Reader Rant: What to Do With Bad Neighbors in a Good Neighborhood?

by on March 18, 2014 · 61 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Environment, Life Events, Ocean Beach

OB Entryway Sign goodBy Anonymous Neighbor

Good Neighborhood, Bad Neighbors.

Living in Ocean Beach on and off for twelve years, I have a unique perspective based on my military experience throughout the world. This area is rich in stories and traditions and has developed a distinct reputation. Fairly or not, inhabitants of Ocean Beach are seen by outsiders as eclectic bunch. As a result, inhabitants of Ocean Beach also need to be accepting of the diversity of background and ideas found here.

I became fully aware of this when I became a permanent home owner in the area, married and started a family here. There are wonderful things to see here in OB like the weekly farmers market and the Christmas Parade, and disconcerting things such as on-street camper habitation and open drug use. I respect that people in OB have strongly differing opinions, but that they still find a way to live next to each other in relative peace.

Sadly, I write this article about those who threaten that peace.

Peace is the freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility. I have seen war close up myself, and know peace is also the freedom from violence. Peace is something I sought after years embroiled in the conflicts of the world. Peace is what I seek for my family to raise our children in the presence of.

Now imagine my dismay after seeking and achieving peace in my neighborhood, a group of renters move in to the property adjacent to mine who only seek to cause chaos and conflict. People who have no care of the community or desire to contribute, but only to drown in alcohol and drugs. They fight amongst themselves with all the impunity of the ignorant, and celebrate from dusk to dawn.

There are many soft hearted people who will read this and make the normal suggestions of communication, parlay, and negotiation. Let me assure you I have tried all of these things, and the result has been continued and increasing aggression and deviation. Does begging a rat to stop spreading disease and cease nesting in your house work? It may hide for a time, but it will return again when your back is turned. So too do our neighbors. Going into hiding for weeks at a time under scrutiny, only to return to bad habits after a time.

So what is a responsible adult to do when dealing with such a problem? Call the Police? To date, 911 has been called on these residents over nine times, four times by our family. Long conversations with the authorities has only illuminated frustrating facts such as: A hostile neighbor waits for your bedroom light to go out, then takes to opportunity to trespass onto your property hanging over your sleeping babies bedroom, spitting and throwing food on her window, while attempting to destroy the security camera placed solely for your child’s safety after threats were made against your family by said intruder. Police respond more than 2 hours later and tell you that there is nothing they can do, as no ‘criminal act’ has occurred. Verbal threats to your life and safety, family and property require an actual weapon to be considered enough for criminal action. Yes, these are factual events.

And what does the rental property owner think? He ignores pleas, concerns and even angry calls fully knowing that nothing can force him into action. Three of the worst renters are his own family who he has sequestered after problems in other communities. To-date, we count eight total renters at this neighboring property.

Can a higher fence help? The adage is “good fences make good neighbors” falls flat in the densely populated and congested living environment we have in Ocean Beach. The city of San Diego limits fence heights to 6 feet (anything higher requires a setback), and no sharp objects (such as barbed wire) can be used that may cause injury to prevent badly intentioned invasion at night. A 6 foot fence is not much protection against a hooligan armed with a ladder, drunk and high on marijuana.

So what is a father in fear for the safety of his family and his family to do? Discussions of moving away have been repeatedly raised. Should responsible owners be forced out by renters who have no decency? I draw on my experience in conflict for an answer; running from bullies only makes them grow bolder. Lack of accountability for their hostilities also emboldens them. One decent neighboring family has already moved away, being too frail to deal with the situation. This member of the community who has actively contributed and lived in that house for 20 years reached the point where she gladly moved away to seek peace elsewhere. Her final thought to me were “Boy, am I glad I don’t have to live next to those [renters] any longer.”

Why do I write the public of my family’s woes and fears? Because I am asking for your help. You. I need you to be a good neighbor.

Have you ever seen or heard something that you know is wrong? Do you see problems around you and hope that someone else deals with it? Do you draw your blinds and hide? Do you see someone arguing on the street and stand idly by? Do you listen to loud domestic arguments and choose to close your ears and turn up the TV? Did you do something about it, or did you ignore it? I have. I chose not to involve myself in the affairs of others in the hopes that peace would soon return.

Now, I face hostility on a level that keeps me in fear. Why you ask? Because Idid call the police. I called the police, and I admitted to it. I called peace officers for help, and after they issued a warning and departed, I had to continue to live next to people that are not afraid of the law or breaking it. And I have been the only person to ask. Herein lies the problem. According to San Diego Police, action against disruptive behavior is based solely on the quantity of calls by three or more neighbors. I know other people have been bothered by the noise and arguments, but have done nothing about it for fear of being the focus of the renter’s ire. I have no doubt that I did the correct thing calling 911 the first time, and second, and third… and so on. After seeing one hostile renter perched over my daughters room in the middle of the night I do begin to wonder why I was the only one making calls.

