Torrey Pine: OB Asked for a Community Forum – Here’s the City’s Answer

August 22, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

OB Torrey cut truck
The Ocean Beach community had asked the City to hold a community forum on the health and dangers of the Torrey Pine in the middle of the 4600 block of Saratoga Avenue.

Monday morning, bright and early, came the City’s response.

Out before 6:30 this morning – Monday – yellow police tape had been spread out, a dozen police officers stood their positions and Atlas Tree Service showed up and began cutting down the Torrey named Esperanza – Hope. By 9:30 a.m. all the branches were down – including one with a birds’ nest – and all that remained was the huge trunk.

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Here’s Arborist Report that Concludes OB Torrey Pine is “Low Risk”

August 19, 2016 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for Here’s Arborist Report that Concludes OB Torrey Pine is “Low Risk”

Here below is the arborist’s report on the Saratoga Avenue Torrey Pine. This is a significant report, as not only was it paid for by members of the Ocean Beach community, but the risk assessment performed by Mastor Arborist Bradley Brown, cites the tree at issue as “low risk”.

The report includes 3 pages of text and 2 pages that have the standard matrix that arborists use.

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More Details Emerge in Shooting on Ebers Street

August 18, 2016 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for More Details Emerge in Shooting on Ebers Street

More details have emerged about the shooting that involved roommates on Ebers Street Monday, August 8th.

The man arrested for the shooting, Lance Touchstone, 40, a resident of Petaluma in northern California pleaded not guilty Tuesday, August 16, to the charges leveled against him: attempted murder and discharging a firearm.

Touchstone’s charges stem from the shooting of the boyfriend (or ex-boyfriend) of his sister Becky, one Jeff Renteria, 30 at their home on the 2100 block of Ebers Street.

Renteria was shot 3 three times and was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries – to his right side with at least one to his abdomen.

According to CBS8, the shooting occurred during some kind of argument or dispute between Becky Touchstone and Renteria, and reported that the prosecutor told the judge that Touchstone had come from northern California to visit his sister about a week before the shooting.

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Community Forum With City Representatives on Torrey Pine Requested

August 18, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

The folks working to save the Torrey Pine on the 4600 block of Saratoga have requested a “Community Forum” on the tree with city representatives to discuss the new arborist’s report and other information – before the city makes any move on the historic Torrey.

John Ambert, in his communication with city officials in which he attached Mastor Arborist Bradley Brown’s risk assessment, make the following:

We are requesting a community forum with City representatives to review the information presented and discuss the path forward, prior to any future work activities.

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Community-Funded Arborist Report: The Ocean Beach Torrey Pine Is “Low Risk”

August 17, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

An arborist report just released to the City by those OBceans who have been attempting to save the Torrey Pine on Saratoga, states :

“The mature Torrey pine in front of 4652 Saratoga Avenue presented low risk at the time of my assessment made on Monday, August 15, 2016.”

The Tree Risk Assessment by Bradley Brown, a Board Certified Master Arborist, was sent to members of the City by John Ambert, chair of the OB Planning Board. It included pages of matrices that arborists use, plus a 2-page written report, with photos.

The Ocean Beach community funded Arborist Brown’s services, and specifically, he was hired by the residents and supporters on Saratoga, via a GoFundMe page put up by the group Friends of the Peninsula Trees.

Brown also stated in his report:

“I observed no significant defects or secondary disorders in the subject tree. … The trunk base showed no signs of significant mechanical damage or discoloration. … The tree appeared healthy and vigorous.”

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Trump’s Daughter Is Vacationing With Putin’s Girlfriend

August 16, 2016 by Frank Gormlie
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Just when you thought the 2016 Presidential race couldn’t get any crazier, here come reports that Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka is actually vacationing in Croatia with Putin’s girlfriend, Wendi Deng Murdoch.

From an August 14 article on People online:

Ivanka Trump is taking a break from the campaign trail to vacation with friends. The daughter of GOP nominee Donald Trump shared a scenic snap with Wendi Deng Murdoch, the ex-wife of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, from Dubrovnik, Croatia.

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Man Who Wants to Overturn 6 Gun Laws Has Business in Ocean Beach

August 16, 2016 by Frank Gormlie
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It turns out that the guy leading 6 petition drives against new California gun restrictions recently signed into law has a business “headquartered” right here in Ocean Beach.

