Pitchforks and Torches for the New Ocean Beach VFW Post

by on January 29, 2011 · 126 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Popular, Veterans

Post Commander Bill Havrilla addresses crowd attending public meeting, Jan. 28, 2011. (All photos by Andy Cohen.)

Back in August, the OB VFW Outpost 1392 received notice from their landlord of 27 years that their lease would not be renewed.  It was a “business decision” on the part of the owner, who had chosen to go in another direction with the property.  I wrote about it back in November.  Ever since, the group has been struggling to find a new home for their band of brothers and sisters.

Location after location that they inquired into was found to be out of reach, either for financial reasons (the rent was simply too high) or because of the stigma attached to the VFW.

About a month ago, Post Commander Bill Havrilla and Quartermaster Vic Tulsie entered into negotiations to rent a vacant building at 4705 Pt. Loma Ave., the former home of Rancho Natural Foods market and restaurant.  The property had sat vacant for five years.

Just over a week ago, a group of “concerned citizens,” members of the neighborhood watch caught wind of the relocation and immediately decided that it would just not do.  There was no room for a VFW outpost in their neighborhood.  No way, no how.  Their opinions were formed, and their minds would not be changed.  NIMBYism at its very best, and they were very angry that they hadn’t been consulted before a lease was signed.

When Havrilla learned of the brewing storm heading his way, he called the meeting that was held last night so that the community could hear their side of the story.  He was genuinely shocked and dismayed at the intensity of the opposition; at the knee jerk nature of the community’s reaction.  “I never fathomed the outcry,” he said.

At issue was the canteen operated by the VFW, and the liquor they serve inside.  That’s understandable since the property, while located in a commercial zone, shares the neighborhood with a large residential area.  There is a pre-school and a church located a few blocks away, and the residents are afraid of exposing their kids to an undesirable element.

VFW Outpost 1392 has a bit of a reputation, and it’s an immensely unfair one.  It comes directly from the previous location on Newport Ave., in the alleyway between the shops on Newport and the Apple Tree market.  It was, by everyone’s admission, a bad location.  It is well known that there is a huge vagrancy problem in that area, and the police are often called out to deal with problems in the alley stemming from homeless individuals.

Off-duty San Diego Police Dept Officer Ron Wise attended to answer concerns about the former VFW post on Newport Ave.

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.

I asked him to what he attributes the change.  “Communication,” he said.  He took the time to talk to the people he would be protecting, to get to know them.  Once a repoire was established, a mutual respect and understanding resulted.  Boundaries were established and never crossed.

He said the reputation attached to the outpost is an unfortunate one.  “It was a bad location, and they’ve been stereotyped (because of) the transients in the area.”  The transients, he said are usually mistaken for VFW members, which has brought a negative stigma to the group. But they’re not members.  They have nothing to do with the VFW.

Another issue raised at the meeting was the assumption that the outpost is open to the public, a fear stoked by former city councilmember Michael Zucchet in a neighborhood watch email exchange.  He cited a Yelp review as proof that anybody can enter and take advantage of the canteen’s cheap prices on alcoholic beverages.

But that is absolutely not true.  I confirmed with Tulsie, the outpost quartermaster, that the occasion cited in the Yelp review was the day of the OB Street Fair, the one and only day of the year the canteen was open to the public.  Not an issue for the Pt. Loma Ave. location, since it’s nowhere near where the fair is held.

A VFW outpost is a private gathering place for members ONLY.  In order to become a member, you must have served in the Armed Forces during combat operations on foreign soil.  There are no exceptions.  There are about 160 total members at Outpost 1392, and not all of them use the canteen at once.  Or at all.

The way these veterans were treated was disgraceful.  There was a distinct “We don’t want your kind around here” feel to the gathering.  Vic Tulsie, I could tsee, was absolutely heartbroken.  These veterans have gone out of their way to serve the Ocean Beach community through many, many charitable acts:  They provide Thanksgiving dinners to the needy; they facilitate communication between active military serving overseas and their families; they provide services and help raise money for families who have lost loved ones on active duty; they raise the 97 American flags that line Newport Ave. on every national holiday; they hold food drives and toy drives for Christmas.  The list goes on and on.

They do all of this for the community, and have asked for nothing in return.  And when they finally need the community’s support the most, they are met with comments like “we object to your clientele, not the VFW,” or “So many of the veterans have problems, are alcoholics or drug addicts.  We just don’t want to expose our kids to that kind of element.”  Another man called the outpost “a sketchy magnet of derelict activity.”  I couldn’t help but wonder if this was how the returning Vietnam vets were treated.

Not In My Backyard

Toward the end of the meeting, one of the residents asked “everyone to raise your hand if you support our veterans.”  Every hand went up.  Then he asked, “Who wants a bar in the neighborhood?”  All hands went down.

It’s really easy to say that you support our veterans, but it’s a lot harder to actually support them.  As if merely saying that you support the veterans makes you some sort of patriotic hero or something.

They finally found a suitable place, and now they’re being run off like mangy dogs.

The OB community now faces a true challenge of character.  The gauntlet has been thrown down.  If you want VFW Outpost 1392 gone, then you have to help them find a new place to go.  Otherwise you’re flirting with hypocrisy.  It’s time for the community to either step up or step off.

{ 125 comments… read them below or add one }

just my 2 cents January 29, 2011 at 10:21 am

I must have been at a different meeting last night…..I saw and heard a respectful group of people who looked and sounded determinted to let the process establised in the city to run its course.
I looked hard at the photos posted and the 50 or so I took and saw no pitchforks or torches or tar n feathers.
I saw people listen and take turns speaking. Yes they voiced opinions as did the organizers.
Mr. Havrilla failed to address wether or not the Canteen would stay at the new location if the liquor license was not transferable…..if you are calling a meeting at least bring something to the table, other than ” we will consult with attorneys”
Looking forward to the follow up meeting to see if City codes are being followed .


bodysurferbob January 29, 2011 at 10:38 am

twocents – i don’t see a lot of “respectful” looking smiles and faces in that audience. were you ever a vet or ever serve in the military?


just my 2 cents January 29, 2011 at 10:50 am

I choose to give adults the latitude to smile or frown when they want to. Both sides listened to one another I consider that respectful.
I served my time. I don’t however think that has a bearing on this.
I have no idea weteher this is the right location for the canteen …time will tell…city code will come into play and the neighborhood will have a small impact.
I am sure if the neighbors don’t want it the VFW will respect that.


Shane Finneran January 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Wow. I can’t believe people would protest the VFW post moving to that location.

-building’s been vacant 5 years
-police had zero problems with former VFW location for three years running
-these are United States veterans we’re talking about

I find the opposition hard to comprehend. And the protesters’ ire was encouraged by a misinformation campaign based on some Yelp entry? This story is stranger than fiction.


Danny Morales January 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Shane-We’re talking about the ‘Teabagger Nation’ here. Where the unconscionable is implemented by unthinking, the unthinkable by the unknowing and the unknowable by the undead! – Rummy


Goatskull January 29, 2011 at 2:14 pm

That’s the big irony. I would thing the Teabagger Nation would be the biggiest supporters of the military and it’s veterans.


Danny Morales January 29, 2011 at 9:04 pm

…and Bob Dylan sang: “I am liberal to a degree, I want everyone to be free, But if you think I’ll let Barry Goldwater, Move in next door and marry my daughter, HOO-WEE!, I wouldn’t let him do it for all the farms in Cuba.”


