Could This Be The Nail In The Californian Localism Coffin? - Stab Mag

Live now: How Surfers Get Paid, Season Finale

Photo by Chuck Bennett

Could This Be The Nail In The Californian Localism Coffin?

A new ruling sets a possible precedent for Californian cities to “confront the aggressive and territorial behavior of local surfers”.

elsewhere // Mar 8, 2023
Words by Holden Trnka
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Localism, in some form or another, plays a role of varying impact in nearly every surf lineup in the world. If you’ve surfed more than a handful of times, chances are you’ve witnessed some form of hierarchy-based aquatic posturing.

But, is the prevalence of surf-territorialism fading? Are the days of beach-bound fisticuffs and waxy windshields behind us?

Ol’ Toenail sure thinks so. Apparently, California’s legislative system agrees.

In a somewhat convoluted appeal, a lower level court has dredged up the very viral Lunada Bay lawsuits of 2016.

Per the East Bay Times:

“The ruling drags Palos Verdes Estates back into a lawsuit filed in 2016 by two surfers who experienced firsthand the wrath of the Lunada Bay Boys and felt the city wasn’t doing enough to stop it. In 2020, a trial court judge in that case dismissed the city from the suit, which also named 15 Bay Boys individually.

Now, not only is the city potentially back on the hook, but attorneys for the plaintiffs and the California Coastal Commission say the appellate court’s broader interpretation of the Coastal Act sets a “monumental” precedent that could force cities to confront the aggressive and territorial behavior of local surfers, referred to as surf localism, or face fines of up to $15,000 per day.”

The city has denied the allegations and argues it never violated the Coastal Act. It demolished the rock fort — which was more of a stone patio — in 2016 amid a media frenzy about the Bay Boys.

The destruction of the “unpermitted rock fort.” Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze/SCNG

Ed Richards, an attorney representing Palos Verdes Estates, said he believes the state lawsuit will be dismissed just like a federal civil rights lawsuit, filed by the same surfers, was in 2018.

“We’re naturally disappointed in the court’s decision,” Richards said. “What this means is the case will likely return to the trial department and proceed with the litigation. We remain confident that we’ll prevail at the next stage.”

Though nothing has been set in stone, this is a clear symptom of late-stage localism.

Worth noting, 12 of the 15 “Bay Boys” named in the original case have settled — some agreeing to stay away from the infamously sacred wave for at least a year, others paying up to $90,000 in ‘reparations.’

The case returns to the Superior Court this month.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Watch: ‘Haiku’

Scenes From a Remote Reality, by Vans & Karina Rozunko

Mar 25, 2023

Sun Room: The Overnight Success Of A Young Surf Band

What's it like touring the world and living off of McDonald's?

Mar 25, 2023

How Surfers Get Paid, Episode 6

An instructional manual for the modern professional surfer

Mar 23, 2023


Caity Simmers — Extreme Competitive Surf Vlogger

Cool is chemical.

Mar 23, 2023

Globe Pulls Out Of The Apparel Game

…and, Taj Burrow and Dion Agius are now looking for new main sponsors.

Mar 22, 2023

Owen Wright Announces Retirement From Competitive And Heavy-Water Surfing

But will surf final CT event at Bells.

Mar 22, 2023


Fancy An Ale, Some Good Music, And A Bunch Of Tubes?

Ballet's minimalist full-length will satiate your needs.

Mar 22, 2023

João Chianca Spent Seven Years On The QS Without A Sponsor

And look where he is now.

Mar 22, 2023

Take Stab’s 2023 Audience Survey, Win A 3-Board Quiver

Stab towels and Premium subscriptions also up or grabs.

Mar 21, 2023

Jessi Miley Dyer On The New Challenger Series Schedule And More

Did you know that you could miss the mid-year cut and still theoretically win the…

Mar 20, 2023


Don’t Miss The Last Wave Of The First 2023 SEOTY Entry

Jacob Willcox's ‘Into Dust’ just set the bar.

Mar 20, 2023

Warren Smith on New Welcome Rivers Range and Buying Jaguars on Facebook Marketplace  

Now available in the Antipodes...

Mar 20, 2023


Wavegarden Spills How The Sausage Is Made

BTS of their global air wave rollout ft. Yago Dora, Dion Agius, Reef Heazlewood and…

Mar 18, 2023

Minds, Machines, And The Magic Of Hands

How modern shapers split their time between designing files and hand-finishing boards.

Mar 18, 2023


Are Hectic Lefts The Final Finless Frontier?

William Aliotti is on the right-foot-forward fringes.

Mar 17, 2023

Watch: Luke + Eddie

A mostly unknown, on-duty lifeguard won the most prestigious big-wave event in history. How Luke…

Mar 17, 2023


A Pipe Master, Ryan Burch, And Some Pickle Forks On The Eastern Seaboard

This one ticks a lot of boxes

Mar 16, 2023

Brazil Has A Talent Problem

And three other things we learned from the Rip Curl Pro Portugal.

Mar 16, 2023