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El Porto

El Porto was once a secluded, orphaned and sometimes lawless whisper of L.A. County beachfront. Today, it’s part of Manhattan Beach, one of the most expensive cities in California. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Don Spencer fondly recalls his childhood in El Porto as “a banquet — more goodies on the table than anyone could get to in a lifetime.” The 71-year-old artist doesn’t believe change is necessarily bad, but he’s not sure he can call what’s happening in his neighborhood progress either. (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)
Surfers like El Porto because of its unique off-shore canyon that channels larger, better shaped waves to the area. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Mark Miyamoto of El Segundo rinses off at a shower decorated with action figures after surfing at El Porto. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Two joggers run along the strand in El Porto. The community is a far cry today from the days when whatever the law-and-order crowd frowned upon at the time — booze during Prohibition, raucous dancing during the early days of rock, pot in the ’60s, coke in the ’70s — could be found there, often with great ease. (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)
A gaggle of plastic pink flamingos decorates a parkway along a walking path beside the ocean in El Porto. (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)