OB VFW Looks to Clear the Air With Public Meeting Today – Jan. 28th

by on January 28, 2011 · 17 comments

in Civil Rights, Ocean Beach, San Diego, Veterans, War and Peace

Location of new VFW Post, at intersection of Pt Loma Ave and Ebers.

A group of local residents and business owners near the future new home of the OB VFW Outpost 1392 are seeking to block the VFW from opening its doors.

Local members of the area’s neighborhood watch activated their email tree to express their concern over what they view as an unsuitable replacement for the restaurant that formerly called the building at the corner of Pt. Loma Ave. and Ebers St. home.  Their concerns stem from the canteen portion of the VFW operation, and the fear that the cheap prices on alcoholic beverages that members pay will lead to excessive alcohol consumption, unacceptable noise levels, overcrowding, and all around undesirable behavior.

The email chain began a week ago as local residents turned to public officials looking for ways to stop the VFW from moving in.  It included responses from a representative from Assemblywoman Toni Atkins’ office as well as former City Councilman Michael Zucchet, who lives in the neighborhood.

The VFW had been searching for a new home since their lease was not renewed by their former landlord after 27 years on Newport Ave.  After nearly six months of searching, they at last found a suitable location:  The ex-home of Ranchos Natural Foods, which had remained vacant since the market/vegan restaurant left the site five years ago.

Zucchet, the former city councilman who was recently exonerated from bribery charges brought by the US Attorney for San Diego in 2005, has apparently been the primary contact between the community group and City Council District 2 Representative Kevin Faulconer, who has taken up the group’s cause.

In the email communiqués the OB Rag has obtained, Mr. Zucchet references what the group believes to be the objectionable nature of the VFW canteen, writing “Not surprisingly, they have had a hard time finding a location and so they are ‘leaning heavily’ toward this location, but Kevin’s involvement has gotten their attention.”  Zucchet also cites a “Yelp” review of the previous VFW location where several people described “bellying up” to a crowded bar and partaking in cheap cocktails.

One patron identified as “Laurel T” described entering the VFW during the OB Street Fair (presumably in 2009) and finding the place “jam packed with people of all ages, veterans and civilians alike.”  She goes on to explain how she and her friends got “smashed” on round after round of incredibly cheap drinks.

The clear implication from the email chain is that the kind of scene that “Laurel T” wrote about in her review will be the norm in the new neighborhood, and that the VFW Outpost thrives by opening its doors to anyone and everyone, plying one and all with inexpensive drinks.  Further, Zucchet implies that the reason the outpost has struggled to find a new location is precisely because of the assumption of a rowdy and disruptive nature.

Not true says Vic Tulsie, quartermaster of VFW Outpost 1392.  The VFW is open for members only, and is not open to the public.  Only those who have served in combat operations on foreign soil are eligible to become members.  Members are allowed to bring a guest, but those guests may only remain on the premises as long as their host does.

The scene encountered by “Laurel T” was likely one of those very rare occasions when the VFW did open their doors to the public, which includes the annual OB Street fair that takes place on Newport Ave.  where the VFW Outpost was located.  It was just one of the many businesses to participate in the festivities.  Such occasions are sure to be even rarer at the new location since it is far removed from where the fair is held.

Tulsie and his fellow veterans have invited the neighborhood to a meeting at the new outpost at 4705 Pt. Loma Ave. at 5pm today (Fri. Jan 28th).  Those concerned are encouraged to come and speak directly to the VFW members and air their concerns.  Among those expected to attend are Councilman Faulconer and a representative from Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office.

