Congratulations to my fellow Commissioners, I look forward to serving with you, and thank you San Mateo County voters for electing us.




Big-wave breakthrough: Female surfer leads Mavericks revolution
by Bruce Jenkins, Sports Columnist

It took a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make it happen, with Bianca Valenti and Sabrina Brennan, a San Mateo County Harbor District commissioner, at the forefront. Along with the three most accomplished female big-wave riders in Hawaii — Kennelly, Paige Alms and Andrea Moller — Valenti created the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing. They established a website, welcoming support and commentary.

San Francisco Chronicle, Christmas Day, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016



First Wave: The women chosen to surf Mavericks
by Bruce Jenkins, Sports Columnist 

The unsung hero of the women’s big-wave movement is Sabrina Brennan, a San Mateo County Harbor District commissioner who lives on a bluff near Pillar Point and has followed the Mavericks contest from the beginning. When it was her turn to speak at the California Coastal Commission hearing in November of 2015, she noted the absence of women in the event and argued strongly for equality. The result was an amended motion that allowed Cartel Management a contest permit on the provision that it would include women in the future.

Two months ago, in submitting its permit application, Cartel made promises only for the 2017-18 season. “It was like they were dangling this little carrot,” Brennan said. “To me, it was a scheme to stay in control of the event and not include women at any point in the future.”

Just five days later, Cartel had switched gears. A Coastal Commission report threatened a permit rejection unless Cartel included women this year. After requesting a four-year extension of its permit, Cartel had to settle for just one year.

San Francisco Chronicle, Christmas Day, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016



Women to make history surfing big-wave contest, but struggles for equality remain

Women will have the opportunity to compete this year largely because of one woman’s crusade. Sabrina Brennan, the San Mateo County Harbor Commissioner, fought for a separate women’s heat at Mavericks. 

Brennan lives in Moss Beach in a home that overlooks where Mavericks is held. 

She’s attended nearly every contest since the first one was organized in 1999 by the surf-clothing brand Quiksilver. At the time, the contest name was Men Who Ride Mountains. “With that name, it’s not really very welcoming,’’ for women, she said.

Peninsula Press, Stanford Journalism Program, Dec. 15, 2016


LA Times

Let women compete, Coastal Commission orders famous surf contest at Mavericks

“This is a great step forward for our sport, women’s athletics and women. You know, it’s about human rights,” said Bianca Valenti, a top female big-wave rider and co-founder of the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing.

Supporters who lobbied the commission to add women included representatives from the Surfrider Foundation, the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing, the Coastal Protection Network, the Brown Girl Surf organization and San Mateo County Harbor Commissioner Sabrina Brennan.

Los Angeles Times, Nov. 5, 2016



For First Time in 17 Years, Women Will Compete in Top Big-Wave Surfing Contest

Sabrina Brennan, who heads the San Mateo County Harbor Commission, which manages the Mavericks surf area, helped in the fight to include women — which at times grew tense.

“Organizers would show up at meetings with their attorneys and just stare at you with a menacing look,” said Brennan, who is also a member of the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing. “It was intimidating.”

She also said some event organizers had told several female surfers to get their own Mavericks event.

Still, Brennan said she was pleased with the outcome.

“It’s about time,” she said. “It feels like it shouldn’t have taken this long. And I wonder why it’s taken so long. It’s exciting and thrilling. But we’re not there yet. Women athletes have to keep asking for what they want.”

New York Times, Sports, Oct. 28, 2016



Women Finally Get A Spot In Legendary Big Wave Surfing Competition

The inaugural women’s event is a huge milestone for female big wave surfers, but Sabrina Brennan, a San Mateo Harbor District commissioner who first raised issue with the state Coastal Commission last year, believes that there’s still more work to be done.

A single one-hour heat “does not match up with what the women athletes have asked for,” Brennan told HuffPost, noting that the women’s committee specifically recommended three.

Brennan, who has lived next to the California surf break since 1999, also believes that a woman should be included in the Committee 5, the currently all-male panel that decides which surfers are skilled enough to compete at Mavericks.

These are much-needed changes, Brennan says, for an event that was originally called “Men Who Ride Mountains.”

