Senior Editor
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New permits are going to drastically change what the Surf Ranch looks like. Image: Screenshot

New permits are going to drastically change what the Surf Ranch looks like. Image: Screenshot


The Inertia

If you have driven through Lemoore, California, you have noticed something: it smells strongly of shit. I stayed at Harris Ranch, which is just a few miles from the Surf Ranch, on my way to Sacramento once. Got a mug (yeah, I collect mugs. What’s it to you?), ate a steak (good fucking steak), drank too much bourbon (good fucking Old Fashioned), then smoked a cigarette outside in the fading sunlight and breathed in the scent of the insides of thousands of cows. It is pervasive. Cloying. It sticks to the air. For a long time, Lemoore was known for steaks and cow shit, if it was known at all. Now, of course, it’s known as the nerve center for surfing’s dystopian future. And if The Sentinel is correct, the Surf Ranch is seriously ramping things up. “Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch received approvals of conditional-use permits to not just open for public events,” wrote John Lindt, “but allow a series of phased expansions as well.”

Now, if either the fact that the pool will soon be open to the public or that they’re looking at expansion comes as a surprise, you’re an idiot. Did you expect them to keep it locked up exclusively for the enjoyment of pro surfers, pro golfers, pro football players, and sweepstakes winners? Because that would be a terrible business model. Expand! Incorporate! Celebrate! It’s capitalism at its finest. After all, there is no reason to build anything if you’re not going to make money off of it. It’s the American way! So what are these public events and expansions in Lemoore going to look like?

Well, according to the Sentinel, the Kings County Planning Commision reviewed plans that include surf lessons for the public, a few annual pro invitational contests, and the development of “additional prototype wave generation systems.” On top of that, the Surf Ranch will be allowed to include “musical performances, vending (food and alcoholic beverages), and limited tent and recreational vehicle camping.” Since all those things will surely attract the huddled masses to Lemoore, special events are allowed to host up to 8,000 people per day, which is about 32% of the population. The expansions are expected to extend into 2026.

But that’s not all, either. There’s a third phase of the proposal that allows “development of up to seven proposed ancillary structures and up to two proposed prototype wave generation systems.” Here’s what that would look like:

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  • Wave Operations Building – Building houses administrative program for support of wave operations functions, inclusive of offices, conference rooms, and event space.
  • High Performance Training Center – Facility include training rooms, lockers, offices, as well as equipment storage.
  •  Surf Operations House – In support of surf related activities, the Surf Operations House includes a commercial kitchen component, lockers, storage, as well as public interfacing gathering spaces.
  • Multi-purpose Recreational Facility – The facility houses large flexible program which support the commercial activities related to Wave and – Surf Operations, in addition to back of house programmatic elements.
  • Wave Support Facility – Required building which houses equipment related to the operation of the Wave-Generating Machine.

So what does the future of Lemoore look like? Well, it looks like those road trips to the coast will, for many, be replaced by road trips to cow country, and the scent of cow shit will be replaced with the scent of chlorine—or at least covered up.