Barry Bahrami has launched campaigns to qualify his six referendum to go up against the gun control laws signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Barry Bahrami is also the CEO of Commercial Network Services, an online business that touts itself “a global online service provider specializing in hosting low latency algorithmic trading systems, virtual private networks …” and other virtual trading services.

And Commercial Network Services are indeed headquartered in OB, right at the OB Business Center, at “4876 Santa Monica Ave # 111, San Diego, CA 92107” according to his site. Now, true, we’re talking a PO Box here as “headquarters” – but it is an Ocean Beach connection.

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‘Not So Fast’ – Some Ocean Beach Residents Are Saying – ‘We’re Not Ready to Give Up on Torrey Pine’

August 15, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

OB Torrey Hope 81516

‘Not so fast,’ some residents of Ocean Beach are saying – to any giving up of saving the historic Torrey Pine on Saratoga Street. There’s been some momentum against the sentiment expressed in a press statement sent out over the weekend from one group of residents saying that they’re ready to let the City chop down the tree called “Hope” (Esperanza).

There was some dissent within the group when it was decided to send out the statement. And that stance has led to the group enlisting the services of a second arborist just recently.

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News from Ocean Beach and the Peninsula – Mid-August 2016

August 12, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

OB Decco Bike bank 3 ed

* Decco Bikes Signs Not Part of Their Contract With City
* OB Beans to Open on Newport
* OB Library Needs Computer Desk
* Little Fire Damage at Ebers and Greene
* Digging Begins on Upper Voltaire Project
* “Progress” at Apple Tree Market
* Sgt Yu and the OB Yoga Festival
* Former Barnard Elementary Now 180 “Ultra-Luxury” Units Sells for $90 Million


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Reprieve for Ocean Beach Torrey Pine Holds for Now – Residents Continue to Mobilize – Demand Time for Independent Analysis

August 12, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

OB Saratoga 4600 block google

This morning – Friday, August 12th – around 7 a.m. on the 4600 block of Saratoga Avenue in the heart of Ocean Beach, there were no signs of Atlas Tree Service trucks or crews, no signs of of any city officials or police barricades and patrol cars, and the ubituious ‘no parking’ signs were nowhere to be seen.

In stead, about 2 dozens residents and supporters were sitting or milling around, some of them giving interviews to the nearly half-dozen TV stations and reporters. These folks were responsible for the City’s last-minute temporary reprieve issued yesterday evening – backtracking on their plans to chop down the giant Torrey Pine across the street from where people were sitting this morning.

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City Declares a Temporary Halt to the Removal of the Saratoga Torrey Pine

August 11, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

Just got off the phone (7:38 pm Thurs.) with Katie Keach, contact person for the City on the issue, and she confirmed that the City is indeed “temporarily” delaying the destruction of the Torrey Pine – “Esparenza” – on Saratoga in OB. Keach stressed that the City still stands by its assessment that the tree needs to be removed, and the delay is only “temporary”.

Just this evening – mere hours after the City sent out a notice it was proceeding with the removal – the City backtracked and sent another notice out to the media stating:

“The City of San Diego has temporarily suspended plans to remove a failing tree from 4652 Saratoga Avenue in OB that had been slated for Friday morning, August 12th. The work had been scheduled for Friday morning.

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City and Atlas Plan on Chopping Down Saratoga Torrey Pine Friday, Aug.12th

August 11, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

OB Torrey protest ed goodtree dist

The City of San Diego and Atlas Tree Service are planning on chopping down the Torrey Pine – “Esperanza” – on Saratoga Friday morning, August 12th.

A representative from the City informed John Ambert, head of the OB Planning Board today, Thursday, of the plans for Friday.

The City believes it has the proper documentation that proves the tree is unstable and is dangerous. This despite the fact that the residents who have halted the cutting so far are moving on hiring an independent arborist and Torrey Pine specialist. In fact, a GoFundMe has been set up to help finance a 3rd party evaluation.

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Newport Ave. Corner with OB Town Council Bulletin Board and Palms Taken Out

August 11, 2016 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for Newport Ave. Corner with OB Town Council Bulletin Board and Palms Taken Out

Have you noticed the changes at the southwest corner of Newport Avenue and Cable Street?

The OB Town Council had a bulletin board there, and there were some palms and shrubbery. And Willie’s Shoe Shine place was also right there, just steps from the corner.

The Town Council had at their own expense installed the bulletin board and maintained it. They had an arrangement with the furniture store, Mallories. For years. The OBTC also had an agreement that their board would down be changed or removed without their involvement.

