Hey OBceans! Adopt a Fire Pit! …the OB Way!

by on December 12, 2009 · 32 comments

in Economy, Environment, Ocean Beach, Organizing, San Diego


OCEAN BEACH, CA.  Thanks to OBSteven, we now have documented where OB’s fire pits are. There appears to be eight of them – see map.

The current locations of OB's 8 fire pits.

The current locations of OB's 8 fire pits.

Now is your chance to adopt a fire pit.  Are you an individual, group, civic organization, store front, business, or church?  Rush now to get yours. There’s only eight.

We have numbered them #1 through #8, starting with the most northern one as numero uno. Number eight is the most southern one – the one closest to the main Life Guard tower. Sign up now, fellow OBceans!

One of our vocal commenters, bodysurferbob, has proposed that people adopt them, just like groups and families adopt sections of the freeway.  Get your name on the fire pit.

fire pits 5 b 05

What the proposal is, is this: you or your group sign up to pledge to keep the fire pit cleaned up and maintained. Look at these photos – we can do a better job than the City, even.

Now, remember, we’re doing this the OB-way. Unofficial, without official sanction. Nobody has given us permission to do this – we’re just taking it  on by ourselves. We also don’t want the City to take them out.

This is the OB-way. Just like OB had done in the past.

No one gave us permission to paint out the graffiti on the cliffs.  No one gave us permission to clean up after the Marshmallow Fight last July.  No one gave us permission to help that elderly gentleman in Point Loma with his house.

No one gave us permission to start the garden at Voltaire and Sunset Cliffs. No one gave us permission to install benches along Sunset Cliffs.  No one gave us permission to halt the jetty back in the Summer of 1970.  No one gave us permission to save Collier Park back in the early Seventies.  No one gave us permission to prevent the porno theater going in at The Strand.  No one gave us permission to boycott StarBucks.

This is the OB-Way.

So, sign up, pledge to maintain it, and we will keep your name on file, and inform the City.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Danny Morales December 12, 2009 at 5:23 pm

How’s about the OBMA taking that money that they pay to Berts Rentals for the “police” trailer at the foot of Newport and contribute to something as creative and constructive as this? Just sayin…


avatar Editordude December 15, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Dan, the police don’t even use the trailer. It’s for the meter maids and meter butlers that patrol our streets. Really, I kid you not. Follow the money. And ‘good will.’


avatar Danny Morales December 16, 2009 at 9:23 am


Pugamahon-and then tell me something I don’t know!

“Peck” Erwood


avatar fstued December 13, 2009 at 9:33 am

How about the OBMA backing this it is a great idea and fire pits sure help the business in OB. With the OBMA backing maybe it would even get council backing and then mayoral backing.
But honestly I think the real reason for removing the pits is people are having fun at the beach and they may be thinking about doing something illegal.
Also I think it will be a economic blow to OB if they are removed.


avatar obbohemian December 13, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Once again, I am both impressed and full of pride for the OBcean way of doing things.
Where others would just complain and whine about an issue in their community, OBceans come together and find a solution. Yeah, OB!
And, where do I sign up to adopt a firepit?


avatar Editor December 13, 2009 at 2:42 pm

obbohemian – all you have to do is send us your personal info – name, address, contact info – to us in confidence via email to: obragblog@gmail.com and indicate which of the eight fire pits you want to adopt.


avatar Editor December 13, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Here’s the text of a letter to the editor at U-T from Chris Brewster, former San Diego Lifeguard Chief – now retired – on Dec 12, 2009:

“One of the most heartbreaking injuries I treated in my 22-year career as a lifeguard was the burned feet of toddlers and young children. In some cases, these injuries involved 3rd-degree burns that caused extreme pain and might never heal fully.

“Prior to the placement of fire pits on the beaches, people would create their own fire pits wherever they chose, then typically cover the pits with sand afterward. Trouble is, sand retains heat incredibly efficiently. You can fry an egg on sand over a doused fire pit the next day, but the sand may look no different than that surrounding it. Open fires on the beach were illegal then, as now, but the police had little time to enforce this seemingly minor crime.

“Eliminating fire pits will almost certainly result in an increase in unlawful fires, placed wherever people consider them convenient, and accompanying serious injuries.”


avatar Editordude December 14, 2009 at 11:30 am

We have the first adoption! Fire Pit #1 has been adopted by an apartment complex on Muir Avenue. Congratulations!


avatar Editordude December 14, 2009 at 9:30 pm

To those who are thinking about adopting a fire pit. First, thanks greatly for your interest.
Second, you should know that we’re flying by the seat of our pants here.
Here’s the idea: a person, business, church, a civic organization, group of friends, whatever – pledges to adopt one of OB’s 8 fire pits. We have a map online and have numbered them #1 thru 8, north to south. #1 is already taken.