Danny Morales January 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Andy- I was also at the same meeting as you and all things being equal, found the tenor about normal for what passes for civil discourse in America today. Although politically in the boundaries of OB the issue finds itself within the cultural and economic realm of the white-bread Kingdom on the Point. I’ve done enough political work in the area to know that our fellow citizens up on the hill get mighty upset when ‘the help’ speaks up for itself. Today it’s the veterans, yesterday it was the homeless and tomorrow it may be another locally oriented business. The fact that the same people keep popping up with the same rationale for their aggressive posture towards the most vulnerable in our society leads me to ask: ‘Whose side are you on anyway Pilgrim?’


Andy Cohen January 29, 2011 at 2:07 pm

By the way: Thanks to Danny Morales for his help last night. He was a great sounding board after the meeting and reminded me of some of the more pertinent quotes of the evening.


Danny Morales January 29, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Thanks Andy for the kudos. b/t/w check this out for a timely twist of fate:
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 28, 2011 — America’s oldest and largest major combat veterans’ organization announced it will do everything within its power to defeat a plan introduced by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) to cut $4.5 billion from the Department of Veterans Affairs.


Judi Curry January 29, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I was at the same meeting as the rest of you. In fact, I walked there with Andy. I live one block from the proposed “cantina” and I have very mixed feelings about the move there.
First of all, my husband was a veteran of WWII. I think he would have been thrilled to have the “hall” that close to our house. But, on the other hand, he – and I – have been educators for many years, and we know how children react when they find a stranger asleep in the doorway of their classroom; when the bushes smell of vomit; when human feces is discovered on their playground. There is not just a “pre-school” a few yards from the proposed site. There is also a K-8 school a few yards east of the site. There is a church next to the preschool, and, by the way, the only parking lot in the neighborhood. I know that the church has many activities scheduled daily, and parking is not going to be easy. The site itself only has a few places, and that is shared with the beauty shop next door.

When asked how the Veteran’s that don’t drive will get to the meeting place, Bill said that they would take the bus. The bus does not run on Sunday at all – see one of my previous articles – and the Saturday schedule is, at best, practically worthless. The last bus leaving the site on Saturday is at 10:45pm. How will the veterans get “home” if there is no bus available for them. Will they then sleep in the neighborhood?

Bill also said that the hours that alcohol will be served will be subject to the board’s approval. If the hours are cut back from what they were in Ocean Beach, how will the veteran’s react? Will they be angry? How will they take out that anger?

In driving by the site this afternoon, I see that the “for rent” sign is still posted on the top of the building. What does that mean? There is a signed lease but it is still for rent? Are both sides looking for other suggestions?

So what to do? The obvious is to find some other site. One with parking and not close to two schools, a church and residents. It is also obvious that getting together and yelling about the situation is not going to accomplish anything. Rather, there needs to be other solutions offered, and this is the community that can suggest alternatives. Many residents have their proverbial “finger in the dike” that could be removed to make the entire situation more palatable for everyone. I doubt if Bill, Vic and the rest of the VFW want to become embroiled in this controversy. They do so much good for the community it is hard to believe the negativity shown last night. Bill said he would be back to us on the 9th of February. He didn’t say HOW he would come back to us. He didn’t get a sign-up with emails, or addresses. (Yes, I signed in but only with my name because that was all that was asked for.) And I didn’t receive any announcement of the meeting to begin with. (Buddy and I were taking our daily walk when I bumped into a neighborhood couple that asked me if I was going to the “protest”.) (And, by the way, when I mentioned the meeting to someone that has the power to make changes, she immediately blamed the OBRAG for all the controversy. It wasn’t until I talked to Frank, the publisher of the RAG after 4:30pm on Thursday that anyone at the RAG was aware of the meeting. It was NOT a RAG-induced meeting, and I resented the fact that we were being blamed when we had nothing to do with it. The flyers had been generated several days before I even heard about it and, the OBRAG is in favor of the move; not opposed to it.)

Bill is to be commended for not losing his cool during the meeting. It is obvious that he did our country proud while in the active service. It is also apparent that he was unprepared for the negativity last night. I truly believe that he wants to do what is right for this community, and is open to any and all suggestions, good or bad, before a decision is reached.

My problem? I am not sure what decision I want to see happen. Now, ask me what I think about the expansion of the airport, and I have no problem telling you what I think. The VFW? Not so clear-cut.


Andy Cohen January 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm


Essentially what you’ve just done here is blame the VFW for the homeless problem at their previous location. How do you know that the VFW vets will be “sleeping in doorways,” or vomiting all over the playground, or spreading human feces in the bushes? You’re implying that since that’s what went on on Newport, it’ll happen on Pt. Loma; you’re transferring the larger problems on Newport on to the VFW, and that’s not fair at all.

You’re right about the transportation issues, though, and there are a handful of other things that would need to be addressed. But really, all you’re doing is spreading the unjust stereotype just like the rest of the mob in attendance last night, an it’s just not accurate. You’re telling us that all of the VFW members are degenerate drunks and a menace to the neighborhood.

The problem is that the VFW was willing to listen, but the residents weren’t. The residents had already decided that these were all derelicts that need to be kept away from their neighborhood without knowing the full story, all of the facts.


Judi Curry January 29, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Andy, I don’t see it the same way you do. As I mentioned, Bob would have loved to have the VFW nearby. But he, and I, have experienced some negative problems with bars near our schools. And no matter what you call it, the “cantina” is a bar.
And…it doesn’t matter if it is the VFW or the Boy Scouts – over drinking causes problems.

I am not saying that the members of the VFW will be drunk, vomit or defecate nearby. On the other hand, I cannot say that they will not. I am not calling them “degenerate drunks” but I am saying that some of them may have too much to drink and could be a danger to the community and themselves. There is no place to go to sleep off a bit too much drink here. Sure, there is the beach, and the possibility of falling off the cliff is a real possibility. For safety reasons, it would be more feasible to find the nearest doorway and sleep it off. And where is the nearest doorway? Well, there are two schools and a church.

The residents of the neighborhood DID listen. They are awaiting the decision to be made by Feb. 9th. No one got violent; the crowd managed to police their own.


Sunshine January 29, 2011 at 8:58 pm

While I can appreciate your ability to clearly state your position in this matter, I completely disagree with many of your views. The ones that jump out tat me are:

“some of them may have too much to drink and could be a danger to the community and themselves.”
~ you make it sound like Vets are the only ones capable of endangering the community. do you understand that anyone who already lives on the Point or visits the Point and has too much to drink is capable of this very same act? the population odds are in favor of a resident doing this first.

“There is no place to go to sleep off a bit too much drink here.” This comment sound like you don’t think a veteran would either have enough money or sense to call a cab, a friend, or make other arrangements for a ride when in need of sleep. What do those that live in Pt Loma do to “sleep off too much to drink”? Do they automatically sleep it off in “the nearest doorway” or simply drive home becoming a real danger to their own community? At least veterans watch out for each other.


JEC January 31, 2011 at 8:06 am

Judi – I’m sure you’ll agree, there are many things in life that we learn to live with – like airplanes over OB. If ‘The Bungalow’ had moved to that location would that be a problem? I suspect not. Yet The Bunglow was a true ‘bar’ open to the public. I think, upon reflection, that you’ll agree it is about image – and class status, if you can see that dynamic (or not). We reject the working class nature of the VFW but would accept the upper class nature of a four star French restuarant. While far to many veterans are homeless, if you can afford dues to the VFW I doubt you’re homeless; besides the place has bathrooms, why would anyone choose to go outside to do it in public? But especially for a place like Sunset Cliffs, populated with current and retired military, a neighbor to a field of crosses at Ft. Rosecrans, I find the belligerent response of the citizens to be shameful, without due respect to the people who risked the ultimate on the behalf of their nation.


RB January 31, 2011 at 8:44 am

I am sure you’ll agree, there are many things in life that we learn to live without. ‘The Bungalow’ has closed. And people can have a good time or a meeting without alcohol. Lets keep the working class nature of the VFW, the meeting hall and meet without the alcohol at this location.

