Local Newspaper Tackles OB Homeless Youth Issue – Without Talking to the Youth

by on February 10, 2010 · 50 comments

in Culture, Homelessness, Media, Ocean Beach, Popular

The local beach and bay press paper, The Peninsula Beacon, has taken on the issue of the homeless youth crowding the sidewalks of Ocean Beach in a recent article by Kevin McKay.  This is very commendable.  Yet the article was written without the benefit of talking to any of the homeless youth.

Business leaders are quoted in the article, and they have  important things to say, but there are no quotes from anyone who can be described as a member of this targeted group.  To their credit, the OB Rag is mentioned and our web address cited.

But without the voices of these youth – kids, tumbleweeds, whatever you or they want to call themselves – have still not been heard.  It is a difficult task, and we have failed in this as well, up to now.  That is about to change. We will be posting an interview with some of the young people very soon.

Here is the first part of the Beacon article (they even used similar photos sent to them by one of our fave photographers, Jim Grant):

Free spirits tax even OB’s tolerance level

by Kevin McKay / Peninsula Beacon / February 10, 2010

For decades, the prevailing wind in Ocean Beach has carried with it a theme of tolerance, forgiveness and a live-and-let-live philosophy. In this laid-back, hippie-influenced enclave, it usually takes a lot to upset the balance.

Over time, migrations of transients have come and gone, setting up temporary residence along Newport Avenue and the OB Pier — homeless veterans, the mentally ill, the down-and-outers — most just keeping to themselves and wishing to be left undisturbed, according to observers.

But residents and merchants are becoming vocal against a new set of particularly aggressive, panhandling free spirits ranging in age from 18 to 26 — some, according to police, from as far away as Canada and many apparently hailing from Portland and other parts of Oregon — that has set down temporary stakes in Ocean Beach.

For the remainder of this article go here.

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Danny Morales February 10, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Anybody who has been around the block will recognize the same voices talking the same words about the same ol’ same ol’. Prior to the creation of the OBMA and it’s Crime Prevention Committee the leadership came from the community and not from a francise of the National Mainstreet Association. So yes, lets include the voice off all the people including that which will come from the alleys, against the seawall and under the bridges and piers of OB


avatar Debbie February 10, 2010 at 10:48 pm

If the OBMA and other residents continue to express their dismay with these “free spirits”, no doubt these folks will continue to receive tickets and be harrassed. San Diego’s waterman is a good dude just trying to make sure people on the street have water and he’s been harrassed and beat up by the police http://www.10news.com/news/22481917/detail.html. I believe the more attention that is brought about the “free spirits” the more cops we will see in OB …whether justified or not. It’s not that I am anti-police, but I have heard too many stories about police brutality and it’s worrisome.


avatar Rick February 10, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Bad for Ocean Beach business
Time to call the cops


avatar Kristin C. February 11, 2010 at 12:23 am

Wow. That was one of the most biased, one-sided articles I’ve ever read. I’ve always liked the Beacon, but this article was wayyyyy out of line. The hippie visitor kids are responsible for destroying plants? For taking advantage of what OBMA members provide? (What does that even mean? What is Denny referring to there??? My mind boggles.) They are responsible for all the dog shit around town? SERIOUSLY??? Nope, that’s our own neighbors, friends. I’ve lived in this town a longgggg time, and there’s always been dog shit on the sidewalks. There aren’t enough transient-puppies in town to produce that much crap – it’s your neighbors and mine. And to echo some previous comments on previous posts – WHAT HAVE THESE PEOPLE DONE TO YOU???? I’ve never seen them blocking sidewalks or “aggressively” panhandling people… I’ve been asked for money, and if I say “sorry, can’t help,” I usually get a very polite “thanks anyway” response. The older, perhaps less mentally-stable homeless are WAY more aggressive sometimes, and they’ve lived here for YEARS!!! So I really get pissed that people want to demonize some kids trying to do their thing. And from my experience, they are no different than the “wall kids” 10 years ago, or 5 years ago, or whatever. I am just sooooo sick of this “debate.” If you don’t like OB as it is (which is as it has been, and how it always will be) – then LEAVE. There are other beach towns who would love your judgmental asses.


