In Our Name : Ocean Beach Planning Board to Determine Future of VFW Post 1392

by on February 3, 2011 · 48 comments

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

He that filches from me my good name
robs me of that which enriches him not
and makes me poor indeed.

Wm Shakespeare, “Othello”, Act 3 scene 3

The February 2nd meeting of the Ocean Beach Planning Board (OBPB) began with its usual silent reading of the minutes leaving the packed room in a funereal quiet for some time. Only the modifications to include the attendance of District 4 Representative Craig Klein caught my attention. After the protest of the Center City Development Corporation (CCDC) regarding the Governor’s current proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies, we got to the main courses of the agenda.

Normally the one minute public comment section of the agenda doesn’t include much substance but these weren’t normal OBceans filling up the seats. According to Vietnam veteran and business owner Mark Babicky, most of those present were part of a loose organization cobbled together by Ocean Beach MainStreet Association vice-president and chair of its crime prevention committee, Julie Klein.

Julie K. addressed the issues of crime in the Newport Ave. business district, most notably the rashes of graffiti and window etchings. The other one-minute speakers spoke out against what appeared to them to be a threat to their serenity, their children and their way of life. That threat being the VFW post 1392.

Karen M. Pastor of St. Peters by the Sea Church, said that the serving of alcohol close to a church with its preschool was inappropriate and that the members of the VFW might use the church’s parking lot as a public restroom.

Maria W. owner of Sunset Cliffs Pilates on Point Loma Ave. expressed her concern for the safety of women and the ambiance of her business.

Patty L. stated that her long term support of veteran family members didn’t give Veterans (of Foreign Wars) the right to bring (bad) behavior into her neighborhood.

John H. a veteran from Point Loma, was emphatic in his opposition to “the proposed bar with its 160 members within ten feet of a residential neighborhood” based upon his family values and the safety of his children.

Concerned Resident Ron P. also used the “safety of our children and our grandchildren” as the rationale for being against what he called “a bar in a residential area.”

Karen Lee R. made it clear that although she was not against VFW Post 1392 she would in “no way allow a bar in her neighborhood” and would even help the VFW find another place to locate if she could.

Having run past their allotted time on the agenda the one-minute speakers then pressed the Board for advice about what to do next in their crusade to protect the moral fiber of Ocean Beach. Stepping outside their role as planning board representatives, attorneys Ronson Shamoun (Dist.7) and Craig Klein (Dist.4) counseled the 1 minuteers on how to make their case before the State Board of Alcoholic Beverage Control. (ABC)

After making clear their intent to report to the ABC the presence of any alcohol around and about the location of VFW Post 1392, the 1minuteers began to file out in anticipation of the less sexy agenda items concerning public infrastructure, economic restructuring and crime prevention. Too bad that they won’t know about Water Group 914 until their streets get tore up, Westfield Corporation’s transfer of private property to the commons and the plight of the Brighton Street comfort station. Craig Klein did report on the OBMA economic restructuring committee and deferred to his wife Julie’s one minute presentation as the report from the OBMA crime prevention committee.

So are we to count on the Ocean Beach Planning Board to make a decision without contempt prior to investigation when a conditional uses permit or any other matter within their purview regarding VFW Post 1392 comes up? Not if the opinion of OBPB District 3 representative Bill Busche is any indication of board sentiment. He talked to me after the meeting and said that he was against the new location for the VFW, citing the very same reasons that were presented in the one-minute presentations of non-agenda items. So in whose name does the OBPB speak? And what name are they giving to Ocean Beach? I guess you’ll have to keep paying attention to the OB Rag dear OBcean. See ya’ in the funny papers!

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Goatskull February 3, 2011 at 9:52 am

“John H. a veteran from Point Loma, was emphatic in his opposition to “the proposed bar with its 160 members within ten feet of a residential neighborhood” based upon his family values and the safety of his children.”

OMG give me a break. Unlike the old location in the middle of an alley way, this place I honestly don’t belive It going to attract the homeless vagrants that the old location did. Has he ever stepped foot in other VFW establishments? If he has he would see that most do not have any the kinds of problems he’s anticipating based on how things were with the previous location. If he just simply doesn’t like the idea of alcohol being served nearby his home than maybe he should look into the Bible belt in the South somewhere. Most of these patrons will probably be guys over the age of 50. Do people really think they are going to act like drunken frat daddies like you would see at the bars on Newport? Do people think they are going to go hang out in the school yard and drink with the kiddies? Is the religious experience of nearby church goers going to be lessened because of the fact that there is a nearby establishment that serves alcohol?


Danny Morales February 3, 2011 at 11:47 am

Goat S.- My experiences have taught me that most people don’t think at all. But they sure have vivid imaginations. Don’t you agree?


Goatskull February 3, 2011 at 11:52 am

Yes I do.


