Work got underway Monday to demolish an illegal stone and wood shelter built by a group of territorial surfers who are accused of using intimidation and violence to keep non-locals away from the well-shaped waves at Lunada Bay in Palos Verdes Estates.
City officials used a helicopter throughout the day to airlift jackhammers, an air compressor and other equipment to the site below steep cliffs on the northwestern part of the bay.
The demolition, removal of debris and final cleanup are expected to be completed Friday.
The Bay Boys began building the so-called "fort" 30 years ago, on the rugged shoreline of Rocky Point, at one of Southern California's best and most notorious surf spots. They cemented in stone retaining walls and a patio with a stone table, fire pit, rock bench and wood canopy. An adjacent seating area contains a wooden bench covered by a wood frame with palm fronds.
Witnesses and accounts filed in pending lawsuits accuse the group of congregating at the structure for years and bombarding outsiders with dirt clods, slashing their tires and assaulting them in the water. The attacks, witnesses said, were sometimes coordinated with small radios and phone messages.
Police reports over the years also show that the shelter, which was constructed without permits near the water's edge, has repeatedly been the scene of drug and alcohol use.
"That the city is moving forward with plans to take down the fort is indeed a good first step," said Noaki Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the California Coastal Commission, which sought to have the shelter removed. "We will continue to work to make sure measures are put in place to ensure the public is not discouraged from enjoying Lunada Bay."
In June, the commission threatened to take legal action against Palos Verdes Estates to improve public access to the bay and told the municipality to develop a plan to dismantle the shelter or seek permits for it. A month later, the City Council unanimously approved the removal of the structure.
The council awarded a $61,511 contract to AMPCO Contracting Inc. to dismantle the Bay Boys' shelter and another unpermitted bench and retaining wall on the south side of the bay at Resort Point as well debris around a storm drain.
City officials said the razing furthers their effort to remove unauthorized encroachments in park lands and supports the goals of maintaining a pristine coastline.