OB’s Intolerance Towards Homeless Now Exposed For All to See.

by on June 19, 2010 · 48 comments

in Culture, Ocean Beach, Popular, San Diego

The “Bum Fight” going on in Ocean Beach these last few days has now gone viral. It’s the top story on the Union-Tribune’s online publication, signonsandiego this morning.

Now the intolerance for the homeless in OB is now out there – for all to see. The whole world will now know the hypocrisy in Ocean Beach – a community known for its laid-back attitude, care-free lifestyles and tolerance for everyone and anyone. OB has all kinds of people here and has over the decades, from college students to bikers, from retired people to sailors, from middle-aged hippies to professionals, from rednecks to radicals, from suits to sandals, from judges to …. homeless.

I grew up in OB and have been surfing the local waves since I was 13. I was also a hippie here in 68, 69,70,71, 72, 73…. you get the picture – for awhile.  And there’s always been people upset with the street people, the transients, the youthful travelers.  Local merchants were always the people on the front lines of the assault on street people – the same complaints were heard in 1969 about the street people that we’re hearing now about the homeless.

‘They are frightening the tourists’ – they panhandle too aggressively, they’re dirty, filthy, ….’

And today – in the midst of the worst economic down-turn in this country’s history since the Great Depression – you know the days of the tramps and hobos and Oakies – you know, the people who were OUR GRANDPARENTS! – our little, quaint, seaside village is being inundated with people without jobs. Hmmm, wonder why.

A recent commenter to one of our earlier posts on this subject, said “these people need to get a job,” speaking about the homeless. Jobs? Are there any jobs out there? The unemployment rate is the highest it’s been in 20 years. I was unemployed for a year and half.

We have a problem and we need to come together as a community. This problem of homelessness didn’t start in OB and it won’t end here, but let’s have a community forum, address the problems in a civilized manner, get City Hall involved, rope in local churches – which have been feeding the homeless bums for awhile now – THOSE DAMN CHRISTIANS~! Don’t they know better?!

I’m not a Christian but I sure appreciate those churches who do that and people like Lupe Haley who feeds the homeless and hungry every Monday in OB.

Here’s the U-T/ signonsandiego post:

“Please don’t feed our bums”

Controversial bumper stickers target young, roaming and aggressive type of transients

By John Wilkens / Union-Tribune /  June 18, 2010

Ocean Beach has always had a thing for bumper stickers. “Coexist” is a popular one. “Shut Your Mouth and Open Your Mind” is another. And there’s this classic in counterculture bravado: “U.S. Out of O.B.”

Now, a new sticker is raising eyebrows and tempers along the community’s main commercial drag, Newport Avenue, causing some to wonder what’s happening to the scruffy town’s legendary “live and let live” vibe.

“Welcome to Ocean Beach,” the sticker reads. “Please Don’t Feed Our Bums.”

A homeless controversy in O.B.? Yes, and it started, of all places, in a head shop.

That would be The Black, which has been around for 40 years and sells much more than “tobacco” paraphernalia these days. Ken Anderson, an employee there, got together with a friend a few weeks ago and came up with the idea for the stickers, which he had printed and now sells in the store.

For the remainder of the story, go here.

doug porter June 19, 2010 at 9:40 am

now that this story has gone big, it’s time to make The Bigots at the Black see the other side of the coin. i hope others will join me in picketing the Black this week to discourage people from patronizing that establishment. details will be forthcoming soon here in the Rag.

BillRayDrums June 19, 2010 at 9:48 am

(Frankenstein voice)


(/frankenstein voice)

So….is the U-T our buddy now? I thought we didn’t like the U-T. They are “the man”, aren’t they?

Frank Gormlie June 19, 2010 at 10:03 am

Hey BillRay – the U-T came to us about this story. Once in awhile they have to get some things right. There’s an old OB Rag adage: “If you don’t like the news, make your own!”

tj June 19, 2010 at 11:03 am

Please dont feed OUR animals.

“Please don’t feed our Bums” – sounds like maybe the Black doesn’t want others feeding THEIR bums – maybe they’re feeding them a special, nutritionally balanced diet that they don’t want compromised by the good intentions others?

humm ….


