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Adam Wright
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(Monday) 2.18.13

UPDATE: Do You consider Trestles and San Onofre a Historic Surfing Site?

UPDATE: Great News…the California Historical Resources Commission agrees with us that Trestles/San-O should be considered a historical place. The commission “Unanimously declared Trestles to be eligible for the designation, citing the area’s history and contributions to California culture.”

This is great news for us, especially considering that this may be one of the first “surf areas” to be granted this designation. Unfortunately this is still just one step along the path to protecting the area since it will still have to be approved at the Federal level…but having the full support of the commission is pretty sweet.

You can get some of the story here http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/feb/08/trestles-historic-status-advances/

And a more info on the nomination as well from Surfrider itself…http://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/5527?cid=soup-20130211

I am sure we will hear and be able to be involved more as this moves to the next level, but as first steps go, we definitely got off to a good start.

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I ran across a great article written by Fred Swegles on the Orange County Register website titled “Trestles: Historic place? Historic treasure?”…hopefully you got a chance to read it already, if not, click through a spend a few minutes on it, he does a great job touching base with all of the various interests that are twisted up into the mix…including information from Surfrider Foundation, Save-Trestles, Orange County, The State of California, The US Navy, The US Marine Corp, and even smaller groups like the Oceanside and Malibu surf clubs.

For those of us that surf Trestles and San-Onofre on a fairly regular basis, we already know that the fight over the 241 toll-road extension, which in some of the more brutal infrastructure plans proposed could potentially eliminate a large section (upwards of 60-percent) of the San Onofre State Park and possibly completely destroy the quality of the surf along that stretch of coast, has been an ongoing slugfest between the a number of Government, Commercial groups, Environmentalists, and the Surfing Community for years,

As of late…we ocean-users have won some battles (and a little breathing room), but unfortunately you can never count the opposition out…and the passion for projects like this can wane for years before returning with even stronger support from new sources.

In Fred’s article, he highlights a slightly different angle to the ongoing dispute, one that would make it more difficult (unfortunately not impossible), for some of the development to occur…namely making San Onofre State Park, and several other nearby strands of beach, like Trestles for instance, a Historic Site.


(I shot this one during a contest at lowers a few years ago, uh did I say contest…no, that isn’t right I shot this “during a shark sighting”, yeah that is what I meant…that is why no one is out.)

What amazes me in Fred’s article is the viewpoint taken by the County and even the Navy (but not Camp Pendleton itself)…concerning the validity of this area of coast as a “historic site”…basically they say that because there have been improvements, some made to the beach access for the public and that the old wooden Trestles were removed, (both of which were due to safety concerns), that make the site ineligible for “historic status” and that the San Onofre and Trestles areas are just, according to them…

“(Trestles) was simply an out-of-the-way surf spot that some notable surfers frequented on occasion,” the paper says, adding: “Is surfing important in American history? The answer is no.”
(quoted from Fred’s OCregister.com’s article)

They go on, apparently in various documents they have put together over the years to say that, through the state, ocean users already have protected beaches like Huntington and Malibu, and that those should be enough…essentially trying to convince us that the waves at Trestles, San Onofre, and the other quality reef/point breaks, are no better than any other randomly selected areas of our coast.

As a marine meteorologist, surf forecaster, geographer, and (probably the most important) as a surfer…it astonishes me that they can even think that way. Granted I look at a surf break in ways that most people don’t, judging everything from local bathymetry, wave shape, refraction properties, sand transport on the coastal-side all the way out to the exposed swell directions and potential island shadows that may block swell thousands of miles before it reaches our coast…

…and when you break it down in those respects, just from a purely surf standpoint the region is like a shining jewel of the coast, with a whole stretch of beach and reefs that support surfing and ocean useage of every type. If you have surfed there on a decent swell with plenty of waves you know that Trestles ranks right up there with some of the best waves in the world and can be pure Southern California Gold.

And that is just from an ongoing “current” surf perspective.

Looking at it historically is a bit trickier, partly because of where it is located (part of a Marine Corp Base) where the relationship between the armed services and the surf community have shifted over time, and that the needs of the military have prevented the building of permanent structures. So that lack of permanence is then compounded by the more anthropological breakdown of Californian Surfing Culture, which doesn’t have an extremely long legacy when you look at it compared to other sites that get the “historic” labels across our Country and State. Unfortunately we weren’t out surfing Trestles during the Battle of Gettysburg (but man how empty would the lineup have been back then?!) if we were this probably wouldn’t even be much of an argument. At the same time there is nearly 100 years of legacy at San Onofre alone, how much do you need to be considered historic?

I am sure I am preaching to the choir on this one…but really the historic value isn’t totally wrapped up in some old shack that was put on the beach and how long it stood there, but in the historical human element instilled by the countless wave-riders over the years. The ones that were likely shuttled down to this unique area by their fathers/mothers, who in turn probably had the same thing done to them by their parents…and now are looking forward, intending to do the same for future generations.

