OB: Put down the bong, put away the surfboard, close the laptop – your community needs you now.

by on April 25, 2011 · 25 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Popular

by OB Joe

The editors of this here blog liked my comment from the other day so much, they asked me to put together an entire article, so here goes.

I was responding to an article about how the youth need to step up and help save the OB Library. This is so true!

You may not realize it but the people who have been working to support and save the Ocean Beach branch are no spring chickens.  These wonderful folks are in their sixties, 70’s even, and some are in their eighties!

And they are mobilizing to save our library from Mayor Sanders’ budget axe, and they are collecting signatures on petitions.  Just wait until you’re that old and you’ll see how much energy it takes just to collect signatures and hold a clipboard. Well, we can’t wait that long, dudes and dudettes.

We need to act now.

We need a rally to focus what is happening with our library.  We need a rally to highlight what is potentially going to happen to our library: its CLOSURE!  We need a rally to bring media and community attention to these drastic and draconian planned cuts.  Councilman Faulconer has already told the OB Rag that he will help sponsor such a rally.  But it has to be organized by the PEOPLE OF OB.

We need the young people of Ocean Beach to step up. So, ….

Put down that bong, put away the surfboard, and close the laptop – OB needs you now.

Ocean Beach needs its young people, its youth. Ocean Beach needs you to attend a meeting this Saturday at noon in front of the Library to plan a rally.  That’s Saturday, April 30.


{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar OB Joe April 25, 2011 at 2:19 pm

And no one over 30 will be allowed ! (Just kidding, you paranoids!)


avatar Terrie Leigh Relf April 25, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Sage words. . .On any given day when I’m at the library, I notice a wide range of individuals–everyone from mothers with bundled babies and toddlers to 20-somethings and beyond.


avatar Rick Ward aka mr.rick April 25, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Take a page from those old folks’ youth and get a couple of Conga players and people can just follow the sound to the rally. Just like when we stopped the stinking jetty. Some of the oldsters might get some spring in their step.


avatar call me thrifty April 26, 2011 at 8:17 am

I’m all for having access to Libraries, but with that being said there are two public libraries with 1.4 miles of each other. Excessive?


avatar Frank Gormlie April 26, 2011 at 9:22 am

Yeah, but think of all the people who walk to the OB Library. Have you even been to both the OB and Point Loma libraries?


avatar call me thrifty April 26, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Yes, I have.


avatar Brenda McFarlane April 27, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Drove by the library today. There were three people reading on the grass. Four rolled up sleeping bags neatly left at the door, presumably owned by people inside the library. I wondered what they would say about the OB Library being excessive or about the open hours being whittled down to 18.

It seems clear to me and I wonder why others don’t see it the same way. Isn’t our ability and desire to provide education through schools and libraries to all our people, no matter their socio-economic status, a measure of our civilization? Don’t we all wish we lived in a world where there was a danger of having too many libraries?

Obviously libraries are one of my sacred cows (others include public transportation and education) so I don’t think being thrifty is appropriate with something this important. I say let’s agree to pay enough taxes to cover the costs of our library. I want to live in a society that values these things more than we value our cappuccinos, gas guzzlers, private schools, iPads and all the other things less important until we can afford our most important social responsibilities like libraries and public education. Reading and learning should have no economic or social barrier.

I think we should rally to raise taxes. Don’t tell me we can’t afford it. We just don’t want to afford it.


avatar annagrace April 26, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I was at the OB library rally three years ago to protest the proposed closure and heard from many people who attended that they relied on public transportation. Many of those people were elderly. Traveling by bus to the Point Loma library was described as a physical hardship and restrictive in availability. I attended a similar rally at the Beckworth branch, which was also slated for closure. Parents there expressed grave concern about the safety of their children walking to a library a little over a mile away. Many of these parents also lack cars.


avatar call me thrifty April 26, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Well I say it again that I’m all for access to libraries. I have used the library many times myself and would like it to stay there. There are sacrifices being made all over the community and it stinks, but there is another Library that is also newer and bigger and very close to this one. Taking the 923 bus 1.4 miles only takes 14 minutes and cost seniors $1.25. I don’t know many people that would classify that as a hardship and I think it’s a very small price to pay for free access to a library. And as far as parents not wanting their kids to walk more than one mile to a library, then we would need a library every mile? Or maybe parents could walk, ride a bike, or take the bus with there kids? There are options people.


