Community split 2 to 1 in favor of art installations on top of Peace Rock

by on September 26, 2009 · 15 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach

Peace Rock, Ocean Beach California

Peace sign on top of Peace Rock.

OCEAN BEACH, CA.   What do you think about art installations on top of Peace Rock? This became an issue lately, when a group of Point Loma High School seniors placed their year “2010” in wood red numbers up on the rock.  The rock is the large, protruding rocky sentinel that juts out of the Pacific Ocean just south of where Froude Street runs into Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.  Everybody who has driven, walked, or  jogged along Sunset Cliffs knows it.

Jim Grant peace rock 2010-sm

Photo: Jim Grant

The seniors’ installation disappeared not too soon after it went up.  Comments on this blog voiced support for the students’ efforts. What was left of it re-appeared dashed to splinters on the beach below.  Peace Rocker, one of the folks responsible for installing the original “Peace Sign” atop the rock, dissed those who took it down on this blog right after. Yet, a local letter to the editor came after that bemoaning those who place installations on the rock. So, the local community is embroiled in this latest hot topic.

The rock itself has varying names; old-timers call it “Ross Rock”; others call it “Peace Rock”, and still others – mainly surfers, call it “Bird-shit Rock.”

And there’s been a whole history of art and art-like objects fashioned to the top of the rock. Peace Rocker described them: “…there have been only six or seven installations including, at least, a Christmas Tree; a toilet; a crab; a Pterodactyl; a Tiki Man; and, of course, the Peace sign.”

So, we asked our readers:

How do you feel about the art installations on Ross Rock (aka Peace Rock, Bird-shit Rock)?

The poll ran about a week and we had 73 respondents.

Three out of every five said they liked them. 60% of the respondents felt they are creative, reflecting our town’s unique character, or thought highly of those who installed the art, that they risked “death to add humanity to our landscape.”

Nearly a third – 30% – however, believed the installations were graffiti / vandalism or that they were nice but inappropriate for the landscape, and thus needed removal.


Photo: Jim Grant

A tenth of the respondents seemed to be making a joke of the poll or mocking it, by voting that Hodads’ should be replaced with a MacDonalds. If you take those votes out of the equation, the numbers who like the installations get higher, of course, and rise to two-thirds (66%). And so do the numbers who don’t like them – one-third (33%).

So, the community is split 2 to 1 in favor of the installations, according to our poll. (Don’t forget we cannot tell if the respondents actually live in OB or Point Loma.)

Here are the results of the poll in the order they were given:

How do you feel about the art installations on Ross Rock (aka Peace Rock, Bird-shit Rock)?

#1 * They are graffiti/vandalism and should be removed.

8–11% of all votes

#2* They are creative and reflect our town’s unique character.

39–53% of all votes

#3* They may be nice and memorable, but they are being placed as an unnatural addition to a beautiful place, thus inappropriate.

14–19% of all votes

#4* They are from people who care about our community, who risk death to add humanity to our landscape.

5–7% of all votes

#5* They should close Hodad’s and put in a Mcdonalds.1 (1 = Added by a guest)

7–10% of all votes

Total Votes: 73; Poll ran from September 14 – 22, 2009

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Molly September 27, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Everyone, except a small handful worrying about their precious views, loved the Peace Sign ontop of the rock. Those who bemoaned the terrible tragedy of marring their precious view of the seascape never look down from the edge of the cliffs and see the jumble of granite boulders dumped over the side by contractors working for the city, boulders that helped destroy the eco-system below.

Luckily, most agree by a 2 to 1 margin.


bodysurferbob September 27, 2009 at 10:14 pm

molly, usually i have to qualify for your audience what you write, but this time, i’m with you. they have their expensive views but they don’t care about the environment. you said it! (but you sounded abit stoned – like in ramble.)


Abby September 28, 2009 at 9:43 am

I never understood how anyone could think that lovely stained glass peace sign marred the view.


OBgirl February 5, 2012 at 8:43 am

Exactly! The peaces of art are absolutely beautiful, but to protect the marine ecosystem, I think that people should keep a close eye on them so that they do not fall into the ocean and pollute it. More garbage in the ocean is exactly what we don’t need! I remember seeing the very first rock sculpture when I was little; it was a bright red crab. I remember being very confused about how they got it up there! Ah, good times :)


Dave Gilbert September 28, 2009 at 10:58 am

As much as I love the sentiment of Peace, I understand that it’s not private property for folks to erect whatever they wish. That said, there’s a new Peace sign that’s going to be put up in Northern California. I believe that brings the total to 4. Perhaps if folks here really loved it they could get it on a ballot and vote it in to legally stay put.

Oh, and as far as that condescending CHARLES KINKADE is concerned, Chuck you Farley, go back off in your own jack yard!


Abby September 28, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Perhaps we shouldn’t allow ugly or fat people to walk along sunset cliffs so as not to ruin Charles view!


PSD September 29, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Next time I’m out there with my daughter I’ll go topless so he’ll have to deal with an ugly, fat man with b-cup moobs.


Lee September 29, 2009 at 12:48 pm

I am one of the people who fall into the 14 – 19% poll, but you’re putting words in my mouth when you say it’s spoiling my view. If you want comments from the 14- 19% then ask for them, but please. don’t assume that you know the background on my vote. For the record, it’s public property, I like to see nature in an adulterated state, and the Rag asked for my vote. I’ve never in my life said one negative thing about any of the things that people popped up on that rock, but to tell you the truth, my greatest times by the rock are the ones when I was a kid ridding my bike down to the cliffs, watercolor paint set in my basket, and painting the rock . . . in it’s natural state.
If you wanted to know my thoughts on the boulders that were trucked in, then ask me. But please, stop assuming that you know my inner thoughts, just because of a vote I cast.


PSD September 29, 2009 at 9:02 pm

For the most part I prefer nature to be natural. But, I also prefer this particular rock in a semi-adulterated state – although actually painting the rock or otherwise altering the natural landscape present would bother me, I don’t mind the occasional small, manmade additions…


Editor September 29, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Lee, we never intended to put words in your mouth. But all we did was summarize those in opposition to the installations, which you admitted that is how you voted.

You voted for the choice, “They may be nice and memorable, but they are being placed as an unnatural addition to a beautiful place, thus inappropriate.” That choice garnered 14 votes, 19% of the total.

That number was combined with those who voted that the installations were graffiti, and summarized that “Nearly a third – 30% – however, believed the installations were graffiti / vandalism or that they were nice but inappropriate for the landscape, and thus needed removal.”

How does that put words into your mouth?


jon September 29, 2009 at 1:49 pm

I think Lee was referring to one or more of the commentors and not the published summary of results. The body of this article was very matter-of-fact.


Lee September 29, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Thanks Jon. You are correct.


Dave Gilbert September 29, 2009 at 7:30 pm

I think referring to it as “Bird-Shit Rock” rather marginalizes it’s importance as a natural site of beauty. Just my 2¢….


Frank Gormlie September 29, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Hey, Dave, sure I agree. It’s all those damn surfers.
Anyone know where the name “Ross Rock” came from?


PSD September 29, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Did I miss a removed comment? I was just getting on a roll with the cynical responses…


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