Goatskull June 19, 2010 at 11:34 am

“from middle-aged hippies to professionals”
Don’t forget middle aged punk rockers. Anyway, maybe its time to let it go. Frank, here’s one thing I kind of disagree with you. Yes the economy is the worst it’s ever been since the Great Depression, but OB seems to have a disproportionate amount of homeless compared to other parts of the county (tho some are worse), so I don’t think the bad economy is the only reason fro all the homeless in OB. As for me in regards to the sticker? I have better things to spend 2.50 on and other t-shirts I would rather purchase. I rarely go the The Black anyway but I’m not going to make a point of boycotting it or any other businesses that sport the sticker. I understand their viewpoint regardless of how mean it may be.

Goatskull June 19, 2010 at 11:36 am

Maybe a better way to fight this is to come up with a counter sticker. Just a thought.

Citizen Cane June 19, 2010 at 2:12 pm

I’ll suggest a counter slogan…”Jesus Fed the Bums”

If nobody wants to make that shirt as a fundraiser, then maybe one of the local churches can put that message out front in their sign box.

Personally I’m not a religious person, but I can still respect the mythical Jesus and his teachings. I also respect the mythical Rick Blaine in the movie “Cassablanca.” Admit it. You like Rick better at the end of the movie after he’s turned the corner on his selfishness and become a more generous person. I think Rick would feed our bums. No cash, just food and counseling.

Robert Burns June 19, 2010 at 2:49 pm

CC, I agree with you. I’m a “Christian” as part of a Buddhist and whatever; I’ts not necessary to be “Christian” to care about the homeless. And, I suspect that the churchs here might really go with your idea!

Steve Yablonicky June 19, 2010 at 11:47 am

The Black and Ken Anderson have the right to express their opinions. Just as the writers of the OB Rag have the right to express theirs.
I personally agree with Ken and the Black. As a native San Diegan I have seen OB before and after it’s neighborhood revitalization. OB is in a much better place than it used to be. Encouraging transients to use OB as a safe-haven is taking the neighborhood in the wrong direction. In influx of those who would exploit, rather than contribute, is detrimental to the community at large.
A community thrives by people that care about it. What would an entire neighborhood of takers be like?
Along with the rest of San Diego, Ocean beach’s economy depends (largely) on tourism. What would our fair city become if tourism was driven away?
The people and businesses of Ocean Beach need to work together, along with the SDPD Homeless Outreach Program to enforce the laws and send the message that accosting, agressive panhandling will NOT be tolerated.
Proposing a boycott or protest on a long time, contributing business for expressing an opinion is ludicrous and a colossal waste of time and energy. That energy would be better spent on our homeless issue.

Robert Burns June 19, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Steve, I agree and disagree with you. I think that this campaign does, in fact, spend energy on homelessness that otherwise goes to assine law-enforcement approaches (harassing musicians and feeding in OB yet making downtown an homelessness ghetto). There are commercial interests which have long sought, and many have succeeded, in exploiting OB far worse than “kids” and other homeless people. Yet, I agree with the right of humans and — definitely to a lesser extent nonhuman entities like businesses — to voice opinions. And, I oppose agressive panhandling as much as I oppose profiteering in real estate and oil, outsourcing of industry to China, and propgandingly defaming Amercans as unwilling to do hard work. And, I oppose turning OB into anything close of the homelessness ghetto that official City policy has created in Center City just as I oppose the strangling of OB culture and freedoms from the mindless gentry and its erosion of our freedoms here.

Steve Yablonicky June 19, 2010 at 3:45 pm


No argument about any of that here. The real issue at hand here is the agressive panhandling. Center City isn’t exactly a “Tourist Hotspot.” The beaches on the other hand are a HUGE tourist draw for San Diego.
The homeless here in San Diego do have options so far as the shelters downtown, half-way centers, local Church charities and others. The ones who that are panhandling are only there because people keep giving them money. It’s a self-perpetuating problem. Do you think any of those people that stand along the freeway exits, holding signs that say “Will work for food” really want to work? I don’t think so. Instead of giving to panhandlers I suggest donations to charities, like Father Joe.

However…Like Ocean Beach… That is beside the point (sorry couldn’t help myself).