Also, a restaurant has a different liquor license with different restrictions than a bar. I believe the revenues from food must exceed the revenue from alcohol and the business must stop serving at midnight.


OB DUDE January 31, 2011 at 9:17 am

Really….why do these guys have to give up the alcohol? I thought there were no violations or disciplinary actions taken by the ABC.

Why give up anything if you are respectful of others and not hurting oneself. Should people give up eating…that makes them fat? Should people give up sex cause they might get aids or pregnant? Give up riding a bike cause you might get hit by a car?

Like any hall there is work and there is play. These are GROWN MEN!…and WOMEN???


RB January 31, 2011 at 11:53 am

I never said they should give up alcohol. They can drink alcohol at home after their meetings. Providing cheap drinks to someone who is going to get into a car is not respectful of others or the surrounding community and it is an unacceptable risk. Riding a bike is an acceptable risk. Riding a bike after drinking is an unacceptable risk.


JEC January 31, 2011 at 10:58 am

RB – I guess my point was a little vague – so you don’t like alcohol, that seems plain enough. I do. It’s part of my cultural heritage (Celtic). What I don’t understand is why specialized control of alcohol exists at all? Beer and wine in particular; they are food, provide nutrition; most of the rest of the world does not have an ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control). Perhaps this attitude against alcohol comes from our Muslim influence, being the only significant culture that prohibits alcohol. Well, them and some counties in Texas. And yes I know the Bungalow was converted – it was offered for illustrative purposes. And about the parking – with children/grand-children once at Warren-Walker, I’m aware of parking – especially during special events when there’s no parking for blocks. WW is ok though.


Ian January 31, 2011 at 11:11 am

I hope you also find the belligerent response of this article equally as shameful. “Pitchforks and Torches”?….. I mean, really?


Shane Finneran January 31, 2011 at 11:37 am

Ian, can I quote you from a Facebook debate from last week? “I have to admit, I chose those words on purpose because I knew they would set off an emotional alarm, and lead to an interesting discussion. ;-)”

LOL. Plus the story in SDUT seems to support Andy’s description of the event: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/jan/28/ocean-beach-residents-against-vfw-bar/


Ian January 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Shane, I hope you can recognize the difference between what I think (correct me if I am wrong) is supposed to be a published article about a community event, and a Facebook comment in the middle of a discussion between individuals (I was throwing you a self deprecating bone, in an attempt to re-track the discussion).

Also, my comment was based in fact (many people, not all, are too lazy and uneducated to save for their own retirement, so they continue their consumerism, and rely solely on government programs), while I don’t think there were actually any pitchforks and torches at the community event.

Alas, neither of us were there so we should beware of these anecdotes.


Danny Morales February 2, 2011 at 10:40 am

Ian – I’m shocked, shocked that a seemingly intelligent person like yourself wouldn’t appreciate the use of a literary trope as headline.


Ian February 2, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Danny – I just don’t think that it serves the cause of swaying the community that this is a good place for the VFW. I can appreciate the use of “literary trope”, but there are times when such hyperbole actually works against your own cause. Take Sarah Palin’s metaphorical use of gun language, or her use of “blood libel”; surely you would agree that her rhetoric backfired?


A.W. Maris February 2, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Ian-Ionesco was quoted as saying that a rhinoceros represents the fascist’s use of language to cover up reality. “Ya’ sure, you betcha’!”


Danny Morales February 2, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Ian-Ionesco was quoted as saying that a rhinoceros represented a fascist’s use of language to cover up reality. “Ya’ sure, you betcha’!”


RB February 2, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Freaky! Whats the chance of two different posters repling to you the exact same way. Must be a billion trillion to one.


Patty Jones February 2, 2011 at 5:40 pm

It sometimes happens when more than one person use the same computer. Am I Patty or Frank?…..


Judi Curry January 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Well, JEC, I think you are comparing apples to oranges. Just because someone has served in the military does not make them a hero. When I was the Director of Vocations for the local job corps, recruiters frequently came to our site and offered our “at risk”, some with diploma’s and some with GED’s, thousands of dollars to enlist in some branch of the service. These people, when hearing that they would be given $20,000 – or more – to enlist, jumped at the chance. They no more should have been representing us than Blackwater should be representing the US.

“Thee Bungalow” was, for the most part, an eating establishment. People did not go there just to drink. They went there for the good food. Better you should ask me if I would have protested the place across the street, because I probably would have done so. Thee Bungalow was open from 5:00 to 9-10:00. Yes, they had drinks available – one of the best wine menu’s in San Diego, but that was not the purpose for going there. There is not food offered at VFW, although one officers told me Friday night that the liquor store across the street was pleased that the cantina was going in because then they would generate more business as they came across the street and ordered sandwiches.

Google says that membership to the VFW is $35 a YEAR! I hardly think that your statement “if you can afford dues to the VFW I doubt you’re homeless.” A couple bags of cans will get them their yearly fee. Homelessness does even play a role in this discussion. The bathrooms are open while the VFW is open. Then what happens? While waiting for a bus – non-existent on Sundays – and someone has to urinate, will they be able to hold it until they get to Newport to catch the bus? I think not.

By the way: There are more than just “crosses” at Rosecrans!

I find your response shameful; you think that just because the veteran served time in the service he should be afforded privileges. He should have a club that only serves drinks; he should be allowed to drink near schools – and I mean NEAR – and a near-by church. I think you are unable to – or unwilling to – look at the situation objectively. You are projecting your own beliefs into a neighborhood that is concerned with the potential problem it might face if the VFW goes into that site. If you read the first line of my answer, I said I was unsure how I felt about the situation. But…I was willing to listen and make judgment on facts; not emotions.

And you might be interested to know that I have NOT accepted the airport flying over my house. I have been fighting that since 1968, and I am continuing to fight.


just my 2 cents January 29, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I disagree the residents listened very well. They responed after his remarks with well thought out remarks. At the end of the day I am sure the City and ABC and SDPD will weigh in on this prior to a decesion being made. In the meantime maybe another sight will be found.


Sarah January 29, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Once again, Judi, you hit the nail on the head. This is not a simple question. And frankly, with the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery parked right up there on the hill above us and with 240,000 veterans in San Diego County it’s more than a little disturbing that we’re just now asking these not-so-simple questions.

Supporting this move doesn’t make one a grand and noble supporter of veterans any more than opposition to it makes one an evil “anti-veteran”. The case could easily be made that easy access to cheap booze is clearly not in the best interest of our veteran population.

As a frequent alley walker, I completely understand why the folks on the quiet end of town would prefer the VFW look elsewhere for a home. Right or wrong the image of this particular outpost is one of people sitting on lawn chairs in a dirty alley, chain smoking and drinking cheap liquor.

I’ve spent many years working with and advocating for veterans and I’ve seen all manner of VFW outposts., Many of them were shining assets to their communities, and some of them were really dumpy and sad. I don’t remember any that were as off-putting as our local Ocean Beach VFW.

Obviously our local VFW desperately needs a PR campaign and a face lift. I know there are members of our local town councils and community organizations who frequent the VFW, it’s not all the down-on-your-luck homeless vet population. I hope that some of these more obviously “upstanding” community members come forward and help enlighten the community as to the mission and purpose of the VFW and all the good they do.

I am a daughter, granddaughter, sister and niece of veterans, mother of a US Navy officer and a veteran myself.


Abby January 30, 2011 at 12:57 am

How about moving a few of those churches and schools? We seem to have WAY to many of those and it’s really causing problems with the zoning laws for all the medical marijuana dispensaries.


