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Surfer gang's Lunada Bay 'fort' must go, city staff says

A stone “fort” used by a group of fiercely territorial surfers in Palos Verdes Estates should be dismantled and carted away, according to a plan developed by city staffers that will be considered by the city’s elected leaders Tuesday. 

City Manager Tony Dahlerbruch is recommending the removal of the illegal structure after pressure from the California Coastal Commission and the arrival of a geo-technical report last week that confirmed the removal will not cause erosion of a nearby bluff. 

“The report indicates there would be no impacts,” Dahlerbruch said. 

Area surfers known as the “Bay Boys” constructed the oceanside palapa with stone and concrete decades ago and have maintained it from generation to generation.

The Coastal Commission recently targeted the un-permitted structure after renewed reports that the Bay Boys were using it as a private party spot and that drinking there fueled their ongoing bullying and intimidation of people who came to use the public beach. 

Witnesses have accused the Bay Boys of bombarding outsiders with dirt clods, slashing their tires and assaulting them in the water -- sometimes coordinating the attacks with walkie-talkies.

Police reports over the years show that the fort has repeatedly been a site of alleged drug and alcohol use.

Critics say that Palos Verdes Estates authorities essentially mollycoddle the locals. 

Even veteran wave riders are afraid of the Bay Boys. The editors at Surfer magazine recently listed Lunada Bay on its list of “five surf zones you should avoid no matter how good the waves are.” 

Palos Verdes Estates issued a letter last month saying that the city would not meet a state deadline of July 6 to make plans for the fort, but the commission is waiting until the Tuesday meeting before pursuing further enforcement action, spokeswoman Noaki Schwartz said. 

Coastal Commission Enforcement Officer Jordan Sanchez wrote in a report earlier this year about Lunada Bay access problems that it was unlikely that he would be able to approve a permit for the fort because of its location on public land, but he said a smaller structure might be possible if the city took steps to improve public access.

The city, he said, should make a plan 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."

But Dahlerbruch instead promised only a beach cleanup and said he hoped to develop a preliminary plan for the fort by September -- seven months after the Coastal Commission first raised the issue and two months past the state's deadline.

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