My point was: That energy that goes in picketing and boycotting is better suited in volunteer work, if one feels that strongly about it.
Is boycotting any of the businesses involved in the “Don’t feed our bums” campaign really going to do anything? Not really, besides stir up more publicity… so on that note SURE everyone should go and protest it up. (Pardon my sarcasm)

Robert Burns June 19, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Center City is a tourist destination. I’m down there a lot to Court and busking. There are major hotels there. Horton Plaza, PetCo Park, The Gaslamp Quarter, and Seaport Village and the docks are there. Most beach tourists do NOT come to OB and never have. I believe that publicity and awareness go much farther than unoticed volunteer work; The People’s Exhibit No. 1 is any beach cleanup vs. Surfrider Foundation’s PR. But, yeah, the hard work outside of the media needs to be done.

Steve Yablonicky June 19, 2010 at 6:24 pm


I think I must have thought you were talking about the East Village downtown. I’m talking about from the Barrio Logan to just east of the ballpark. YES… Downtown, AKA the Gaslamp Quarter is a big tourist hot-spot.

Again, As a Surfrider donor myself you’ll get no argument from me. Except I believe more tourists visit OB than you think.

PR itself will not cure the issue (if there is a cure at all). San Diego weather is so nice that you could live outside year around (a major reason for our homeless problem). I think for the most part the local public is aware of our homeless situation but just don’t know how they can help.
I do believe the answer is NOT in catering to panhandlers. Just because OB is tolerant of alternative lifestyles does not mean it should be a free-for-all to any and every transient that just happens to pass through.

Robert Burns June 19, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Perhaps you have the answer, but I don’t see it working downtown.

Kenloc June 19, 2010 at 11:02 pm

noone uses will work signs anymore.it’s “please help” or “anything will help” or “gimmie shit for free….”. workin is for suckers.

Robert Burns June 19, 2010 at 12:32 pm

What a nerve this has hit, Frank! I just read this on the toilet and what a laxative! I was out busking with OBecian Steve Lawshe last night in the Gaslamp Quarter and, after being stranded by the Shitty of San Diego Trolly before midnight, the topic came up amongst a number of folks. Steve had been homeless once and his comments were both prescient and resonant with your views here. I just posted this to the O.B.M.A. website sick of this campaign and the police disenforcement obstructing busking in O.B.:

“Please accept my expression of disgust with the current anti-homeless campaign in O.B. I’ve lived her and been part of O.B. since 1976. Arbitrary law enforcement has become the norm; that’s something of which I know far more than you from training and experience. “Loitering” and starving homeless have become more important than public assembly, artistic expression, and happiness. Provision of food is being confused with provision of money ….. to the homeless. Capitalism has been exalted above the right to life. Our challenged City Manager, Mayor, Council, and Police preside over homelessness apartheid in Center City as ALL downtown know. I’m disgusted with, and I am boycotting, all business participating in this despicable campaign.”

Robert Burns June 19, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Goatskull, I need to take you on a tour of Center City. Your homeless remarks at 11:34 A.M. are totally unfounded. BTW, most indicia of the economy are that this is the GreatER Depression.

Robert Burns June 19, 2010 at 12:41 pm

PS: It seems that the targets are “kids”. I have “kids”. We once were all “kids”. Someday, none of us but those “kids” will be alive. “Kids” deserve more than to be used for war fodder, robbed to pay for our living beyond our means and our incompetence, and robbed of the future of Gaia. And, “kids” deserve as much room for error, hope, and forgiveness as we were given OR taken. The Black has long displayed reactionary attitudes. I’m boycotting too.

Brian June 19, 2010 at 12:46 pm

My favorite comment from the U-T story:

“it’s not called “THE BLACK” for nothing. It’s a store of satan’s toys. It’s not a head shop. It’s a DARK ENERGY DEVIL STORE. I suggest you all head to THE BLACK and see for yourself what they sell…………………. “

Robert Burns June 19, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Brian, I agree with you.

paradox zap June 19, 2010 at 1:12 pm

The OB Intolerance has actually made national news…. I was talking with my Mom today who lives in a Missouri small town and she had heard about it and was asking if I was going to boycott The Black….