OB DUDE January 29, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Just wondering how many of those protested the presence of the VFW at this location because of alcohol and do any of these people consume alcoholic beverages themselves?


Christo Kuzmich January 29, 2011 at 3:52 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


Danny Morales January 30, 2011 at 8:22 am

I threw the ‘Teabagger’ moniker out after hearing it from veterans at the meeting who were frustrated at their inability to get a word in edgewise. My advice to anyone who gives a lengthy bachmannesque rationale in opposing the interests of veterans organizations is; ‘If you don’t want to get up with fleas, then don’t lay with the dogs!’


just my 2 cents January 30, 2011 at 8:38 am

I will repeat what I said earlier: I was at the meeting I saw nobody, Man , Woman or Child who was not able to walk forward and speak up and to be treated with respect. : Either in favor or opposition of the new bar/meeting place.

If somebody was not heard it was because they did not step forward.
Go look at the footage from the news stations . Nobody was shouted down.

This ” frustrated at the inability to get a word in edgewise” is Totally inaccurate in my humble opinion.


Danny Morales January 30, 2011 at 9:06 am

That’s because you weren’t listening to the people who know how to move amongst the hostiles!


just my 2 cents January 30, 2011 at 9:23 am

That is one weak argument. A vet who cant speak are you serious ??
Hostiles that is almost funny….you had famlies and fathers holding children on shoulders , you had people in wheelchairs….you had 40-60 year old women who could stand up and speak like adults to Mr. Havarilla. Notably Julie Klien and Linda Tyler. So VERY funny these women can stand up and speak and a Veteran of a Forgien War can not…this is a hilarious standpoint. So give me a rifle and I will show you my manhood and how macho I am but I am afraid to speak up when it concerns me ….
Am I supposed to buy that ?

You had women pushing strollers with babies in them….And you call this hostile…
So women can stand up and talk and a war seasoned Veteran can not. If I was a war seasoned Veteran I would not be to happy with you Mr. Morales implying they have no voice or opinion. Or they are ” AFRAID” to speak.


Danny Morales January 30, 2011 at 10:28 am

As a decorated military veteran myself (U.S. Navy Expeditionary Medal>Operation Eagle Claw) I can understand and appreciate the discipline of the rank and file to allow their leadership to take the heat no matter how distasteful that may be. What any reasonable person would object to is for a professional photographer to go to an event (under hire of The Peninsula Beacon?) and then try to destroy the crediblity of the citizen journalists on the OB Rag under cover of ‘ just my 2 cents’. A little honesty, integrety and compassion would go well to serve your profession as well as the community at large.

Thank you,
Danny Morales, (USN 1976-80, USNR 1980-82, 1987)


just my 2 cents January 30, 2011 at 10:33 am

your service is appreciated.


OB Mercy January 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I may be out of my freakin’ mind…but why do they have to get together and drink at all?? Can’t there just be a meeting place without alcohol being served? I’m just sayin’…….
And btw, I was a war protester way back when. I protested the war, not the soldiers. And yet I’ve heard that some were spat on upon their return. How shameful!


Judi Curry January 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm

A misconception here: NO ONE spat at anyone at the meeting last night. Don’t know where that came from but it didn’t happen. I was a protester also and was not happy with the entry into the conflict, but last night was no where near the same intensity.

I asked the same question about the drinking. The answer I got, and it is a good one, was that the drinks give them the revenue to buy the turkeys for Thanksgiving; it gives them the revenue to aid the community and they do many, many things for the community. That is their source of income.


Andy Cohen January 29, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Who are you–or any of the rest of us, for that matter–to tell these grown adults who have served our country in the most trying of circumstances whether they can or cannot LEGALLY consume an alcoholic beverage or three? Have you never had a sip of alcohol? If you have, then you have no right to look down upon them for wanting to enjoy a beer in the company of their peers.

None of us has any right to tell them that they shouldn’t be able to include alcohol at their social gatherings. I find it utterly and completely BAFFLING that ANYONE should admonish these folks for drinking a cocktail!

And if alcohol is such a sore subject in that neighborhood, then why is the liquor store on the opposite corner of that very same intersection allowed to remain in operation?

Telling these vets that they shouldn’t have any alcohol in their canteen is incredibly hypocritical, unless you’re a nun.


OB DUDE January 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Maybe the Thursday Club should be subject to the same protests. Alcohol is served in the fine neighborhood establishment.


Goatskull January 29, 2011 at 8:29 pm

That is the dumbest question i’ve ever heard and quite frankly I don’t think deserves an answer.


Shane Finneran January 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Would the concerned neighbors be open to VFW if VFW offered to not serve alcohol until well after schools close, and to shut down at 10pm on weekdays?
Because VFW offered that on 10 News yesterday:


Andy Cohen January 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm

With all due respect to Judi, she was there, and she heard the same comments that I did, as did Dan. And it wasn’t just a handful of those in attendance that more than implied that the VFW members were a dirty, derelict element that didn’t belong in THEIR neighborhood. It was the “clientele” they objected to, and not just the bar. That was made clear by a number of those present (albeit not all).

They had made up their minds long before this meeting took place. Nothing was going to change that, regardless of the concessions Commander Havrilla offered to make.


Diane5150 January 29, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Oh my. It is unfortunate that the VFW has been erroneously linked to a bad element. In Missoula, Mt. the VFW became the only gay bar in town. It was a perfect solution. Another aspect I find interesting is the denial that the veterans are self medicating. I mean if you spend all day everyday in a bar, self medication is happening.

That points to mental health issues. Well Duh. War is hell. I think definition and consistent enforcement of boundries is a solution everyone can live with.


OB Mercy January 29, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Judi, you need to reread my post. I was talking about vets when they came back from ‘Nam in the early 70’s being spat upon. Don’t know how you made that about the mtg, but sorry if I wasn’t clear.

I’m n0t against drinking Andy, I like to throw back some too. I just thought it should be more about the vets getting together, then about anything else. ‘Nuff said.


Judi Curry January 29, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Sorry OB if I misinterpreted your meaning.

There are some other communication problems also: Andy and I went to the meeting with different agenda’s in mind. I live in the neighborhood of the proposed Cantina. I have had experience in my professional life of working near a bar – open to everyone. I enjoy a good martini or margarita and make a wicked Irish Coffee.
BUT….I do not like drunks – male, female, gay, straight, VFW, Coeds, etc. I try to stay out of their path, either at a party, in a car, on the sidewalk, etc. If there were limits to the number of drinks served to people the idea of the cantina might be more palatable to me. (Although one of my foreign language students came in drunk last night after having ONE glass of red wine.)

The fact that they served our country well in unimaginable conditions does not give them license to disregard laws. I admire those men and women that put their life on the line by fighting for our country. But I do not think that having their own social club that encourages drinking should be payback for fighting for freedom.
The fact that the monies generated from the drinks help with community relief does not make it right – or wrong. And I am not saying they should not drink. I would never presume to tell anyone that they cannot have a drink UNLESS they are becoming a danger to themselves and others.

Andy, I did not hear anyone talk bad about the members of the VFW. They talked about the homeless that camped out near the old VFW building. Everyone said they supported the vets – but did not support a bar.

As far as the Thursday club – they are not open on a daily basis. They hold a meeting on Thursday’s and are available for rental for other festivities. And..there is adequate parking; and they are no schools within many blocks of the building.

And as far as the liquor store across the street: One cannot consume the liquor they purchase at the store. If anyone did, the store would lose their license.

And what concessions were offered? He said he would talk to his board and they would make decisions re: times that liquor was served; there were no concrete concessions at this meeting.


just my 2 cents January 29, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Judi, You have hit the nail on the head. This is spot on.