avatar annagrace April 26, 2011 at 3:38 pm

And there is also the option of calling out politicians for disproportionately cutting libraries in comparison to all the other general fund departments. When they start talking about sharing the pain, it means that certain groups end up “sharing” an inordinate amount of the pain.


avatar OB Mark April 27, 2011 at 7:43 pm

The on-foot round trip from OB to Pt. Loma library is around an hour for a healthy person. If you’re not a senior the RT bus trip will cost you $4.50 and eat about 40 minutes (city says 29 min traveltime) of your time figuring average waiting. And if you want to go with your partner there goes $10.

Without nattering on about how OB is in a matrix of services and recreation venues in a walkable community, and that other brand of library is isolated – here are some annoying numbers that we used to make this argument in 2008 to the City Council, Keven Faulconer, and anyone who would sit still long enough.

That is: Although the oldest branch library in the city – per square foot and operating the OB Library is one of the most used and most efficient libraries in the city.

It’s our community, our learning way of life, and our heritage. Keep it that way.


The numbers…

[These are from 2008, but OB Library circulation has only increased since then.]

We were able to get circulation, floor area, and operating hours for 23 of 35 branch libraries.

Although Ocean Beach is in the bottom quartile of branch circulation for the entire San Diego Library System; in our sample of 23 known branch library metrics Ocean Beach Branch ranked a 18th of 23 in floor area, but 5th highest in books circulated per square foot per operating hour.

Most branches are open 41.5 hours per week but some are 45.5. Where the hour/area metrics for the branches are known, we’ve adjusted the sq ft to circulation ratio to reflect operating time per square ft.

In the following comparison, all metrics except exact operating costs are known. It can be assumed Pt. Loma costs more to run, besides being 6 times smaller – Ocean Beach doesn’t even have air-conditioning and doesn’t require a security guard.

Ocean Beach Branch Operating cost: NA (officially…)
Circulation: 102,000 books from 4,579 ft2 in 41.5 hours / week
Ratio of book circulation per square foot:
Ocean Beach: 102000+ books, 4,600 ft2 = 22.3 books per square foot

Pt.Loma Hervey Operating cost: NA
Circulation: 224,000 books from 24,750 ft2 in 45.5 hrs / week
Ratio of book circulation per square foot:
Pt. Loma: 224000 books, 24,745 ft2 = 8.2 books per square foot

Ocean Beach circulates over two and one half times more books per square foot of space than Pt. Loma Hervy at a much lower cost per book.

In the absence of hard numbers, we estimate that Ocean Beach achieves that level of efficiency at about one-fourth the cost – without trying to factor in endowments or security or onyx tile polish.


Curtailing the Ocean Beach Library hours is a false economy, will adversely affect the integrated community structure idealized by city government, and is just dumb. We need our local library more than ever.

Thanks for your forbearance


avatar call me thrifty April 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Finally! Some numbers and logic on why we need to keep this Library. If we want to keep it then this is exactly what we need to mount a defense. Thank you for the incite Mark. I think a fundraiser also wouldn’t hurt and having volunteers work at the Library might not be a bad idea. If our community wants it then our community should help pull the weight.

Oh by the way, I think I could hop on one foot and make it there and back in less then an hour!


avatar RB April 26, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Too bad these good arguments about safety, public transportation, service for the elderly and children were not raised when we decide to spend $185M on one downtown library rather than on the branch system. Children will have to walk eight plus miles to get to that building downtown. It would have been nice to spend 1-2M on the OB library.


avatar annagrace April 26, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Too bad that internecine warfare- pitting one part of a cash strapped department against another- is your “argument.” C’mon RB, you know full well that the new central library utilizes $80M of downtown redevelopment funds that cannot be spent, by redevelopment law, outside of the downtown area. Nor can the $20M in state library funds be used for any other purpose. It is a diversionary tactic and erroneous to suggest that the branches are getting shortchanged because of the new central library, or the existing one, for that matter.

