Middle-aged, Yuppie, Surf Vigilante Gang Terrorize Fishermen and Surfers that Wander into Their Affluent Palos Verdes Turf

There’s a pack of balding, gray-haired Starbucks-drinking, Prius-driving, wanna-be thugs protecting their village surf spots in Los Angeles County. The gang colors are Tommy Bahama Aloha blue, with coordinating Reef leather sandals and mom jeans or cargo shorts, if the weather is warm. The gang activity isn’t happening in the boroughs of Compton or Long Beach. Their turf is Rancho Palos Verdes.

People laugh at the idea, but these older, aloha shirt wearing fathers and husbands are no joke. They’re beating outsiders down, vandalizing vehicles and throwing rocks at those who dare venture into the Lunada Bay and surrounding beaches of Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

The area of Rancho Palos Verdes is less than an hour south of Los Angeles and is located on a westernmost peninsula that juts into the Pacific. The median annual home income is $163,000. Median home prices are $1,150,000 and Hispanic, African American and mixed-race minorities consist of less than 6% of the population.

The unlikely thug crew has been involved in this foolery for decades, it’s just gotten more serious in the recent years—and can be caught on video with a smartphone. Reports and folklore of their fathers doing the same back in the day when Gidget, Beach Blanket Bingo and other films fueled interest in surfing are aplenty. These spoiled rich kids didn’t want the children of the lower income parents coming to their local beaches and bringing a crowd to the surf zone. So much for social integration!

The vigilantes have been sued and lost multiple lawsuits filed against them, paying tens of thousands of dollars to the victims, yet they still continue on with their inherited tradition of damage.

Police in the area have known about this pack of rock throwers and fists of fury for decades and seem to turn a blind eye. Interestingly, the police boat used for patrolling the surf is inoperable with “mechanical issues” and unable to stop any water-born turf war. The Los Angeles police have decided to “let the city and local authorities” handle the problem, for now.

So visitors beware: when beach-combing or surfing the beaches of Lunada Bay, bring your .45 sidearm, or Gandalf the Grey wizard staff for self-defense. Listen for threatening sounds like the song “Vahevala” by Loggins and Messina—it’s the war cry for this pack of toddlers—and be ready. Perhaps when the “Bay Boys” start getting laid out, police inquiries will start flowing through and the bald, greying delinquents will settle into sharing the ocean and beaches they believe are only for them.

Tackling California’s Housing Shortage

Californians are used to dealing with natural disasters: record droughts, floods, earthquakes wildfires mudslides, even a periodic cyclone or two. Now we are facing a different kind of disaster – one that is anything but natural and in many ways a result of our own making. Though less dramatic than an earth-splitting earthquake, the ongoing housing shortage in our state endangers our long-term economic vitality and threatens to turn this great state into a gated community for the very wealthy.

Housing in California is Very Expensive

Housing prices across the country have more or less recovered from the epic plunge during the great recession. At the same time, more and more people are choosing to rent, driving rents through the roof. These factors have resulted in higher prices across the country. Nevertheless, California stands out: As of 2015, the typical California house cost $437,000, more than twice as high as a typical American house, which cost $179,000. Median monthly rent here is $1,240, nearly 50% higher than the national average. And we are talking about the median, not a sprawling mansion in Montecito or a penthouse in San Francisco.

Some argue that this is just another one of California’s natural occurrences resulting from too many people wishing to live in our coastal paradise. But unlike an earthquake, California’s housing shortage is a result of bad policy.

Housing prices, like all prices, are a product of the supply and demand for the particular good or service. There is simply not enough housing in California’s most desirable areas where new developers face a three pronged attack: community resistance and a “not in my backyard” mentality of incumbent landowners resistant to any newcomers and any change to the status quo; misguided environmental policies that actually discourage environmentally friendly denser development; and a lack of financial incentive for local governments to approve new construction. As a result, supply is restricted. The mere act of proposing a new development is so costly that it drives away developers wishing to develop additional housing stock. If new housing is ultimately built, the number of new units is usually far below what was originally proposed or what the market is able to support.

Priced out of the most desirable areas, many turn to far out inland communities. This drives prices up in those previously more affordable areas as well. It also leads to increased road congestion and air pollution.

Affordable Housing Programs Alone Won’t Help

Unfortunately, affordable housing programs are both too costly and insufficient to address the shortage. Most programs require a direct cash infusion from already strapped local governmental bodies. There is simply no political will to increase funding for most of these programs. In addition, most only help narrow groups of people: the working poor, the disabled, the elderly.

Blame Zoning

The only policy that can help all Californians is encouraging additional infill development in developed areas that are seeing the great outflux of residents fleeing increasing rents. Local zoning ordinances and environmental regulations need to be revised to promote high density, small lot infill development. Local community groups, the source of much of the opposition of new construction, can no longer have veto power over new entrants into their areas. Finally, planning needs to be done at the regional or even state level so that California’s many municipalities are not making decisions without taking their neighboring communities and state interests into account.