OK enough of my soapbox…back to the issue at hand. In Mr Swegles article, he brings up a couple of important dates, one of which is coming soon. Apparently at 9 a.m. Feb. 8 at Secretary of State Auditorium in Sacramento, the State Historical Resources Commission will consider forwarding the nomination to the feds.

The other is still a few years down the way…which is the 50-year lease that the Navy/Marine Corp/Camp Pendleton made with the State Parks, it expires in 2021 (just 8 years from now), and there have already been some promises that it will be extended…having the region placed under the “historical places” act would likely go a long way to preserving what is there.

What can you do?

I would highly recommend contacting the Surfrider Foundation about how to go about passing on your viewpoint to the Historical Resources Commission. If you can find out who is on the commission and send information directly to the members, but more importantly (if they are elected officials) make sure to send your concerns and opinions to their staff members. Personally I would do your best to keep it respectful, rational, and at the same time express your passion in protecting this special stretch of California).

(I posted this in the comments but thought I would add it to the post itself)

Here is the contact information for the California Historical Resource Commission…their org chart, and contact information.

You might spend a few minutes dropping them an email with your opinion on why the region should be classified as a “cultural and historical” space…

Thanks Matty!

I have been looking into some of the state documents that are going to be showcased in the Feb 8, 2013 Historical Resources Commission…and came across a few good links.

Here is the one for the meeting notes…scroll down the page and you can see the Trestles Proposal.

http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24368

This is a great draft of the proposal to make the region a historical site (I love that it references Matt Warshaw).

http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/pages/1067/files/CA_San%20Diego%20County_Trestles_Nomination.pdf

And finally here is an organization chart for the HRC…as well as contact information.

http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/pages/1066/files/orgChrt.pdf

1725 23rd Street, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95816

Phone: (916) 445-7000
Fax: (916) 445-7053
E-mail: calshpo@parks.ca.gov

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  • matty

    As, always. Thank you for taking your time, doing your part, and caring. If not for you, Adam, I would truly be unaware to this specific topic as well as the legacy that Trestles maintains in our Californian surfing culture and HISTORY. The legislature, although considered inept and imprudent by some, will do the right thing.

  • http://www.solspot.com/ Adam Wright

    Thanks Matty!

    I have been looking into some of the state documents that are going to be showcased in the Feb 8, 2013 Historical Resources Commission…and came across a few good links.

    Here is the one for the meeting notes…scroll down the page and you can see the Trestles Proposal.

    http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24368

    This is a great draft of the proposal to make the region a historical site (I love that it references Matt Warshaw).

    http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/pages/1067/files/CA_San%20Diego%20County_Trestles_Nomination.pdf

    And finally here is an organization chart for the HRC…as well as contact information.

    http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/pages/1066/files/orgChrt.pdf

    1725 23rd Street, Suite 100
    Sacramento, CA 95816

    Phone: (916) 445-7000
    Fax: (916) 445-7053
    E-mail: calshpo@parks.ca.gov

  • Mark Gregory

    I am gonna get sooo shot here for saying this but…
    Historic this and that is totally out of control. I live in HB and there are quite a few “Historic” houses around here. There is a whole pile of regulations that come with that official historic tag. It should be used super sparingly, for stuff that is truly historic. Oh but wait a minute, someone lived there 100 years ago, and that person was the uncle of a friend of a former president! Or maybe someone who lived in that place 75 years ago was the first person within 17 miles to wrap twine *counter* clockwise! Woot! Not.
    Maybe 1 out of 50 things labeled as historic really should be. History is for history books, not for buildings and pieces of land. And for the record, I love history, and believe it has very signficant value.

    • http://www.solspot.com/ Adam Wright

      Mark…I don’t think your opinion is a bad one.

      You are right there are plenty of crap “historical” locations out there, and it sucks that they spend our tax dollars on the counterclockwise twine winders. However as a surfer, I do feel that San Onofre and Trestles deserve some protection, and have an incredibly rich/vibrant place in our surf culture’s history that deserves to be recognized.

      From a personal standpoint I grew up surfing San-O and moving up to Trestles as got older…I know my own history with the spot and know the cultural ties that my friends fathers and grandfathers had with that stretch of beach.

      You have to admit that if a spot like Trestles (or any of the reefs around that area) got destroyed or altered beyond recognition that it would be a “bad thing” and would have a significant negative impact on surfing in Southern California. If getting the region at minimum, partially classified as a historical district helps to prevent that and preserve the area I say that we at least try.

  • Glassedin1

    SoCal is lame on this front as a whole (well, maybe not Orange, Coronado). There is history worth saving (and yes, it must be protected from the irresponsible and greedy). I grew up in Ellicott City,MD. Tons of buildings, etc dating back to 1600s and it’s a priority. Interacting with history gives one a sense there’s continuity to life, and others who come after you deserve some respect and understanding of what came before.


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