avatar Mary February 11, 2010 at 9:55 am

hell yeah


avatar justmy2cents February 11, 2010 at 9:04 am

I for one look forward to the thoughts of these young travler’s…..I suspect they are not to willing to talk to the press or have their thoughts posted on a web site. They do have acess to the web so I think they can post on this site if they really wanted to voice their opinions or thoughts.
Kristin you are 100% correct…locals litter as well I see locals dropping cig butts ALL the time….And all the crap is not from the dogs of these travlers however they are responible for a portion…..When I see either of these things happen I do say something.
I am all for them ” doing their thing” When that thing is selling drugs to 14 year old kids at the seawall I draw the line. When that ” thing” is peering into my car or truck to see whats not attached I draw the line. When that thing is camping out on the public sidewalk selling trinkets, blocking the sidewalk, burning that stink weed they burn, begging for money, or asking for roaches to recycle,and generally impeding the natural flow of foot traffic I draw the line. By the way that natural flow of foot traffic has money to spend at the shops and buisness’s on Newport.


avatar Shane Finneran February 11, 2010 at 10:40 am

“impeding the natural flow of foot traffic…that natural flow of foot traffic has money to spend at the shops and buisness’s on Newport.”

Are you saying that people hanging out down a the sea wall is causing some sort of mobility issue? That other people can’t make their way across the sidewalks on Newport Ave, and are therefore spending less money in the area?

Man, talk about grasping at straws. At this point, your disdain for people different than you is causing your comments to become not just malicious but comical. Thanks for balancing out the hate with the humor!


avatar justmy2cents February 11, 2010 at 10:54 am

I said public sidewalk read it….That includes all the sidewalks on newport…IF you had a buisness on newport and had 6-8 travlers with all their crap , dogs, guitars, sleeping bags and signage sitting 2 feet from your store entrace you would get the point…

you dont get it and never will…
it will take your stuff being ripped off by a crew of them as they head out of town THEN you will get it….naw probally not…

long live the travlers !!


avatar jon February 11, 2010 at 11:07 am

Argh! 2cents, didn’t you see I’m trying to break your record for most posts in a day?? At this rate, I’ll never win! Geez, I give up.


avatar justmy2cents February 11, 2010 at 11:22 am

naw…i am done this is pointess…..most of this is inconsequential minutiae and a wase of time….you make a point but use a word some wordsmith does not like and you get off topic…you take a moral stand and get shot down by somebody who has a big brother complex or a smoke filled opinion….

i will go and get life on me while ya all sit and talk about life.


avatar lane tobias February 11, 2010 at 9:24 am

this article further illustrates the forces at hand here. Im proud the OB Rag is able to see the reality of the situation – that this isn’t just some mystical group of people that terrorizes the town, but are instead human beings who happen to feel comfortable in our community.

It does seem that the majority of folks in town do NOT hold the point of view expressed in this article, though. That is just from my own preliminary discussions with people who live in OB…..especially those who have lived here for a very long time.


avatar jon February 11, 2010 at 9:44 am

I think you have to take the Beacon article in context. The Beacon is a fine local weekly (or did they just change to bi-monthly) paper. But their bread & butter is local real-estate and business ads. They probably aren’t going to be the first to jump at the chance to defend homeless kids because that’s not what the folks financing their operation via ad revenue want to hear about. They want to hear about what local business leaders are doing to “clean up” the area and improve conditions for business and real estate. So yeah, I’m not surprised if there’s a little bias. Again, I think the focus needs to be on the few that are causing problems. Kristin and 2cents are right, locals and tourists-for-a-day types are every bit as guilty for littering and not cleaning up after themselves. We can’t just blame it all on these kids. We should be leading by example and calling out those that are making a mess of our town. Whether it be a homeless kid, another local or a tourist in a Tommy-Bahama shirt.

