UPDATE: The Benches Have Been Returned! (See most recent post.)
As Turko Picks Benches Up, Other TV Station Now Doubts Whether They Were Even “Legal”
While politicians dally in Washington DC, while unemployment rises, social security threatened, and things economically don’t appear to be improving, one little story from Ocean Beach just won’t go away. It’s the story about the two memorial benches removed or stolen from a bluff at the end of Del Mar Avenue earlier this month. There’s new updates and a new wrinkle purported by a San Diego television station.
First the updates:
- Police are releasing the two memorial benches today, Wednesday.
- Michael Turko of “Turko Files” – the consumer watchdog on KUSI – will TODAY be picking up the benches from the junk yard where they’ve been kept since their removal and theft. This was confirmed by Turko himself to me just a little while ago. They will either be returned to the families and/or replaced later this week.
- Also, Tony Manolatos of Councilman Kevin Faulconer’s office assured me that “Kevin wants the families to have their benches back.” If the benches now need new permits, Tony said, Faulconer’s office will be assisting in that regard. “The benches are community assets.” I asked Tony who should pay for their re-installment, and he replied, “The guy who had them removed.” He was referring to Robert Bryson, a neighbor who paid to have them removed and taken to the junk yard.
- San Diego police are filing their report on the incident to the District Attorney’s office today, in addition. Bryson has yet to be charged, and supposedly the police are not making any recommendations.
- Lastly, the OB Planning Board will be addressing the bench issue at their next meeting, Wednesday, August 3rd. According to Board President Giovanni Ingolia, there will be a request from Faulconer’s office for a letter in support for the two benches to be re-placed at the end of Del Mar. This would be in support undergo the permit process to be placed at the end of Del Mar Avenue. Giovanni told me in an email that: “This permitting process in accordance with SDMC 126.0502 (d)(7), the proposed encroachment of the bench in the public right-of-way would require a Site Development Permit and a Coastal Development Permit. This will result in the action for approval to come back to the OBPB, so the day’s action item is simply for a letter of support to proceed with the permitting process.”
Channel 10 News most recent report now alleges that the benches were not even legal. Here is a summary of what the TV station is saying:
- They have new info that casts doubt on whether a crime even was committed.
- San Diego police Sgt. Paul Salas is quoted that they have “not at this point ” determined if there’s a crime. “Our suspect is contending he did nothing wrong,” said Sgt. Salas.
- police are looking into Bryson’s claim that city workers told him on the phone that both benches were there illegally and the city did not have the resources to move them.
- A spokesperson from Faulconer’s said one bench donated in memory of Anthony ‘Butch’ Cappellucci didn’t have a required permit.
- Faulconer’s office also said the other bench for George Story had a permit but now needs a new permit.
In response to this report from Channel 10 News, Michael Turko said, “Nonsense.” Turko, in dismissing this claim from a rival TV station, said:
The benches were given to the people of San Diego and Ocean Beach. They were sitting in the public right of way, they weren’t blocking the public right of way.
He continued by adding that there are procedures for removing something from the public right of way. Bryson didn’t follow them.
I had sent the Channel 10 report to John Story, the son of George Story, who lives in OB and who had the bench for his dad placed by the City of San Diego at the spot on the bluff.
John couldn’t understand why the bench for his dad now needed a permit. “Did Robert.Bryson steal the permit for my father’s bench along with the bench?” he asked. John then stated in an email to the OB Rag:
Why are police reluctant to charge this man with a crime? Robert Bryson clearly removed City property from public land. He has even admitted to that! That is known as theft. Whether the benches were permitted or not, I don’t believe a citizen is entitled to remove any city property from any place.
Mr. Bryson cannot be trusted to provide any accurate information regarding this matter. He will make false statements to save his ass! Is there a record of his interactions with the City? His renegade actions were unlawful. Period.
I find the precedent here to be troubling. If this crime against the citizens of San Diego is unpunished, it will only encourage others to steal public property.
At this moment, John’s questions go unanswered.