The pledge is that you and/or your group will clean and maintain the fire pit for one year.

You may get your name on the fire pit also.

We are working out details, especially the liability issue – which is where the City will try to stop us. We maintain that the sponsors will sign a waiver of their “right” to sue the City and/or its employees for any injuries caused during the cleaning and maintaining of the fire pit. This waiver will be valid – has not been drawn up yet.

We are making the rules up as we go. How often to clean? What is reasonable? This is the standard. Whatever is reasonable. The pits that I have seen recently are not too maintained. We can do a better job.

We are currently working out details, like how often to clean, where to place hot coals, etc.

We already have a growing list of folks that are interested. What a great Christmas and holiday gift!


avatar Debbie December 14, 2009 at 10:00 pm

How about a Town Hall meeting on this issue???? Remember the days when our OBTC would sponsor a town hall meeting and Carol would pound her gravel and demand the group control themselves! I betcha there are a few people in town that has some video clips of those old meetings that could get posted on UTube! Do keep in mind that if the firepits are removed, fires are still legal you just have to bring your own pit. Now does anyone know if there are firepits at Dog Beach? There used to be two. Are they still there?


avatar Editor December 15, 2009 at 7:29 pm

We now have different groups who want the same fire pit to adopt. This program is gaining in popularity. I was on Channel 10 yesterday and now KUSI wants a report. Get your fire pit now – THEY’RE HOT !!


avatar claudia j December 15, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Hello, Today I was talking to a few people and Team OB Rebel will adopt Firepit #2 & Mike from Hodad’s said he’d adopt Firepit #3 for Team Hodads…. So keep us informed…. claudia J……. Step up to the plate!!!!! If you snooze you loose!!!only 5 Fire its left….. Love OB


avatar claudia j December 22, 2009 at 7:54 pm

I confirm Team OB Rebel & Team Hodad’s will adopt Fire Pit #2…. I talked to Mike at Hodad’s and we both agree to step up to the plate….. When can we start? Kep in touch!!!! cj


avatar claudia j December 22, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Just a note!!! I talked to Mike at Hodad’s and we agreed to adopt Fire Pit #2 as Team OB Rebel & Team Hodads…….When can we start???? claudia


avatar Dave Gilbert December 24, 2009 at 9:40 am

Are you guys sure that there are only eight fire rings? I saw a picture of one with the number 420 on it….


avatar Frank Gormlie December 24, 2009 at 10:50 am

So did we after we posted it. One of Shawn’s friends must have put it there. In 1990 the City had 450 fire pits and rings. By 2003 it was down to 180 something.


avatar LisanOB December 29, 2009 at 11:55 am

Ah…. And I thought I could get through the holiday season without being completely repulsed by what I read here. Although the outpouring of support is really really cute….it is the wrong path alltogether!

Listen people…. The City owes us this as a basic level of service. By rushing in and saving these incompetent fools you are only subsidizing their inability to balance the budget.

Sure… Keep them open. Sure…keep them clean (for a while)…. but don’t think for a second that after the first law suit for having them out there that any of the Hodads or OBMAs or any other business from the quaint hamlet of OB is really going to stand up and take it on the chin in a lawsuit. The City maintains these and also maintains the insurance necessary to protect themselves in doing so….YOU don’t.

Don’t miss my point here though…..

The City OWEs this to us and it is an important part of the level of service that you already PAY them for with your taxes. Instead of fretting about how you are going to keep your corporately sponsored fire pit open and clean….why don’t you invest some time in figuring out why the City is going bankrupt and why you did or did not participate in electing the Mayor and the Councilmember who represents you????

DON’T let the City off the hook so easy.

YES…. Ask one of the local community groups to sponsor a forum on the issue… Although the last time that there was an effort to remove the pits, the town council had a forum and well…I heard nobody came. Then… some guy came with a petition to actually remove the pits or at least move them because he was complaining about noise and such. Funny…after the pits came back…they were configured exactly the way the the guy wanted them…. which is what yo usee on the the graphic above. I guess he had enough pull with the city to get what he wanted besides the fact that the town council voted against moving the pits or changing them.


avatar Frank Gormlie December 29, 2009 at 12:14 pm

LisanOB – appreciate your points – that the city owes us these fire pits. Besides being “cute” the outpouring of support for keeping them is also a way people are agreeing with you – that the city owes us these. (No sure what taxes you’re talking about here – sales tax? property tax? federal tax money coming back?)