So I beg of you to be a good neighbor. If you see something, please say something. Do not tolerate those who create chaos. Please help bring OB some peace.

West Point Loma Blvd. home owner, Military Veteran, Loving Husband and Father.

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Catherine March 18, 2014 at 10:50 am

California law allows neighbors to sue a property owner who allows tenants to create a nuisance. The process involves a lot of documentation, calling the police again and again (though I wouldn’t call 911 unless it is an actual life or death emergency), collecting all those police reports and recruiting your neighbors in the case. It’s handled in small claims court and can sue for about $7,500 for every person in your household, including your children. (This is where recruiting neighbors is beneficial because it really drives up the potential cost to the other property owner). The point is not really the money but to get the property owner’s attention and force them to deal with the behavior of their tenants. Have you considered this option? If it’s becoming this much of a problem, it’s worth consulting a lawyer familiar with the process. (I’m not one, but am just aware of this as an option).

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avatar Anonymous Neighbor March 19, 2014 at 10:46 am

Catherine,

Thank you for your suggestion. It has been considered. There is the unfortunate fact that such legal action is excessively expensive due to lawyer fees and court costs, far in excess of any damages awarded. The owner knows this, and has hedged his bet that if he ignores our complaints (the renters are family members of his after all) it is too costly for any individual to shoulder.

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avatar Catherine March 19, 2014 at 1:59 pm

I understand. Even if you can afford the legal cost, the time committment is significant. There is a program supported by police departments called Safe Streets Now that is designed to help residents walk through the process and may help with the legal costs if you are able to use a legal advisor. If drugs are in anyway an issue, you could also contact the San Diego County Alcohol and Drug Prevention to see if they are running this program. It’s certainly worth asking Lt. Stone about. If she’s not aware of it, she should be encouraged to look into it further. http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2007/Jan/03/neighborhood-sues-troublesome-resident-and-wins/

Here’s an instance of someone using it in La Jolla.
http://www.lajollalight.com/2011/03/02/our-view-persistence-pays-off-for-bird-rock-residents/

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avatar PB Resident March 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

To go to Small Claims Court you do not need a lawyer. When we had on-going problems with a neighboring apartment house — mericifully resolved when the bad-actor renters could no longer afford to pay rent during the Great Recession and the building manager started renting to more responsible people who could and would pay — the police recommended we consider suing in Small Claims Court. Instructions are online — Google Small Claims Court, California — and you are in fact not allowed to use a lawyer in court. And yes, you can each sue for about $7K or so, so that if multiple family members and neighbors with enough guts to participate join the suit, the offending owners and renters can suffer a significant financial hit. Good luck! And keep calling the police and documenting every incident with an incident number and photographs.

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avatar Chris March 18, 2014 at 11:23 am

You know, sometimes, the only way to fight fire is with fire. Maybe a dose of what they are throwing out there might be in order? I don’t always agree with the “an eye for an eye” concept, but let’s face it, sometimes it’s necessary! You are military, maybe you have a lot of military friends that want to hang out for a BBQ on weekends? Like big, mean looking military friends, people who you just look at and wouldn’t want to mess with?

I remember when my daughter was being picked on in 3rd grade by this snooty little diva wannabe. I told my daughter to ignore it, and the situation got worse. I finally found the mother of this little “gem” and told her that I was bigger and meaner than she ever could be and that if her little terror didn’t stop harassing my daughter, I was going to harass her and the behavior ceased the very next day. Go figure!

Catherine’s legal option is good too, but it sounds like a lot of work to prove something. If you have all the documentation though, I say go for it.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck to you! My husband and I have had our fair share of horrible neighbors and it isn’t a fun time. My heart goes out to you!

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avatar Anonymous Neighbor March 19, 2014 at 10:59 am

Chris,

Thank you for your support. In consideration of what Catherine said above, “fighting fire with fire” will prove to be detrimental. With the safety of my baby at risk, I also know that provocation may put her in danger again, so I have (unsuccessfully and repeatedly) pleaded with the authorities to help me keep my family safe. I am not only military veteran, but a combat experienced officer. It is not the threat to my life that worries me, but the threat to my baby is unbearable. While every emotional bone in my body cries out for response, I respect the rule of law. Any person can settle for violence, but a moral person seeks justice. Herein lays my conundrum: how do I maintain my morality in the face of those that have none?

