Surfers fighting for turf on Oregon Coast

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by KGW.com

NWCN.com

Posted on December 3, 2009 at 8:48 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 3 at 8:54 AM

Seaside, OR -- Harassment, intimidation, and vandalism were not words you expect to hear when describing a popular location on the Oregon Coast, specifically a world class surfing spot.

The waves and the surf drew tourists the coastal town of Seaside daily. But there was one place visitors and photographers were not welcome by some locals, Seaside Point.
   
Word of the surfer's paradise spread, including online, but so had it's reputation for territorial locals.

One surfing website wannasurf.com warned visitors to "bring mace or leave an armed guard at your car if you don't have Oregon license plates."

When KGW photographers and a reporter arrived to the Cove of Seaside, two surfers warned them not to take their cameras out to the Point and take pictures.

They encountered several surfers --some polite, others irate.

One surfer stood in front of the photographer's camera and blocked the lens with his hands.

"We don't like cameras taking pictures here," the man said.

This surfer defended his actions. For him, Seaside Point was quote a "sacred temple."

"You're interfering with my livelihood," he said.

Although Seaside Point was a public beach, the surfer argued it was really not for everyone.

"I'm only trying to be the force for order and not part of the chaos. This place is turning into a free-for-all, we don't want it to be a free-for-all," he said.

"Oh I've had my windows waxed a couple times been told to get off the peak, you've just got to respect them," Bill Cumby, a surfer from Portland said while getting out of the water.

Cumby had felt the wrath of being an outsider in the past.

"Some four-letter words come out just when you do something bad. As long as you mind your Ps and Qs and stay out of the way of the locals you'll be alright."

"There is a small contingency of people who are being jerks, who have this mentality this is their surfing area and you're not welcome here," Lieutenant David Ham of Seaside Police Department.

The police department received a number of reports and complaints in the past couple of years, including surfers throwing rocks at a person taking photos. Another person filed a report after someone had "glue poured into his vehicle's keyholes."

But officers told KGW many confrontations go unreported, even though Seaside Point was public property.

"It's state beach. It's state property and anybody that's out there that wants to enjoy the area for photography or painting, I've seen people out there painting the beach, that is your right to be there," said Lt. Ham.

But the message from local surfers appeared clear as the news crew left the beach, more heckling from surfers to "Go home" and expletive gestures.

But officers said there were some local surfers who are doing something positive. One group had taken it upon themselves to clean a park next to the surf spots.
 

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