200 Ocean Beach Residents Gather for “Respect OB” Forum

by on April 25, 2012 · 29 comments

in Culture, Environment, Homelessness, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Popular

Over 200 OB residents gather to offer respect. Photo by Dave Rice.

By Dave Rice / San Diego Reader / April 25, 2012

Well over 200 Ocean Beach residents showed up between the veterans’ memorial and main lifeguard tower at the foot of Santa Monica Avenue on the afternoon of April 24. They were there for an event titled “Respect O.B.,” billed as a forum to open dialogue between neighbors and to address common problems.

“Anyone who comes to live in peace and harmony is welcome, but to be accepted you must respect O.B.,” read a flyer left on locals’ doorsteps and posted at businesses in the days leading up to the event.

Attendees found three large maps of the neighborhood and were invited to write their names and contact information near their residences (or on a more discreet list alongside).

“We’re here because O.B. takes issues to the streets,” said event organizer Andy Taubman, who owns a computer business in the neighborhood. The idea for the gathering arose from a subcommittee of the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association, a local business group.

“We don’t like O.B. dirty; we like O.B. funky,” said Taubman, who listed concerns that range from bicycle theft and irresponsible dog owners to a recent stabbing in an alley near the commercial district.

Pat James, longtime community resident, businessman, and an organizer of many events that have become O.B. hallmarks (such as the O.B. Christmas parade and Fourth of July fireworks), also spoke to the crowd: “I really want us to be able to retain that laidback reputation and not get uptight,” James said, seemingly referring to an escalation of conflict and aggression in recent years, characterized in part by an anti-homeless sticker design that split the community.

Mike Hardin, proprietor of Hodad’s burger restaurants, said that confronting offensive behavior in a courteous manner has yielded the best results during his years of running a local business. “You can’t expect respect if you don’t give it right off the bat,” Hardin told community members.

Taubman made sure to clarify that targeting the homeless population was not the purpose of the assembly: “This is not about homelessness. By the time we find crime, they’ve already experienced it…respecting O.B. is respecting them. How do we make it better? We talk.”

The gathering dispersed after a moment of silence in recognition of the stabbing victim, thanks were given to lifeguards and fire and police personnel for their service, and a chant of “People power!”

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Gary Gilmore April 25, 2012 at 10:57 am

I thought it went off well. It was respectful, peaceful and it rallied the neighborhood in a very positive way. My hat goes off to Andy Taubaman & all the others who share a passion for OB. Thank you.


avatar Christine Schanes April 25, 2012 at 11:13 am

The RESPECT OB effort certainly raises a number of issues and questions.

“We don’t like O.B. dirty; we like O.B. funky,” said Taubman,

Question: who is to say what is “dirty” and what is “funky.” Or “will you know it when you see it?”

Is this enough of a standard for conduct? Or is it no standard at all?

What would provide clear standards for conduct for preventing OB from being dirty? How about our existing laws?

For example, we do have clear laws about littering.

Why not just enforce the laws we have?

Why not make our laws our standard of conduct?

If the laws are not clear, they can be challenged in a court of law for being vague. Personal opinions are not subject to court review.

If the laws are insufficient to keep OB from being dirty, pass better laws.



avatar allthink April 25, 2012 at 12:50 pm



avatar La Playa Heritage April 26, 2012 at 1:13 am

Take it you did not attend the lovely gathering of neighbors.


avatar OB Dude April 26, 2012 at 8:52 am

Great idea…. future events should be a gathering of neighbors. Fun and laughter, make new friends.


avatar allthink April 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I attended…Christine’s ramble was on par with a Chris Robinson bender.


avatar jim grant April 25, 2012 at 11:36 am

Interesting remarks from a very positive upbeat Community organized event:

Dirty would mean : soiled as with dirt or unclean.
Funky would mean : Original
My GED came in handy on this one Editor Dude!
As far as laws go i think maybe you missed the part where we all have a responsibility to speak up when we see blatant obvious littering or someone doing something that negativity affects the community.

Pass more laws for littering is what you took home from the Respect meeting …really ….Dave I asked SDPW for a crowd count they came back with right about 300….


avatar Frank Gormlie April 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm

The official OB Rag head count is 250. I did it about 5 minutes before it started.


avatar Molly April 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm

If the “official OB Rag head count is 250”, why does the headline say “200”? Just asking?


avatar jim grant April 25, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Great correction , just sayin what the SDPD told me. Will take your word for it I guess you own the blog.


avatar Frank Gormlie April 26, 2012 at 12:19 pm

SDPD crowd estimates are often wrong. I know this from experience of comparing what they report to the media and my own counts over the years at progressive events in OB and San Diego. They do “estimates” whereas we actually do a head count. The OB Rag has a solid history of accurately portraying numbers in rallies, marches, meetings and forums. This is not a big deal.


avatar dave rice April 26, 2012 at 2:10 pm

For the record, I had pegged the crowd at 250-300 (no joke, that’s what I scribbled in my notebook), which would be in line with Frank’s count, if he got 250 before the start and a few more trickled in. It would also be in line with SDPD’s estimate of 300.

