The posted open parking hours at Loon Point were recently cut back to “8 a.m. to Sunset.” For three decades, the policy had been “Dawn to Dusk.” For some, this may appear a minor or unimportant change. The notion of going to the beach before 8 a.m. doesn’t even occur to them, and they likely leave by late afternoon. However, for surfers, fishermen, and others, those hours at the far ends of the day are some of the most precious.
“Dawn Patrol” is a time-honored tradition in the local surfing world. Winds are usually calm, making for smooth, glassy conditions. Since it’s a bit of a hardship to muster out so early, the crowd, which can become considerable, is smaller or nonexistent during the nearly dark early hours.
For some people, going late in the day may be the only option due to work or other obligations. Also, the winds once again die down and make for improved ocean surface conditions. At any surf spot during a swell, you will see black-suited bodies in the water well past sunset. When considering changing out of a wetsuit and the long walk back to the car, parking needs to be available at least until dusk, preferably later.
Santa Barbara surfers want to squeeze every last wave out of a swell — because you never know how long you’ll have to wait for the next one. The sport of surfing is beloved by our community, and surfers and others deserve unfettered beach access.