A group of local residents and business owners near the future new home of the OB VFW Outpost 1392 are seeking to block the VFW from opening its doors.
Local members of the area’s neighborhood watch activated their email tree to express their concern over what they view as an unsuitable replacement for the restaurant that formerly called the building at the corner of Pt. Loma Ave. and Ebers St. home. Their concerns stem from the canteen portion of the VFW operation, and the fear that the cheap prices on alcoholic beverages that members pay will lead to excessive alcohol consumption, unacceptable noise levels, overcrowding, and all around undesirable behavior.
The email chain began a week ago as local residents turned to public officials looking for ways to stop the VFW from moving in. It included responses from a representative from Assemblywoman Toni Atkins’ office as well as former City Councilman Michael Zucchet, who lives in the neighborhood.
The VFW had been searching for a new home since their lease was not renewed by their former landlord after 27 years on Newport Ave. After nearly six months of searching, they at last found a suitable location: The ex-home of Ranchos Natural Foods, which had remained vacant since the market/vegan restaurant left the site five years ago.
Zucchet, the former city councilman who was recently exonerated from bribery charges brought by the US Attorney for San Diego in 2005, has apparently been the primary contact between the community group and City Council District 2 Representative Kevin Faulconer, who has taken up the group’s cause.
In the email communiqués the OB Rag has obtained, Mr. Zucchet references what the group believes to be the objectionable nature of the VFW canteen, writing “Not surprisingly, they have had a hard time finding a location and so they are ‘leaning heavily’ toward this location, but Kevin’s involvement has gotten their attention.” Zucchet also cites a “Yelp” review of the previous VFW location where several people described “bellying up” to a crowded bar and partaking in cheap cocktails.
One patron identified as “Laurel T” described entering the VFW during the OB Street Fair (presumably in 2009) and finding the place “jam packed with people of all ages, veterans and civilians alike.” She goes on to explain how she and her friends got “smashed” on round after round of incredibly cheap drinks.
The clear implication from the email chain is that the kind of scene that “Laurel T” wrote about in her review will be the norm in the new neighborhood, and that the VFW Outpost thrives by opening its doors to anyone and everyone, plying one and all with inexpensive drinks. Further, Zucchet implies that the reason the outpost has struggled to find a new location is precisely because of the assumption of a rowdy and disruptive nature.
Not true says Vic Tulsie, quartermaster of VFW Outpost 1392. The VFW is open for members only, and is not open to the public. Only those who have served in combat operations on foreign soil are eligible to become members. Members are allowed to bring a guest, but those guests may only remain on the premises as long as their host does.
The scene encountered by “Laurel T” was likely one of those very rare occasions when the VFW did open their doors to the public, which includes the annual OB Street fair that takes place on Newport Ave. where the VFW Outpost was located. It was just one of the many businesses to participate in the festivities. Such occasions are sure to be even rarer at the new location since it is far removed from where the fair is held.
Tulsie and his fellow veterans have invited the neighborhood to a meeting at the new outpost at 4705 Pt. Loma Ave. at 5pm today (Fri. Jan 28th). Those concerned are encouraged to come and speak directly to the VFW members and air their concerns. Among those expected to attend are Councilman Faulconer and a representative from Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office.
Tulsie has also requested that representatives from the San Diego Police Department attend and answer questions from the neighbors. Tulsie is concerned that the former location—in the alleyway next to the Apple Tree—has given the community the wrong impression. Police are often seen in that alley dealing with transients who are usually mistaken as having come from the VFW outpost. The officers in attendance, Tulsie said, are expected to reassure the community that the calls they have responded to in the alley have not been related to activity at the VFW, and that they have had no problems associated with the VFW.