Class-Action Lawsuit Against Surfer Gang Lunada Bay Boys
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UPDATED: Sep 4, 2016
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A group of plaintiffs led by Diana Milena Reed has filed a class-action lawsuit against a group known as the Lunada Bay Boys, alleging that the surfer gang has violated the California Coastal Act by blocking public access to the beach through assault, vandalism and threats. The other named plaintiffs include an El Segundo police officer, Cory Spencer, and a nonprofit group called the Coastal Protection Rangers.
The lead plaintiff, Diana Milena Reed of Malibu, alleges that the Lunada Bay Boys doused her with beer and threatened her. Reed claims that she was assaulted in retaliation for appearing in a news article about the problems with the Lunada Bay Boys.
The plaintiffs are not the only ones who have complained about the Lunada Bay Boys. Beachgoers have been complaining about the Bay Boys for years, alleging that they assault and harass the non-locals who attempt to use the beach. Police reports show that the Lunada Bay Boys utilize an illegal stone “fort” near the water’s edge, which has been the repeated site of alleged drug and alcohol abuse.
In one reported incident, a person claims that someone who was trying to organize a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at Lunada Bay was met by a Bay Boy in blackface and an Afro wig who said, “You don’t pay enough taxes to be here.”
The lawsuit names the City of Palo Verdes Estates and its police chief, Jeff Kepley, as defendants. The plaintiffs claim that the city knew about the alleged behavior, but did little to stop it. One of the attorneys on the case, Victor Otten, stated, “The plaintiffs brought the lawsuits to open access to a beach that was stolen 40 years ago by a bunch of trust-fund bullies… The plaintiffs are confident they will succeed in making Lunada Bay public again.”
The suit is the second suit brought by these same plaintiffs related to the underlying issue. In March, the federal judge hearing the first case declined to hear the plaintiffs’ claims regarding the Coastal Act because it was a matter of state law.
The federal lawsuit sought to fine nine named defendants $30,000 each and bar each of them from surfing the point for an unspecified period of time.
Response From City
The City Council released a statement defending the city as one of the safest communities in Southern California and noting that, “the City and its Police Department maintain their focus on ensuring all public areas, including Lunada Bay, remain safe, accessible and enjoyed by all who live, visit and work in the community.”
Mayor Jennifer King wrote a letter to the editor of the Palos Verdes Peninsula News, defending the City of Palo Verdes Estates’ response to the complaints. “Recent images and statements cast by the news media are false and misleading. We encourage the public not to jump to conclusions based on a few statements taken out of context or a few false inflammatory allegations raised in a lawsuit.”