Impressions of OB Town Council Forum

by on February 25, 2010 · 23 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Homelessness, Ocean Beach

by Danny Morales

The day of the community journalist has arrived in Ocean Beach. The blogger/activists of the OB Rag gave the Ocean Beach Town Council and the community at large a healthy dose of solutions, unity and peoples advocacy.

Last night’s meeting – double-billed as a forum for Ocean Beach Planning Board candidates and homeless discussion –  started its civic booster rockets in red glare style. Firing up with a pledge of allegiance and a lineup of the usual suspects, the meeting had me looking over my shoulder from the get go. Not that I was wary of who was using the bathroom for what but when the mooks from the “I agree with everything the police do to get the varmints outta town” society got up from chuckling about the “Trolls Verboten” flier to stand at my rear, did the hair on my neck stand up.

Speaking of that flier, which was being distributed last night by the chair of the merchants crime prevention committee (Julie Klien), it was only brought up as an issue by John, a dreadlocked member of the houseless community as he appealed to a common humanity to live hassle free.

That the “Homeless Discussion” was framed as a “Law and Order” issue by having the commanding officer of the SDPD’s Western Division fire an opening salvo wasn’t lost on the community journalists. That he was afforded the longest time to speak of anybody at the meeting wasn’t lost on anybody else.

The traveler who had his motor home stolen, his rights violated and his freedom removed by the police painted a very different picture of life in Ocean Beach.

So as a thin blue line of clouds showered our ears with respect and pride, the pitter patter of ‘ protect and serve’ prompted our community stakeholders to rise up.

One by one the stories, problems, and complaints came raining down. Lost business opportunities, polluted beaches, sexual harassment and battery all washed up at the feet of the homeless issue.

A ray of light broke through when Sunshine, Lane and Sarah as the OB Ad Hoc Committee on Tumbleweeds made their presentation. Shifting focus from problems to solutions served to turn the heads of more than one member of the Town Council and more than a few members of the community.

So it was a stepping stone in the right direction, at least from the perspective of a community journalist. Several OBTC members, at least two Planning Board candidates and other OBceans were moved to act in terms of a common solution.

Others will continue to thunder their inner turmoil in the public square. We will, no doubt hear their echos on the OB Rag. Whether its a distant rumble or an approaching storm will depend on us. We have a choice. To learn from the lessons of our history or to repeat its darkest chapters.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar mr fresh February 25, 2010 at 9:07 am

“Speaking of that flier which was being distributed by the chair of the merchants crime prevention committee (Julie Klien)”
Please clarify: Did you mean to say that the “merchants crime committee” and julie klien were the people behind this horrid flyer?

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avatar Frank Gormlie February 25, 2010 at 9:20 am

I just spoke to Danny and clarified that myself. No, Julie was only distributing the fliers at the meeting so that everyone who wanted to see them had a chance to do so. So, no neither Julie Klein nor the committee had anything to do with the flier.

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avatar jim g February 25, 2010 at 9:40 am

I was present taking a few shots for the Beacon. I missed the early part of the meeting. Can someone please summarize what was said. And even though I was there at the end did I miss the soultion part of the meeting. Thanks.

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avatar Frank Gormlie February 25, 2010 at 9:53 am

jim g – we’ll be posting another report within the hour.

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avatar jim g February 25, 2010 at 10:06 am

tks.

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avatar Larry OB February 25, 2010 at 10:13 am

I couldn’t make the meeting, but here’s one of my (short term) solutions. Use Hospitality Point in Mission Bay as a “no hassle zone” for overnight camping/sleeping. It’s isolated from private residences, and easily accessed by the bridge at Robb Field. Could also serve homeless from other beaches. It has restrooms. A shade cover that offers some protection from the rain. The lifeguard headquarters are nearby to prevent complete lawlessness. Plenty of parking for “rubber tramps” that live in their car or RV. I reiterate “overnight”…no long term camping. Just a relatively safe place where people won’t be ticketed. I’m uncertain about existing reservations for the site, but don’t consider that a deal killer. Here’s Hospitality Point (just across the river from OB)…

We could nickname it Humanity Point

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avatar Nate Hipple February 25, 2010 at 10:47 am

“Humanity Point” has a nice ring to it!

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avatar OB Cindi February 25, 2010 at 11:19 pm

I give Humanity Point two thumbs up Larry OB! Great idea!

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avatar Larry OB February 25, 2010 at 10:24 am

I meant easily accessed by pedestrians and bicyclists using the Robb Field bridge.

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avatar Larry OB February 25, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Here’s another option at an existing facility that is isolated from private residences. We’d have to ask the Boy Scouts to share…during the winter at least. Put their Christian values to the test. The aguatic center on Fiest Island:

The aquatic center is used by youth groups and can handle events up to 250 people.

San Diego Youth Aquatic Center has several watersports activities, including canoeing, windsurfing, swimming, kayaking, and sailing. Instruction is available.

The center has a summer youth camp, as well as year-round instructional and recreational activities for people of all ages.

Amenities include a boat launch ramp, overnight dormitories, a kitchen, marine biology labs, an open-air courtyard, and a protected cove with beach, good for swimming.

San Diego Youth Aquatic Center is available for special group events. Make reservations and inquiries with City of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation at (619) 235-1169.