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avatar Audrey March 18, 2014 at 12:13 pm

I live on W. PLB as well and am sick of a lot of my neighbors as well. Mostly coming from the Ebb Tide Motel. Where is this house? I am super creeped out. Please email me at AudreyStratton123@hotmail.com

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avatar Tyler March 18, 2014 at 12:14 pm

I’m on the same page as the author. So many people that live here could care less about the actual community. They just like the idea of living/partying in OB. I’m sure it’s an age old problem. The fact is, many of the aspects that made OB OB back in the day just can’t realistically work in 2014.

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avatar Bearded OBcean March 18, 2014 at 2:38 pm

This is really an awful situation. I’m very sorry that you have to deal with this. Unfortunately, OB has become a place where this sort of behavior is not only not condemned, but rather celebrated by a great many people. When the behavior becomes real to any one of us, it becomes personal, and we sympathize; all of us. When that same behavior is seen on the beach or on Newport, or elsewhere throughout OB, the highly permissive attitude of a great many people, including a great many Rag readers, only perpetuates said behavior. Tolerance is all well and good. Unfortunately it can lead to responsible home owners, the kind of people we need in OB, to up and leave. Such a shame.

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avatar Anonymous Neighbor March 19, 2014 at 11:16 am

Mr. Bearded Obcean,

This letter was written with the vain belief that communities decide what behavior is intolerable. Laws are written by people. The law is not protecting my family.
I contribute to the Ocean Beach community in a positive manner, and my family adds value to the area. My appeal for help is in the hope that the community will not turn a blind eye to my plight, and watch impassively.
Several years back I watched a drunk driver attempt to drive off from the scene of a crash he caused on West Point Loma along with 10 other people on the sidewalk. I wrestled with the man to take his keys as he started his engine and tried to drive off. Finally one of bystanders stepped forward (he had nose rings, and large objects in his ears and numerous tattoos) and held the driver’s arms down long enough for me to pull the keys out of the ignition allowing time for the police to arrive.
All it takes to stop something that you know is wrong is for a few good people to step forward and do something about it. I just can’t do it alone with my family’s safety at risk.

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avatar oburntout March 18, 2014 at 4:13 pm

It is so sad when “tolerance” turns into apathy; but that is what it sounds like you have. Some landlords make the rest of us look bad. It takes a community with a backbone to keep this place nice, unfortunately some people are afraid of conflict. I am like you are, I call the police and stand up. One thing that helps the police is taking license numbers and dates and documenting some activity, lets face it law enforcement needs the help of the community. The behavior you describe sounds like drug activity to me; that can be dangerous, document everything you see. I hope the good people prevail in Ocean Beach, I have such doubts; I would like to leave here sometimes too. Peace.

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avatar Geoff Page March 18, 2014 at 4:56 pm

I would think the best avenue is to go after the property owner. One way to do this is to call Code Enforcement. If you can see anything that looks out of place that would involve Code Enforcement, they will come out and inspect and force the owner to spend some money. I’m guessing any owner with that many renters probably has some real problems with the home and would not want Code Enforcement in his house. If you don’t have the required knowledge, you have my e-mail right here.

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avatar Anonymous Neighbor March 19, 2014 at 11:30 am

Mr. Page,

This avenue has been considered. While police response time seems glacial in an emergency situation, the cities response time is even worse. Months to years. Again, the owner’s is related to the renters, and he has balanced the impassiveness of the authorities with the strategy of inaction. I don’t know their entire history, but I know that this isn’t the first time they’ve tangled with the system and slipped away from justice. Thank you for the suggestion.

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avatar Geoff Page March 19, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Well, I have to say that my experience regarding Code Enforcement is different, it has not taken that amount of time. Have you tried them? Code Enforcement has authority of law, it isn’t just any City Department. They are especially diligent if there is a possible safety issue. It’s worth a try as part of the overall effort.

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avatar Katydid52 March 18, 2014 at 5:40 pm

If random people are “wandering” onto your property in the dark, maybe an airsoft handgun with some nice little attention getting pellets might deter them a little.

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avatar Debbie March 18, 2014 at 5:47 pm

I feel for you. There is power in numbers and hopefully you have the support of your immediate neighbors. Sounds like there are quick a few readers of the RAG that are behind you 100%. You can’t bring a six pack over to a bunch of hell raisers and hope that you can make nice with them (especially if you are woman). Seldom can you teach people how to be respectful…sounds like their parents failed in this area.

But if the police aren’t helping, then call Claudia Jack at the OBMA ….she’s got connections or may be able to offer some advice.

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avatar Frank Gormlie March 18, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Claudia Jack was named the “Irish Woman of the Year”.

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avatar Anonymous Neighbor March 19, 2014 at 11:43 am

Debbie,

I believe I contacted Mrs. Jack in January after they made verbal threats at my family, but I will contact her again. Thank you.

