Clean Bay Certified food establishment program reactivated in Malibu

The Bay Foundation photo courtesy.

Malibu, along with other Santa Monica Bay cities, has been partnered with The Bay Foundation nonprofit since 2008 as part of the Clean Bay Certification program. As a member, the city inspects local restaurants, eateries, and food preparation facilities for compliance with a checklist of “ocean minded” and environmentally sustainable practices. 

The purpose of the program is to improve Santa Monica Bay water quality by reducing stormwater runoff pollution generated by restaurant activities. Certified businesses display the “Clean Bay Certified” logo, which recognizes them as stewards of the environment as well as being compliant with stormwater ordinances established by the City of Malibu and the EPA under the Federal Clean Water Act.

According to the Clean Bay restaurant handbook, 30,000 restaurants, bars and eateries in the Santa Monica Bay watershed could have a huge cumulative impact on the local beach and ocean environment if not regulated. They point out that 30 billion gallons of stormwater and runoff drain from the Santa Monica Bay watershed into the Pacific every year; which impacts humans, marine life and ocean water chemistry. 

The handbook states that an average restaurant uses 300,000 gallons of water and generates 150,000 pounds of trash per year; and that, “When not handled properly, the waste generated at food service establishments such as food scraps, fats, oils, grease and other waste can end up in storm drains and then flow into the ocean.” 

Another problem is that fats, oils, and grease (FOG) that are improperly discharged can harden inside sewer pipes and lead to sewer overflows on city streets. The handbook reports that, “In San Francisco, over $3.5 million is spent each year to clear grease-clogged pipes.”

The Malibu inspection and certification program was suspended during the pandemic — from 2020-22 — and did not resume until just last month. A recent city update stated, “We are committed to helping the restaurants in our community maintain environmental sustainability even while they struggle through this pandemic recovery.” 

The inspections are carried out by the city’s Environmental Sustainability Department (ESD), and are intended to be helpful to local businesses rather than adversarial. The city uses a 36-point Clean Bay Certified Inspection Checklist form for pollution prevention that includes 19 items adopted from stormwater ordinances and 17 additional items.

The inspection checklist includes everything from recycling, to inspecting nearby storm drains, water conservation practices and devices, use of non-toxic cleaning products, using recyclable take-out containers, maintaining trash-free dumpster areas with closed dumpster lids, proper outdoor and equipment cleaning, proper grease disposal, and employee training.

Participating restaurants are inspected at least twice per year, and restaurants that receive a 100 percent inspection score are awarded the “Clean Bay Certified” seal. The program satisfies Malibu’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit inspection requirements.

ESD staff began conducting more than 150 inspections of 75 businesses in June, with inspections occurring throughout the year. Some new restaurants are not compliant during the first inspection, but the city uses the opportunity to educate them on what they need to do to become compliant by the second inspection. The second inspection of the fiscal year is when certification can be awarded to a business. 

The official certification list of restaurants will not be released by the city until 2023; however, the following restaurants passed on the first round of inspections: 

  • Café Luxx
  • Casa Escobar
  • Country Kitchen
  • Duke’s
  • Fish Grill
  • Geoffrey’s
  • Gravina
  • John’s Garden
  • Le Café De La Plage
  • Little Beach House
  • Lucky’s
  • Malibu Ranch Market
  • Malibu Seafood
  • Malibu Yogurt and Ice Cream
  • Moonshadows
  • Nobu
  • Subway
  • Taverna Tony
  • Thaia
  • The Sunset Restaurant
  • Tramonto
  • Tri Di Noi