17 mile drive | Monterey | Central
Bolsa Chica Reserve, at Flood Gates | Orange | South
Dana Point Harbor Youth Dock | Orange | South
Dana Point, at Camino Estrella | Orange | South
Dana Strands Beach (AWMA) | Orange | South
Laguna Beach, at Goff Island Beach | Orange | South
Laguna Lido | Orange | South
Marine Science Institute Beach (SERRA) | Orange | South
Mariposa Beach | Orange | South
Muddy Creek Beach | Orange | South
Newport Bay, Via Genoa Beach | Orange | South
Newport Beach, at 52nd/53rd Street | Orange | South
Riviera Beach | Orange | South
San Clemente, at Avenida Calafia | Orange | South
San Clemente, at Avenida Las Palmeras | Orange | South
San Clemente, at El Portal storm drain | Orange | South
South Aliso County Beach | Orange | South
Surfside Beach, at Sea Way | Orange | South
Table Rock | Orange | South
Treasure Island Beach | Orange | South
Victoria Beach | Orange | South
Cardiff State Beach, at Charthouse parking | San Diego | South
Cardiff State Beach, Las Olas (100 yds. south of Charthouse) | San Diego | South
Carlsbad, at Cerezo Drive | San Diego | South
Carlsbad, at Encina Creek | San Diego | South
Carlsbad, at Palomar Airport Rd. | San Diego | South
Carlsbad, at Poinsettia Lane | San Diego | South
Carlsbad, at Ponto Drive | San Diego | South
Encinitas, San Elijo State Park at north end near stairs | San Diego | South
Oceanside, St. Malo Beach downcoast from St. Malo Road | San Diego | South
Solana Beach, Tide Beach Park at Solana Vista Dr. | San Diego | South
Bean Hollow State Beach | San Mateo | Central
Guadalupe Dunes | Santa Barbara | South
Morro Bay City Beach, 75 feet north of main parking lot | San Luis Obispo | Central
San Simeon State Beach, at Pico Ave. | San Luis Obispo | Central
Silverstrand , at San Nicholas Ave. | Ventura | South

And there's good news for Cowell Beach.

For the first time in ten years, the iconic Santa Cruz beach is not included on Heal the Bay's Beach Bummer list.

This water quality improvement comes from combined efforts by the City of Santa Cruz staff, Save The Waves and the Cowell's Working Group.

The work revealed and addressed the issue of birds roosting on or near the Wharf as a major source of past water quality issues.

The Beach Bummers' List

The list of no-go beaches with the poorest summer dry grade - F - features ten stretches of sand.

1. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, San Vicente Creek | San Mateo County
2. Poche Beach, Creek Outlet | Orange County
3. Pillar Point Harbor, At Capistrano Avenue | San Mateo County
4. Foster City, Erckenbrack Park | San Mateo County
5. Topanga Beach, At Creek Outlet | Los Angeles County
6. Pillar Point Harbor Beach | San Mateo County
7. Linda Mar Beach At San Pedro Creek | San Mateo County
8. Mission Bay, Vacation Isle North Cove | San Diego County
9. San Clemente Pier | Orange County
10. Pillar Point Harbor, At Westpoint Avenue | San Mateo County

Five of this year's Beach Bummers were enclosed beaches, and another five were impacted by runoff through a storm drain, river, or stream.

Heal the Bay started publishing the Beach Report Card in 1991, which featured 50 monitored locations in Los Angeles County.

Today, the organization's grading format is based on fecal bacteria pollution concentrations found in the wave-wash.

  • Seaweed is a sea vegetable that is able to extract the minerals from the seawater and pull them into its nutritional structure.
  • Have you ever wondered how a beach is formed? The formation of sand strips is a long process that involves minerals, water, wind, waves, and tides.

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