By Matthew Wood
A longtime Ocean Beach resident is facing up to 16 months in jail and $3,300 fine for a felony vandalism charge he says stems from a simple case of trimming nearby bushes. Problem is, the bushes are on City property – property on strips of land right next to and near the OB Pier, including some strips of land along “Surf Check Alley”.
Vince Adame, who owns three different properties near the end of Niagara Avenue – a couple of cottages from the Pier, says he has been trimming the New Zealand Christmas Bushes and cleaning up the area across the street on property. And he has been doing this with a neighbor, who lives in New York. A lot of what Adame does is pick up the debris and garbage left by homeless people who sleep in the canopies provided by the larger bushes. [Ed.: original post erroneously cited Adame as believing property belonged to a neighbor; Adame has known it was city property.]
When he saw police officers inspecting the area in late October, he feared the worst.
“I thought they found a body,” he told me outside his residence late Friday. The area is a haven for homeless people to sleep and litter. When he was told what they were looking at, “I told the officer, ‘I trimmed those trees.’”
A month later, he got a letter in the mail saying he violated Penal Code 594, which outlaws defacing, damaging or destroying property. Adame says the six plants he’s accused of damaging or destroyed were valued at $499 apiece, making the violation a felony offense. He disputes the cost of the plants. “I found them in Ramona for $70.”
Adame, who has lived at the property for 13 years, believes the case is being pushed forward because of his run-ins with the San Diego Parks and Recreation Department. “I ride them hard” on local issues with the neighborhood, he said.
He is required to go through felony booking on Sunday, the 17th, a normal procedure, then will have to decide his next steps. He has retained a lawyer and awaits the progression of his case – and he isn’t happy.
Here’s the Channel 6 report.