“I would really love to see women get more recognition for the risks that they’re taking out there,” Brennan said.

Huffington Post, Women, Oct. 28, 2016


New York Times

Female Surfers Tear Down a Big Wave Barrier

Ultimately, it took the state to force the change at Titans of Mavericks, which was known in its early years as the “Men Who Ride Mountains” contest.

The decision by Cartel Management, the company that owns the tournament, followed a campaign over the last year by a small group of female surfers along with Sabrina Brennan, a San Mateo County harbor commissioner.

Organized under the banner “Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing,” the surfers pressured California’s Coastal Commission into demanding that Mavericks add a women’s heat or risk losing its permit to hold the event.

The campaign worked. 

New York Times, California Today, Oct. 28, 2016



Mavericks Surfing Contest Will Include Women for First Time

“There was no hint that anything like this was brewing,” said Sabrina Brennan, who serves on the San Mateo Harbor Commission and who first brought the issue to the attention of the Coastal Commission.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” Valenti told Surfer Mag. “But I think it’s awesome. I’m just excited to see the women’s side of the sport strengthen. It felt weird always asking for them to let us women in. So it feels great knowing they know want us to be apart of this rad big-wave community.”

Sabrina Brennan said some of the event’s organizers would like to hold a roundtable discussion with the women and are considering the possibility of a two-day format, weather permitting.

She also said there are still some issues to be worked out.

“I’d like to see something in writing,” she said. So far the news has only been mentioned on social media.

The female surfers have also requested a woman sit on the selection committee.

KQED, Oct. 21, 2016


SF Gate

Women to ride big waves in 'Titans of Mavericks' competition for the first time

Sabrina Brennan, a San Mateo County Harbor District Commissioner, had been fighting for female inclusion in the competition. She's cautiously optimistic.

"It's great they want to include women, but the women asked for a multi-heat event, which is what the men have. They should have a multi-heat event, and the same amount of prize money. Those issues haven't been addressed in this one-hour heat, but maybe it's a good starting point."

San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 21, 2016


Half Moon Bay Review

“No one has done more to change the culture there than Sabrina Brennan. She has demanded to know where the money went for computers that were never installed. She has sought to hold complacent employees accountable. She has championed the rights of fishermen and is proud of a newly reconstituted relationship with the Half Moon Bay Seafood Marketing Association. She has fought for equity at Mavericks; her call for a women’s heat in the surf contest led directly to the California Coastal Commission demanding as much in this year’s contest.”

Half Moon Bay Review Endorsement, Oct. 26, 2016


“Brennan is bright, creative, hard-working and aggressive.” 

Daily Journal Endorsement, Sept. 23, 2016

Sabrina Brennan Sierra Club Endorsement

“The Sierra Club is proud to endorse Sabrina for re-election to the Harbor Commission. She’s a courageous environmental leader with an outstanding record on planning for the impacts of climate change, sea level rise, and water quality protection.”   Sierra Club Endorsement


Silicon Valley NWPC
“Sabrina is an outstanding Harbor Commissioner with strong democratic values. Her advocacy for women athletes, support for commercial fishermen, and passion for environmental stewardship make her an excellent choice for the San Mateo County Harbor District.”

—Angelica Ramos, Chair, National Women's Political Caucus of Silicon Valley


“Sabrina Brennan has blazed trails as the first lesbian candidate to win a countywide election in San Mateo County, as the only openly LGBT member of the county Democratic Central Committee, and as the county's highest-ranking lesbian elected official. We're proud to endorse her.”

—Rick Zbur, @Executive Director, Equality California, the nation's largest statewide LGBT advocacy group.





On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, I was elected to represent Democrats on the county Democratic Party Central Committee. I'm deeply moved by the voters support and I look forward to serving a four-year term.

It was a joy to celebrate with San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim.

Jane Kim Sabrina Brennan

Through outreach, education and research, I support good waterfront planning, restoration and public access.


San Mateo County is beautiful, our cities and towns float on a shimmering bay and breathtaking ocean. Though our bay and ocean are rising, and our waters have been mistreated over the years, most people would pick the beach and waterfront over just about anything else. 

We are loyal to it.  And we will fight for it.



Find out about my mission, methods, and results.

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