Fiesta Island Youth Camp
Next to the Youth Aquatic Center is Fiesta Island Youth Camp. Campsites can accommodate 250 campers in 25 campsite clusters.

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avatar Larry OB February 25, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Back from lunch…location is one of the big hurdles for a new homeless shelter. Nobody wants it in their neighborhood. Solution: don’t put it in a neighborhood. Fiesta Island is my favorite choice, because of its potential and existing facilities. Plenty of room for improvement = jobs for young people = improving lives. People can work for their 3 hots and a cot. Lots of landscaping work, and maybe even a small farm. Construction training…cooking classes…drug and alcohol counseling…dental and health clinics for the poor. Maybe even a detox facility….that’s something else that nobody wants in their neighborhood. The Isand can easily be locked down at night…just one road in and out. Isolation, control, capacity, existing infrastructure….what more do you want when you try site a new home for the homeless?

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avatar lane tobias February 25, 2010 at 1:41 pm

I love the idea. Now you just have to get the city and county feifdom to implore taxpayers that this is more important than a new convention center, stadium, or some other useless wasteful project. Good luck!

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avatar Larry OB February 25, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Keep in mind that Mission Bay has better cash flow than other sites. A lot of the rents and fees collected (Sea World, hotels, marinas, etc) have to be spent in Mission Bay. We don’t need to tax anybody. We don’t need to forgo a stadium or library. We just need to adjust our priorities about how we spend the rental of Mssion Bay.

A lot of money and effort is put into advertising our good weather. The big tenants on Mission Bay benefit from that, so I don’t have a problem spending some of their rent money on helping the poor people that are attracted to our good weather.

Also keep in mind that some facilities already exist, but are underutilized. I’m not just talking about plans on a drawing board or shovel-ready projects. I’m talking about existing facilities hiding in plain view. We just need to adjust our priorities. Car camping at Hospitality Point rather than corporate parties. The alcohol ban has probably made that place unappealing for party planners anyway. Camping for 250 people at Fiesta Island. Already in place, and easily expanded. Kithcen and dormitories already there, and room for expansion.

In our own hood at Robb Field (not sure if that’s in the Mission Bay cash flow zone) there is a building that is sometimes used for a polling place or public meetings. I biked by there recently and noticed a sign on the door…it’s being used by the census bureau. The rain is coming back on Saturday. When it starts up again, I want all of you to get a mental image of a homeless veteran…wet and shivering in a bush along the San Diego river. And then right next to that image…put up the mental image of that building at Robb Field…a city building that’s being used by a federal agency for bean counting.

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avatar OB Cindi February 25, 2010 at 11:29 pm

There are so many in this world who simply need a second chance to get a jump on work and leave homelessness behind. Many of them are homeless because they are not able to rent due to having large dogs or “dominant breeds.” Larry OB, I love all your ideas so far and was wondering if one of these places might be able to house those with dogs and other pets? God forbid we should ever have a violent storm or another fire. I am throwing this question out to anyone who can answer it…..Do we have a place for those evacuated with pets to stay if they do not have money for an expensive hotel for several weeks/months? Any free vet clinics for the homeless?

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avatar Larry OB February 26, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Hospitality Point already has numerous homeless cats, but they could coexist with campers and leashed dogs. Most dogs could be let loose (exercised) from there to swim to the sand bars East of Dog Beach. Fiesta Island is already leash free for dogs. Some campgrounds (if you can afford it) allow dogs but not cats.

A disaster like a fire or an earthquake is another matter. Many people only have a couple weeks worth of food for their pets. Pet stores can’t handle panic buying. Most people don’t have their own water needs covered, let alone the water needs of their pets. Imagine a Haiti magnitude earthquake here during the Summer with no chance of rainwater. Post Katrina people had to abandon their pets by the side of the road as they boarded the evacuation buses. Small pets that were smuggled on the buses were later denied entry in the homeless shelters. My post disaster plan is to hunt birds down by the San Diego River if FEMA doesn’t confiscate my tools.

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avatar obsteven February 26, 2010 at 10:27 am

I think I might have identified the problem. Some local merchants feel like Newport Avenue is a big outdoor mall. They feel just as entitled as a renter at Fashion Valley Mall. They are treating the police like mall security. Sometimes people need to be reminded that Ocean Beach is a community. The Ocean Beach Outdoor Mall has not opened. Yet. If we can’t settle this in a non-violent way I would like to suggest a battle after the fireworks on July 4th. We’ll have a marshmallow fight to end all marshmallow fights. Winner takes all.

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avatar Frank Gormlie February 26, 2010 at 10:33 am

We won’t have any marshmallow fights if the City removes all the fire pits.

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avatar The Great Unwashed February 26, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Speaking of which, is there any update on the Adopt a Pit idear?

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avatar Frank Gormlie February 26, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Yes, look for a post on that soon.

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avatar Sunshine February 27, 2010 at 7:01 pm

If the City removes the fire pits, I’ll lend you my Burning Man burn barrel just to see this showdown of a marshmallow fight take place! Geeze, I’ll even haul it down to the sand myself and stick around afterward to clean up. Anyone else have old, clean 50 gallon drums cut in half longways?

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avatar Mark Rafferty February 27, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Have they found missing fire pit #9 yet?

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avatar Frank Gormlie February 28, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Yes, TBA in upcoming post.

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