The Ideas and Thoughts of One “Peace Circle” at Forum on Homelessness in OB

by on July 7, 2010 · 12 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Ocean Beach

Editor:  Our blogger OBCindi attended last night’s community meeting on Homelessness in Ocean Beach at the Sacred Heart Church on Sunset Cliffs. She volunteered to be a scribe for one of the “peace circles” so was deeply involved in enunciating the results of her circle’s ideas and thoughts. Here’s her report:

As I walked to the meeting, I was met by a neighbor who wanted to hear the issues on homelessness in OB, but was specifically interested in aggressive panhandling. My neighbor shared with me his concern with the growing threats of violence, a need for clean streets, more police, and decreasing theft/break ins.

We talked about my recent encounter a few weeks ago with one rude panhandler. My encounters with panhandlers have been almost entirely positive and sometimes enlightening. But when I met with a counter-productive panhandler, I offered this advice:

“I live here in OB and do not deserve to have you be rude or threaten me. If you want to continue to enjoy our beach town, I recommend you stop being rude/offensive/threatening as this behavior will guarantee two things–cops will come, and you will never be allowed back in this town again.”

As we walked in the door, my neighbor and I went our separate ways with me signing in and finding a seat near the middle of the room. Each person in the room was given a number from one to 10, then we broke into 10 “Peace Circles” to discuss the following 8 questions:

What two things do you love about OB?

What two things drew you to OB (whether a business/owner/lover of OB)?

What two things do you find negative about OB?

What kind of community do you desire OB to be (describe)?

What is in the way of making OB the kind of community you desire?

What resources do we have to make OB the community you desire?

What resources do we need to make OB the kind of community you desire?

How do we address the threat to peace in our community this summer and beyond?

Before we began with the questions, the pre-determined facilitator in each group went through the Peace Circle rules:

–Only the person holding the “speakers tool” (ours was a pen) could speak.

–Facilitator would be in control of our discussion group and had the last say.

–We agreed to speak the truth, one at a time and would not interrupt each other.

–We would listen to those who were speaking and if necessary, summarize accurately what they said.

–We agreed to be respectful of one another and not use threats or profanity.

–Most importantly, we had come to the group discussion last night to engage in solutions.

More then 50 people left the building before group discussions began. My personal opinion was that some were put off by the prayer (it WAS hosted by the church leaders in a church so no surprise for me, but maybe for others?) while others who came looking for a verbal showdown like that outside The Black acouple of weeks ago were let down that they were not going to be on camera, and would not have a forum to incite arguing.

In my group, the things that seemed to draw us to OB were:

–The eclectic, diverse and bohemian culture

–Music and art, Street Fairs and Festivals, Farmers Market, and artist driven town

–University town feel without the university (small town within metropolitan area)

–The beach, pier and weather

–Dog friendly

–Small business environment

–Green friendly

–Place where generations of families move to live by the sea

–Buy a home at the beach for a reasonable cost

The negatives about OB were:

–Ongoing tension over the Homeless in OB.

–Rumored threat of skinheads/gangs moving to our community.

–Lack of enough restrooms WITH SHOWERS and water fountains spaced evenly every 100 feet along the boardwalk.

–Increasing number of able-bodied on streets pan-handling (can we get a bulletin board up along Newport to list local work such as small projects or full time work?).

–Need to build the boardwalk/bike path out from the lifeguard tower all the way to dog beach with lighting.

–Not enough lighting along the alleys in the OB Business District (btwn Newport and Niagara and Newport and Santa Monica).

–No local centralized homeless shelter/low cost medical clinic/camping facilities (ie Freedom Point).

–Sidewalks along Newport and by dog beach are littered with freshly smeared dog poo each morning (if your dog poos on concrete, walk your dog in the gutter/street please!).

–People walking their dogs off leash (its scary to those who are afraid of dogs–I have vowed to be more respectful to my neighbors on this one!).

–Medical marijuana, head shops and liquor stores are promoting tolerance to those who abuse alcohol/drugs.

–With the “Don’t Feed the Bums” sticker has come a “Locals Only” mentality (if you were not born in OB, if you don’t live in OB, you have no right to put your opinions into our community). This is divisive rather then inclusive to finding solutions to our city’s problems.

–Tourists and families being targets of aggressive panhandling or seeing illegal behavior.

–Seeing young people and children becoming homeless–needing community help to feed the homeless and work together to build a shelter in this town.

–The Black for creating a sticker that caused media to put OB on a world stage in a bad light.

–Increased crime in some parts of OB that require more police presence and the police to come into those areas and create Neighborhood Watch.

–Local politicians need to attend these meetings and act on our needs, or we need to organize as a community and go to Town Council meetings to vote the ones who talk a big game and don’t follow words with actions, OUT of office.

My group agreed on the following:

–More lighting.

–Creation of Neighborhood Watch groups in areas of OB hit hard by criminal activity.

–More water resources along our beaches and Newport–bathrooms/showers/fountains.

–Build out the boardwalk from Lifeguard Station at Santa Monica and Abbott to Dog Beach at the end of Voltaire (with lighting, and restrooms with showers).