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avatar tennyson March 18, 2014 at 7:51 pm

I decided in 1985 one day I retire, leave L.A., move to OB and spend my golden years strolling the surf with my dog, my Nikon, writing my stories…an old lady living happily among the diversity. When I finally did retire in 2008 OB was no longer the peaceful haven I recalled. Stories, comments such as those above leave me once again grateful I choose Loma Portal to call home. I visit OB almost daily -it remains a great place to visit but I wouldn’t wanna live there.

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avatar Gretchen Kinney Newsom March 18, 2014 at 9:05 pm

My family and I went though a similar situation with a frat house across the street. We dealt with it by building stronger relationships with our immediate neighbors (4+ homes), and then taking turns calling the non-emergency police number (619-531-2000) EVERY time there was a noise violation. We also called the landlord many times. The frat finally moved when the landlord was about to incur fines for the noise violations.

I also recommend that you attend the next meeting of the OB Town Council on March 26th at 7pm at the Masonic Center and speak about this during our public comments and or with our SDPD rep. Our public meetings are on the 4th Wednesday every month and regular speakers include local leaders, political, business and law enforcement representatives, as well as members from all corners of the Ocean Beach community. (http://obtowncouncil.org/event/obtc-public-meeting-6/) SDPD Lt. Natalie Stone is a regular attendee and she might be able to provide some assistance and additional enforcement on your block. You can also contact her at nstone@pd.sandiego.gov.

Wishing you the best,

Gretchen Kinney Newsom
President, OB Town Council

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avatar Anonymous Neighbor March 19, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Mrs. Newsom,

I have attended before, and plan to attend again. I have had two phone calls with Lt. Stone about the situation, and she is aware of all events through March 1st.

“Verbal threats to your life and safety, family and property require an actual weapon to be considered enough for criminal action.” California Trespassing Law hinders the police with its loopholes, pathetic penalty and burden of proof.

Worse yet, the renters have been emboldened by repeated non-involvement by police. They terrorize my family in the middle of the night, wait two hours for a patrolman to show up and leave, knowing there is no punishment. The police tell me no contact, no retribution, and the renters see this as a sign of weakness and redouble their harassment.

All I want is peace in my own home, in my own country after so many years spent in danger and conflict.

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avatar obracer March 19, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Go directly to SDPD Headquarters, Lt Stone is the last place to will find solutions.
Avoid her at all costs she is a waste of salary and badge.

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avatar jim grant March 19, 2014 at 6:32 am

The drugs and booze dull the sense of community and responsibility. Some people thrive on the conflict you describe. Kick somebody’s ass or move .
Sad to say it is like the bully in school once you sock him in the nose he realizes he ain’t so tough.

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avatar John Filthy March 19, 2014 at 10:01 am

That’s really bad advice. This is a neighborhood not prison. Sock someone in the nose and you could end up settling a lawsuit for five figures. Whether you kick their ass or not. If anything you want to be the one getting hit.

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avatar CC March 19, 2014 at 11:30 am

I lived in OB for about a year in a back house, in a family neighborhood. Our next door neighbors on the property adjacent to us sounded very similar. Enough complaining by my landlord to their landlord finally got them removed.

enough complaints will get things done, unfortunately it could take a long time.

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avatar Kristoffer Newsom March 19, 2014 at 11:46 am

First of all, thank you for sharing this story. I think it resonates with a lot of us here in OB, especially those of us with families. You are absolutely right to call the police on them, and do recall that anyone who calls the police and states their name and location – that will become public record. You can of course decline to state this information, and you may wish to do so in the future – advise your neighbors of this.

As Gretchen said, building a coalition with your friendly neighbors is crucial. Take turns calling the police, and adopt a zero-tolerance policy for these scumbags. Catch a whiff of ganja? Call. See someone drinking in front? Call. Hear noise after 10PM? CALL. Building that case history from multiple sources is crucial, as has been stated. Fights are dangerous – do not start one. Keep doing what you’re doing, and bring your neighbors on board. If you want to have some big rough dudes around for intimidation factor, I know for a fact that can be arranged – and most of the rough dudes I know will volunteer for such things especially if there’s beer and meat in the deal.

I’m glad to hear that you’ve set up security cameras, and I hope you’ve submitted evidence of vandalism, trespassing, etc to your private property to the police. …but a security camera and the police are NOT going to protect you from those who have a disregard for law and order. Your safety and the safety of your family are your #1 priority, and YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. I’m certain by now you know all too well that the police cannot be relied upon to protect you (when seconds count, they’re minutes away). You MUST protect yourself, and I suggest you take every legal action to do so – including exercising your 2nd amendment rights if you are not prohibited from doing so by law. If your spouse is uncomfortable with firearms, I suggest training her in their safety and use. You cannot be home always, and people under the influence of drugs and alcohol are incredibly unpredictable. If they’re willing to come up to your daughter’s window, you must assume that they could be willing to break it, and come inside. Bars for her window may not be a bad idea, as much as it pains me to suggest. Do NOT use an airsoft gun or paintball gun to “deter” them. This may provoke them into violence, and if all you’ve got is an airsoft gun in your hand you could be putting your lives at risk. Furthermore, you could get into legal trouble for doing something like that, so do not use a weapon unless it’s a real one, and you’ve got a real need, but keep one ready in case it becomes necessary. As a veteran, I’m sure you know far better than I do (having never served in the military) that peace must be protected with force or the implicit threat of force, no matter how much you love peace.