We however believe that we must keep them there and not allow the city to remove them. Most of the volunteers who have stepped forward to adopt them are not corporations but ordinary citizens who recognize that they are part of the beach culture and traditions. Besides, it’s something that an ordinary person can do – save a fire pit. We are not dissuaded by the issue of “insurance” as it’s a subterfuge. CalTrans does not require freeway volunteers to have insurance – a much more dangerous task than cleaning fire pits – so why should the city? Besides, volunteers can sign waiver agreements not to sue the city, etc.


avatar LisanOB December 29, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Perhaps the bigger subterfuge is this blog once again trying to grab a sensational and dramatic issue and taking ownership of it to get more readers/bloggers? This sounds a lot like the library closing earlier this year…just a different chapter of the same book. Where is your megaphone Frank?

Good luck oh hamlet of despair… once again, instead of taking the issues to the elected officials and getting what you want….

You are going to end up vohemently cleaning and protecting the firepits for free while the elected officials walk away smiling.

They get what they want again….you get taken advantage of again.

Anarchy doesn’t work Frank….UN-official doesn’t work Frank… Socialism doesn’t work Frank. The entire 60’s….wait for it…. didn’t work.

If OB doesn’t get its act together…you are just eventually going to be run over from all directions by “progress”.


avatar Frank Gormlie December 29, 2009 at 1:59 pm

OUCH! Oh, Lisa, you’ve discovered our true motives! We only discuss controversial issues because we only want to increase our readership so we can make millions. That’s right, how did you know? that the only reason the OB Rag worked to save OB’s library was to cover up the eyes of our readers and fellow community members, that the only reason we helped sponsor some graffiti clean-ups and the marshmallow mess after July 4th, and helped clean Dr Bob’s house was simply to get our megaphone in front of our hapless neighbors of this hamlet of despair. My goodness! You are so astute!

Your answer is to “take the issues to the elected officials…” those “official officials”. That’s right, they all have the answer.

But just wait a minute. Is that how the jetty was stopped in the summer of 1970? Is that how Collier Park was saved in 1971-72? Is that how the Strand Theater was stopped from being a porn showcase? Is that how the boardwalk was stopped in the nineties?

I don’t think you sound like you lived through the 60’s – or else you wouldn’t have dissed them so easily. So the “entire 60’s … didn’t work” eh? Hmmm. I wonder what the civil rights movement people would say to that? Or how the women’s movement would respond to your accusation? Or the anti-Vietnam movement would react? Or all the counter-cultural participants ?

I’m sorry you have such a negative view of our/your own history. Perhaps you should read about some of that history right here in our little ol’ blog.


avatar Danny Morales December 29, 2009 at 3:31 pm


“Thanks for defending US against yet another effort at disunity. Being an attention getting blowhard is a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it” – Polly Ester

Believe me, I know from experience.



avatar not a redneck in east county December 29, 2009 at 2:47 pm

“If OB doesn’t get its act together…you are just eventually going to be run over from all directions by “progress”.”

LisanOB, shouldn’t that statement have a WE in it instead of a YOU? Or maybe you’re part of that “progress” and it’s not gonna run over you.

You seem to know what doesn’t work. Got any idea what does work?


avatar annagrace December 29, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Lisa-why do you assume that these issues aren’t taken to elected officials as well as presented and discussed here? I’m familiar with the recent library budget process and it is not an exaggeration to say that the coverage and response to the mayor’s proposed library pairings in the OBRag resulted in Sanders taking that one off the table. This was the only media source that described what that pairing entailed, thanks to OB Friend of the Library President Suze More. No one else had a clue and the U-T and VoiceofSD didn’t think to ask for more information. The articles set off what was described to me later as a “firestorm” of calls and emails to the mayor and council. A number of us did indeed show up at public meetings. It is no small matter to me that the independent press remains crucial to the democratic process.

Never under estimate the power of the megaphone. Informing the public is an essential step when taking issues to our elected representatives. Keeping those issues alive and on their radar is also important. The fire pits won’t be removed until June 30, 2010 as it stands now. Seems like a good strategy to keep the issue alive because it is important to the people who live here. Who knows-maybe peace will break out between now and then. But it’s not over.

To “Good luck o hamlet of despair” I say “To OB, or not to OB. That is the question.” Too many affirmative answers to paint a picture of despair…


avatar Molly December 29, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Anna, I think Lisa is upset that the fire pit issue didn’t go to our city council and mayor. I don’t know if Gormlie went to Faulconer or not, but I do know that the group Save San Diego Fire Rings has been lobbying for over a year with the Mayor. And guess what? You figure it out.

