Mike Perez, his wife Kelly and their Rottweiler Rico have been fixtures at the upper Rincon parking lot off Bates Road as county park hosts. For Perez, the position has entailed taking care of the facilities including the restrooms, the gazebo/barbecue area, and keeping an eye on the comings-and-goings at one of the most-popular local beaches. But most important to him are the connections he’s made with the community of surfers and beach goers that frequent the “Queen of the Coast.”
“There’s just a good vibe at Rincon,” Perez said. “It’s the best local community I’ve ever seen in my life.” And after a lifetime of coastal dwelling, having grown up surfing across Southern California, the 59-year-old Perez has some perspective.
He’s made a neat niche for himself as a camp host over nearly 20 years, alternating between the State Parks of El Capitan on the Gaviota coast in winter, and the San Mateo campground in Southern Orange County in summer—both locations offering some of the best waves in the state in those respective seasons. When the opportunity to become the park host at Rincon came up, Perez didn’t hesitate. “I got the best windows (of surf) of anyone,” he says happily. And of the regulars at Rincon, Perez said, “When you surf Indicator and you know all the boys, it’s still old school.”
However, the good ride he enjoyed has come to an end. The park host position is a temporary job, and the county parks department has slated a new park host to rotate in at Rincon. Perez relocated to Nevada for the time being, where he and his wife are remodeling a home they own and enjoying time with their daughter Karysa, who lives there. Perez’s son Robert lives in Carpinteria.
As with many things in life, Perez noted that his various million-dollar locations as a park host—including coming into the Rincon posting when he learned it was open after surfing there with a buddy—have come down to “luck and timing.” Surely the friends he’s made at the fabled point hope both Perez’s good luck and timing continue, and that he’ll one day return to Rincon.