Speaking of which…did you know that you can report people who flick cigarette butts out of their car windows? If you see someone throwing a butt, call (877) 211-2888 (BUTT). The goal is not to get people in trouble, but rather to educate about the problem of cigarette butt pollution in our waterways and oceans. Simply tell the hotline the license plate, make & model, and the offender will be sent a CHP-issued warning letter detailing the witnessed action and warning them the dangers of cigarette butt litter, which includes damage to the environment and wildlife as well as the risk of fire.
If any of you have ever been to a beach clean up, you know how bad the butt problem is. It’s pretty foul.


avatar mr fresh February 11, 2010 at 9:48 am

FYI I clicked through to read the rest of the article. It seems as though the OBRag has been “scrubbed” from the piece.


avatar Editordude February 11, 2010 at 9:58 am

You scarred me for a moment, mr fresh, and I was gearing up for a flame, but then I found it:

“The ripple effect caused by the young nomads has captured the attention of local print and broadcast media over the last two weeks.

“More than their presence, the behavior of these young traveling groups has residents and merchants frustrated, on edge and lighting up the blog boards of the OB Rag (www.obrag.org) with a mix of cries for action, personal responsibility, calm and caution against police overreaction.”


avatar jon February 11, 2010 at 9:58 am

I just found it Mr. Fresh, about 3/4 through the article: “More than their presence, the behavior of these young traveling groups has residents and merchants frustrated, on edge and lighting up the blog boards of the OB Rag (www.obrag.org) with a mix of cries for action, personal responsibility, calm and caution against police overreaction.”

I don’t think the Beacon folks would be that petty. ;)


avatar justmy2cents February 11, 2010 at 9:53 am

That is very true it is a good thing that OB has a laid back rep.
But in any ” community” there are rules that govern. If you want to be part of a community , bylaws, rules of conduct, acceptable and un-acceptable conduct is set out and made clear. No matter what part of this earth you go to that is a constant at least from what I have seen and read.
Moringstar Ranch is a classic example…you live and abide by the laws and standards set out (you get up at dawn and work , you harvest, you pack the trucks and sell the farm goods) or you are asked to leave. This principle is constant in all society earthwide. wether it be in San Diego, A commune in Idaho or a desert nomad tribe in Africa ….Or for that matter a street gang in South Central LA….If you dont go by the established bylaws you are on your own and put out.
Society in general does this…Goverment , Relgion, Famlies, Buisness it is across the board.
For that matter there are rules on this blog………If I type F#*K you F#*K you F#*K you Editor over and over I will be baninshed from this blog….Rules are a way of life.

It seems to me like they all want this nomad lifestyle , the free n and easy way do as they want and please…OH YEAH And by the way can you support me in it…..Or can you turn you head when I want to do something not approved by the majority like sell dope to 15 year olds !!


avatar hippiereborn February 11, 2010 at 10:17 am

the whole point of people’s opposition to YOUR point of view is that most OBecians welcome those who live a more nomadic lifestyle, as long as they aren;t too disruptive. I think for the most part, the misconception that this community is disruptive to the people of OB – a community where most people live varied degrees of unconventional lifestyles to begin with – is the basis of all this uproar.

Go a few blocks into OB from the pier, and you will have seemingly upstanding community members selling “dope” to their neighbor’s kids too. Do you live in OB? Do you have any idea of the lifestyles that MOST people in this community live? If anything, people with your perspective are more of a square peg here than the young nomads you keep bitching about.


avatar justmy2cents February 11, 2010 at 10:47 am

You are wrong…..I have spoken with 20 or 30 of my friends who are in the thick of OB life they are sick and tired of the homless and hapless tumbleWEED kids…..
Get out and chat it up talk to a few buisness owners…
this whole thing bores me……..


avatar Shane Finneran February 11, 2010 at 10:32 am

2 cents, if you have information regarding crimes such as drug dealing going on at the wall, please share your info with the police, so they can take the necessary action. In other words, if you think rules are being broken, talk to the people whose job is enforcing the rules. And then let us know what the police tell you.

