Commission sides with surfers over Marines in tussle over Trestles

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A state commission Friday sided with surfers over Marines in voting to recommend that the Trestles area along the northern San Diego County coast be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The State Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously to approve a request by the San Clemente-based Surfrider Foundation. The Navy and Marine Corps opposed the request.

The decision on whether to list Trestles rests with civilian officials with the National Register of Historic Places. What practical effect the listing would have is unclear, but the opposing sides have differing concerns.

The surfers hope that listing Trestles as a historic place will protect it from any development that might disrupt the site as a near-perfect surf break.


Among those supporting the foundation’s request were two members of the Beach Boys, whose 1963 song ‘Surfin’ USA’ mentioned Trestles (along with San Onofre, Del Mar, La Jolla, and Swami’s in Cardiff, among others) as an idyllic surf spot.

Trestles and San Onofre are part of the ‘California surfing lifestyle, attitude and culture’ that is known and admired worldwide, Beach Boys singer Mike Love wrote to the commission.

A stretch of Trestles is owned by the Department of Defense and leased to the state for the San Onofre State Beach. Another stretch has been used by the Marines for amphibious assault training since World War II.

Camp Pendleton officials are concerned that listing the area as historic could result in civilian oversight that could undercut access to the beach. Trestles is ‘essential to accomplishing the base’s mission’ of preparing Marines for combat, the Marine Corps said.


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-- Tony Perry in San Diego