Since I didn’t have an exact count – it’s not like people were going through turnstyles or anything – I conferred with one of my editors at the Reader and we agreed that “well over 200” would be an appropriate way to describe the turnout.

Hope that clears up any confusion, folks…


avatar Mercy April 25, 2012 at 12:42 pm

So sorry I missed this, my band had rehearsal. Any talk of when the next one is??


avatar OB Mercy April 25, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Weird….I didn’t put my OB moniker on here and my pic didn’t show up…..


avatar OB law(yer) April 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm

“The idea for the gathering arose from a subcommittee of the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association, a local business group.”

So this group is funded by the OBMA right? or just a spin off… Can we get some clarity? If the OBMA is using grant (taxpayer) money for said little project…we’d all like to know about it.

Stickers and fliers distributed all over OB….in an election year….Sounds a little more like one of those here-today…..gone tomorrow… election year groups designed to drag out the moderate voter and get them temporarily ‘involved’ in the community – in order to better facilitate future marketing for campaigning.

Yes….I’m a jaded old bas**ard, but people don’t put that kind of effort into anything without something to gain from it. And it usually centers around campaigning.

This group will prove me right when they sell their email list (or heck…just give it away) to the candidate most likely to support their interests (IE….small businesses I guess) — which is likely…..dum da dum dum….

Hey if any of you signed up on the list. Let us know when you start getting emails…and what they are about.

Really??? Dog poop and littering? Being mean? Such lofty goals for a community.

C’mon folks….you gotta be smarter than this stuff.


avatar Christopher Dotson April 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I will continue volunteering for positive actions. While it is great to see so many are concerned, little was presented, nor was it seemingly intended to present, how words can be converted into actions and organized efforts to promote positive efforts. For example, I recently wrote an article to recognize the actions of some church folks conducting a street cleanup, among other examples of how OBceans work together in proactive leadership. Many others have written about various efforts to share ideas and seek real, positive changes. My hope is all such efforts become more frequent, along with forums for discussion and promoting more wide spread positive actions.

The speakers last nite were great and shared a lot! Gathering names of proactive people is good,too. And sending 200 people of good will off with an attitude of generating more on the ground excitement is great! The send off instilled visions of how scores of ‘shiners will be playing billards and high-fiving each other while proclaiming RespectOB.
What happens after that?

Like most of these efforts, it is up to us to develop and make a positive change.
I suspect some have more in mind for this on-the-grass-townhall and we may hear more. The flyer declares things like consensus and how to be accepted, but how are those carried out? What laundry list of good and bad behavior will be used to draw upon?
What if I only score 9 out of 10? Is Zimmerman the enforcer we have in mind?

Or will this be more election year crap, as some suggested? Will it become a tool for some to further divide our residents? Or will it spark more informed decision making? The short list of problems to be solved provides no clue as to cause and effect, nor does it point to positive solutions which can sustain change, which is a bit surprising since these problems are well known and not recent or new phenomena.


avatar Jack April 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Okay, I made my list today and called the police and they laughed, so maybe you can tell me what to do.

7:15 p.m. (last night) Ten cars passed without stopping to let me cross the street at Saratoga Ave and Sunset Cliffs Blvd. Despite a flashing light, a sign, and big yellow cross walks painted in the street. That was illegal and not very respectful.

12:05 p.m. An older couple in an older car backed up and almost hit me on Bacon St, near Sunset Cliffs. That was illegal and not very respectful.

12:07 p.m. A guy jay-walked on Newport Ave. talking on his cell and I had to stop so I would not hit him. That was illegal and not very respectful.

12:20 p.m. A Fed-ex truck was double parked on Santa Cruz, at Bacon and I had to drive into oncoming traffic to get around him. That was illegal and not very respectful.

3:45 p.m. Driving back into OB from the I-8 four people cut in front of me without signaling causing me to brake to avoid an accident. That was illegal and not very respecful.

3:55 p.m. Several people just wandered across the intersection in front of me at Abbott and Newport coming and going from the Farmer’s Market, despite four-way stop signs (which apply to pedestrians as well). That was illegal and not very respectful.

