Stab Magazine | RIP: Lunada Bay Boys, 40 Years Of Localism And Havoc Laid To Rest
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RIP: Lunada Bay Boys, 40 Years Of Localism And Havoc Laid To Rest

“The most notorious surf gang in America.” 

news // Dec 2, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Bay Boys, best known for hurling rocks at kooks, slashing tires and general mayhem, died on November 29, 2016, after a long, sustained fight with changing times.

In their prime the Bay Boys were regarded as the “most notorious surf gang in America,” a title they wore with prideful distinction and dutifully upheld. Founded in the affluent Southern California enclave of Palos Verdes in the 1970s, the Bay Boys first staked their territorial claim to Lunada Bay. Citing birthrights to the sovereign lineup, throughout the ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s they fought valiantly to protect their precious maritime resource from the encroachment of the greater Los Angeles area populous.

The Bay Boys captured the mainstream’s fascination in 1997 when Palos Verdes surfer Peter McCollum made headlines after an altercation in which an out-of-towner showed up at Lunada with a camera crew. The incident led to assault charges and he ultimately served two years on probation and had to shell out $15,000 for the misdemeanour. McCollum and some buddies were also involved in an incident in ’95 that led to criminal charges but didn’t get as much ink.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/h46EPLwQn6Y

“These kids grow up in a very, very sheltered environment,” pleaded Palos Verdes Estates Police Chief Gary Johansen. “They don’t know what a bad guy really is.”

In ’97, author Joy Nicolson released her book, The Tribes of Palos Verdes, in which she detailed the cultural uniqueness of the coastal city.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/QlEjZCEE9co

“Each house must be at least a half acre away from the next, and the grass must be green and cut attractively. All roofs must be made of red tile, and the wall of each house must be whitewashed every three years. There are laws against loud stereos and rap music. There are laws against pit bulls and loud parrots. Children must wear uniforms to school,” describes Nicolson of Palos Verdes’ Orwellian tranquillity.

In 2010, Palos Verdes was named “the number one spot to get punched out” in Los Angeles and the Bay Boys came under increased scrutiny. Social media added fuel to the fire as every donkey with an iPhone or a drone made their way to the point to snap a selfie of them getting slapped. Rather than being celebrated for being one of the last bastions of surfing’s time-honored tradition of localism, self-righteous surf news (and local news) outlets chose instead to call attention to their actions and further demonise them. Tragically, the additional pressures led to a class-action lawsuit being filed in March 2016. The Bay Boys would never recover. 

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The Bay Boys fort is soon to return to the rubble from which it came. Photo: ABC News

Forced to take action rather than turn a friendly blind eye, city officials in Palos Verdes voted to dismantle the Bay Boys’ operation in the summer of 2016. Yesterday, November 29, the beach-front “clubhouse” that the Bay Boys built over 30 years was destroyed, subsequently ending decades of good times.

“It’s just a wrong thing to do,” Tom Kampas of Palos Verdes Estates said in an interview with a local cable news channel. “I’ve never been hassled by the so-called Bay Boys up here at all.”

Loved or reviled, the Bay Boys were a surfing institution for decades and the rich tapestry of the sport will not be the same without their occasional battle cry.

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