–Dog owners need to be more respectful and responsible (clean up after your pet and walk dogs on leash).

–Local politicians need to attend community meetings like this one and ACT on what they hear.

–Don’t change our small town culture–keep OB non-corporate!

–Have police offer advice at next meeting on how to peacefully negotiate situations, and areas where we need to be more involved as a community.

–Keep gangs and violence out of our community.

–Peaceful negotiations by police and leaders in our community.

–Treat all humans with equal respect no matter what their situation may be–you may be there some day!

–Creation of Freedom Point at the parking lot on the other side of the bridge. Charge to get in and park your rig or pitch a tent or stay in a group tent. Everyone must pick up and leave for 2 hrs each day while locals who are hired to clean up, hose down the concrete and get rid of trash.

–Provide weekly low cost vet and medical facilities.

–Creation of medical clinics and addiction solution centers and get rid of medical marijuana shops.

–The homeless issues will not be solved overnight so they will require patience, compassion and ongoing respectful community meetings like this.

–We need to get a flier going with resources listed that we can put in businesses on Newport and can drop off in OB for locals to use to help homeless or Travelers who need help in our community.

Many groups who work with Homeless/Travelers came to the meeting last night. Mapi from “So Others May Eat” stated that her group hosts free dinners in OB, PB and La Jolla (

Glyn Franks, President of Second Chances Inc ( feeds the homeless on Saturdays in the Baptist parking lot at Santa Monica and Sunset Cliffs at 7:30am and needs help with handing out food and providing comforting words to the homeless. Second Chances has been around for 15 years providing over 100,000 lbs of food, toiletries and hygiene products every year to those in need. After Second Chances is done in the parking lot, they take food to low income seniors. They are asking the community for our time and help. If you have no money but you have time to give, please attend one of these food handouts on a Saturday morning.

Thank you to all the facilitators, and to our local religious organizations for bringing this community together in peaceful collaboration last night. I look forward to seeing what comes of this meeting, and any future meetings/discussions.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Rice (a.k.a. psd/anonymouscoward) July 7, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Thanks for sharing the notes from your group, Cindi! What I found most interesting were the points of agreement…I was surprised (in a good way) to hear general support for a place where it would be okay for homeless, RV dwellers, and others to gather, especially from what I could tell by the comments was a pretty diverse group. It’s also startling (in a not-so-good way) to hear everyone agree that medical marijuana needs to be run out of town. And I just find it flat-out interesting that there’s interest in completing the concrete boardwalk – as I understaind it there was a big push against that very concept here a few decades back…the idea being that it would further homogenize the community and send us down a road to becoming another boring MB, PB, HB, or other generic remnant of a SoCal beach town.


OB Cindi July 8, 2010 at 8:58 am

Dave–It was most interesting for me to hear the push to get rid of medical marijuana dispensaries come from the one currently homeless member of our group discussion. He was adamantly FOR getting rid of places that sell medical marijuana and paraphernalia. He supported it by saying that there is too much criminal activity from drug and alcohol abuse, then by those who are clean but don’t have a house to live in. His point was, “Don’t lump the druggies or alcoholics in with homeless who need your recyclables, food, toiletries, a bathroom and a nice warm place to stay when its cold.”


Citizen Cane July 7, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Did any homeless in your group comment about drinking water? Bottles and canteens aren’t easily filled at a drinking fountain. Plus there is the issue of spittle falling back onto the tap when people drink from it. Worse still…I once witnessed an Asian woman rinsing out a diaper in a drinking fountain in Balboa Park.

Faucets are needed for filling bottles. In some locations, like lifeguard stations and churches, we could have taps that dispense filtered water.

The lighted boardwalk idea is a tough sell. Streetlights don’t always deter loitering. Sometimes they attract people that want to see and be seen. I’d rather let the ocean front residents have control over their own lights. A painted bike lane on one side of Abbott Street would be nice for the bicycle commuters. I also think our bus route should be a looping route, rather than across and back. There are lots of things we could do to make OB a better tourist town, that could also benefit the budget traveler. Camping for one…our stupid anti camping policies also reject the touris dollars of nomads at the upper end of the economic spectrum. Consider the bird watching couple that want to part their $100,000 RV near Robb Field for several weekdays. Or maybe car camper with a $25,000 SUV, that wants to camp with his dog at North OB. I think is’t stupid for OB business folks to reject those customers. Those are the tourists that will help us pay for the homeless services.


OB Cindi July 8, 2010 at 8:47 am

There were three people in my group representing homeless in OB. One was a current homeless person. We need more access to fresh drinking water along the boardwalk in OB. A faucet or “spicket” would do nicely.