In the meantime, stop spewing evidence-free allegations about a large group of people. That’s actually a crime in itself – I believe it’s called slander.


avatar justmy2cents February 11, 2010 at 10:42 am

Do you live in El Centro? Head West as far as you can go make a left go 1 mile make a right at newport drive to the water make a left at the rock, sit at the seawall in your car and open your eyes. That will answer your own question.
If you think it has not been noticed by police you must be blind.
Slander ? you make me laugh.


avatar Shane Finneran February 11, 2010 at 11:39 am

I’ve sat at the sea wall many times – in fact, as someone who has worked in OB from 2005 into 2010, I’ve made a habit of grabbing a Nico’s burrito and eating it down at the sea wall at least once a week. Haven’t noticed anything out of the ordinary. And the police agree, at least judging by their comment in the 10news story: “there’s been an increase in the number of young homeless people in Ocean Beach, but there doesn’t appear to be a significant increase in drug abuse.”

I think that the police have a good handle on the crime situation down at the seawall and on Newport. But if you have information regarding crimes you think the police are missing, please take Officer Surwilo’s advice from the Beacon article, and let the police know. In the meantime, spare the rest of us from your grumpy accusations. Your hate stinks worse than rotting seaweed.


avatar justmy2cents February 11, 2010 at 11:49 am

Well your a local I see…a whole 5 years. Do you have a t shirt from the Black and a seagull logo on your family truckster…
The Police are aware of whats going on at the wall.
enuf on these pointess debates..time will show whats going on at the wall.
enjoy your lunch at the wall.


avatar Shane Finneran February 11, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Thanks for revealing that you’re not just unhappy with people at the sea wall, but anyone who doesn’t meet your definition of local. Like I’ve been saying, your angst seems to be coming from a sad place. If you rant long enough, I bet you’d eventually divulge that your ideal OB would be filled with no one but you.


avatar justmy2cents February 11, 2010 at 12:50 pm

…..go outside and take a walk its beautiful outside enjoy life ……..


avatar Shane Finneran February 11, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Now that I can agree with!


avatar Danny Morales February 11, 2010 at 3:52 pm

HAHAHAHA! @11:22AM-justmy2cents was resolved in taking his moral dog and pony show away from us (OB Ragamuffins) @11:49 his/her/whatever character has shown through for us all to see. Good Luck P.A.L. HAHAHAHA………..why don’t you try a new career in evangelism where you can practice your integrity, honesty and compassion without doubt…because here you’re DOGMEAT! (my apologies to canines)


avatar justmy2cents February 11, 2010 at 5:57 pm

well buddy it seems you have all the OB wisdom and experience at least thats what they say ..by the looks of this web site and blog you have failed…..ob cant even keep a hot dog stand open …nice job mr buisnees guy….
blah blah blah u rule we all suck…

oh no i’m dogmeat…boy thats original….3rd grade humor my friend.


avatar PSD February 12, 2010 at 10:27 pm

I’m not going to claim to be a longtime local or anything, I lived here for a year, moved away for a year, and I’ve been back 2…but if you’re as old school as you claim you’d testify in a heartbeat that ‘the wall’ as it is today pales in comparison to what it was 10-12 years ago when I was in high school…


avatar annagrace February 11, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Shane, so right. This is to say I left some money in OB this past Monday- at Hodad’s -with all the wonderful people who work there, and as soon as my eardrums heal I will go back for more. Then I walked down to the seawall at the end of Newport and sat there on an achingly gorgeous afternoon. For a good hour and a half I observed all the myriad people sharing the day with me in that place.

There were young mothers with babies in strollers. There was an older couple holding hands, a doting grandmother with her darling granddaughter, an inebriated woman talking to herself, lots of kids on skate boards, Dave walking his rescued Katrina pit bulls, people sitting on the grass, tourists who crossed the street from the restaurants and bars. I sat there, a solitary figure, thinking “How vibrant. How wonderful that all these different people are drawn to this place, with this great mysterious ocean approaching and retreating at our backs… All of us sitting together at this seawall.”