This whole story/article was written with a bad spin towards the people who actually have the option and right to dis-agree with the VFW.
If the Newport VFW was go darn great where are the hundreds of supporters you would expect.
That VFW bar on Newport was known for cheap drinks and a good spot to get drunk cheap. And they do welcome most anybody I have friends who once they became a “regular” were never bothered as long as they tip a buck a drink.
Maybe the VFW should check out the old Captains Quarters on Scott St….


Judi Curry January 29, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Just a quick aside that took place just minutes ago. I have a foreign language student living with me to learn to speak English. He just came back after a day seeing San Diego. When he came in the door way he looked scared. I asked him what the problem was and he said the walk from the bus stop to the house – a distance of 1 block – is so dark that when he saw two people walking on the street he did not know if they were men or women. That is the same bus stop that would pick up and deliver the people from the VFW and my student is right. The street is very dark, in spite of street lamps. If I put the trash out and need to add more to it, I have to almost be right on top of it to tell whether it is the black – or blue – barrel. IF the VFW come in, something must also be done about the lighting in the neighborhood.


Andy Cohen January 29, 2011 at 9:37 pm

“Andy, I did not hear anyone talk bad about the members of the VFW. They talked about the homeless that camped out near the old VFW building.”

Are the homeless coming to Pt. Loma Ave with the VFW? Because it was statements like this made last night that caused me to scratch my head………it’s essentially blaming the VFW for the homeless problem at the old location. What is not getting through to the residents for some reason is that the homeless problem and the VFW are mutually exclusive–on has nothing at all to do with the other. And that’s why I think the reaction is wrong.


OB DUDE January 29, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Lighting now that is an issue in itself. There is NO lighting at Collier Park or Sunset Cliffs….. can you image what goes on there?

On a side note: women usually have boobies :-)


Danny Morales January 29, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Dude- SS Cliffs and Collier Park are in Point Loma- As we can from the previous discussion, the people of the peninsula, for the sake of their children, wouldn’t engage in any ‘sketchy derelict activity’. Why, even that bastion of fairness, the UT has the headline “Ocean Beach Opposes VFW” going viral. And these people want to corral us into a polite rational discussion of the issues. Gimme a freakin’ break. The power elite of San Diego HATE our community and its OBceans with a passion! Nothing polite or rational to see here folks. Keep moving.


JEC January 31, 2011 at 8:27 am

Actually, Danny, for it’s relevance; it is a fact, the folks ‘downtown’ have long disliked the people in OB. In 1898 the City Council assigned the first beat cop to walk the beaches – “to keep an eye on those people!” Beset with land speculators, the first anti-developer demonstrations were in 1925. The ruling elite lead by C. Arnold Smith thought they had the perfect plan when, in 1968 they got a plan approved to virtually bulldose OB from Sunset west. Replacing ‘the zoo’ with high rise hotels and condos. Construction on the jetty for the new channel to Mission Valley was actually started. OB as we know it today would be history is the Obceans hadn’t put their bodies in front of those bulldosers. So yes Danny the downtown power elite has been trying to wipe out OB, or more importantly it’s attitude, for a hundred years.


Danny Morales January 31, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Thank you JEC for putting this all in perspective. I now have no doubt about whose side I’m on in history! It can only hope the same for the rest.- Danny


Diane5150 January 29, 2011 at 11:20 pm

OB Dude, anyone can buy and install boobies these days.


Deborah January 30, 2011 at 12:32 am

Mr. Cohen
I am really quite amazed by the tone of your article (as well as some of the responses thereto). I think last night’s meeting is more accurately described by “Just My Two Cents” than your coverage of the event. Although a number of us in the neighborhood feel passionately about this issue — especially considering the lack of notification to the neighbors of this non-conforming tenant and the potential impact it will have — I believe last night’s discussion did not digress into the kind of “mob” mentality I think your article insinuates.

I would like to specially address a couple of points you raise:

1. “They finally found a suitable place . . .”
To describe this quiet, residential community as a “suitable place” for a canteen misses the point entirely! The concerns of the neighborhood deal entirely with the “unsuitable” nature of this tenancy!

2. “And when they finally need the community’s support the most . . .”
If the VFW had appealed to the community to assist them in trying to find a new location for their Post, the generally tolerant and generous OBceian community would have been glad to assist! I’m sure that the community would have been happy to donate funds, realtor services, and even legal representation to assist the VFW in finding a new home within the community that is more “suitable” to their needs. Instead, the neighborhood finds out AFTER the lease has been signed that a non-conforming tenant intends to move in.

3. “The gauntlet has been thrown down. If you want VFW Outpost 1392 gone, then you have to help them find a new place to go.”
To suggest that it is now the obligation of this neighborhood to find a new home for the VFW or to pay to relocate the Post is placing the weight of this situation in the wrong court. As mentioned above, this neighborhood would have been helpful if asked by the VFW for assistance — to demand now that it is our obligation to find them a new home or deal with what seems like a completely outrageous situation seems like something else entirely.

My understanding (and I believe a lot of my neighbors) was that last night’s meeting was an opportunity for the VFW to assuage the concerns of the neighborhood regarding parking mitigation, hours that conflict with the tone of the neighborhood, and selling alcohol so close to elementary schools, a church and a residential community. However, Post Commander Havrilla did not come prepared to discuss any mitigation measures that would address the neighborhood’s concerns. Instead, last night’s meeting was basically a commercial touting the admittedly very laudable contributions the VFW makes. I do not believe that any of us in this community doubt that the VFW is an honorable organization that deserves our support. However, this is a quiet, residential neighborhood with two elementary schools, a church, and residences within shouting distance of this location. If Mr. Havrilla had come prepared to discuss what he should have known were the legitimate concerns we have regarding moving a VFW Post to this location, the neighbors would have been much more receptive to what he had to say.

Finally, to hold an “informational” meeting for impacted neighbors with very little advance notice and during the height of rush-hour traffic is not conducive to allowing a full and open discussion about an issue that will have such an impact on the neighborhood.

Please put aside all of the hyperbolic vitriol and let’s try to come up with a resolution to this issue!

Thank you.

P.S. My computer was hacked today trying to make this post. My employer will be looking into the who/when of this incident (and does not take kindly to having their company property messed with!!!). I cannot believe that a passionate stance about something as basic as someone’s neighborhood would bring such a vicious backlash!


Danny Morales January 30, 2011 at 8:34 am

Unauthorized use of company computers for personal use is subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination. I’ll let the gentle reader apply the rule to the facts as you have presented them and make a judgment from there!


Diane5150 January 31, 2011 at 12:20 am

Paranoia? Hmmmm, interesting.


Abby January 30, 2011 at 1:00 am

Deborah: I seriously doubt your computer was ‘hacked”.


Deborah January 30, 2011 at 1:16 am

I concede “hacked” might not be an appropriate term. I am admittedly not very computer savy. However, my company is and can tell exactly when a virus infected my computer.


Abby January 30, 2011 at 3:50 am

Ah, different story. Sorry that happened to you. Sending out a virus to someone just to mess with them is childish and uncool. And requires no hacking skill to do it.

Sorry, it’s a pet peeve of mine when people use the term hacking when they don’t even seem to know what if is. I also dislike when people use hacking as a synonym for “criminal activity”. Hacking is a skill that can be used for good or evil depending on the person.

The hackers helping to provide internet access and get news out of Egypt are using their skills for good, keep people like them in mind next time you blame “hackers” for something.

Some jerk sending you a virus is not cool, but it’s not really hacking. If my coworker leaves his pc unlocked, and I change his background to Lemon Party, it’s not hacking, it’s just damn funny!


Abby January 30, 2011 at 3:52 am


I forgot not everyone here is an internet nerd!!