Well, all that has changed.

The bulletin board is gone. The palms are gone. And Willie’s store has been pushed back – more into the interior of the parking lot. And new asphalt has been poured in the immediate site.

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Saving the Saratoga Torrey Pine – a Waiting Game

August 10, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

OB Torrey protest shift 3 ed1

Organizers Have Created Tree Watch Shifts – Zapf and Mayor Are No-Shows

Directly across the street from “Esparenza” – the name protesters have given the Torrey Pine target for chopping – is a small group of local residents sitting in chairs, eating, talking, reading.

They’re the current shift on Saratoga Street doing a “watch” for any signs of Atlas Tree Service crews or equipment. If they are sighted, then the call goes out to dozens of residents and supporters to gather at the Torrey Pine.

They were there today, Wednesday, by 7 a.m. – some having breakfast and coffee. They told this reporter that an Atlas “scout” truck drove by to check them out and just drove on.

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Arson Suspected at Controversial Ebers and Greene Project

August 9, 2016 by Frank Gormlie
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A fire broke out late Saturday night, August 6th, in the controversial 3-story building under construction at Ebers and Greene.

And arson is suspected.

Fire investigators found evidence that the fire was intentionally started with some kind of accelerant.

When firefighters arrived at 11:10 pm, flames were reportedly spreading through the 3rd floor. Part of the building was charred, causing an estimated $1,000 in damage. San Diego Union-Tribune

The building damaged is controversial because it appears that the actual construction did not meet the submitted plans, and the project should have gone before the OB Planning Board for community input, but did not as per a decision within the City’s Planning Department. Neighbors also question its size, height, its bulk, its floor-area-ratio, and the intent of the owner.

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Ocean Beach Residents Push Back Against City Plan to Chop Down Torrey Pine – Over a Dozen OBceans Gather Monday Morning

August 8, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

OB Torrey protest 8-4-16 circle best

Local Residents Gather at Torrey Pine Monday Morning – So Far, Atlas Is a No-Show

This morning – Monday, August 8th – around 7 a.m. – a dozen local residents of Ocean Beach gathered near a Torrey Pine on the 4600 block of Saratoga Avenue. They were waiting for the Atlas Tree Service trucks and crews to show to carry out the threat of chopping down the huge, sprawling tree – the last one on that side of the block.

An Atlas truck did make a stop around 8 a.m. – scouting the situation. By 9:30 this morning about 25 people “and lots of dogs” had come by the scene. Around 16 were still there, she said. Last week there was drama on Saratoga Avenue …

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Ocean Beach Rejects Another 7-Eleven Coming into the Community

August 5, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

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To a person, Ocean Beach residents who packed Wednesday night’s OB Planning Board meeting, rejected the proposed addition of another 7-Eleven coming into the community. (Please excuse the delay in this report as I was involved in the Thursday morning protest to save the Torrey Pine on Saratoga.)

Over 60 people jammed into the small community meeting room of the OB Rec Center, with standing room only (some even had to sit on the floor) to hear a presentation by 7-Eleven representatives and then to offer the company feed-back. There were other items on the Planning Board’s agenda, but this was the issue that drew the crowd.

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Crystal Rose Speros Is the Ocean Beach Hero for the Week – Saves Torrey Pine Temporarily

August 4, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

OB Torrey protest 80416 in tree good
A young, local woman, by the name of Crystal Rose Speros, climbed up into the Torrey Pine the City wanted to chop down this morning – dramatically bringing any work on the tree to a half – at least for the rest of this week.

A small crowd of residents and OBceans had gathered around the Torrey by 9 am on the 4600 block of Saratoga, some willing to stay until threatened with arrest or more.

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City to Chop Down Another Torrey Pine on Saratoga – Locals to Protest

August 3, 2016 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for City to Chop Down Another Torrey Pine on Saratoga – Locals to Protest

It was announced at Wednesday night’s OB Planning Board meeting that the City is planning on chopping down another large and old Torrey Pine on the 4600 block of Saratoga Avenue.

The announcement immediately caused a stir in the packed audience (the packed house was for the presentation on the new 7-Eleven planned for OB) – and a number of people said they would be out there on that block on Thursday morning to protest.

On Tuesday, August 2, John Ambert – head of the Planning Board – was told in an email from John Ly of the Mayor’s office that regretfully, the tree was coming down this week.

The signs are already up. Signs limiting parking on that block have already been posted up and down the block.

