Mark Massara and team members discuss public access rights at Martin’s Beach.
In 2014, Massara put together a team of renowned lawyers, including Joe Cotchett and Pete McCloskey of Cotchette, Pitre & McCarthey, to represent Surfrider Foundation in a California Coastal Act violations case against Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla. Khosla purchased Martin’s Beach in San Mateo County and eliminated public beach access rights. Following a trial, the court found Khosla in violation of the Coastal Act and ordered public access to Martin’s Beach.
Trestles Beach In 2008, Massara, Sierra Club, California State Parks Foundation, dozens of organizations, and tens of thousands of activists won one of the biggest environmental victories in Southern California history by defeating the Orange County Transportation Corridor Agency‘s proposal to construct a billion dollar 17-mile (27 km) toll road highway. The project would have cut through San Onofre State Park and endangered species habitat along San Mateo Creek, through sacred Native American sites, and adjacent to one of America’s most famous surfing environments at Trestles Beach. Prior to the California Coastal Commission denying the project, Massara stated, “The TCA’s rich man’s highway to nowhere is the wrong road at the wrong time at the wrong place.”
BHP In 2007, Massara and Sierra Club led a coalition of dozens of environmental organizations and thousands of coastal activists in the defeat of a multi-billion dollar proposal by BHP Billiton to construct a 14-story liquid natural gas terminal, that would have been a floating industrial facility several miles off the Malibu-Oxnard area of Southern California. The victory, in which both the California State Lands Commission and the California Coastal Commission denied the project in separate hearings, is considered the Waterloo for LNG terminals along the California coast.
Pebble Beach In 2007, Massara’s efforts resulted in the California Coastal Commission denial of Pebble Beach Company’s plan to cut down over 18,000 trees on the Monterey Peninsula.
Hearst Corporation When the California Coastal Commission held a hearing in 1998 on whether to approve a Hearst Corporation proposal to build a series of resorts on one of that last untouched stretches of coastline, surfers protested. Massara and other Sierra Club activists organized aerial photos, obtained documentation on the significant Native American resources that would be disturbed by the project, and rounded up a crowd of 1,500 to show up for the hearing. Surfers provided signs for protesters and wore wetsuits to protest against the plan.
Eureka In 1991, as counsel for Surfrider Foundation, Massara won a major lawsuit against two pulp mill companies near Eureka, California that were dumping 40 million US gallons (150,000 m3) of toxic effluents per day into the ocean. The $5.6 million penalty was the second largest collected for Clean Water Actviolations.
‘’’History’’’ Massara started in environmental activism at the age of 7. He was living in Santa Barbara when a Union Oil offshore rig leaked 80,000 to 100,000 barrels (13,000 to 16,000 m3) of oil, and he and his father threw hay bales on the beach and collected dead and dying birds. An avid surfer, Massara states, “Surfers bring to the cause of protecting the coast an intimate knowledge of the California coastline and its many resources, along with a zeal for recreation.”
“Whether I’m working with surfers, farmers or [[Chumash people|Chumash Indians]], I listen to them, go to their meetings and immerse myself in their perspective and genuinely empathize with their viewpoint,” states Massara. “It helps to walk a mile in someone’s shoes.”