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Surf City Feud - Surfing at its Finest in the USA

Sacramento -- They're having fun, fun, fun in Santa Cruz now that state lawmakers have passed a bodacious resolution that says the town has every right to call itself "Surf City USA.''
Wading into murky waters where no legislator has ever hung ten before, the Senate Rules Committee declared that the Orange County town of Huntington Beach -- which also fancies itself as Surf City USA -- cannot claim exclusive rights to the name.

For years, the two towns have both used the moniker, but the informal truce was broken not long ago when Huntington Beach applied for a trademark --
and exclusive rights -- to the name.

That gnarly move prompted the committee to pass a resolution declaring that Santa Cruz, home of the wetsuit, is the true Surf City USA but that any town can use the name if it wants to.
Sen. Joe Simitian, a Democrat who represents Santa Cruz, said he hopes the nonbinding resolution will help Santa Cruz's efforts to thwart Huntington Beach's patent applications.
"There was an informal truce reached that both cities could use the name, " he said, referring to the last time the issue came before the Legislature in 1992. "But that was ripped asunder when the (Huntington Beach) Conference and Visitors Bureau asked to patent nine separate trademarks."
Doug Traub, president and CEO of the Huntington Beach bureau, said that's hogwash.

"They can continue to use Surf City as a nickname," he said. "We didn't try to trademark it. There has never been anyone who uses Surf City USA. No one really promotes themselves that way."

But Traub's group went ahead and unveiled a new "Surf City USA'' logo on its Web site -- -- along with a three-paragraph warning to other, wannabe Surf City USAs that the name belongs to Huntington Beach alone and that a "licensing agreement is required for commercial use of this name.'' The bureau also vowed to "pursue trademark infringements'' and used phrases like "all rights reserved.''
What a bummer, said Santa Cruz.

"I can understand wanting to call yourself that from a marketing standpoint, but to go forward and copyright that? It doesn't seem right," said Jim Lucas, vice president of the Surf City Coffee Company in Santa Cruz.

Republicans opposed the resolution, which was approved 3-2 by the Senate Rules Committee.

Sen. John Campbell, a Republican who represents Huntington Beach, said the Senate should not get involved.
"I don't understand how anything in California can be Surf City, USA. Surf City, California, we could do," he said.
Campbell pointed out that neither Santa Cruz nor Huntington Beach qualifies to be Surf City, under the terms of the classic Jan and Dean song, as neither place has "two girls for every boy.''

"I've done some research,'' Campbell said. "Neither city has two girls for every boy, so neither should be Surf City.''
Simitian's resolution cites Santa Cruz as "the first surfing site in California" and the town "where resident Jack O'Neill invented the wetsuit." It also praises Santa Cruz's "precious but hard-to-define 'surf culture' that reflects a 'laid-back' and relaxed lifestyle."

The full Legislature must still give its thumbs-up to the resolution, which carries no force of law -- which is just as well, considering there are also towns called Surf City in New Jersey and in North Carolina.

By Linda Gledhill - San Francisco Chronicle