Sarah January 30, 2011 at 7:49 am

oh Abby.

What have you done whilst not sleeping.


Shane Finneran January 30, 2011 at 8:56 am

you told me not to look, so I had to look. now I wish I hadn’t looked! :)


Abby January 31, 2011 at 12:15 am

Shane: There are many rules to the internet, and one of them is “If Abby says DO NOT LOOK” then for the love of all that is good and decent, do not look!”


Shane Finneran January 30, 2011 at 8:53 am

Why won’t any VFW critics respond to either of the two key points below?
1) VFW has offered to adjust hours until well after school closes and close at 10 on weeknights
2) police have had zero problems with previous VFW location for three years running

2 cents? Judi? Christo? Deborah?


just my 2 cents January 30, 2011 at 9:58 am

Mr. Finneran….Just to set matters straight: I see both sides of the issue.

Point 1. Good for them making concessions…
Point 2. Officer Ron spent 6 months cleaning up the alley and the element that ” hung out” around the former VFWbar/social club/ on Newport.
Officer Ron also asked some very pointed questions concerning montering of events at the proposed new location ( hours ,patrons, smoking, over consumption etc) since SDPD and all City services can NOT be everywhere. Havrilla said they will self moniter….Ron than asked ” And how about when YOU are gone ?? ” Havrilla said ” the post commander will and i will be checking up” Officer Ron does have some concerns if you listened to his line of questions.
The city will make the final decesions I beleive in this matter.


Shane Finneran January 30, 2011 at 10:12 am

Thank you for the follow-up. The VFW’s offer to adjust their hours sure seems to solve the problem of being near schools. And as far as potential for bad behavior, I’m just wondering if there’s any recent evidence supporting that, or if the only recent evidence is the evidence of good behavior (zero police calls for 3 years running).


Ian January 31, 2011 at 11:18 am

That sounds like a fair compromise to me, and at the very least, the VFW is aware of their reputation (deserved or not) in the community.

There is a fair bit of anecdotal evidence of bad behavior surrounding the VFW. This weekend I asked some of my friends and family what they thought, and many have negative stories about incidents right outside of the hallway.


Shane Finneran January 31, 2011 at 11:41 am

Watch out for anecdotes. By definition, they are unreliable for making decisions. And often they are rumor or urban legend: “There is too a such a thing as a Chupacabra. My boyfriend’s cousin’s little brother’s former roommate knew this guy who knew this other guy who saw one.”


Ian January 31, 2011 at 11:54 am

Well, that is why I chose that word. To make it clear that reality and perception are not always the same.


just my 2 cents January 30, 2011 at 9:06 am

Mr. Finneran were you at the friday nights meeting between the VFW and concerned neighbors?


Shane Finneran January 30, 2011 at 10:01 am

No, I wasn’t.


just my 2 cents January 30, 2011 at 10:07 am

It was very well done…very respctful on both sides and informative.
It is possible to have differing viewpoints and remain civil and that is what happened.
Contray to what some took home that night. If you went to the meeting with a chip on your shoulder it got deeper when you left. nuf said.


Andy Cohen January 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Just for the record:

I’m not the only one who saw it this way:


Ian January 31, 2011 at 1:27 pm

But you have sensationalized it with rhetoric; reducing it to a matter of supporting veterans, and comparing them to being run off like “mangy dogs”. Instead you want to demonize those who have legitimate concerns about a bar/canteen in a quite neighborhood near schools.

I was born 2 blocks away, currently live 1.5 blocks away, and my grandfather was the pastor at St. Peters by the Sea for many decades.

My initial reaction is that this is not a good place for a bar/canteen, especially given the (possibly, and very likely, unfair) reputation of the VFW.

The sensationalist rhetoric doesn’t bode well for the cause of convincing the community that the riffraff associated with the VFW’s former location was a matter of that location, and not the VFW itself (which is where this debate should be focused).


Deborah January 30, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Mr. Morales
With regard to your comment “Unauthorized use of company computers for personal use is subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination. I’ll let the gentle reader apply the rule to the facts as you have presented them and make a judgment from there!”
I fortunately work for a company that encourages its employees to get involved in their community. Additionally, infecting someone’s computer with a virus simply because they disagree with your point of view sure seems contrary to the morale values the VFW fought for our country to protect!


Danny Morales January 30, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Debora- Please don’t jump to conclusions. Can you prove that the motive for infecting your computer was because of your opinion on this issue or might there be some other reason for your work computer’s virus? And please take your head (and the heads of others) out of the clouds when it comes to the role and purpose of the U.S. military. If we’re in need of a moral sermon we’ll go to church!


Patty Jones January 30, 2011 at 10:10 pm

As the “Head Geek in Charge” I can absolutely assure you, you did not get a virus from our website. If your computer has some other vulnerability I can’t answer to that, but in your own words, you are “admittedly not very computer savvy”. Saying that we gave you a virus is no less an attack on us for our point of view on an issue.

If your employer has issue with our website they may contact me, Patty, at obragblog@gmail.org. Unless you have proof that you got a virus from us I am asking you to stop insinuating that we would stoop to this level, even if we were able to selectively give a virus to you and no one else. I am admittedly a geek, but I’m no hacker… ( and I didn’t mean that in a bad way Abby ;) )


Abby January 31, 2011 at 12:12 am

No offense taken Patty!

I think with all the stuff I’ve been posting about Egypt it’s pretty clear most of the hackers are just a little too busy for some pretty (and boring) virus planting.


Abby January 31, 2011 at 12:13 am

Damm! Where did the ‘edit’ feature go? I meant “petty” not “pretty”!


Deborah January 31, 2011 at 7:54 am

I certainly hope that I am wrong about the virus, I hate to think that I picked it up from a website that I was excited to have found and was enjoying participating in. And, I did not mean to imply that the OBRag had anything directly to with it, only that I was on the site when it happened. It will leave it up to the IT guys to figure it out.
I hope that OB is still the kind of place where you can have a passionate discussion about something that obviously means so much to so many without being personally attacked for your point of view.
As a result of this issue, we have neighbors getting to know each other who are working together toward a mutual goal, which is a good thing. I am hopeful that we can come to a solution that works for all concerned parties.
Thank you for providing a forum for this type of discussion!


Deborah January 31, 2011 at 8:35 am

I certainly hope that I’m being paranoid and that I am wrong — it’s terrible to think that I’ve picking up a virus on a website I had recently discovered was excited to participate in. And, I did not mean to imply that the OBRag had anything directly to do with it, just that I was on the site when it occurred. As I admitted earlier, I am not very computer savvy so I will leave it up to the IT guys to determine the cause.
This has been a passionate debate over an issue that obviously means a lot to many people. One of the things I love most about OB is that is it full of diverse characters with a wide range of opinions and interests and that, for the most part, we can all feel free to express our differences in a way that respects and embraces each other.
Thank you for providing a forum for the community to discuss and, hopefully, find some resolution to this situation that will be satisfactory to all involved parties.


Deborah January 31, 2011 at 8:52 am

Oops. Apparently, still having computer issues. I thought the first comment did not go through and had to rewrite and post it and now there’s two! Sorry for the redundancy!


Abby February 1, 2011 at 12:57 am

Deborah: You “picked up” a virus from a website? Just like that?

Sounds like you have what we in the IT business call an ID10T error.


RB February 1, 2011 at 8:44 am

Wow, isn’t this new age of civility great.


OB DUDE February 1, 2011 at 9:02 am

Name calling doesn’t sit well with me either. Not to say at times I would LIKE to call one an idiot or maybe use a few other words (and yes, I have done this so I am not saintly) but then realize there is only a moment of satisfaction to it all and then I look dumb.

