Too Many Surf Camps In Encinitas?

As reported on

ENCINITAS – After receiving complaints about local beaches becoming overrun with schools for novice surfers, the Encinitas City Council tonight will discuss whether to tighten oversight of surf camps.

Moonlight Beach In Encinitas, California

Julian Severina (left) and Conor McKenna, attendees of the Surfin Fire surf camp at Ponto Beach (below), carried one of its longer, soft-surfaced boards to the waves for some tandem action.
Under a broad proposal, the city would begin regulating surf camps and other business activities – fitness "boot camps," yoga classes and personal training sessions – that take place at city beaches and parks.

Encinitas already requires business licenses. The idea of establishing additional permits for using beaches and parks began when surf camps proliferated.

Mayor Jerome Stocks said the goal is "to make sure the general public isn’t being cut out of access to the beach."

Some say that Encinitas is becoming a surf-camp hub because it’s a rule-free zone. There are rules governing surf camps in San Diego, Del Mar and Coronado, as well as at Carlsbad and San Elijo state beaches. Solana Beach, Encinitas’ southern neighbor, doesn’t allow surf camps.

This summer, more than a dozen surf camps were operating on Encinitas beaches – prompting complaints from beach-goers such as Don Lee, a surfer who said it’s difficult to find a parking space at Beacons Beach because surf schools operate out of that lot.

City staff members have suggested requiring surf-camp operators to bid for a city concession contract, which could require insurance, an instructor background check and other safeguards. That would allow the city to limit the number of camps.

Under the proposal, all other "commercial operators" using city parks and beaches would have to obtain a special operations permit – currently required for weddings and other special events – and pay fees to support beach maintenance and lifeguards.

The city staff hasn’t suggested how much the permits should cost, but estimated the city would collect $80,000 to $160,000 a year.

Gerry Kantor, who owns Leucadia Surf School, said he’s glad to comply with any regulations, but he doesn’t support the idea of a bidding process to use city beaches.

"It would be kind of unfair to the rest of the people if they only pick certain companies out," Kantor said.