Danny Morales February 5, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Imagine the reaction of this Point Loma neighborhood if a Mosque was proposed for this location.


Goatskull February 3, 2011 at 11:54 am

I have to wonder of ol John H. thinks that all the people who WANT this to go up somehow lack family values.


Old Hermit Dave February 3, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I sure do agree Dan–


Danny Morales February 4, 2011 at 6:59 pm

BRAVO/VICTOR, Dave. See ya’ in the funny papers!-Danny


Andy Cohen February 3, 2011 at 2:12 pm

The whole rant against alcohol “in their neighborhood” is such a farce! For crying out loud, there’s a full bore liquor store on the opposite side of that exact same intersection!!! Where is the public outcry about selling liquor there? A liquor store is ok, but a PRIVATE club that serves alcohol isn’t? And what are the chances that all 160 members are going to show up all at once to the new location? I would think not very good……

No…..this whole thing is about the “clientele” of the VFW. It’s the whole “We don’t take to your kind around here” mentality. They say it’s about alcohol, but that’s just the face of it. If you really look at their statements and listen to what they have to say, it goes a lot farther than just alcohol or a bar. It all boils down to vagrants and unsavory characters that will bring ill repute to their neighborhood. They’re masking their disgust for their perception of the members of the VFW by calling it an “alcohol problem.” And that’s what bothers me, because if I thought for one second that this was about a bar and alcohol ONLY, and NOT about the people who would patronize it, then I would be much more sympathetic to their cause.


BOBOB February 3, 2011 at 5:01 pm

no andy your wrong. how about the VFW moves in and agrees to not serve alcohol, loses the liqour license and see how the neighborhood reacts. the farce is u.


Andy Cohen February 3, 2011 at 6:19 pm

The how do you propose that they pay their bills?


BOBOB February 4, 2011 at 8:28 am

they could run a breakfast joint or cafe, I would go for sure! They could do a thriftstore, an army surplus store. They could rent the space out for wedding receptions which has become popular in that area. They could offer classes and charge for those. If them using it for other purposes is an option for them I would be glad to donate my time to help plan alternate sources of income.

goatskull your right to some degree. and thats so wrong? where do you live? what general streets. Maybe your upset because you don’t experience the quality of life we do down here? I love the fact that the hill on coronado street seperates the majority of the crap that goes on down in ob proper from us. We have always called downtown ob “the pit”. I love ob but I’m not the type that loves it for the bars and partying, I actually care about the community and all that nonsense. weird right? Rents aren’t that much bro, just move. I will be renting the rest of my life but I hope I never have to leave the area. its the best place on earth to live for me. The vets prob wouldnt ruin it perse but why take a chance, once they are there I dont see them leaving regardless of how many complaints they might get. I dunno, its just my opinion, maybe Im wrong : )


Goatskull February 4, 2011 at 9:24 am

You sound like a pretentious snob if you really consider the main drag of OB a pit. I also don’t believe that most people in your area think of it that way. I would be willing to bet that most people you your area don’t want to live day in and day out in the OB “proper” but do in fact hang out there from time to time. Kind of the best of both worlds. Nothing wrong with that. I DO have A problem with the fact that this post got kicked out of its original location for “business” reasons and you and your like minded neighbors (and I will say this again, I DON’T believe all your neighbors feels this way) basically don’t consider the clientele good enough to be congregating in your little hood. Yes I DO think there is something wrong with that. As to where I live, I am very happy there and like being able to walk to bars and restaurants nearby. I also still don’t believe you when you say there is no way no how you wouldn’t take advantage of a bar there if it was the kind of bar you would like to hang out in.


BOBOB February 4, 2011 at 10:20 am

the pit is between bacon and the beach and west point loma and longbranch.

I have lived in the pit, I lived on abbot, longbranch, brighton and cape may. The pit was called that because the grass and sidewalks used to be covered with dog crap and flies, the streets and alleys were ruled by hells angels and drugs were out of control. One of my highschool buddies pretty much lost his sanity in the pit. It is what it is. I’m no better than anyone else in town I just choose not to live down there anymore and appreciate how peaceful and postive my streets are.

if there was a bar to go in there the vfw would be no worse than any other, maybe better depending on wether or not homeless vets do actually congregate there and in the alleys and sidewalks like they could.

if a nice community oriented place went in there that served alcohol I would by all means go there. vfw is a prvate bar that brings little to the neighborhood except for potential problems. I dont think a bar should go in there since they share the alley with homeowners and the schools are 1/2 a bloack away on either side and there have never been any bars on that street. any bar wouldnt fly there. In fact any other bar would get MUCH WORSE opposition wether or not I would actually drink there.


Goatskull February 4, 2011 at 10:48 am

“if a nice community oriented place went in there that served alcohol I would by all means go there.”