I commend you for standing up for yourself, your family, and our community. I too wish more of us would do the same. When tolerance decays into apathy, cancers like this will grow, and they must not be allowed to do so. You will overcome this, I am confident – and your little part of our neighborhood will be all the stronger for it. I know mine is – and together we will all make our little town safer and better for all of us. Good luck, and be in touch if there’s anything I can do to help.

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avatar Geoff Page March 19, 2014 at 11:57 am

Get a gun? This is your advice? Luckily, this unfortunate guy is ex-military so he knows something about guns and probably doesn’t need your advice but I’d sure hate to see that advice given to someone else who doesn’t know about guns. A gun is not the solution to this guy’s problems, it isn’t the solution to most problems. The only way to solve this problem is to go after the landlord who has an economic interest in this property and a gun will not help that at all. This advice is irresponsible.

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avatar Kristoffer Newsom March 19, 2014 at 12:26 pm

I never said it was the solution, please don’t put words in my mouth. What I said was that his security is his responsibility and advised him to take adequate precautions while pursuing a solution.

Perhaps you missed the rest of my post, wherein I advised him not to start fights, and to build a coalition with his neighbors in order to establish a sufficient police record of issues so that action will be take by the police (or the landlord). Obviously being armed has nothing to do with any of that.

…what it WILL help with is protecting himself and his family if one or more of these jerks decides to escalate their level of retaliation. Even if he has no experience with a firearm, training can (and should be) acquired. As I said, it’s a precaution, and an important one – ask anyone who has ever needed to defend themselves. I fully agree that firearms are not the solution to most problems, but there are some problems that they are the ONLY solution to. For people who do not “know about guns”, that is an easily solved dilemma – learn.

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avatar Geoff Page March 19, 2014 at 12:40 pm

You echoed your wife’s good advice in the second paragraph then said this:

“If you want to have some big rough dudes around for intimidation factor, I know for a fact that can be arranged – and most of the rough dudes I know will volunteer for such things especially if there’s beer and meat in the deal.”

Then you launched into the gun discussion in a long paragraph that made up half of your post. Read your own post, don’t obfuscate now. Taken as a whole, tenor of what you wrote was violent.

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avatar Kristoffer Newsom March 19, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Geoff, I also said, “Do NOT use an airsoft gun or paintball gun to “deter” them. This may provoke them into violence”, ” Fights are dangerous – do not start one.”, and “…do not use a weapon unless it’s a real one, and you’ve got a real need, but keep one ready in case it becomes necessary.”

Nothing I said at all implies or openly suggests any sort of provocative violent action – only to be prepared to defend his family. I did echo an earlier comment regarding having a few rough looking dudes around for intimidation factor, but my intention was for that based only on their presence, not through active intimidation – which is something I certainly advise against. If my original post in that regard was unclear, then I apologize for not being more direct – I can see how that statement could be seen as a suggestion to bully or provoke if taken out of the context of the other things I said. Furthermore, I think that’s likely one of the less useful suggestions, which is why I prefaced it with “If you want”.

Let me again state clearly – I am not an advocate of violence, nor did I advocate violence in my reply, except in the clear defense of himself and his family – something I believe all of us can agree on as an inherent human right. I did wish to remind him that he’s in a dangerous situation and to be prepared – I felt like none of the other posts adequately addressed this, so yes, that warning did make for the largest paragraph in my reply; everything else had mostly been covered.

I’m honestly a little hurt by the notion that you consider pointing out the critical security needs of a situation like this to be of a “violent tenor”. Ensuring his safety and the safety of his family is not “pro-violence”. Heck, it wasn’t even really a “gun discussion” as it was a security discussion, and of course guns are a part of that. I also talked about cameras, evidence, bars on the windows, etc. Was it the very mention of firearms that made you uncomfortable? Are you uncomfortable with guns?

In any case, my intention was not to start a lengthy debate about guns and their usefulness but to draw some attention to his immediate security. There are honestly a lot of red flags in this story, and I’m concerned for their safety.

