Spencer v. Lunada Bay Boys et al
A Class Action Civil Rights Lawsuit

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Spencer v. Lunada Bay Boys, and the City of Palos Verdes Estates:

The ocean is not exclusive, as it does not know race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, zip code, or income.

On March 29, 2016, Hanson Bridgett filed Spencer v. Lunada Bay Boys et al – a class action civil rights lawsuit where we are fighting for open access to a public Southern California beach. Consistent with our efforts, on Friday, December 2, the California Coastal Commission initiated a survey of California beachgoers. Visit the Coastal Commission website to view their Public Access Questionnaire for Lunada Bay, and read on if:

  • You have ever tried to access Lunada Bay or anywhere else in Palos Verdes Estates' 4.5 miles of shoreline, but were discouraged by the locals and/or the City and its police department; or
  • You have avoided visiting Lunada Bay because of its reputation for localism or the City's response to outsiders' complaints.

Background

Lunada Bay is a public shoreline and beach, owned by the wealthy City of Palos Verdes Estates. Even though Lunada Bay is a public beach, it has earned a reputation as one of the surfing world's best-known areas for localism. Its trails are hidden, signage is sparse, and amenities to indicate it is a public beach are nonexistent. And for the last 40 years the primarily wealthy, middle-aged Lunada Bay locals (aka, Lunada Bay Boys, or Lunada Pirates) have threatened and injured any "outsiders" who attempt to access the City-owned shoreline and beach. They refer to non-Palos Verdes Estates residents as "riffraff," "trolls," "unlocals," "kooks," and "herms." Shockingly, during a recent Martin Luther King Day paddle out organized by visitors, some locals wore blackface and told visiting beachgoers "you don't make enough money to be here." (Torrance Daily Breeze)

Next, unlike most beaches, at Lunada Bay beachgoers dont even get a chance to make it to the water before they're hassled, threatened, harassed, or physically harmed. When visitors have complained, the local police department hasn't taken the complaints seriously. Overt discrimination exists too (read an account of a Lunada Bay local justifying his group's illegal action in the Torrance Daily Breeze).

Change Has Started

Since Hanson Bridgett filed the lawsuit on behalf of public beachgoers, the City (1) has taken action authorizing $50,000 in additional police through the end of this fiscal year, and (2) just removed the unpermitted illegal Rock Fort home to the Bay Boys. More change is needed, along with Court oversight.

Stand up and be heard: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere

Many have come forward to speak out against the gang-like activity of the Lunada Bay Boys. Although the tide is turning, your voice is needed. If you have experienced any localism at Lunada Bay (or know of anyone who has been deterred by the Lunada locals) – from 1965 to present – let your voice be heard and tell the Coastal Commission.

Examples from other witnesses include assaults (throwing rocks, running people over with surfboards, punches, slaps, dunking), threats, thefts, vandalism, sexual harassment, verbal harassment, and racial/homophobic slurs.

On December 29, 2016, Hanson Bridgett attorneys submitted a motion for class certification on behalf of all out-of-area beachgoers. The motion included declarations from people whom have been denied access – those with first hand experiences of localism and being deterred from going to Lunada Bay and/or other Palos Verdes Estates' beaches. We anticipate the Court will hear the motion in February. As we prepare for trial, we’d like to hear from you if you’ve been denied access at Lunada Bay because of bullying by the locals, and/or police indifference to your complaint. We’d also like to hear from you even if you do not have firsthand experiences at the shoreline, but never made the trip to Lunada Bay because of the area's unfriendly reputation toward visitors.

If you prefer initial anonymity over contacting the Coastal Commission, and want to learn more or have your voice heard, contact us at LunadaBayClass@hansonbridgett.com or call 1-877-342-6766.

Coastal Commission Links

Documents Supporting Motion for Class Certification