FINALLY I got that out of you. Now, being that it’s the VFW in question, think about this. Just because the old location had the kinds of problems it did does not automatically mean it will happen at this one. Have you ever stepped in or peaked your head at other VFWs? Check the one out in Coronado. Truth is, they are not the classiest places in the world and personally they are not my cup of tea as far as where I like to hang out but to each his own. At the very least, if this place does in fact go up it will be walking on eggshells. If it comes down to a choice between the members having behave themselves or not have a VFW cantina anywhere in OB then I think most of the members will actively police themselves and will make damn sure the others do as well.
As to OB proper being a pit or not (I know off topic), do you never go hang out on Newport or Voltaire ever? Even if you don’t I’m sure you have neighbors who do. Again the best of both worlds.


BOBOB February 4, 2011 at 11:21 am

of course I’m down there all the time. But not to get drunk. I go down there to frequent my favorite local businesses like the hardware store, nicos, hodads, pride, azucar, southbeach, newport pizza, ob donuts and many others.

basically we are talk ing about a group who is notorious for contributing to the blight of the area who claims to be cleaning up their act and promises to be good moving into one of the most quiet and peaceful areas on the hope that they will come in and have a totally different effect on the new neighbors. Kind of gamble dont you think?


Goatskull February 4, 2011 at 11:44 am

If they want to keep a cantina in OB I think they will make sure the gamble works out in a way that will make everybody happy. Again just because things were the way they were in the old location does not mean it will be the same as this.

Danny Morales February 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm

That group (VFW Post 1392) moved because they were forced to do so by their land -lord making a “purely business decision” That group (VFW Post 1392) hopes that the independent (of OBMA jurisdiction) OB business district on Pt. Loma Ave. would be more welcoming to ‘not for profit organizations’ than has been The Ocean Beach MainStreet Assn. (OBMA). The fact that this group (VFW Post 1392) doesn’t “gamble” in its business decisions but has commited to outreach prior to this issue being adjudicated will speak volumes to a reasonable person. So choose your words very carefully before making any statements that might be entered into the record regarding this “business” issue.

Danny Morales February 4, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Bob-You forgot to mention Starbucks. Kidding aside, put yourself in the VFW’s shoes for an instant. Suppose your landlord forced you to move so he could get more money from someone else. Suppose you found a suitable location in another part of town, signed a lease and were preparing all the proper paperwork to reconfigure your new place to your suit your life’s mission of service to your fellows. Suppose your neighbors came out in opposition to your tenancy because they thought your concept of service was immoral, and a threat to the public safety. Suppose you reached your hand out in good will to your neighbors only to have it struck down. How would you feel Bob and more so, how would you react?

Goatskull February 3, 2011 at 7:08 pm

U don’t give up do u? What u don’t want are crusty old vets hanging out and drinking in ur beloved hood. All that danger it would bring to the young innocent children and church goers and all. Oh yeah, it would hurt the character of the neighborhood too.


OB Lawyer February 3, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Dan – It is clear from your commentary and also from the pictures that we know that the majority of the board will side with the neighborhood (District). Regardless of facts presented, if there are any left to discover – or even if they are relevant at this point with so much noise out there. The two District reps wouldn’t jeopardize their seats for that and there is precedent for the others you mention in your article to vote anti-bar.

Is that not democracy? Would the Board not be voicing the opinion of the majority of their constituents at that point?

Maybe some people ought to get busy and elect some PRO-bar and VFW folks. Or maybe your election process is flawed outright.

Funny thing about democracy is that it is almost too late to campaign or lobby AFTER an issue like this comes up.

I don’t write this to confront you or your article. Just want to make sure we are after the right issue.

Seems to me….that there might be another group in town that has made a decision that there will be NO bum magnets in OB….and clearly they see this place as a bum magnet.

Doesn’t matter that the law is on the side of the VFW and that they have a superb precedent of winning these very Type 52 license approvals in California. If the people that control OB want them out, or in this case, not to let them move….then democracy will be served.

Too bad that the OBPb isn’t the same group that is implementing democracy here though. It is clearly a proxy vote for some other group….now who might that be???

Keep fightin’ facism Danny…. It has faces all over the world. Even in your backyard.


Danny Morales February 3, 2011 at 1:26 pm

O.B. Law-Thank you for piping in w/ the kind words. Inasmuch as the powers that OB are trickling down from outside of the community I don’t see how that serves grassroots democracy or the progressive cause for that matter. But we keep up the good fight in spite of their protestations-Hasta La Victoria Siempre- Danny


Seth February 3, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Can’t speak for the Board or anyone else on it, but as a private citizen, I would be interested in hearing both sides of the story as to the VFW Hall. Definitely hope that some sort of solution can be reached that keeps them operating somewhere within OB.