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avatar Geoff Page March 19, 2014 at 3:41 pm

I am not uncomfortable with guns, I am uncomfortable with the too-prevalent attitude today that guns are the answer for everything. This guy has much more experience with guns than I do, as he has related, and he does not believe that is the answer because guns affect everyone around them. You can point to other things you wrote if you want, but you brought the subject of guns into the discussion, I just felt the need to counter that. Far better than a gun is a good sized dog, and far safer, if you want to recommend protection. But, this guy didn’t need the advice, he needed suggestions on courses of action to solve his problem, which is what most of those who have responded have tried to offer.

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avatar Kristoffer Newsom March 19, 2014 at 6:39 pm

A dog is one of the single best things people can do in most situations to secure their home. If most thieves hear or see evidence of a dog, will just look elsewhere – it was actually going to be my next suggestion, with a couple caveats. Namely, that a big dog is a potential liability issue, and can occasionally escalate a situation when you are actively seeking to do the opposite. …but an excellent precaution, as well as an excellent companion.

I’m honestly quite uncomfortable with the notion that guns are the solution to all the world’s problems as well – and I’m not going to suggest that everyone should be armed all the time. I mentioned it because we have such a stigma against gun ownership here in California, and I would hate to see people suffer because they dismissed the idea out of hand without due consideration, or fear of being looked down upon by one’s peers.

If we want to pick at nits, I could point out that what he was asking for was for community members to do something if they see or hear something – not for advice on any front, though he of course got it from all of us. :)

In any case, there’s far more to this discussion than we can handle on here, I certainly respect your opinion – and hope we have the chance to have a more in-depth discussion about this and other things. Perhaps I’ll bump into you some time at VOSD, or around town.

Cheers,
Kris

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avatar Geoff Page March 20, 2014 at 10:14 am

Yes, dogs can be liabilities but their value far outweighs that issue. And it isn’t just big dogs, little dogs are responsible for more problems than big ones. But, if someone is on your property or in your house uninvited and is attacked by the dog, there is no liability issue.

While there are many vocal anti-gun people here in California, as elsewhere, I would not agree there is a stigma against gun ownership. California has the third largest NRA membership after New York and Texas. Hunting is very popular in parts of the state too. Despite what I have said, I am not completely anti-gun either. But, I still maintain a discussion of guns was not appropriate in this discussion.

I’m sure your comments were well-intentioned; I would just ask that you, and everyone else, be very careful about bringing guns into any discussion, we have enough real gun nuts out there promoting guns and gun ownership to defend against mostly imaginary threats designed just to sell more guns.

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avatar Kristoffer Newsom March 20, 2014 at 5:12 pm

I quite agree that a dog’s values far outweigh their liabilities. That’s one reason we have a dog.

If you don’t think there’s a stigma against gun ownership in California, try asking some gun owners what they think. Just for fun, I did just that this afternoon and over 90% said yes.

We are not talking about “imaginary threats”. The man and his family are being actively and repeatedly threatened by a group of more than five people, who have crossed boundaries, vandalized his home, and shown a clear disregard for law. Meanwhile, the police have basically said that their hands are tied, and furthermore, have left him at their mercy on at least one occasion. If this is not an appropriate time to consider the merits of gun ownership for home security, then I’d honestly like to know – when do you think it is?

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avatar Geoff Page March 24, 2014 at 12:24 pm

California is a very big, very diverse state, to say that there is a stigma against gun ownership in the entire state is an overly broad generalization. California is often subjected to these kinds of comments that do not fit the whole state.

My reference to imaginary threats was a reference to the kinds of things we all hear from gun rights people and from security companies to sell products and from politicians. I did not say this gentleman was subjected to imaginary threats.

And you conclude with what we started this on, your opinion that guns should be a part of this discussion. I’m not going to advise anyone about gun ownership for security, that should be a private matter not subject to a public discussion like this.

avatar Another Anonymous Neighbor May 19, 2014 at 12:07 pm

In a state where medical marijuana is legal, it’s probably unwise to advise calling the police if you “catch a whiff of ganja”. Such a course is likely to engender hostility, whether the smokers are legitimate patients or not.

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avatar Anonymous Neighbor March 19, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Mr. Newsom,

Thank you for your commendation. It is greatly needed an appreciated. Mr. Page is also correct that after seeing what weapons do to someone up close and first hand, I made a very *VERY* difficult decision not to risk my child’s life with having a firearm in the house. I have lived in parts of the world where you must keep firearms ready at all times, and seen Americans who were wounded by weapons. I have seen neighbors kill each other over much less than what has transgressed against me. I do not want to raise my baby in a place like that.

What I see now calls into question my belief that Ocean Beach is a place where the rule of law precludes the need for firearm. My faith is the law is greatly diminished through this experience, and I will not mislead you by saying that my wife and daughter’s safety hasn’t made me wish for the comfort of the tools of war. I have had to face down five of these people in a mob alone, in the middle of the night, over Christmas and keep the situation from spinning out of control. I do realize that I accepted an intolerable amount of danger only relying calm demeanor to defuse the situation, where six armed police officers could not (they came after me when the police departed). So I am appealing to the community for help before something worse does happen. I can vainly hope that the renters appreciate just how much I have restrained myself in this situation. It will be small comfort to my wife and child if something terrible happens to me while trying to protect them.

