By Priscella Vega, Daily Breeze
High swells attracted the usual contingent of surfing locals to Lunada Bay in Palos Verdes Estates on Friday, but they had some company: four police officers, the city’s top administrator, the media and a few out-of-towners who wanted to share the waves.
It wasn’t exactly a party, though.
The Bay Boys, notorious for their harassment of outsiders who visit their surfing spot, weren’t fond of the attention that rained down on their patio hangout at the bottom of a cliff. Partially responsible for the crowd was one man’s attempt Friday to rally non-locals to Lunada Bay, which seemed to have fizzled.
Jordan Wright, who has experienced the wrath of the Bay Boys before, had tried to mobilize a crowd on Facebook but only a couple of his friends showed up.
Still, about 20 people stood atop the bluffs to watch the at-times tense scene that revolved around the few out-of-towners looking to surf and the territorial hometown surfers, who have made the stone structure their stomping ground.
None of the surfers in the water claimed to be a Bay Boy, and none wanted to be identified. But they acknowledged having a problem with surfers in the water who aren’t local, accusing them of littering the shoreline and not being able to negotiate the current.
One claimed to be able to spot a nonlocal because he put on his wet suit at the top of the trail.
“Locals don’t wear their wet suits until (they are) down the trail because it ruins the trails,” he said.
Asked if they wanted to share their side of the story, the locals declined to give their names, saying more media attention “would just make things worse.”
Others said localism is part of surfing culture and commonly found in places like Redondo Beach, Miami and the beaches of Hawaii.
“It’s all getting blown out of proportion,” one said.
“When we go out and try to apply for jobs, they Google us and see where we’re from,” another said. “And when they see (localism) going on, they’re not going to want to hire us.”
Detective Aaron Belda denied that Lunada Bay was getting any special attention Friday, saying police regularly patrol the area, especially during high swells. Even City Manager Tony Dahlerbruch showed up, saying he often visits the popular surf area and makes a point to stop by during optimal surfing conditions.
Officials have not yet determined whether to remove the unpermitted patio, which is just one of dozens of illegal encroachments in the city. As a coastal city, Palos Verdes Estates has an obligation to provide equal access to the beach.
However, it’s unclear if the cliffside structure directly contributes to territorial behavior in Lunada Bay. And because the issue of localism is behavioral, city officials said they are working to determine if the patio itself makes the shoreline exclusive to only a certain group of surfers.
Jordan Wright and Chris Taloa were among the few out-of-towners who tried to rally friends to surf the area Friday. Taloa, who organized a protest against localism in Lunada Bay in 2014, said the hostile environment hadn’t changed.
While Wright was prepping his surfboard at the top of the bluffs, he said a man driving past yelled “kooks!” Wright said he immediately called police and filed a report.
It wasn’t his first encounter with localism either. Wright recalls visiting Lunada Bay as a 15-year-old with his father and being confronted by Bay Boys who wouldn’t stop verbally harassing them until they left.
“I just want to go and surf,” Wright said. “I’ve tried to get people to go and, if I do, I’ll go — otherwise I’ll go somewhere else. I’ve already made up my mind that I’m not going to surf by myself.”
Just past noon Friday, the crowd began to dwindle when Wright and his friend, Diana Reed, began their trek down the hill. Four watchful police officers edged closer to the ledge.
Wright said he and Reed were yelled and cursed at by a local as he approached the patio.
“At that point, cops heard him because they were by the patio,” Wright said. “Police walked toward us and cops patted him down and detained him.”
Wright said they were offered the opportunity to make a citizen’s arrest or file a report. While he initially decided to file a citizen’s arrest, Wright said he didn’t want to complicate the situation.
“Everyone saw it, everyone saw my face,” Wright said. “I don’t want any problems. I just wanted to surf.
“We need cops involved, we need surfers taking (localism) head on and reporters drawing attention to this. At the end of the day, maybe someday we’ll change the story down there and people can look freely and surf.”
Staff writer Ed Pilolla contributed to this article.