Bill June 19, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I have nothing against the homeless here. If they choose that way and I don’t want to feed them… fine. They choose that and I choose back. You sit here and think that someone is going to be denied something… something they don’t want. They don’t want to work, then they don’t want to eat. If they are unfortunate then that is one thing. They are self-proclaimed to do it out of their own choosing. I think that anything that leads to personal responsibility is going to be denounced by you. I know… I saved pennies and nickels for years to live in an amazing place and my opinion will be thrown in the trash. I’m not homeless or a bleeding heard. Thanks for taking the time to read or discount it as banter.

Michael Dixon June 19, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I was raised in Ocean Beach from the 50’s and all I have to say is this:
How people treat you is their karma, how you react is yours.

Sunshine June 20, 2010 at 11:05 am

well said, michael. i agree

Robert Burns June 19, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Bill, it’s nice to see you radiate the infinite wisdom of all the choice exercised by the homeless. There are beliefs that every horror we exerience in life is the product of pre-determination. I have not yet located that wellspring of wisdom; I hope it really exists.

Bill June 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I said right of the bat that there is a problem. It is difficult to find useful work. I am saying that there are people out there choosing their destiny and love it that we make this an issue. It normally wouldn’t be. Outside of our beloved neighborhood it is not at all. We can talk it over a beer some time, but I don’t think you’ll change my mind over people that choose that life. Yes.. there are the ones that are hurt, but having the one on the nightly news proclaiming it is the way to go sure does not help the cause.

Robert Burns June 19, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Let’s make that at Pizza Port! I do think that most of the chronic homeless have chronic problems with chronic self-irresponsibility.

Chris Moore June 19, 2010 at 8:02 pm

I think for a lot of them it’s not a matter of “responsibility” so much as issues like alcoholism and untreated depression.

As someone that’s struggled with major depression for 20 years or so, I am keenly aware that if it were not for a better skillset than the average, and a family that watches my back, I might very well be one of these guys.

They’re human: some are decent people who can’t figure out how to get their lives back on track, some are simply too severely mentally ill to function effectively, some are normal kids rebelling against a society they see as mercenary and immoral, some are just addicts of one sort or another, and yeah no doubt some are simply jerks looking for a free ride.

It’s bad logic to generalize, any group is composed of distinct individuals.

Chris June 19, 2010 at 3:13 pm

I understand where you’re coming from Frank and believe your intentions come from a good place. Honestly I feel for both sides. A couple of months ago I watched one of these kids approach a woman walking down Newport, put his face up to her face and scream at the top of his lungs while his friends laughed. It made me sick to see and worse for not stepping in to stand-up for her but being a small woman myself I know those kids could have seriously hurt me. They are too dangerous to approach but need to be dealt with. I am seriously concerned that it is just a matter of time before they retaliate against those posting the stickers. I believe in loving my neighbor and toleration but I also believe in standing together as a community to send a tough message.

Robert Burns June 19, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Chris, you’ve got at least one point well taken. I was busking by the Christmas tree with an elderly snare drummer and some punk delinquent got in my face while I was piping, I turned around to ignore the ass, and then learned that he assaulted (threatened to strike him with a skateboard) my drummer before an homeless guitar player called the police and scared him off.

Goatskull June 19, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Back in’78 through ’81ish I used to have both a t-shirt and bumper sticker that said “Black Flag kill hippies dead”. At the time I was a huge fan of the hardcore punk rock band Black Flag. No one took it seriously and as a result it didn’t last long. Point being maybe we just need to let this sticker thing die the same way.

lara June 19, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Sure it’s a little brash, but everybody is entitled to their opinion. Its not everyone has been handed out these stickers, with a gun pointed to their head, forced to wear them. Boycotting a business will just spread more negativeity around. The last thing this city needs is more places going out of business. Over a sticker. Grow up. There are better ways, more ‘peaceful’ to go about handling this. NOT BY defacing peoples property! Thats evil. If someone took the NIN sticker off my car I would kill them. Its sad how no one is allowed to think and voice their own opinion without some radical going out of their way to discourage it.

Patty Jones June 19, 2010 at 4:27 pm

I’m pretty sure it’s defacing property when you put a sticker on a street sign or other such place. And generally boycott’s are pretty peaceful ways to handle things…. it’s not like saying you’d kill someone for pulling a NIN sticker off your car (and you’re telling us to grow up?). Do we think the Black will go out of business over this? Pfffft, no matter what you think of us we are not that naive.

