Surf pioneer O’Neill wins OK to build seawall

By Kurtis Alexander – Posted: 08/12/2010 01:30:24 AM PDT

SAN LUIS OBISPO –” Surf legend Jack O’Neill has won permission to build a seawall around his Pleasure Point home.

His two-story East Cliff Drive house, which stands alone above the water and overlooks the area’s famed surf breaks, has long remained at the mercy of strong and potentially destructive down-coast currents. A patchwork of rock and riprap afford him limited protection.

“Jack’s house is the most famous house in surfing,” said Mark Massara, a local surfer and environmentalist who has lobbied for a seawall on O’Neill’s behalf.

On Wednesday, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to allow O’Neill to proceed with a more robust concrete wall at the base of his home. The plan calls for essentially extending the 1,100-foot seawall currently being built by the county next door to the back of O’Neill’s property. The estimated cost is $1 million.

“It will tie together visually the entire cliff face,” said Commissioner Mark Stone, also a Santa Cruz County supervisor.

O’Neill, 87, has lived in his Pleasure Point home for 40 years. The early pioneer of surf culture came to the area to open a surf shop, which formed the beginnings of a clothing line that today bears his name and markets products internationally.

Wednesday’s approval of the seawall came with the condition that O’Neill not develop an adjacent parcel he owns, known as the “dirt farm,” a spot where neighbors go to watch the waves. O’Neill has also agreed to construct a path at the base of the seawall so that beachgoers can get around his property at low tide.