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The Debate Over the Ocean Beach Breweries

August 3, 2016 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for The Debate Over the Ocean Beach Breweries

A debate has been growing over whether Ocean Beach can handle all the breweries, brewpubs and beer-tasting rooms that have just opened on Newport Avenue or are on their way.

As we have reported, there are or will be 5 beer-tasters or breweries on or next to Newport: Culture Brewing Co. which has been around for a while, Helm’s Brewery, the new OB Brewery, and two that are in the works, Belching Beaver and Kilowatt Brewing Co. just off Newport on Cable.They add to OB’s established award-winning brewery, Pizza Port – a block from Newport – and Hess Brewing Co. over on Voltaire.

The OB Rag jump-started the debate back in mid-March of this year when we asked :

Just how many breweries or beer tasting storefronts can Ocean Beach take? Just how many beer joints can Newport handle? These are the questions that are paramount on the minds of those OBceans who understand what’s happening on Newport Avenue, the main commercial drag in the village.

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Who Dismantled the OB Rock Art by Those 2 Homeless Guys?

August 2, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

A little over a month ago, we ran a story about how two local homeless men were responsible for all the rock art along the bushy median between the lanes of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard up to the intersection with Nimitz near the freeway.

It was a short story about how two Local homeless guys, Corey and Greg, had what they considered “Rock Art”, with rows of stones piled on each other forming small pillars of rock. This type of rock art has been gaining popularity – and one can see piles such as what Corey and Greg have done at the shore, along the San Diego River.

Then, just days after our story appeared – there was that horrible period beginning on July 3rd of the serial killer preying on homeless men – including one killed in Ocean Beach. In a way, it was a relief seeing those rocks – almost a monument to the homeless.

Now, the rock art has been dismantled – all of it – and the rocks and stones currently line the thick bushes within the median. Who would have done that? The police? Other homeless? The 2 artists themselves to begin again?

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New 7-Eleven for Ocean Beach on OB Planning Board Agenda – Wed., Aug. 3rd

August 1, 2016 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for New 7-Eleven for Ocean Beach on OB Planning Board Agenda – Wed., Aug. 3rd

5109-5111 Brighton Project Also on Agenda

Of special interest to many OBceans is the newly planned 7-Eleven coming into Ocean Beach. And it’s on the OB Planning Board agenda for Wednesday, August 3rd.

The 7-Eleven corporation wants to take over 1801 Sunset Cliffs where a dry cleaner currently sits, and kitty-corner from another local market – the Olive Tree. Reportedly, the dry cleaner has another year on its lease, and 7-Eleven wants to hear from the community.

Also on the agenda is the application for a conditional use permit to demolish 2 existing houses and construct 2 single-family units at 5109 – 5111 Brighton Avenue.

The meeting is held at the OB Recreation Center, 4726 Santa Monica Avenue and begins promptly at 6pm in the community meeting room.

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It Takes a Village to Keep a Village

August 1, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

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Your Ocean Beach Village Needs You

If it takes a village to raise a child, then certainly, it takes a village to make and keep a village.

It takes the residents and citizens of a village to keep a village going, to keep it maintained, to ensure the community institutions and organizations are active and alive.

Ocean Beach – the village – is no different.

Our seaside community needs its community groups that help keep Ocean Beach the way it is … and those very groups need the citizens, the residents and local businesses to help bring in new ideas, new energy and new blood to them.

It is one of the responsibilities of citizenship – to be a good citizen, and being a good citizen means getting involved in your community, your village.

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Report of OB Town Council Meeting – Get It Done App, New 7-11 Coming, and Board Elections Scheduled

July 29, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

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This is a brief report of the OB Town Council meeting held Wednesday, July 27th, as usual at the Masonic Center on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. What we found out: the City has a new complaint website and App, there’s another 7-11 coming into OB, and the Town Council has set up its election schedule – half of its seats are up for re-election.

What with conflicts with a big-name concert, the continuing Democratic convention, and the heat – the gathering was a little sparse. Forty attendees were counted by the end of the meeting, but many of the city departments that serve OB did not have their usual reps present to make reports (SDPD, firefighters, life guards).

“Get It Done” Webpage for City

One of the main presentations of the evening was by Conrad Wear, representative of Councilwoman Zapf’s office, on a brand new element of the City’s website called “Get it done” that makes it easy to report problems, especially street-related issues. There is also an App available. Here it is .