I will say it again- this is why I love OB and keep coming back. This is why I want to look at the outsider art at the Electric Chair, and have our wedding rings re-tooled by Gary Gilmore. It is why I want to continue to write for the Obrag. My friends- give great thought as to what you think is “broken.”


avatar Debbie February 11, 2010 at 10:09 am

I find it interesting that no one is commenting on the drunks at the OB bars. We can have drunks in our town but not travelers? Surely not all of these kids are bad.


avatar jon February 11, 2010 at 10:11 am

I don’t find that interesting.


avatar jon February 11, 2010 at 10:15 am

Sorry, I’m just being fiesty this morning Debbie. Obviously, I’ve had too much coffee…I’m attempting to take the record of ‘most posts in a day’ away from my2cents! Anyway, you do have a point. Although I enjoy going to the bars and having fun, I refrain from peeing on my neighbors property or creating a mess. Once again…a few bad apples….


avatar jon February 11, 2010 at 10:16 am



avatar Debbie February 11, 2010 at 10:20 am

Maybe we can ask the cigarette police to open up their hotline for those that stand outside of bars, smoke and throw their butts into the street which make their way into our ocean???? Maybe now the bars may be of interest to you:-)


avatar jon February 11, 2010 at 10:30 am

haha…nice come back! I couldn’t agree with you more. I smoked for 12 years, and I’m NOT by any means anti-smoker, but I am very much anti-litter. Given our proximity to the ocean, the community should definitely be more concerned about the amount of litter (specifically cigarette butts) in our streets. There are laws against littering, and if a cop sees you throw a butt on the ground, you “should” be cited. But I’m not clear on what the bar’s responsibility is in regards to enforcing anti-litter laws on/around their property. I’m gonna look into this further. Thanks Debbie.


avatar Catherine February 11, 2010 at 1:39 pm


ABC licensees are required to sweep and clean the area around their business, including sidewalks, up to 20 feet. They are also required to maintain good lighting, remove graffiti and move along anyone who is loitering, drinking in public, or disturbing the public.

also, it is illegal to serve alcohol to someone who is “obviously intoxicated,” though the word obviously makes that a difficult one to prosecute. That and the fact that ABC or local law enforcement has to actually be in the bar and observe the service in order to arrest you for overserving.

See CA Alcoholic Beverage Control Act.


avatar justmy2cents February 11, 2010 at 10:16 am

The bar has that responibilty to not over serve. They will/can and have been held responible ( laws n rules) if they over serve.
NOW if you mean drunks who drive thats a WHOLE story in it self maybe for another day.
Lets not inter mix the issues.


avatar Debbie February 11, 2010 at 10:32 am

Mix what issues? Responsibility is responsibility whether it’s the bartender over serving, the “free spirited street kid” panhandling, smokers throwing their butts on the sidewalk, drinkers driving drunk, dog owners not picking up dog poo poo, merchant owners ripping off tenants and not returning deposits, drivers not allowing a pedestrian to cross the road, etc. It comes back to one issue, having some respect for yourself, community and fellow man. We can live in harmony….what a dream that is!


avatar lane tobias February 11, 2010 at 10:10 am

^ bump


avatar bodysurferbob February 11, 2010 at 10:17 am

yes, it is a truism about rules. but sometimes the rules are unreasonable and need to be broken. Like “locs only” at surfing spots, and some extreme examples are africans are slaves, indians are to be exterminated, and women have no rights and are considered “property”. back in the late sixties, ob had certain rules too. hippies and young people in general were considered second class citizens, cops were never questioned, and richard nixon had a plan for peace.

i know those are extreme. how about something a little more un-extreme and more local:

sometimes, different groups in the same community have different sets of rules and there is conflict. there’s one rule that says if you own a vacant lot you don’t have to keep it cleaned and cleared of debris. a bunch of OB activists at the turn of this century had a rule: if it’s a trashy empty lot, the community had a right and a responsibility to clean it up and make it a garden for all to enjoy. and that’s what a bunch of us did to the lot at voltaire and sunset cliffs. but the other side had an additional rule: they could call the cops, bulldoze the garden and ring it with a fence so it can stay trashy.

there’s another rule: if you’re homeless your rights are deprived. that conflicts with another strong rule here in the land of ob, have compassion for your fellow human beings.