My wife and I talked about bars on the window, but I don’t want to turn my house into a prison, or a fortress for that matter. See my reasons in the first paragraph.

I am trying to build a coalition, but like I said, we have already lost one very good neighbor who lived two doors down who reached her limit of harassment, and the house stood empty for almost half a year. We have had to bear the burden of the renter’s behavior on our own since they moved out. Again, the culture of “it’s not my problem” has seen many shy away from action for fear they may be embroiled in the terrible situation I find myself in. Part of me doesn’t blame them; I don’t want to be in the situation I find myself in every day.

Your support is greatly appreciated by my entire family.

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avatar Kristoffer Newsom March 19, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Mr. Neighbor,

You are very welcome – you and your family will continue to have the support of myself and mine.

I completely understand the difficulty of the decision you made, as a parent myself, it was not an easy call. I too do not wish to live someplace where people kill one another over trivial matters, but then again, nor do I wish for those I love to be unprotected. I don’t want to live in a prison or a fortress either. It sounds like you have an incredible amount of self-control and patience – I commend you for maintaining your cool through all this. That is no easy task.

Moving away isn’t the right call, as tempting as it may be. This is home. Let’s fix it. As amazed as I am that so often people will bury their heads in fear, I am equally amazed at how contagious courage is. Last few times anything happened in my neck of the woods, the police received several calls for each incident – at least one time before I was even aware of the situation. More people will stand up to these guys – and your appeal to the community will help. You’ve set a great example, I know that others will follow it.

Have you spoken with the landlord? Perhaps a letter written to them and signed by a bunch of other OBecians could help encourage them to give these scumbags the heave-ho. I bet you’d have no trouble at all getting people to support it – I know I’d sign in a hot minute.

Best of luck, and do be safe.

-Kris

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avatar Tyler March 19, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Call the police because you smell ganja? This is OB, not Santee.

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avatar Kristoffer Newsom March 19, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Yeah, normally I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing, but hey – extreme times call for extreme measures. :p

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avatar Catherine March 19, 2014 at 2:34 pm

I wouldn’t either, it’s a pretty typical aroma and doesn’t really bother me. But I absolutely would in this situation if it helped make a case for nuisance. Of course, the problem is that the smell would be gone by the time the police arrived.

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avatar Katydid52 March 19, 2014 at 2:49 pm

I support your suggestion to arm yourself. Being passive about protection does little for your family when these thugs choose to enter your home in the dark when all of you are in bed.

My previous airsoft suggestion was under the cover of darkness when one of them is creeping around in your yard. A couple pings to the head might make them think twice, no one can prove you pinged them, and airsoft guns don’t have to be registered.

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avatar PB Resident March 19, 2014 at 3:11 pm

And your wife wants to be our interim city council person? You’re recommending this gentleman arm himself with a gun and be prepared to take action if necessary?

This really reflects poorly on your wife’s judgement.

I sure don’t want anyone advocating this sort of behavior representing me on the City Council.

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avatar Geoff Page March 20, 2014 at 10:17 am

I don’t think it is fair to judge the man’s wife by his actions. I know my wife would surely object to a similar comparison, surely and loudly. Let’s be fair.

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avatar Kristoffer Newsom March 20, 2014 at 10:44 am

This is MY advice, not hers.

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avatar Gretchen Kinney Newsom March 20, 2014 at 10:58 am

Dear ‘Anonymous’ PB Resident:

ICYMI – my advice was to build a strong alliance with his neighbors, strengthen their sense of community, and take collective action.

And, last time I checked, my name is not Mrs. Kristoffer Newsom. Please don’t imply that married women cannot be their own person with their own beliefs and their own actions – it really hinders the equality movement.

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avatar Gail Powell March 19, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Every time you do call the police on an incident involving these neighbors, make sure to ask for and then write down the incident #. Save them! When several of the same problems you have reported such as noise continue to occur, Code Enforcement will act upon the evidence of those police incident numbers.

I once had a crackhead on the other side of my apartment wall who BLASTED bass-heavy hip hop and rap music all day and night long. The walls used to shake from the noise. My kids and I could not sleep due to the racket. I had to use this tactic on that household. Eventually, a Code Enforcement Violation Notice was sent to her and the apartment property manager and owner. That finally shut the druggie up for good.

Everyone has a LEGAL RIGHT to peaceful enjoyment of their property. Particularly between the hours of 10:00 p.m through 8:00 a.m. Good luck.

