Editor: There’s a new online journal, “Our City”, which has taken a crack at Ocean Beach with a recent article titled “Is O.B. slacking?” With photos of CVS under construction, the OB Starbucks, Hodad’s, and the new condo construction on Abbott, the article delves into why there haven’t been any local protests of the new in-coming CVS Pharmacy in the old Apple Tree market building.
What, no protests? No nasty bumper stickers? No nothing?
A chain store is coming to Ocean Beach, and there’s little sign of any kind of major backlash against this latest corporate invasion.
Their conclusion is interesting. No, OB hasn’t mellowed, it just got more sophisticated.
Here is what Our City says about itself:
Our City provides a fresh look at San Diego politics, business and neighborhoods with sharp and insightful news coverage.
Chief editor is Jack Crittenden, Mike Stetz is managing editor, and Laira Martin is the associate editor. The site promises “a fresh look at San Diego … neighborhoods …” which is good – as the city’s (and County’s) neighborhoods have been neglected for decades. The site does seems to be (another one?) oriented towards businesses. But we’ll see.
At any rate, the OB Slacking article continues:
Ocean Beach has a long history of fighting corporate franchises because many of its residents prefer more funky and individualized mom and pop shops. They believe national franchises mess with the unique vibe of the eclectic beach community. More than a few also believe that corporations are evil slime — an opinion hardly limited to Ocean Beach but one that would likely poll higher there.
However, here comes a CVS pharmacy, replacing what had been a grocery store. And get this …
Nobody is standing in front of bulldozers …
In 2001, when Starbucks announced it was opening a store in Ocean Beach, the locals went ballistic and mounted a number of protests. There were concerns it would hurt the locally owned coffee shops. Plus, well, it was uppity Starbucks.
But CVS — which is no corporate slacker itself, with 7,600 stores nationwide — hasn’t gotten the same out-of-O.B., you-corporate-scum treatment.
Is O.B. mellowing?
Or has O.B. simply waved the white flag?
The Starbucks fight was unsuccessful. The coffee shop opened and remains so. Yep, you can get a venti latte at O.B., on the main drag of Newport Avenue, no less. Subway also has locations in O.B. There’s also a Jack In The Box, a Rite Aid and a couple 7-Elevens. It’s almost like Clairemont.
What’s next for O.B.?
A Bed Bath & Beyond?
Well, Ocean Beach still has a head shop, the Black, and Hodad’s, the famous burger joint, and the clothing store, Humble Hippie.
While CVS hasn’t seen the kind or orchestrated protests that Starbucks got hit with, some are still unhappy with the move. In the O.B. Rag website, a commentator named Hippie — yes, of course, Hippie — wrote:
“Each corporate giant that settles in OB chips away at the funky culture of this very special town. I will not shop there, nor will I patronize Jack or Starbucks. I would like to see everyone do the same. We vote with our dollars. Let’s not make it profitable for these giants to come to OB and instead support locally owned businesses.”
Another poster, JimOB, wrote: “This is terrible! We don’t need another over-priced drug store full of mass produced, processed foods and energy drinks. We need a grocery store! But the greed of the landlords saw to the end of that. OB is dying a slow death, and this is part of it.”
But one of the major reasons there’s been no organized protest is that CVS has agreed to a “Community Benefits Package,” to ensure it will be a good neighbor, said Gretchen Newsom, president of the Ocean Beach Town Council.
For instance, CVS has agreed to support the annual O.B. Food and Toy Drive, offer a variety of fresh groceries and allow for locally produced goods to be sold from the location, to name a few of the commitments. Such an agreement is rare from a corporation, Newsom said.
“CVS came forward and wanted to be a community partner,” she said.
The Town Council wanted a locally owned grocer to take over the site, but the landlord wanted CVS, so there wasn’t much that could be done, she said. “We can’t force property owners to do something we want,” Newsom said.
The store is also located a block away from all-important Newport, so its addition is not as jarring, she said.
People in O.B. have not mellowed, she said. They are still very protective of the community and its unique charms.
Indeed, many rallied to fight for the Ocean Beach community plan, particularly when it came to the call for protection from overbuilding. More developers are seeking to overstep O.B.’s longstanding regulation that keeps home sizes smaller than lot sizes by seeking variances from the San Diego Planning Commission, Newsom said.
Some point to 3-story homes that went up on West Point Loma Boulevard that dwarf neighboring homes as an example of the problem.
Indeed, more than 100 residents attended a recent City Council hearing on the community plan, which the Council passed, upholding the community’s call for stronger language to keep home sizes in check.
Higher-end projects also are ongoing, causing some locals to worry about housing affordability. On the corner of Abbott Street and Saratoga Avenue on prime beach-front real estate, 10 units are being built. They won’t be cheap. Indeed, homes in Ocean Beach are not cheap. The median price is $618,400, according to Zillow.
“This is the beginning of the end for Ocean Beach as we know it,” bemoaned a commenter in the San Diego Reader, over the new construction. “Over the next twenty years it will be transformed into a smaller version of La Jolla with rude drivers and small boutiques selling overpriced trinkets and perfume.”
Newsom isn’t buying. Most people in O.B. still rent, as she does, she said. It remains one of the last affordable beach towns in which to live because of that. The fight against over-development will not stop, she said.
“We will rail against it.”
Well, welcome to O.B., dudes. (Just be cool.)