Surf City Here I Come: Rival Cities Claim To Be the Real Surf City(September 2005)

Surf City Here I Come: Rival Cities Claim To Be the Real Surf City

By David Kute

Epoch Times Los Angeles Staff

September 02, 2005

California, home to Hollywood and the Silicon Valley, is also the location of the mythical surfers’ paradise- Surf City, USA. Two California cities, Huntington Beach and Santa Cruz, have both asserted that the title belongs to them, respectively.

The name, taken from the 1964 song by Jan and Dean, evokes surf culture at its finest: fun and casual living. In modern day California, there are many beachside communities which share an affinity for the surfer lifestyle. But which California city can claim that it is the real Surf City?

A recent resolution in the California State Senate claims that Surf City is Santa Cruz, California. Sponsoring Senator Joe Simitian(D- Palo Alto) chose to author the resolution after Huntington Beach applied for 9 licenses to trademark “Surf City, USA” to use the title.

“It[the resolution] puts the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on notice that there are competing claims to Surf City, USA,” Simitian said last Friday. “I think Surf City is as much a state of mind as it is a place. I don’t think you can trademark a state of mind.”

Simitian cites as evidence Santa Cruz history, such as the fact that local Jack O’ Neill invented the wet suit, that the first incident of surfing on the west coast occurred when three Hawaiian princes rode redwood boards at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz in 1885, and to the existence of 11 world class breaks off the Santa Cruz beaches.

The legislation, Senate Committee Resolution 60, passed the Senate Rules Committee on a 3-2 vote last Thursday. It will likely be brought to the floor for a vote this week.

Officials in Huntington Beach see the passage of this resolution as interference in their city’s business relationships.

Huntington Beach claims on its municipal website that it is known all over the world as “Surf City, USA.” The city also “boasts eight miles of scenic, accessible beachfront, the largest stretch of uninterrupted beachfront on the West Coast.”

Huntington Beach has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars researching and marketing the title “Surf City, USA.” This may look like a frivolous and good natured legal maneuver, but it is a serious issue for us; we have invested more than $500,000 to develop and market the Surf City, USA trademarks,” said Doug Traub, President of the Huntington Beach City Visitors Bureau(HBCVB). The HBCVB claims that Santa Cruz has never used the moniker consistently or attempted to register a trademark, that the issue is a serious once since it represents a major investment, and that other cities have trademarked a state of mind before.

The resolution allows any other city in California to use the title, but maintains that the trademark belongs to Santa Cruz. Huntington Beach officials claim that the trademarks give their city rights to “Surf City, USA” and that other California cities will still be able to use the term “Surf City.”

Some legislators have expressed opposition to Simitian’s legislation, such as Senator John Campbell (R-Irvine). “Hopefully, people are recognizing that we have more important things to do and it’s not something the Legislature needs to stick it’s nose in,” he said.

Some of the information in this article came from the Huntington Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau press release dated Aug. 27, 2005.