Tony June 19, 2010 at 6:12 pm

I don’t recall any protest when people were defacing property with anti “W” stickers in OB a few years back. Hypocrisy?

There are stickers all over OB. I am calling for a boycott on all stores that sell stickers.

James Lewis June 19, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Having just caught another “poor homeless” transient peeing by my front door with the restrooms at the lifeguard station only 200 yards away…..I hope you get my point. Been in this neighborhood since 1978 and these are not the same people that were struggling in this world , this is a new breed that has no respect for the community or its residents. Just my opinion, but it is guaranteed by our Constitution….not sure if harassment by transients is a right.

Patty Jones June 19, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Hey James, we didn’t post your latest comment since it was a duplicate of this one, except for the part where you admonish us for censoring you. We were away and couldn’t approve your first comment. You comments will not appear immediately if you have never commented here before.

James Lewis June 19, 2010 at 7:03 pm

sorry I was not aware of your procedure. guess I was rude, but civilized enough to recognize my error. thanks for bringing it to my attention.

reader June 19, 2010 at 4:57 pm

In the scripture according to Matthew, in the old King James version, there are several little sermons from Easter week. In one of them, God told good people at judgment, “I was [hungry], and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink….” The people asked when they had seen God and done this, and God replied “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Regardless of one’s beliefs, this bears consideration.

Robert Burns June 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Aye. It transcends religion and resonates with humanity and conscience.

Marilyn Steber June 19, 2010 at 4:58 pm

All this rhetoric is interesting but does it address OB’s past tolerance of the homeless and “bums”? If OBceans are serious about such issues, why aren’t we organizing a march instead of calling for pickets and boycotts? I’ve lived here only 25 years and the best movement I’ve been part of– in a very minor way–was the Save Famosa Slough campaign.
I invite you all to visit a website that started with a PBS program “Not In Our Town” and see if we could make it fit to the OB frame of mind. Tap in Not in Our Town dot Org.
Is it worth a try?

Citizen Cane June 19, 2010 at 10:21 pm

And here’s a good youtube that demonstrates how our perspectives have changed over the years. I’m not certain, but this might be a young Billy Ray in his hobo youth…


Robert Burns June 20, 2010 at 12:09 am

I was thinking Red Skelton. I really liked seeing the Bum seeing a bum (under the skirt)!

Cc June 20, 2010 at 5:38 am

All I have to say is I am going to the black tomorrow to show my support to a store that has been in OB longer then i have and buy a sticker! In my job I have todeal with the rude and aggressive behavior from alot of these “kids”. I really have a problem watching these dirty people demanding money from my customers, then coming into the store and demanding free food or drink, acting like we owe it to them. Then in the end pulling out a credit or debit card to make thier purchase. Or flashing a knife at us. Those type I have no sympathy what so ever for. Those are the type the sticker is targeted for. Maybe they’ll getthe hint and leave. Go to el cajon or santee.. Bother the people there. But I do know not all the homeless are bad. Alot of them really do try, doing side jobs here and there. They don’t panhandle, they don’t look for handouts, if one is offered they will offer work or whatever they have in return. Those are the ones that I have no problem helping.
I don’t know, just my little bit.. But for all you protesters I’ll be waving my sticker high and proud tomorrow for you all hehe

Robert Burns June 20, 2010 at 8:03 am

I see it as a glass half empty and half full, you seeing it as half empty me as half full. It does need to be full and I hope ti becomes so as to each of these problem kids. This IS Father’s Day.

mr fresh June 20, 2010 at 10:18 am

a lone protester showed up at the Black yesterday to urge people to boycott the story. he was cursed, assaulted with water balloons and generally harassed. See the photos at http://www.facebook.com/#!/album.php?aid=61245&id=1067824581&ref=mf.
Bigotry lives in OB.

Marilyn Steber June 20, 2010 at 11:17 am

Well, in the end, OB will be a “Destination” just to see the Black and buy a famous sticker. OB businesses will be happy for the economic boom and the skinheads, etc hategroups will call OB their headquarters.
Nice going.

BillRayDrums June 20, 2010 at 11:20 am

Why does everyone think “a bum” automatically means a homeless person? Jeez. Bum is a fame of mind, not a person.

Help the homeless. Get rid of Bums.

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