The rowdy band of aggressive middle-aged surfers known as the Lunada Bay Boys will have to leave their favorite surf spot in Palos Verdes Estates unattended for a while as they head for the courtroom. As the LA Times reports, several plaintiffs, including El Segundo police officer Cory Spencer, filed a class action lawsuit Tuesday that could actually do something about the surfers' ability to gang up on and threaten visitors to the bay.
In the past, the insanely territorial Bay Boys—most of them residents of the wealthy Palos Verdes Estates—have been accused of making threats, vandalizing cars, and even attacking surfers hoping to enjoy the waves at one of LA's best surf spots. Last May, The Guardian released a hidden camera video of Bay Boys harassing a pair of journalists at Lunada Bay.
In spite of new Palos Verdes Estates Police Chief Jeff Kepley's promises to crack down on the Bay Boys, the suit alleges that the harassment of outsiders has continued under Kepley's watch and names him as a defendant, along with the city of Palos Verdes Estates. "Defendant Kepley has failed to enforce the State's laws when it comes to crimes committed... against visiting beachgoers," the suit claims.
The suit goes on to accuse the city of Palos Verdes Estates of tolerating and even indirectly encouraging the Bay Boys' exclusive practices. It states that the city "considers non-residents 'riffraff'" and that through "complicit approval and deliberate indifference" to the behavior of the surfers, the city denies visitors access to publicly owned land.
Several incidents listed in the suit illustrate the kind of immature and aggressive behavior the Bay Boys have been accused of. Spencer claims that during a visit to the bay he was forced to pay a security guard $100 to prevent his car from being vandalized, and that once in the water, a member of the Bay Boys intentionally ran into him, giving Spencer a cut on his hand.
Another plaintiff in the case alleges that the Bay Boys yelled insults at her on multiple occasions and made sexually explicit remarks as a form of intimidation. Additionally, the suit alleges that one member sprayed beer on her and exposed himself after making several remarks about being "hard," and how this apparently made it easier to get into his wetsuit.
The suit argues that the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department responded inadequately after this woman filed a complaint against the Bay Boys. Though she offered to identify the men who harassed her through photos the department had on file, police never followed up with her to arrange an opportunity for her to do so. She says that one officer even went so far as to question her motives, asking "why would a woman want to go down to that beach and the Rock Fort anyways? There are only rocks down there." (The Bay Boys do actually have a fort.)
The lawsuit comes only a month after the California Coastal Commission sent a letter to city officials that argued that the Bay Boys' effective exclusion of outsiders from the coastline "constitutes development," and is thus subject to regulation.
With the mounting legal pressure, it might seem like something will finally be done about the Bay Boys, who may soon lose their right to antagonize visitors of a beach they don't own. But then again, these guys have been here before. The exclusive surf crew has been hit with lawsuits and criminal charges for at least 20 years; the Guardian video caught one Boy dismissing the lawsuits as a nuisance: "So many people sue each other ... that's gonna cost you 10 grand. I don't wanna go through that shit again."