Tulsie has also requested that representatives from the San Diego Police Department attend and answer questions from the neighbors.  Tulsie is concerned that the former location—in the alleyway next to the Apple Tree—has given the community the wrong impression.  Police are often seen in that alley dealing with transients who are usually mistaken as having come from the VFW outpost.  The officers in attendance, Tulsie said, are expected to reassure the community that the calls they have responded to in the alley have not been related to activity at the VFW, and that they have had no problems associated with the VFW.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie January 28, 2011 at 5:50 pm

We have Dan Morales and Andy Cohen at this meeting. I’ve heard that channels 8 and 10 are also in attendance. Ch. 10 just gave their report and ended up interviewing the mother of one of our bloggers. Nancy Witt – mom of Shane – voiced her support for the VFW.


Andy Cohen January 28, 2011 at 8:22 pm

The angry mob was out en force. It was really pretty sad, to be honest.

Bottom line: Everyone says that the “support our veterans” until it becomes time to actually support our veterans. It’s real easy to talk the talk, but no one wanted to go out of their way to walk the walk. I’ll have more to say on the matter soon…..


Danny Morales January 28, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Yeah, it was pretty intense. Kinda reminded me back a few years ago when the Trinity Church wanted to expand their parking lot. All kinds of ‘neighbors’ came out in opposition claiming that an expanded parking lot would add to what they perceived as community blight (i.e.the homeless). The fact that disgraced councilmember M. Zucchett is behind these freaks speaks volumes about the socio-political dynamic of this event. Look forward to seeing what you have to say, Andy!


Molly January 28, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Andy and Dan – thank you for attending this important angry mob meeting and can’t wait for further analysis. Just to be certain you know, Zucchet was exonerated of all the charges.


RB January 29, 2011 at 7:54 am

OT. Mr Zucchet was never exonerated. Several charges were reversed by the judge after a jury conviction for too little evidence (not no evidence or false evidence). And a decision was made not to take him back to trial on the remaining issues.

Mr Zucchet remains a good local example of why we need political campaign reform and publicly financed elections.


Deborah January 28, 2011 at 9:22 pm

With regard to your comment
“The fact that disgraced councilmember M. Zucchett is behind these freaks speaks volumes about the socio-political dynamic of this event. ”
I can honestly say I have never been in touch with former Councilman Zucchett, was not induced to participate in tonight’s discussion by former Councilman Zucchett, and did not even vote for former Councilman Zucchett (although I understand and appreciate his support in this issue). I also greatly resent the characterization that I am a freak!
Why can’t we have an honest, passionate discussion about a legitimate zoning question that impacts an entire neighborhood without the disrespectful characterizations of those that disagree with your point of view!


Patty Jones January 28, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Deborah, sorry if you took offense to the word freak. Many of us around here wear the label with pride… it’s even in our tagline!


annagrace January 28, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Why not a rational compromise? Walmart has convinced us that it is un- American to deprive the citizens of choice and those low, low prices. They are poised to establish 12 new Walmarts within the city limits. So screw those drunken, urinating, trash spewing vets and put in a Walmart at the location. It is the American thing to do. Call your city council person today!


Deborah January 28, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Thank you for the clarification. I characterize myself as an upitty female politico. I guess my adrenalin is up on this issue, so please forgive my failure to get the moniker! I am, in part, so energized because I just found out about this today and am feeling steamrolled. Therefore, as an upitty female, this has got my juices flowing!!
I love an interesting, intelligent and passionate debate, especially about issues that mean so much to me. But, as a usually tolerant OBecian, the way this entire issue has been handled has me very concerned.


Deborah January 28, 2011 at 11:31 pm

P.S. I just found this website today and am very happy I did!!! Thank you!


Patty Jones January 29, 2011 at 10:28 am

Glad to have you here!


Abby January 29, 2011 at 2:27 am

I don’t recall a lot of complaints about the VFW when it was in it’s old location.

Are there any actual statistics relating to arrests or violence cause by the VFW and it’s members?

I walked by the place all the time, and it seemed pretty low key and quiet. They only think I every remember thinking was wrong was that they didn’t have a pinball machine.