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Winners Announced of OB Town Council Community Grant Awards

July 28, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

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  • Ocean Beach Planning Board – $500 to assist the OBPB in their administration, since they receive no funds from the City. Dan Dennison accepted the award on behalf of the planning committee.
  • 2. “Cases for a Child” – $350, the group of local sewers make pillow cases for cancer kids at Rady’s hospital; Nancy McHenry accepted the award.

    3. Sunset Cliffs Surfing Association – $500 – goes to support the organization, which is holding a kids’ surfing contest at the OB Pier on August 27th.

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    Another Death at Sunset Cliffs – Fisherman Dies at Luscom’s

    July 26, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

    Sunset Cliffs mattwood

    There’s been yet another death at Sunset Cliffs – this time a man fishing near Luscom’s jumped into the ocean on Sunday, July 24th around 1 pm, reportedly to cool off, and ran into trouble immediately, according to bystanders. Luscom’s is near Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and Monaco Street.

    He’s been identified as San Diego resident AbelkHalek Boutayeb, 61.

    Boutayeb had been fishing for about2 hours when bystanders saw him either climb down the cliffs and got in the water or jumped in. As he struggled, he hit his head against the reef. One or 2 people jumped in and tried to save him, and one of them tried to keep the victim afloat.

    Latest Is 2nd Death – Plus Two Serious Injuries – at Sunset Cliffs This Month

    This most recent fatality comes just 3 weeks after a man fell to his death on July 5th near Ladera Street along Sunset Cliffs. And it comes just 11 days after …

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    Will Trump Have Hillary Arrested If He Is Elected?

    July 22, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

    Donald Trump colors invert

    Will Donald Trump have Hillary Clinton arrested if he is elected in November? His base sure wants it.

    With loud chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!” reverberating through the cavernous arena at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, the delegates displayed for millions of viewers the war cry of the assemblage.

    Whenever Trump or Chris Christie or anyone else among the second and third-string speakers on stage called the Democratic Party nominee out for alleged “crimes”, the chant would go up.

    It wasn’t easy watching Trump’s speech last night from Ohio. But I forced myself to do it. My housemates all took cover as the convention blared from the living-room widescreen.

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    Zapf Introduces Surveillance Cameras to OB at Press Conference But No Questions Were Allowed

    July 22, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

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    Councilwoman Lori Zapf on Thursday, July 21st, introduced the newly-installed police surveillance cameras at a brief news conference held on the greens near the OB Lifeguard Station.

    With ranking police officers and OB merchants on both sides of her, Zapf led off the presser before 2 TV cameras, and a handful of protesters opposed to the cameras.

    Zapf said that over a year ago, police leaders at Western Division working with her office to come up with safety measures came up with the idea to install ten cameras along OB’s waterfront.

    Now they’ve all been placed, from the OB Pier to Dog Beach, and the signs went up just now, Zapf said, and the cameras can now go live.

    Emphasizing the cameras were a crime-prevention tool, a deterrent, they’ll make the beach more safe, she said, mentioning that the cameras will bring relief to the tourists worried about being victimized.

    Why the cameras? Zapf asked.

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    OB Rag Fund Raising Surpasses Goal by 2/3rds

    July 22, 2016 by Frank Gormlie
    Thumbnail image for OB Rag Fund Raising Surpasses Goal by 2/3rds

    One week ago exactly, the OB Rag began a fund raising campaign – having found ourselves broke.

    We set a goal of $1,000 to raise for the week – Friday to Friday.

    And wow! Our supporters and readers came through – and we raised nearly $1650 ($1642.50 to be exact) in that week.

    That’s two-thirds over our goal!

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    Good Samaritan Saves Woman After Fall Off Sunset Cliffs

    July 20, 2016 by Frank Gormlie

    OB cliff rescur Sean

    A Good Samaritan by the name of Sean Hanrahan saved a woman after she fell off Sunset Cliffs into the ocean, Tuesday night, July 19th.

    Around 8:15 pm at the end of Del Monte Avenue, the woman, with friends, somehow fell from the cliffs into the ocean and was immediately pulled out further by the rip current.

    Sean Hanrahan, who lives nearby, saw that the woman apparently having trouble in the waves, and saw her hit her head against rocks. Hanrahan jumped in and kept her afloat until lifeguards arrived.
    appeared to be struggling in the water and her head was hitting against the rocks. He jumped in to try and help her before lifeguards arrived to the scene.

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