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avatar Debbie March 19, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Who is the landlord and where do they live?

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avatar Anonymous Neighbor March 20, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Mrs. Debbie,

I need to hold off posting this information for legal reasons at the moment. What I can factually state is that his primary residence is in Pacific Beach, he owns a small company, and made the purchase as an investment property *AND* to house his relatives who are unable to support themselves in midlife (very likely due to drug and alcohol abuse).

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avatar Geoff Page March 19, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Debbie asked a good question. If you provide the name and address of the landlord, maybe some of us can help out.

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avatar Anonymous Neighbor March 20, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Mr. Page,

I very much appreciate your offer of help, and my initial reaction was to post it, but I have been advised to hold off for the moment. If the situation were not as dire and the threat to my families safety not at stake I would gladly share that information. I greatly appreciate your offer.

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avatar Geoff Page March 20, 2014 at 2:16 pm

I understand, I’ll leave the offer open if circumstances change.

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avatar Debra March 19, 2014 at 4:56 pm

I know I’m in the minority here from reading the comments, but could you try to have a backyard BBQ and invite these creeps over, in order to get to know them? It may be the only solution to dis-arming them and making them feel foolish for harassing you and your family.

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avatar Debbie March 19, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Invite us all with a pot luck. I would not suggest it be at your home/property….maybe Debra would host? Just joking! How about one of the neighborhood parks?

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avatar Katie March 19, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Who is the landlord? Perhaps one neighbor’s calls won’t intimidate him, but what about 50 concerned neighbors? I for one would be happy to call or write the landlord and tell him how unacceptable I think this is as an OB homeowner. I’m sure many other people would as well.

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avatar Anon March 20, 2014 at 9:42 am

You could try a civil harassment restraining order. You would likely not get the traditional 100 yard stay away but you could get a stay away for a distance around your house and the no negative contact order. Yes it’s only a piece of paper but the upside is the piece of paper essentially criminalizes behavior. In that coming too close to your house or harassment becomes a violation of a court order and in itself a separate crime. If you have a restraining order it allows police to make arrests etc when previously they would not have the ability to do so.

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avatar Sarah March 20, 2014 at 10:23 am

I obtained civil harassment restraining order on a gentleman who lived in the cottage behind me a few years ago. It was VERY unusual for one to be granted, but the deputy/court clerk gave me some advice on how to write the request and it was granted. Since the man lived only across a four foot sidewalk, the distance was adjusted to read something like, “no closer than 100 yards unless on the property” and he was forbidden to speak to me or communicate with me in any manner. If you try that route, you will need A LOT of detailed documentation.

It did make the gentleman move away.

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avatar Anonymous Neighbor March 20, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Mrs. Katie,

I am very touched by your offer, and grateful for your support. This idea rings true and I will inquire about it. I have been advised to hold off on posting this information for the moment. If the fallout were only to affect me I would have no reservations outing the owner, but I fear the reprisal it may bring on my family. I greatly appreciate and hope to implement this idea. Thank you.

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avatar Beach girl March 21, 2014 at 5:26 pm

I read this article a few days ago and am still troubled by it.
I’m a little confused as to how this is not breaking the law in someway that the police can take action. It’s trespassing not a misdemeanor? Is creating fear for harm in you and your daughter not a crime?
The Atty. Gen.’s office in my home state had a nuisance task force that would work with the police and zoning and fire and environmental departments to remedy such situations and if all else failed bring a nuisance action against the landlord. Is there something similar here? Are your neighbors violating any of those other codes?

I’d truly like to think your other neighbors are not helping out because they are unaware. On my block of OB I don’t think the neighbors would sit idly by, that being said, if you are not one of the houses I have immediate adjacency with, I don’t know that I would know the situation. I cannot hear, much less see, what us going on two house over in any direction.
I do not believe people do not care. I’ve found this neighborhood to be one of the friendliest, welcoming places I have lived.

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avatar Another Anonymous Neighbor May 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm

We’re the neighbors on the other side of the rental property in question. We didn’t know much about what was going on, and although we’d heard some raised voices, it was difficult to tell which direction they were coming from. We met the tenants briefly but had no indication of any trouble.

We’ve now seen actual pictures of the tenants climbing over the fence in the middle of the night to A.N.’s property. I’m astonished that that alone was not enough evidence to charge them with something; I guess they’re lucky they didn’t climb over the fence in the middle of the night onto Kristoffer’s property.

From what I can tell, the tenants are gone and the building is empty. However, the size and condition of the units leads me to believe that they will frequently be occupied by people who may disturb their neighbors in some way. Hope I’m wrong.

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avatar Another Anonymous Neighbor May 20, 2014 at 6:47 am

Update: going by the cars and trash cans, at least one of the tenants has returned.

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