By Alec Brooks of Kazerouni Law Group, APC on Tuesday, August 16, 2016.
There may be nowhere in the United States with a wider and more diverse crowd than at the beach. No specific beach in particular, just anywhere the tide washes up on the shore. Any given day across either U.S. coast you’re bound to find children building sandcastles, adults bathing in the sun, fisherman carrying all their gear, and of course, surfers. Public beaches don’t belong to anyone, but if you were to ask around, most people would agree it’s the surfers who claim ownership. This is evident through the unspoken rules and conduct surfers who grew up in the area would say is engrained in their DNA. They, and their parents, and their parents’ parents have been swallowing the salt water at the local beach for so long that it’s become a part of them. A family heirloom passed down not by hand, but by current. This mindset can sometimes lead to territorial and aggressive behavior, especially when the local surfers encounter “kooks” from out of town paddling out.
The Lunada Bay Boys are one of the most notorious “surfer gangs” in the United States. For over half a century they’ve guarded the bay along the coastline of the Palos Verdes Estates like a medieval castle. 30 years ago they even erected a stone and wood fortress that has served as both their lookout and headquarters. For years other beachgoers have reported issues with the Bay Boys, including having their tires slashed, being assaulted in the water, and having clods of dirt thrown in their faces. The Bay Boys have also been reported as using an array of scare tactics such as hanging signs with intimidating messages on the cliffs and verbally warning beachgoers they’re going to be hurt.
In March, El Segundo Police Officer Corey Spencer was harassed by the Bay Boys and filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the group. Joining him on the suit was Diana Milena Reed, who claimed one of the Bay Boys doused her with beer and exposed himself to her. A federal judge declined to hear the plaintiffs’ claims that the surfers were blocking access to the beach and that the police weren’t doing anything to impede upon the Bay Boy’s presence and influence. On August 5 Spencer, Reed, and the Coastal Protector Rangers INC filed a state class-action suit against the Bay Boys. The suit alleged the group violated the California Coastal Act by blocking public access to the beach, threatening and assaulting beachgoers, and vandalizing public property. The city of Palos Verdes Estates and the city’s Police Chief have also been named defendants in the suit, as the plaintiffs believe the city and the police force have done little to stop the antics of the rowdy surfers.
“For many decades, victims of the Lunada Bay Boys have complained to defendant Palos Verdes Estates police and city officials,” the suit states. “The response is always the same: City leaders acknowledge the problem, promise to do something, then do little or nothing.”
The alleged criminal activity of the Bay Boys spiked in 2016 as there have been 10 police reports filed against members for, “surf vandalism.” It’s only August and that is already more reported incidents than the previous two years combined. The expanding spotlight on the Bay Boys has already started to yield results. On July 14 the Palos Verdes Estates City Council voted unanimously to remove the stone fortress after pressure from the California Coastal Commission. These spinning wheels should play in the favor of the plaintiffs as they move along with their suit. Victor Otten, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs referred to the Bay Boys as, “A bunch of trust-fund bullies,” and also believes the suit will result in Lunada Bay truly becoming a public beach again.
Nelson Mandela once said, “Courageous people do not fear forgiving for the sake of peace.” If people are complacent and don’t act while injustices are occurring, they will continue to occur. The occupants of Lunada Bay haven’t made a strong effort to thwart the wrongdoings of the Bay Boys since the 1960’s out of fear, and the group’s reign became so strong that not even authority figures wanted to bother them. If Reed and Spencer had given up after having the suit rejected at a federal level then the illegal activity at Lunada Bay would have more than likely remained underexposed and would’ve continued. Now there’s a good chance it could be coming to an end.
If you or someone you know are being taken advantage of by a person or a group of persons, don’t be silent. Sometimes the only way to get things done is to do them yourself. If you’re feeling this way please visit www.kazlg.com or call us at 800-400-6808 and we’ll be in your corner.