Actually, my theory is that Lisa is a Leninist – she said “anarchy doesn’t work” – but wait she also said “socialism doesn’t work” so that theory is out. Maybe she’s a Communist or Marxist or even a Maoist who is criticizing us for not following the steps required to fulfill the Bourgeois Democratic Revolution. You know, the ‘work within the system’ syndrome before la revolucion can happen.


avatar Danny Morales December 29, 2009 at 8:08 pm


I know Communists, Marxist-Leninists and Maoists! Communists, Marxist-Leninists and Maoists are my friends! I can assure you that Lisa isn’t a Communist, Marxist-Leninist or Moaist!

Just another child, lost and crying, in a political wilderness. How very much like US.

Peace upon you all,


avatar Lisanob December 31, 2009 at 2:59 am

Sure Redneck….

I work for the City…and yes Frank…your taxes pay my salary…unless you don’t pay taxes.

Here is what works….large groups of organized community voices aimed in unison at issues and channeled through established community organizations in unison.

Ever wonder why things get done so much faster for communities like Point Loma and La Jolla? It isn’t just because they are more affluent neighborhoods. It is because they know better how to galvanize behind issues and ensure that people in the system know to take action.

I love the illusion that OB wishes it would be. A protected little bohemian hamlet surrounded by all of the republican conservative capitalist bureaucratic idiots that live in the REST of the world.

OB has over half a dozen active community groups…none of them ever really align to show solidarity for issues. The fire pits is a great example… The people that live near the pits have tried to get them moved….removed…regulated etc…. In fact, they had more people on the petition of 2008 to remove them from the Brighton street area than were people to keep them there.

I see almost all of the voices of OB. When a community can’t seem to align on an issue…the bureaucrats can just walk away smiling. They don’t have to do anything at all.

It will be interesting to see all of the alphabet soup groups of OB finally get together on some issues and move to some common goals….or if they will just continue to splinter until (yes redneck)…they are run over by capitalism and “progress” and then the “2 square miles surrounded by reality” will just be some nostalgia for the wonderland series to reminesce on.

Frank — Really….bringing up events from over 40 years ago does not a story make. Sensationalism is transparent to those of us who aren’t wowed by all of the emotion you are drumming up. OB will live on without fire rings… or with fire rings. Or even (gasp) without a library!(gasp gasp). But hey….44 poll responses is definately a lot for a community of over 20,000 who live in OB. You must have a contact somewhere that gave you a Xmas present of the NY Times article. My hunch…

MY RECOMMENDATION: (in cased you didn’t glean it from before)
Get together a coalition of ALL of the alphabet groups….town council, planning board, others…and then move to the city with a solution. In the meantime…you can do your little civil disobedience (snicker) of cleaning the pits (exactly what the city wants) and even chaining yourself to a pit when the heavy equipment comes to claim them back. Cept…I’ll bet that most of you won’t even notice when they come and grab them.

Good luck oh wanna-be-anarchists! :)


avatar doug porter December 31, 2009 at 5:31 pm

snicker all you want, lisa.
most of your assumptions about us are wrong, btw.
the discussion on the blog about the firepits started with a reader; obviously you haven’t heard, but there are a lot of people in SD that do feel strongly about the issue. (like the 4000+ that joined the facebook cause)
no, we have no connection with the NY times or the reporter who wrote the story.
i’d think it’s safe to say that none of us define ourselves as anarchists. (but i really don’t know, since most of our relationships are of the on-line sort)
your arrogance and attitude offer a fine testimony about the kinds of attitudes that have led to the perception of government employees unworthy of further support from the citizenry. (yes, i know most employees aren’t quite as “good” as you are)
sorry to hear that you’re so bitter.
happy new year.


avatar Danny Morales December 31, 2009 at 5:51 pm

“Dig Doug, I’m spritual anachrist!” U. A. Phat Phart


avatar Debbie December 31, 2009 at 5:43 pm

GEEEEEZZZZ, I think Lisa is not really Lisa just somebody trying to get y’all riled up. Maybe from another news media, a blog, or an ex or a jealous person, a meanie, or a former politician,or who the heck knows but one thing is for sure….he/she likes to read the OB Rag and that is what is sooooooo COOL!


avatar Frank Gormlie January 1, 2010 at 10:10 am

Did anyone see Doug Porter and me interviewed by KUSI this morning (NY day)?


avatar Pat Herron January 1, 2010 at 10:30 pm

They’ve gotten rid of the alcohol. They want to get rid of the firepits. They really just want
to get rid of us, the locals, the regular people who just want to go to the beach and have fun.
They want to turn the beach into another ‘gated community’ for wealthy tourists and the city
government’s corporate owners.
Pat Herron



avatar Danny Morales January 2, 2010 at 12:11 am

Right On, Pat Herron, wherever you are-D.


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