Think how these vets feel with all the negativity towards them. Yeah, alcohol has something to do with it but heck most of the people on the point consume alcohol, so that is a two-faced arguement. Drinking is part of our culture like it or not. I think the vets are getting the guilty until proven innocent at this location. Maybe it would be a start for them to make some of their own changes ….to have a place to go that is on the front of the street instead of a back alley. A new place, a new start, new goals brings change….NO?

Sometimes you gotta have faith.


Frank Gormlie February 1, 2011 at 9:08 am

I would also like to add that I think it is a class bias as well. The VFW post usually has enlisted people as their members, not officers. The retired officers drink at home in their nice Point Loma mcmansions.


RB February 1, 2011 at 9:42 am

Isn’t nice Point Loma mcmansions an example of class bias as well?


Danny Morales February 2, 2011 at 11:31 am

RB-Dialectical Materialism recognizes class orientation as the bias for action. The question remains: Which side are you on, Pilgrim?

Abby February 2, 2011 at 1:07 am

After about 20 years in the IT world I’ve developed a rather Dr. House outlook on users. Everyone is either lying or stupid.

If the site was giving people a virus, more people would be complaining. Therefore, the user in question is either lying or a moron.


just my 2 cents January 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Mr. Cohen you are 100 % right on 2 or 3 occassions that did happen… People were anxious to be heard I agree……But the vast majority of the time it was respectful I felt. . And the people who were there did self police…I heard it several times said….” stop dont yell” and ” wait your turn” Officer Ron and Mr Havrilla did a fine job directing the remarks.
I hope you do not interput my remarks as ” destroying your credibility”
If so I apoligize.
Jim Grant


Diane5150 January 31, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I’ve been following this discussion and alcohol seems to be the sticking point. If the VFW moves to this new location do they need a liquor license? Are they entitled to a liquor license? The voices I’m hearing, say that selling alcohol near schools and churches, and the neighborhood is destructive to the fabric of society.

Alcohol abuse is a symptom that the fabric of society is already in trouble. Ostracizing a group because of their perceived destructive behavior is not the same as having facts which support that perception.

Humans have been self-medicating their pain away since time began. The people who are protesting the loudest are probably self-medicating right now by using, the internet, coffee, cigarettes, food, or should I say it, alcohol.

I see a scapegoating of the VFW, and alcohol by people who simply are in denial about what is really tearing apart the fabric of society. A profound lack of compassion and the inability of people to set boundries and let go of the need to control the behavior others.


annagrace January 31, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Someone posted elsewhere that there is a liquor store across the street from the proposed VFW site. I thought there were municipal codes defining how close liquor stores can be to schools.


Danny Morales February 1, 2011 at 11:26 am

Anna- Don’t take the bait! The alcohol issue is a canard. There were also catcalls coming from the (expletives deleted) about smoking too! Lets face it, Frank, JEC and others got it right. Gentrification has gotten so far out of hand in OB that the propertied class (w/allies, foot soldiers and dupes) now sees the VFW as a symptom of blight! Was it just a business decision to kick a non-profit service agency out of its home of 25+ years so as to increase the property owner’s bottom line? Was it just a matter of resources that the Ocean Beach Main Street Association (OBMA) didn’t lift a finger to come to the aid of a member when asked? And is it just a matter of coincidence that OBMA vice-president Julie Klein has become the public face of the opposition to the VFW?

Since the OB Merchants Association sold out its franchise to the National MainStreet Association there has been a continual betrayal of the the public trust to the corporate bottom line. The fact that political low life’s like Kevin Faulconer and Michael Zucchett are behind much of this should leave no doubt as to where people are coming from.

Sorry if I offended your sensibilities gentle reader. I just find it harder and harder to accept the criminal rationalizations of my class enemies.- Danny


Ruth Weston February 1, 2011 at 8:32 am

I am not a veteran, nor am I very patriotic, but I drank in the VFW morning, noon ,and night.

Anyone tall enough to reach the bar with currency could get a $2 liquor drink or beer.

I am new to this blag and am curious if this article contains a great deal of sarcasm or if the research was shoddy.


Danny Morales February 1, 2011 at 11:29 am

Nice try, Ruth. But you’re competing with professional trolls here!


Outlaw February 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm



BOBOB February 1, 2011 at 5:16 pm

danny your wrong. plenty of us that have lived in the neighborhood all of our lives are broke, living simple lives but staying in an overpriced area because of one simple reason, we love it. to try and blame us, the residents for the very clear and obvious reputation and record of the oB vfw and its patrons, veterans and not, which is the one and only reason we oppose it, is ridiculous. No canteen around our kids. No additional drunks on our streets. Sorry, newport was a great location for the type of place they have maintained over the years. Just because they/you are playing the vet card doesn’t change the reality of what that place is/was. No thanks. Try voltaire, lots of parking, cheap rents, no schools…


Shane Finneran February 1, 2011 at 5:41 pm

could you offer some examples of “the reality of what that place is/was”?

because the police officer who spoke at the meeting said that he worked things out with the VFW three years ago and has had no problems ever since.

also the police officer clarified that a lot of “reputation” attributed to VFW is actually the result of people not related to VFW who happened to be nearby


thinking out loud February 2, 2011 at 8:32 am

Shane what Officer Ron wise said was ” I / We worked for 6 months cleaning up the alley and the people that hung out around the VFW post”
yes he said that element may not have been VFW members, BUT it did attract that element …this is part of what concerns the residents about the new location.

Stop Officer Wise on the street and ask him for more details, hes in OB everyday.

That post had a reputation just like any other business in OB or anywhere.


Shane Finneran February 2, 2011 at 9:02 am

still looking for examples. after all, reputation can be one thing, reality another.


Ian February 2, 2011 at 9:12 am

You never saw the puke in the hallway, people sleeping in the hallway, dudes congregating outside the hallway in the alley smoking and cussing at those passing by?

Pretty much similar type of acts you will see outside of many bars all over America at any given time?


Shane Finneran February 2, 2011 at 9:37 am

I walked by the old VFW hundreds of times, as I often use that tunnel leading to Newport Ave. To me, the place always seems as if a chess match could break out at any time.

Wasn’t very hard to see what was going on inside because as I remember, the place was pretty wide open and visible to passers-by. Don’t remember any puke in the hallway. Don’t remember anyone sleeping there either, especially not anyone that I associated with VFW.

I certainly never was cussed at. Can’t imagine how that would go down. Were you cussed at by a VFW patron? What did he/she say? If someone did cuss at me, I’m pretty sure I would remember the gist of what they said.

As for congregating outside to smoke, I don’t think that’s illegal, and seems like a necessary response to the law that you can’t smoke inside. You’re for personal freedoms, right?


Ian February 2, 2011 at 10:49 am

It has been about 5 years since I have walked through the hallway, ever since they took away the parking at Appletree, as I don’t want a ticket or to be towed.

But I have seen puke, and people sleeping in there plenty of times. As for the cussing at passers by, when I mentioned the VFW move to a friend this past weekend he told me a story about a year ago when he was driving down the alleyway a few scruffy old men congregating outside of the hallway started yelling “Slow down, mutherfv*ker” with the “bird” flying. He said he waved and checked his speedometer and he was going 12 mph. Another person told me that they remember dropping someone off to run into Appletree, and they had to roll up their window because of the beligerant conversation of those congregating outside the hallway in the alley.

I really don’t have a problem with any of this, as I have mentioned many times before, as this is behavior that can be seen outside of pretty much every bar all across the world. But I understand why the people who live in the quite Point Loma neighborhood don’t want this near where they live.

You want to paint a picture of brotherly chess matches vs. an angry mob of pitchfork and torch wielding veteran haters. And this just doesn’t jive with reality.