Here is where we disagree–out of a group of about 12 people, no one disagreed that lighting is necessary along the boardwalk (which NEEDS to be extended from the Lifeguard Station to Dog Beach so as to complete a bike path loop). Ask any enforcement officer or Neighborhood Watch Leader and they will tell you, more lighting equals LESS illegal activity. Most homeless don’t want to sleep under the glare of lights, so will move to the dark and safe areas of the churches. As a woman, I can see a person lurking if he is standing under lights (hence, no “lurking”). Police can gather evidence before making an arrest if they can SEE their suspect engaged in illegal behavior at night. No one is asking for “football field” lighting–we want the yellow lights that offer less “light pollution.” You said, “Let the ocean front residents have control over their own lights.” I don’t disagree that those who own homes in the dark areas along Newport and the boardwalk should have control over how they light their property. But the CITY PLANNERS should tell us what is best in terms of lighting for public streets, alleys and boardwalks. Better yet, Frank Gormlie should take a poll on lighting and see what the people think!

Creation of a place to camp we can agree on. Needs to be DONE. And buses need to run in a loop around this city, not just a straight path back and forth. Check mark on agreeing with you on that one as well….

Interesting to note was the lack of representation from our politicians last night. Where were the members of City Planning or Ocean Beach Town Council? There were 250 constituents who voiced their thoughts collectively. Yet NOT ONE of the people’s representatives stood up at the end to say “We hear your voices and opinions”–they were noticeably MIA. Maybe our representatives didn’t want to come out and watch the community do their job for them…. Just a thought…


Landry Watson July 8, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Hey Cindi… Sorry I didn’t get to meet you last night. Myself and 5 others from either OBPB or OBTC were there and participated throughout the night. Those 5 include both the President, Chairmen and both Vice’s from both organizations. We aren’t too flashy and I’m guessing we just aren’t on TV or radio much and are easily overlooked :)

We are listening and also reading your comments collected above and I enjoyed talking to Tom, Haley and Erik that night and hearing their opinion – which is why I might have missed you. I’ve discussed this topic with Sunshine, Frank and Lane numerous times since our Town Council forum earlier this spring and they’ve indicated your interest in the matter as well.

Sunshine keeps letting me know that you would contact me, so I hope you will send me an email anytime: or come by a meeting of either the Planning Board or Town Council. We are listening…


Jack July 9, 2010 at 7:35 am


I want to personally thank you and the other members of OBPB and OBTC for attending and involving yourselves in the process. I regret not having the opportunity to meet you all, but I appreciate you keeping your “position” low key. It was not a night of grandstanding, it was a night of collaboration, and for that I commend you and everyone who attended and participated.

Perhaps you will introduce yourself at the next forum….you are most welcome.

Peace, Jack


OB Cindi July 13, 2010 at 10:16 am

Landry–I was told there was no OBTC representation, so I apologize for not having my facts straight and wanted to thank those of you who came for being there and listening to this slice of our community finding voice in a peaceful, not confrontational manner. I hope the peace circle that you participated in was useful. I would like to see what this community can do to pool resources together to create a flyer on homeless assistance, more showers and restrooms and lighting on the beach/alleys along Newport and if we can help support the churches in creating a place for the homeless to find shelter at night without worry about being arrested or harassed by police. We want them off our lawns and out of our back yards/alleys, so where do we send them, right? Thank you to all OBPB and OBTC who came to this meeting. Having a forum where all could discuss their opinion on the homeless in OB without shouting or showboating, was fantastic. Community involvement is the solution–stop the talk, and lets get moving forward. I am seeing now that the next few months will be tough on you, and our other local representatives. It is hard to walk the thin grey thread between those who want to reach out to the Travelers, and those who want them to be forced out. But you will all find a way to do this if you keep an open mind and your ears to the ground. I hope we can all work together to find solutions, and look forward to communicating with you.


Goatskull July 8, 2010 at 7:36 pm

“Rumored threat of skinheads/gangs moving to our community.”

Keep in mind that if you see someone who looks like a skinhead hanging out in OB they may not necessarily be a racist bonehead. They are probably a ska/reggae fan.


Sarah July 8, 2010 at 8:26 pm


Do you mean that people are not always what they seem to be? *shocked*

I’m often mistaken for a soccer-mom. :-)


OB Joe July 9, 2010 at 9:51 am

I was also in one of the groups and the boardwalk idea did NOT come up at all. I’m wondering if there’s some group or person pushing for that project again. The boardwalk concept was REJECTED by the community a few years ago, at the end of last century (sounds like a long time ago, doesn’t it?) but it was another issue that divided OB. I think the OB Preservation League was formed to successfully oppose it and I know at least one large community forum was held that did reject the concept. I missed that meeting but I know someone out there remembers, don’t you?


Kenloc July 9, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Until you can come up with a way to force people to accept aid that they don’t want you are spinning your wheels on the ob homeless issue.Go down Newport today and offer the homeless folks you encounter your help.Ask them if they want to go to a shelter that will help them.Let us know your results……


Kenloc July 9, 2010 at 2:41 pm

on the marijuana issue,the medicinal mj shops are laughable.We all know pretty much anyone can get a card.Look at those guys hanging out in front of Your Mommas Mug now.not really sickly lookin,eh? The other day i was at the b OF a ATM and noticed the surf and skate loading up gear with a bunch of youngsters(about 20 kiddies) behind their shop,right in front of a marijuana dispensary.Check the UT article on the shop that was just robbed by 5 armed men for 20k worth of weed. Great addition to the community.


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