Santa Monica Beach


In what has become a disappointing annual ritual, a pair of local beaches continue to score poorly for their environmental health.

On June 15, local non-profit Heal the Bay released its 2016 Beach Report Card. The report card rates California’s best and worst beaches and Santa Monica Pier made it on the ‘Beach Bummer’ list, again.

The 2016 Beach Report Card assigned an A to F letter grade to 426 local beaches throughout California. Beaches were ranked according to levels of harmful bacteria found in the water. The better the grade the lower the risk of illness to beach goers.

The Beach Bummer list is made up of the 10 most polluted beaches within the state. Last year Santa Monica Pier was ranked number 5, with some improvement the Pier moved to number 6 this year.

According to the Beach Report, bacterial pollution at some of California’s most popular beaches spiked dramatically in 2016 – 2017.

Heal the Bay Vice President and Policy Chief, Sarah Sikich said “Heavy rainfall last winter created billions of gallons of polluted runoff, which poured into storm drains and out to the ocean. Nearly half of the 85 beaches that LA County monitored year round last year earned F grades.”

Santa Monica Pier has been on the Beach Bummer list for years now and City Chief Sustainability Officer, Dean Kubani, explains there are multiple reasons as to why.

The moist conditions, flocks of birds and storm drain runoff are the main causes of the failing grade.

“The conditions under the Pier such as moisture and lack of sunlight promote bacterial persistence,” said Kubani. “We also identified during the dry weather time there were flocks of birds. In 2010 we went in and put netting underneath the Pier to eliminate bird roosting.”

As for the storm drain runoff, both Sikich and Kubani confirm the City will be constructing a 1.6 million gallon storm water storage tank. In hopes it will help with the storm drain runoff.

The stored runoff will supply water to the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility during dry weather. When completed the project is expected to reduce the amount of storm water that enters Santa Monica Bay from city streets and improves the water quality.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who represents the Santa Monica Pier, said her office is working on plans to improve water quality county-wide.
“It pains me greatly to note that, for the fourth straight year in a row, the beach at the Santa Monica Pier has ended up on the Heal The Bay ‘10 dirtiest beaches in the state’ list.  The import of this is exacerbated by the fact that, in any given year, the beach at the Pier gets an estimated 55 million visits, which makes it one of the county’s most popular beaches,” she said.
“There is no question that we have to improve our water quality so that people can swim safely and without having to be concerned about bacteria that could make them sick, and the solution is within our grasp. The County Board of Supervisors recently voted to develop a comprehensive plan to identify and fund the many stormwater capture and water quality projects needed to increase our local water supply and reduce the amount of polluted runoff that is a major cause of the bad water quality at Santa Monica Bay. There is no more urgent illustration of why we need to make these critical investments in our water management systems. Every resident of this county has the right to clean water whether for drinking, bathing or swimming. Soon they will be able to choose to help make that happen.”

Sikich said, “The reassuring news is that if you swim at an open – ocean beach in the summer away from storm drains and creek mouths you statistically have very little risk of getting ill.”

The beach in Marina Del Rey was also among the worst.

Throughout California the overall water quality during summer was excellent, with 96% of the 416 beaches monitored getting A or B grades. There were 16 locations received grades of C or below during the summer months.

Tips for swimming in the ocean this year.

  • Avoid enclosed beaches
  • Swim at least 100 yards away from flowing storm drains and piers
  • Wait at least three days after rainfall before entering the ocean
  • Check for latest water quality grades


The full beach bummer rankings list are as follows, starting with the worst. Clam Beach County Park in Humboldt County. San Clemente Pier in Orange County. Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz County. Lakeshore Park in San Mateo County. La Jolla Cove in San Diego County. Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles County. Capitola Beach in Santa Cruz County. Luffenholtz Beach in Humboldt County. Mothers Beach in Los Angeles County. Monarch Beach in Orange County.