I attended the Friday (Jan. 28) night meeting of the residents and the VFW. I stood right beside Andy Cohen (who wrote a post entitled “Pitchforks and Torches for the New Ocean Beach VFW Post” on Jan. 28) and heard the same thing that he heard. At no time did I hear threats; at no time did it turn ugly; and for the most part, it was very orderly as people wanted to vocalize their concerns. My take was 180 degrees different than Andy.
Tonight, February 2, I attended the Ocean Beach Planning Board Meeting.
Since the item of not having the VFW cantina in our neighborhood was not on the agenda – and we all knew it would not be – each person that wanted to speak was given one minute to express their views. There were approximately 30 people in the audience and not everyone spoke.
Those that did were articulate; expressed their concerns about the two schools and church less than 300 feet from the proposed cantina.
The Pastor of the church expressed her concern about parking; the fact that the only public bathrooms are on her site; which, by the way, are side by side with the preschool playground.
Ron stated that he felt that the VFW would be a disruption to the neighborhood; John said his father and grandfather were both vets and he loves them dearly, but he also has 3 small children and he didn’t feel that the cantina would add to the wholesome environment of the neighborhood.
Jim stated that he himself was a vet; his wife’s family has been in Ocean Beach for over 90 years and was concerned about the close proximity of the cantina and schools. He, too, expressed his concern over the lack of parking.
Karen said that her concerns were not based on the VFW – the veterans, particularly, but that the drinking and smoking was not good for our neighborhood. She said that members of the community would be happy to help the VFW seek other accommodations that would be more fitting with the cantina concept.
Patty said that she admires those that are vets; but that it doesn’t give them the right to bring their nuisance into her back yard.
Marie said that she was a businesswoman that opens her establishment at 6:00am. Most of her clientele are women and she is concerned for their welfare. She chose our neighborhood for her business because it is quiet and affords a form of safety for the women.
The board listened quietly; at the end they gave some great suggestions as to the procedure to follow – writing and/or calling the ABC re: the concerns; sending in a petition; file protests, etc.
They enlightened us about the transfer from one site to another for the liquor license. Joyce, a member of the audience that was there for another purpose, informed us that the ABC is so busy right now that they are issuing “interim licenses.” The members of the Board told us that they still would have to be notified if that was going to be done, and to their knowledge, a license transfer has not been requested.
There was no fire or brimstone or torches or pitchforks. Rather, it was a quiet group expressing their concern about a potential problem developing in their neighborhood. Those that are so fired up at the neighborhood reaction need to sit back and ask themselves if they want a bar next door to their homes. (That is literally the case if the cantina is approved.) Not if they want the VFW next door, but if the want a BAR next door.
The fact that this is a veteran’s organization is incidental. That has absolutely nothing to do with the concerns being raised. The concern is with a bar, less than 300 feet from two schools and a church; less that 100 feet from the nearest residence. There is a house for sale and an apartment to rent almost across the street. Would you think twice about buying – or renting it?