State commission recommends Trestles for historic designation

The Trestles surf spot in northern San Diego County appears headed for the National Register of Historic Places.
The Trestles surf spot in northern San Diego County appears headed for the National Register of Historic Places.
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An effort to list the  Trestles surfing spot on the National Register of Historic Places got a symbolic boost Friday when the California State Historical Resources Commission once again recommended the designation.

At the Sacramento hearing, commission historian Amy Crain said the San Diego County locale was “at the center of the evolution of surfing techniques and style.”  Starting in the 1930s, she said the surf spot, and the people who flocked there, “influenced equipment innovation and provided surfers with a sense of community and place.”

The eight-member commission unanimously agreed the stretch of beach and surfing points, named for its close proximity to a pair of railway trestles, meets all the criteria for listing on the national register.  

Friday’s decision was the second time the commission nominated Trestles for the national register.  About a year ago they sent the same message, but the U.S. Navy, which owns the property,  opposed the nomination.

Trestles Historic District straddles San Onofre State Beach, Trestles Beach and the Marine Corps Base at Camp Pendleton in San Diego.    

The base’s deputy commander, Col. Eugene Apicella, told commissioners that stretch of beach offers “the only amphibious approach into the northern training ground,” and that listing the spot on the national registry would have “serious negative impacts on training and operations for Marines.” 

Col. Apicella also reiterated the Navy’s position that half a dozen others beaches in California are equally important to the surfing culture, and therefore Trestles holds no special national significance.

The commission’s recommendation kicks the Trestles nomination back to the Navy, but the final decision rests with the Keeper of the National Registry, who already gave preliminary approval.

“I drive the freeway along the edge of the district every day to work, so I see it and experience it and it’s a second home,” said Mark Rauscher of the Surfrider Foundation,  which pushed to get Trestles registered. He expects smooth waters from here.

“I think it’s pretty clear that Trestles and San Onofre have enormous historical value to the surfing culture and to American culture” he said. “To me this seemed almost like a  no-brainer decision.”

Federal officials are expected to make a final decision on Trestles later this year.