so you see, there has to be a consensus on the rules. if there isn’t, then it’s not a rule.


avatar justmy2cents February 11, 2010 at 10:30 am

Ahhh, consensus ( collective opinion) in our society that is voted upon and enforced by those we put in office. Until those guidelines, rules, laws are changed they are the consensus. They may not fit everyone but none the less they ARE Societal rules. I am glad we agree.
We also should have compassion for everyone I agree.
I also think selling drugs to 15 year olds chips away at my compassion gene. And I have seen this first hand often at the wall and pier.


avatar Frank Gormlie February 11, 2010 at 10:34 am

Perhaps if marijuana was legal, we wouldn’t have these type of sales. Where is the consensus on this?


avatar justmy2cents February 11, 2010 at 10:48 am

dont know.
Save that for another day…this subject is enough.


avatar Debbie February 11, 2010 at 10:59 am

There is a webcam ….I wonder if those selling and buying are aware they are being recorded…http://www.obhotel.com/webcam.html…the OBMA site for the camera is down http://www.oceanbeachsandiego.com/ob-web-cam

And….If OBMA would put some benches on Newport maybe people (travelers, residents, shoppers etc.) would not have to sit on the ground!


avatar Sarah February 11, 2010 at 1:03 pm

This morning I saw one of the kids pictured in the Beacon bopping happily down the sidewalk carrying the entire stack of Beacon papers that he’d picked up from outside one of the local shops. (maybe he was going to send copies home to mom?) He was really happy, chattering to himself loudly and giggling. He had a kind of dopey look on his face.

“Hey, I made the front page”
“I’m famous”
“I want a headline”

I can’t help but remember one of my key parenting tactics: Whenever possible, ignore poor behaivor and reward good. All this press…


avatar Kevin February 11, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Hey all. As always, I appreciate the feedback to The Beacon. I feel compelled to clarify a point and assume some responsibility. Quite correct, the article that appeared in this week’s paper did not include the voice of the young travelers. Not for lack of trying, however. In my attempt to speak with three of the young people, I was given a response equivalent to “Leave us alone. We have nothing to say.” And that’s perfectly fine.
Where I erred was not including that point in the story. I should have, and that is my error. It was an inadvertent omission, but regrettable nonetheless. My hope is that in part 2 of the story I will have the chance to sit down and talk openly with some of these young folks one-on-one (who are actually willing to be interviewed) with the help of a couple of local facilitators.
There was never any intent to bias the story, just a failed attempt to retrieve the voice of the young folks and a failure on my part to note they were given an opportunity. I hope for better success this next edition.


avatar Frank Gormlie February 11, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Kevin, thanks for visiting and clarifying your intent. We’re looking forward to Part 2. Any illumination thrown on this subject is gratifying. Yet, the article, as some of our commenters noted, was weighed on behalf of businesses and people with complaints. Many of our commenters have offered that they are not annoyed or bothered by the kids at all, and that the kids help make OB what it is. Check out the poll that is currently running on our sidebar. Thanks again for the tip of the hat.


avatar justmy2cents February 11, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Fair enough, I will look forward to it. Thanks for the info.


avatar Danny Morales February 11, 2010 at 7:34 pm

justmy2cents-First of all I’m not your buddy. Secondly because you failed to notice any of the humor in any other communications on this blog I had to go down to your level although I think third grade is complementing you, dont you agree? Probably not. Is this the best you can do? Respond to a question with critisism of the questioner. Or play the passive/agressive role and turn the question upon the other. You don’t have the integrety, honesty nor compassion of any other human being just trying to live the best they can. Here’s the last best and final offer I will give you. Get some professional help or get into a twelve step program before your pathological obsessions drag everybody into your destructive self pity that will ensure the ruination of all-That you cowards truly suck (in a physical, emotional and spritual way) is apparent to those who have eyes to see and I won’t waste another millisecond on you. And you can take my word with you to the grave and then some!


avatar justmy2cents February 12, 2010 at 7:34 am

gezze you are wordy and boring, have a great day.


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