Shane Finneran February 2, 2011 at 11:25 am

OK, so you’ve seen puke, and you’ve heard two stories about things said by people in the alley. None of the above confirmed to be related to VFW. Personally, I don’t think that evidence amounts to much, but that’s just me.

I do appreciate that you provided some evidence. Most of the original anti-VFW commenters on this post haven’t posted any facts and haven’t responded to facts posted by anyone else.


Ian February 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Yes, this is why it is called anecdotal evidence. And it falls in line with what can be observed around bars all over the world.

The point is, that the people who oppose the VFW in that location, have legitimate reasons to be concerned, they are not torch wielding nutjobs with a hatred for veterans.

Rather than discounting, and minimizing the concerns of the people in the neighborhood, I think it would be more effective to try and explain why the old VFW was a victim of a bad location, and why the new location will be different.

Honestly, I am having a hard time understanding why an intelligent person like yourself doesn’t understand this.


Shane Finneran February 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Thank you for the compliment. I do understand the objections. I just don’t agree that they are legitimate, so I’ve asked questions of the people voicing the objections. This has felt like a pretty health discussion to me.

Andy Cohen February 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm

See, now there you go, blaming the VFW post for the homeless/vagrancy problem on Newport.

This seems to be the assertion of all of those opposed to the VFW occupying their new location–that they’re all vagrants and homeless types, and all of the problems on Newport are directly associated with the VFW post. I would like you to provide some DIRECT EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE to support your claim. Here’s a hint: There isn’t any! I’ve looked, I’ve talked to people, and it’s just not there. It’s a false stigma that the Pt. Loma residents have assigned to these folks in order to turn them into something they’re not. It’s an easy accusation to make given all of the activity in the Newport Ave. district, but it’s just false and wrong to assign it to this one group.

But I’ll have more on that tomorrow…….

Here’s another question for you to ponder: How many of you think that the vagrancy problem on Newport will simply disappear now that the VFW is gone? Logic says that if they’re responsible for it, now that they’re gone it should all just go away, right?


Ian February 2, 2011 at 9:01 am


It is a pretty reasonable concern to have considering that vagrants would sleep in the hallway, and congregate in the alley way right outside of the VFW hallway. Combine that with the fact that the VFW is a private club and most people are not allowed (so they don’t know the clientele of the cantee) and you have a situation where people are going to draw conclusions. Kind of like how the OBRag makes generalizations about people who want limited government because some “Teabaggers” will tout racist signs.

I think that what most people don’t realize is that this conception is an example of guilt by association. When you consider that the hallway there is prime real estate for vagrants to congregate and gain shelter, it is most likely that the vagrants will not follow the VFW into Point Loma, because the new location is NOT such a location where they can gain shelter.

Again, I think that some of you are taking the wrong approach in your attempts to convince the neighborhood that this is a good location for the VFW. Instead of polarizing the debate and telling reasonable people that their concerns are unreasonable, I think it would serve the VFW better if you recognize the (most likely false) stigma that the VFW has garnered, and try to explain that it was a matter of guilt by association.

I don’t know if you grew up in O.B./P.L., if you live here now, or if you have ever lived here, but I really have to question anyone who is trying to spin the situation around the former VFW as a shining beacon of the community.


Southy Bob February 1, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Wow, I am new to OB and this whole issue. I guess because I am new I have less emotion regarding this matter. I am a CEO of a company and the founder of two other companies. So I have a long history of business conflicts and what are good business decisions.

As a small business owner I can understand the VFW issues of finding a new location regardless why they lost their last lease. As an boss my fist question would be to the head of the VFW, ” Why did we lose this lease?” OK Now where do we go?
This is where an understanding of Club/Fraternity/?. I was President of my National Fraternity for 10 years after I graduated. I went thru moving houses and dealing with neighbors and the police.

It is a very simple business tree decision process:

1) Neighbors are a major concern because of noise, drunkards ( remember this was a Frat.), Parking ( Big Problem)
2) Neighbors have the financial means to make our lives difficult
3) DUI’s and arrests

Now how can I say all of this because I had to manage a National Frat for 10 yrs.

From a purely business point of view the head of the VFW needs to review his decision tree. From my business point of view I would be say,” Sir, you have probably made a error in your decision.” Remember, I get tell CEO’s of big companies this comment. Free of charge!

Now none of us are perfect.If you have run your own businesses, you have had to live with your mistakes. I always love when people ask me,How do you know so much? My answer is always, ” I made more mistakes then you have!’

With all due respect to the head of the VFW, you should review your decision to locate at this location. It violates several very important business decisions which you must now live with.

This has nothing to do with the Veterans or the VFW. It has to do with what is a good business decisions! This is what the City Council needs to review is all of the above.

Noise and Neighbor Hood!
Parking Major Issue!
Liquor Issues ( major)
This would tax the local police force which has limited resources. Tax Dollars

As a small business owner I cannot support the VFW decision for business reasons only!

Hope this help people focus and if you attack this response I love to buy you coffee and see how good a business person you really are. Bad business is Bad Business!


Shane Finneran February 2, 2011 at 7:57 am

Hey Warren Buffett, you said something about taxing the local police force. But police have noted that VFW has had zero incidents for three years running. Shouldn’t that fact be part of your CEO analysis?

BTW I really enjoyed “I always love when people ask me,How do you know so much?”


Ruth Weston February 2, 2011 at 7:49 am

I was in no way a regular, but I assure you I drank there.


Ruth Weston February 2, 2011 at 7:53 am

I have a picture of two non-veteran females drinking at the VFW bar Christmas 2009 if anyone want to start reporting the truth here.


Shane Finneran February 2, 2011 at 8:05 am

By all means, let’s see that photo, Ruth. So far none of the VFW critics has presented any evidence of unsavory behavior from the VFW. So personally I would be very interested to see your photographic evidence. Something tells me it is going to be a little less scandalous than “Girls Gone Wild OB VFW Edition” but let’s let the picture do the talking.

Also, I find it interesting that your argument against the VFW is “they let me drink there.” Kind of Groucho Marxish, as in “I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member.” But we can discuss that further after we see your photo.


thinking out loud February 2, 2011 at 8:26 am

I ” think” the point being made is enforcing the rules of the VFW internally. And anybody who was at the meeting last Friday nite saw and heard the concern about this exact thing from SDPD officer Ron Wise …He asked those exact questions. And got very vague answers from the VFW Official.
I personally know of 3-4who drank at the VFW for years and were not members, do I have photographic evidence, no ……does that mean it did not happen ? Of course not.


Ruth Weston February 2, 2011 at 8:41 am

How does one upload a photo here?


Shane Finneran February 2, 2011 at 8:44 am

not sure if you can do it in a comment, but you could upload to Picasa or flickr or Facebook or any site like that, and then just put a link here


Ruth Weston February 2, 2011 at 8:56 am


Please do not misunderstand. I want my $2 drinks back so I want the VFW to move into my apartment. The place was a free for all and that is why they are gone from their previous spot. I want it back as much as the rest of the “veterans” do, but please do not make the place out to be a well ordered, disciplined, veterans only club, because it was, in all reality, a place for locals to get drunk early and often. If you have doubts go check Lucy’s in the AM. You will find the VFW crew there some days talking all about the possible new spots while smoking a cigarettes on the bench outside.


Ruth Weston February 2, 2011 at 8:59 am

I am not into all that social media stuff and do not have accounts (nor do I want one).


Shane Finneran February 2, 2011 at 11:21 am

OK, instead, you can email the picture to me (myfirstname.mylastname @ gmail.com) and I will post it somewhere and put a link here.


Patty Jones February 2, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Sorry, I should jumped in and offered to help with this, just been a busy morning…


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