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State And City Tangle Over Razing Palos Verdes Surfer Gang Clubhouse

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Lunada Bay in Palos Verdes (Photo by tiarescott via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Even though the California Coastal Commission has ordered the city of Palos Verdes Estates to tear down the clubhouse of the notorious surfer gang called the Lunada Bay Boys, a letter issued by P.V. Estates this week indicates the small town has little interest in immediately complying with the demands of the State of California.

On Monday, the California Coastal Commission sent a letter to P.V. Estates' City Manager Anton Dahlerbruch, that outlines how the city could either legalize or demolish the unsanctioned clubhouse on the shore. The Coastal Commission says P.V. Estates has until July 6 to decide how to demolish the existing structure, or begin a permitting process that also includes developing greater public access to the notoriously inaccessible Lunada Bay itself, reports the L.A. Times.

But in the letter Dahlerbruch penned back to the Coastal Commission on Tuesday, Dahlerbruch explained how the clubhouse is "is apparently a very old structure and its removal may threaten the stability of the adjacent bluff. The complexity of the situation has presented no easy or immediate answer."

Quick primer on the Lunada Bay Boys, if you haven't been quite paying close attention. The Bay Boys are a group of mostly affluent middle-aged surfer bros who shout at and assault perceived outsiders who attempt to surf at and/or visit beautiful Lunada Bay.

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This past March, a coalition of plaintiffs, including a woman who alleges sexual harassment and an El Segundo Police officer, filed a lawsuit against a few specific members of the Bay Boys, and the city of Palos Verdes Estates for failing to do anything about the Bay Boys' bad behavior. What's happening now doesn't have anything formally to do with the lawsuit against the Bay Boys, but has everything to do with municipal complicity in, for all practical matters, a gang of bullies.

The Coastal Commission first sounded alarms back in March, when it sent an initial letter to City Manager Dahlerbruch ordering the city to address issues caused by the Bay Boys through policing. That letter also addressed the illegality of the Bay Boys' clubhouse, technically an un-permitted development on the California coast. Un-permitted development on the California coast is perhaps the California Coastal Commission's very least favorite thing, and is how the state agency is justifying its actions moving forward.

The most recent letter from the Coastal Commission zeros in on this un-permitted development, and asks P.V. Estates to either seek a Coastal Development Permit for either the demolition or maintenance of the clubhouse. The caveat, however, is that if P.V. Estates wants to maintain the clubhouse as is, they need to make it a public amenity. From the Coastal Commission's letter:

Thus, in order for a request to retain the structure in place, even if the structure is reduced in mass, to be favorably considered, such a request should be accompanied with a proposal to institute a comprehensive public access program that clearly identifies, through signage at major streets, at the coastline, and on trail maps, the structure as a public amenity and open to all.

Phrases like "comprehensive public access," "public amenity" and "open to all" defy what the Bay Boys, and indeed Palos Verdes Estates, are about. Court documents reflect that the gang posted municipal-style sign at the top of the bluff that states simply "Unlocals will be hassled."

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In May, P.V. Estates officials dismissed claims about the Bay Boys as simple "urban legend," an attitude further reflected in the city's response to the Coastal Commission's most recent order.

City Manager Dahlerbruch wrote back to the Coastal Commission saying that the nearest possible time the city could even begin considering what to do with the clubhouse is at a public meeting on October 18. The city is, in the meantime, conducting a comprehensive "geotechnical overview" to determine whether or not removing the 30-year-old clubhouse will lead to the collapse of the its adjacent (lol).

The deadline for the city to seek a Coastal Development Permit set by the Coastal Commission is July 6, and we can't wait to see what happens on July 7!