3:57 p.m. A van was stopped double-parked blocking traffic in front of the Post Office. When I politely tapped my horn, she (the driver) flipped me the bird. That was illegal and really not very respectful.

So where I am suppose to report all these illegal activities and disrespectful activities….Oh nevermind…I did not read the full article closely enough. All these people were clean…you have to be dirty, disrespectful and illegal.

No wonder the police laughed at me.

In Peace, Jack


avatar Emily April 25, 2012 at 5:48 pm


Just based off most of these responses, we’ve got long way to go.


avatar OB Dude April 25, 2012 at 6:04 pm

“WHO”? is this group…the website says nothing http://www.respectob.com/category/uncategorized/

I hope there will be more comments concerning the meeting and goals for this group. Is this group asking for money?

Good points addressed in the article and comments above. Here a few from me:

1. As Christine pointed out – There all ready are laws. Tons of them! If they would just be enforced.

2. Were the maps there to organize “crime watch”?

3. Dirty OB…will there be clean up days? Does this include getting the RV’s, empty trailers and boats off our streets?….drive down Famosa Blvd where kids walk to school each day and see what’s parked there.

4. We have alot of bars and liquor stores and the ABC and city of San Diego keep issuing more licenses here, WHY?

5. Will the bars agree to close early? Less drunks, less crime, less police needed, more quiet, etc. etc.

6. Will this group stay out of politics and NOT endorse candidates?

7. Jack, I am with you! No longer do people stop and let you cross the street. People are speeding down our streets. Where are the radar guns to slow things down? I have never seen anyone in OB get pulled over for going through a cross walk.

Without enforcement of our currrent laws it all seem like a lot “talk”. Sorry to not have faith in changing behaviors of people. Today it’s the “ME” attitude. Without monetary penalities I am doubtful any improvements will come.

Prove me wrong! I will be ok with that.


avatar Molly April 25, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Like all things in life, this “Respect OB” is dialectical. That is, it contains within itself as a collective movement of neighborhood residents, businesspeople, and city employees positive and negative aspects and potential positive and negative results. One negative aspect, for example, is the potential for vigilantism. One positive aspect, is the lowering of community angst over problems that individually appear unresolvable.

Although it is true that the main speaker gave us an easy unity – that is – we’re all against stabbings, graffiti, and dog poop – he and the other speakers – all very genuine and good-hearted people – reminded us of OB’s traditions, history, and place in the world – as a place apart, “weird”, different from the rest of San Diego, and that OB residents take our/ their issues “to the streets”.

We’ll see where it goes. It was obvious that this was more than just a grass-roots effort, as there is money supporting this: the T-shirts, maps, decals, banner, more T-shirts, sound system. And as this was a project that “evolved” out of the merchants’ association committee on safety and crime, there is clearly an emphasis on crime, “funkiness”, and let’s thank the public employees who work for us, and let’s understand how we must make the community clean for the tourists – who all wish they could live here, and we’re so lucky to live in, or at least have businesses here.

Over-all, I felt the gathering was a positive experience. The tenor of the event with regards to the homeless, was two-sided. The OB RAg and its editor, the churches and individuals like Glen Frank – who are all well known, I believe, as “home-less advocates” were called out from the stage several times in totally sympathetic and supportive ways.

There was a plea that the homeless be respectful towards the community – but no one mentioned the drunks who stagger out of the bars at 2am, and do their business on the way home.

There was a public thanking with applause to the different groups of city employees who serve the community: the lifeguards, the firefighters, the park and rec folks “who clear up after us”, and even the police officers who do put their lives on the line for us (so do the firefighters and lifeguards, and those poor people who have to clean the public restrooms at the lifeguard station). No mention of how the police can over-react like they did a year and half ago during that naked swimmer incident. And why should there be? It was a gathering of good feelings.

There was a reference to gentrification, which is definitely a problem. No mention of high rents, and empty storefronts.

Yet the people who spoke are community treasures: Tracy – a young military woman who had her bike stolen but continues to live here; Pat James saying he arrived here when he was in his early twenties and now he can almost quality for Denny’s senior meal – a good hearted person if there ever was one; Mike Hardin of Hodad’s – who was told that unless he finished high school – he didn’t he said – he would never “amount to anything.” And Talfolla – whose own kids were playing on the stage before the speeches – which is 3 generations of his family and who had helped make OB famous.