Nancy January 29, 2011 at 11:40 am

Abby, you may have not seen this posting on the 1/29/11 report in OBRAG:
Off duty San Diego Police Officer Ron Wise, whose assigned patrol area is the Newport Ave. district, was there to answer questions. He’s been on that beat, he said, for 3 ½ years, and for the first six months he was called to the alley on numerous occasions. After those first six months, and for the last three years until the outpost was forced to move, he told the crowd emphatically that there have been no problems from the VFW outpost. Not one.

Also, my husband who is a vet, and I, as a member of the spouse unit, have been to the post about 10 times in the last 4 yrs; he more so than me as goes there with a friend who comes from out of town who is a vet and they have never seen anything out of the ordinary either. We have been to their annual picnic on Labor Day two times in the last 4 yrs. and enjoyed it with no “bad” behavior.


Abby January 30, 2011 at 12:52 am

So why no pinball machine? :-)


Christo Kuzmich January 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Thank you for your continuing coverage about the plight of the VFW.
Let’s get a couple facts straight.
1) There were no pitchforks and torches. There were children, but none appeared sharpened or on fire.
2) There is no other sit-down alcohol service currently in that commercial area. Rancho’s did serve beer and wine, but it was a public market/restaurant that served the local community with limited operating hours.
3) The new location is not “blocks” from 2 schools (a church/ nursery and an elementary school). It is 1 block from Warren Walker and on the same block as Saint Peters.
4) I don’t know Zuchett, and did not vote for him when he ran for office. I was emailed by a friend who lives 2 blocks from the location and has a child attending Saint Peters. My child will attend it next year.
5) Some have thrown out the word that those that oppose this are “Teabaggers”. That phrase would not apply to me. I have lived in OB for more than half my life in 7 different locations. Personally, I prefer the South side of OB- mostly due to the planes. I put myself through college while living in OB, working smart & hard for my money. I was fortunate enough to have my landlord sell me her “cute little 1100sf beach house” and have been scraping pennies since then. I do my own renovations, drive an older car and don’t live an extravagant lifestyle. My daughter was born here, and my second is on the way. I intend on living here until the day I die. Then, throw my butt off the cliffs to feed the fish.
Now some perspective from my part:
1) Most of us who go to sit-down alcohol service in OB, walk. For some, that’s a big reason behind why we moved here. As I walked to the location with my 1 year old daughter in her kid carrier, I noticed that most of the Vets drove to get there, while the locals walked. Remember your comment in your original article about the need for the VFW to be walking distance for the Vets?
2) I don’t have an exact number, but considerably less than the full complement of 160 members of the OB VFW showed up. Maybe 20… could be as high as 30.
3) The VFW offered no substantial plan of action to deal with the local community’s alcohol service concerns. Not having alcohol is unacceptable for the VFW and having it is unacceptable for the local community.
4) The market that was in that location previously had predominantly walk up and short duration parking. Shopping there several times a week, I never saw more than 10 people in there at one time. By the VFW’s own admittance, there is insufficient parking to serve even a small fraction of the VFW’s 160 members.
5) Call it what you want: Exclusive club, Canteen, whatever. It’s first and foremost a bar. If it were any other bar, I would be opposed to it in that location too. Go to the new location at 2pm or 8pm on a weekday and stand there for 15 minutes. Then, ask yourself: “Would the Canteen alter the character of the place differently than a market/restaurant?” I believe it would in a negative way.
6) Calling people names is easy. No need to resort to that. Keeping a rational dialog based on mutual respect is important here.
7) I hope the VFW finds a suitable home. Next to a nursery school in a quite part of town is not it.
Thanks for letting me post my perspective.
Christo Kuzmich


tlrelf February 6, 2011 at 8:15 pm

On another, but related issue, if the proposed new home of the VFW is in a storefront that has been vacant for 5 years, isn’t that a positive?


Danny Morales February 6, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Take another look at some of the other blog-posts related to this issue (VFW relocation) and let me know if positives make any kind of difference to those who remain in opposition to the VFW. How the 5yr vacancy will appear to an administrative law judge is another matter.


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