The whole library department is getting shortchanged because the debt service on the convention center expansion and petco park have been sucked out of the general fund budget. The port district and ccdc are now assuming or going to assume this debt for a limited period of time. The general fund is also paying for qualcomm stadium obligations. And it looks the mayor and his closest best friends are still talking about a new charger’s stadium.

The library budget has been sacked and pillaged but not by the new central library plan.


avatar RB April 27, 2011 at 8:00 am

The children and the elderly adults that can’t make it to the Point Loma Library are not going to the downtown library. Arguing physical hardship and restrictions in availability for the 1.5 mile trip to the Point Loma Library while not seeing the same problems for a 8-10 mile trip downtown, seems inconsistent.

As for child safety, I would let my son or daughter go to either the Point Loma or OB libraries without adult supervision, but not to any downtown library.


avatar Shane Finneran April 27, 2011 at 10:15 am

why RB? has kidnapping at the downtown library has spiraled out of control? worried that someone will knife your kid to get to that Harry Potter book first? too much risk in a potential encounter with someone from outside of your ethnic/financial comfort zone? is it possible that overprotective parents do more harm to their kids than the real world ever would?


avatar RB April 27, 2011 at 6:42 pm

So you don’t have any kids, Shane?
Your comments may be an attempt at humor but are ignorant of recent San Diego History.


avatar Shane Finneran April 27, 2011 at 6:52 pm

I’m ignorant of why you’d be afraid to let your kids visit “any downtown library.” I’ve certainly heard of the story in that link. A tragedy. Is it in some way connected to a library?


avatar Danny Morales April 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm

The fact that I’m writing this from the Ocean Beach COMMUNITY Library speaks to my point directly. The strategy of (disaster) capitalism has been to eliminate the financial infrastructure of local grassroots democracy. Local business associations that become a link in a national chain fail to work against the interests of the locally owned businesses. Local planning groups are whip-sawed into kowtowing to the real estate industry and a cultural blame the victim mentality replaces entire populations of people. As has been said before, the city as an incorporated municipality is fundamentally opposed to the very ideal of Ocean Beach. And incorporated capitalism is fundamentally opposed to the ideal of local community. And who’s got the gold? And who makes the rules?


avatar annagrace April 27, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Hey Danny- one more reason to love the library- it connects you to us! You are right about disaster capitalism. I think the intent is not only to eliminate grassroots democracy but to break government by starving it of revenue. The city council finance committee debated outsourcing a number of city functions today. Those deliberations are on some kind of a weird fast track. One of those functions is the consumer call center for the water department. Can you imagine calling a number to ask a question and getting somebody in Mumbai?
Good hearing from you Danny.


avatar Danny Morales April 28, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Anna-Yes, after years of outsourcing and contracting to minimize labor costs I can imagine just about anything. But to OB Joe’s point of involving the youth in community struggles, I think the concept of a youthful involvement in community has been subject to manipulation of material conditions over time as well as the errors of our ways. The guy playing video games on the computer next to me and the father/son on the computers behind me will just go along with the flow until there is no longer any public sector (other than the national security state). Just a “free market” that give them the illusion of freedom as choice. As long as we don’t see an immediate threat to our personhood as property then a critical mass is beyond imagination. What youth does participate is to be treasured as well as trained from our experience, strength and hope. Sometimes just being here is enough.

Peace and Love,


avatar annagrace April 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I hear you Danny. Do you think the guy playing video games and the father/son would be inclined to do something if there were a sign on the door stating that the mayor has proposed a reduction of hours? The library web page doesn’t inform the public either. I would like to believe that the people around you do care, but they only find out about what is happening after the fact, when the lights are off and the library door is closed. We are bombarded by information. We have a library system that will tell you everything about the avocado except why and give you information on Seaworld and how to get there. Yet there is nothing, nothing at all to tell all the people who use libraries that they are under attack. Shameful. This is a part of the problem too.
Truth, Justice and Beauty, Anna


avatar Frank Gormlie April 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Good to hear from ya, Danny. We miss you.


avatar FaustinoHartvigsen March 28, 2015 at 2:31 am

Yes, I am agree with you, It’s our duty to save our library.


avatar PL Local March 28, 2015 at 10:33 am


But nice board covers. And free shipping from AU.


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