The challenge is to take this energy without it being abused to keep OB the way it has been and the way it is: laid-back, tolerant, righteous, anti-authoritarian, innovative, imaginative, anti-establishment, cool, steeped in self-help and self-improvement, culturally on the front lines, and COMPASSIONATE.


avatar OB law(yer) April 26, 2012 at 11:59 am

Molly….thanks so much for the added clarity. Seems like you’ve hit the nail on several issues here. “more than just a grass roots effort” and “we’re all against stabbings, graffiti, and dog poop”

So that I’m absolutely clear….homelessness was indeed one of the issues discussed right? Let me guess…..those pesky aggressive young panhandlers and backpackers were NOT discussed…..although maybe inferred?

thank you for your detailed account for all of us less mobile folks


avatar OB Joe April 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Wow, molly! That’s a mouthful! A couple of things I’d like to mention:
One, I think the public recognition of the public workers as you mentioned is a very good thing – it certainly goes against the extremist rightwing mantra of “privatize public services” ala Carl Demaio.

And besides a few guys on the fringes of the gathering, there weren’t any homeless people visible or on the stage speaking.


avatar Pat April 25, 2012 at 8:32 pm

First of all Molly, thank you for the kind words.To others who question our motives. I only got involved a couple weeks ago when I was asked to speak at this event. I agreed to do so only after finding out the approach was going to be positive with no finger pointing , name calling or blaming any one faction of the community for the issues we are faced with. My understanding is this evolved from crime prevention meetings, that I believe may be a subcommitte of the OB Mainstreet Assn. As far as I know no OBMA funds were used for anything regarding this gathering. The t-shirts were purchased by one of the speakers, with an effort to sell them to cover the cost. The cost of flyers and stickers were paid for by some of the organizers who have businesses in OB who are willing to give back to the community. My motivation is all about OB and nothing political, and I believe this to be the case with the others. Whether we accomplished anything or not has yet to be seen, but I do believe some healing went on, and some are seeing OB in a better light.


avatar jim grant April 25, 2012 at 8:47 pm

The event was well done , very well done ….it is all about baby steps …..This was a great first step. Thank s to the organizers and all the speakers. I just wish the SDPD, SDFD and Lifeguards were brought front and center for a few seconds. Maybe at the next Respect OB Community Meeting.
Thanks again.


avatar OB law(yer) April 26, 2012 at 11:51 am

Pat – we all know you as an honest player and your presence in this group brings it some validity…but in your own words you state “only got involved a couple weeks ago”.

If a group has been working to form for so long, how could they have a rally, stickers, shirts, a WEBSITE, an email list and so on…. and still not have an end in mind.

Sorry if that brings out the skeptic in me. Like I said…. I’m a jaded old guy who has seen these groups come and go over the past 40 years and it doesn’t look new to me.

It hasn’t been denied though that the fliers clearly say on them “An OBMA Thingy”…which leads anyone who can read to believe that the OBMA is either sponsoring it or at least behind it?

The further skepticism comes from the fact that the crime prevention committee of which your refer has been extremely vocal in anti-homeless, transient and traveler opinions in the past…. essentially pinning all of the woes of OB on those folks… and the shoe may or may not fit – since I’m not defending them – but no one will deny that people coming from any one of the 70+ bars or alcohol serving establishments in OB may also bear some of the blame for these issues of litter, public pottying, noise, vandalism and of course….the recent stabbing.

So, we who do not know the names of the people to which you are referring to in your post, and who you clearly aren’t divulging either… are just asking the questions.

Who is this group? What are their goals? What do they want us OBceans to do in order to help? That’s all…


avatar Gary Gilmore April 26, 2012 at 4:39 pm

A) This group is an offshoot of the Crime Prevention Committee which is a sub committee of the Economic Restructuring Committee of which I am chair. This group received NO FUNDS from the OBMA. The fliers, banners and T shirts were paid for primarily by Andy Taubman and Noah Tafolla. Others may have contributed as well. The Crime Prevention Committee does not target the homeless. They have made a point of targeting BAD BEHAVIOR.
B) & C) Their goals is to make the residents of Ocean Beach aware and of bad behavior and to speak up, in what ever manner they see to be appropriate, when they see it. It’s really very simple.


avatar OB law(yer) April 27, 2012 at 11:57 am

Thanks Gary.

That helps to connect the dots.

Please excuse my over-curiosity on the matter. I just like to know the facts before I determine my position on issues.


avatar Gary Gilmore April 25, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Pat & Jim… Well said. It’s true. No OBMA money was spent. The speakers paid for everything, banners, fliers, T Shirts etc. Let me add that there was no political motive. We back no one. The names WILL NOT BE SOLD. It was purely about the community. My hat goes off to all who participated and attended and to all who can accept the event for what it was meant.


avatar Frank Gormlie April 26, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Thanks Gary for the clarification. But ain’t this grand? Actual discussion of OB issues.


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