clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Palos Verdes Estates Providing Cover For Rich Old Dude Surfer Gang

New, 6 comments

Officials are more interested in shutting down chatter about the group than stopping their harassment

The gang of rich older surfers that has been shown in videos intimidating non-locals at the Palos Verdes Estates spot known as Lunada Bay has been a problem for at least two decades and was recently named in a class action lawsuit alleging harassment and sexual harassment. That lawsuit also accuses the city and the city's police department of covering for the Bay Boys and refusing to investigate reports about them, but the LA Times says that officials are now more concerned with silencing media chatter about the issue than they are about actually dispersing the gang and eliminating the issue of criminal localism at the beach.

Though police made a public show of cracking down on the antics of the group known as the Bay Boys late last year, in documents obtained by the Times, "messages among City Manager Tony Dahlerbruch, Police Chief Jeff Kepley and City Council members indicate that city leaders repeatedly downplayed the alleged harassment by the Bay Boys against other surfers at Lunada Bay."

City officials have dismissed the surfer group as a "urban legend," though a PVE councilman also encouraged the city to consider not talking to reporters for stories on the Bay Boys, so as to stonewall "sensationalizing stories about our city."

State resources were offered to PVE by a local state assemblymember, but rejected by the city manager "and other Palos Verdes Estates leaders" out of fear that it would attract further media attention.

An email sent by PVE's police chief shows that he "rejected recommendations from former law enforcement officers from other areas on ways to police the matter more aggressively." A memo he sent revealed that the police chief felt the Bay Boys situation was "an old story" undeserving of news coverage, though in it, he also admitted that "the Police Department had done 'likely not enough' to rid Lunada Bay of harassment."

The Bay Boys reportedly hold court at a non-permitted fort in among the rocks of Lunada Bay. A city councilmember says he went to check out the fort; he wrote in a memo about the visit that "he received a friendly greeting and was offered a beer." He didn't seem to mind that the city's municipal code doesn't allow booze to be consumed in public areas like beaches, or that the lawsuit against the Bay Boys and the city notes that many of the incidents were "alcohol-fueled."

There certainly seems to be support in Palos Verdes Estates for what the Bay Boys do, if not explicitly, then through turning a blind eyes and encouragement of policies that effectively do the same work of keeping people out of wealthy PVE.

At a March meeting with the California Coastal Commission, PVE officials argued that the Bay Boys didn't really exist but also received suggestions for improving access to the bay for those who don't live in Palos Verdes—things like improved wayfinding signage and better trails. "None of the public access proposals have received consideration from the council," a councilmember later said.

Some locals seem to side with the surf gang, and have urged city officials to support the group or at least refrain from "caving in" to outside requests that the public beach be made more accessible to non Palos Verdes Estatesers. An email to the city council asked, "What threat are the Bay Boys to our city? The argument can actually be made that they keep a cap on crime."