Danny Morales February 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm

And I know that the community can count on your honesty, integrity and compassion as secretary of the OBPB as well.



Sunshine February 3, 2011 at 12:39 pm

am I the only one thinking conflict of interests here? If I’m mistaken, please correct me.


Goatskull February 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Not sure what you mean by “conflict of interest”. Do you mean because of progressive/liberal anti war people defending a VFW post?


Danny Morales February 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Goatskull- No, silly! Is there not an apparent conflict of interest by some of the board members in this post?


Goatskull February 3, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Ahh yes but ofcourse. Please excuse my ignorance.


Danny Morales February 3, 2011 at 2:54 pm

No excuse for ya! Nya, NyaNya, Nyn, Nya…Nya


elections February 3, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Reminder: there are OBPB elections coming up very soon. Anyone interested in getting involved in community decisions like these is STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to run and be a part of the process.


Andy Cohen February 3, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Again, in case anyone missed it, here’s the story I wrote back in November:

It’s important to know a little about who the folks at the VFW are, what they do, what their function is, and why the place is so important to the members. It gives us a pretty important context to the entire controversy. Sort of a “get to know thy neighbors” kind of thing…..


OBrenda February 3, 2011 at 3:51 pm

These are veterans gosh darn it. I’d support them if they wanted to dance naked on the street corner singing Christmas carols and swilling champagne. I think these people who want to prevent the VFW from doing something legal ought to be ashamed of themselves. How can they justify bullying veterans with social pressure? There is no proof of the claims that the VFW will have a negative impact of any kind. Since when is it okay to infer that being near Veterans of Foreign Wars is not safe for children? And who has decided that members of the VFW will behave badly if allowed in their neighborhood. I’ll tell you who I’d like to keep away from children, people who nurture narrow minded fear and hatefulness. But it’s hard to know who they are and it would be wrong to lump a group of people together just because they MIGHT be narrow-minded, hateful fear-mongers. Grrr! Someone explain to me what I’m missing here.


Shane Finneran February 3, 2011 at 8:05 pm

You’ve got to love the delicious irony of the hippie-heavy OB Rag community defending the veterans’ right to hang out and hoist a few.

Then there’s the decidedly less scrumptious irony of a gaggle of neighbors in a military town like San Diego dropping everything to rally against the local VFW chapter’s move into a cornerstone commercial building that has sat vacant for five years running.

If this was fiction I’d be like “too unbelievable”


Frank Gormlie February 3, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Shane, that’s why I stick with just the facts, m’am (cough, cough). Yes, I’ve been swimming in the delicious irony and had earlier raised it. A bunch of anti-war hippies and their younger no-BS punker friends coming out as the only ally for a bunch of local mainly enlisted vets who want a club in a commercial district.

One thing that has not been raised: the vet post’s members use of the local businesses on Point Loma Ave: the liquor/deli across the street, the pizza place, the laundry mat, the other small shops, they would probably see the vets as customers. The vets could actually bring money to this small shopping district. And maybe one or more would join the local church, or get their grandchildren to use some of the local children facilities.


Old Hermit Dave February 3, 2011 at 8:56 pm

I second Shane and Frank—


Goatskull February 3, 2011 at 9:07 pm

I would venture to guess that most of the vets who’d hang there do in fact live in OB/PT Loma. Some may even live in the very area where this post is slated to go up.


Nancy February 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm

My husband who is a vet and I live in the area, 3 blocks away or so, and we
would walk over and get a drink at the new location, as we’ve done at the downtown OB location.
A former neighbor who lives in AZ and comes back to visit always meets my
husband in the morning at the previous location; they’d have coffee or a
beer and talk for at least a good hour or so.

I’ve come to realize that it seems comfortable for vets to be around other vets;
they know they have something in common and can start a conversation easier and there’s a camaraderie there that you don’t find in a regular bar. It’s not as noisy either. I have a picture in my mind right now of a skinny older vet who was at the bar most every time we were, and I’d see him sometimes going in and
out of the old location. Didn’t really notice if he drank much, but know he never caused any trouble. He would cook the pig every year at the Mem. Day picnic that we’ve attended 2 or 3 times, and that meant being on his feet for hours. I surmised then that this group is his family and am wondering how he’s doing health-wise now since it isn’t there for him.

The new location is much larger and so I’m guessing they’d also have the
thrift store, that I would look at too.

I don’t see that the vets would be walking up to the school or to the church/preschool area, and bet that most kids wouldn’t even know it’s there. I doubt they pay much attention or know of what other businesses are there as it is now.

So I’m for giving them a chance to have the opportunity to meet in the only likely place that’s come available for them in this area.


Goatskull February 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Every vet is different. I know some that wouldn’t get within 30 feet of a VFW post with a 20 foot pole, and others who really enjoy them for the camaraderie and family like comfort that comes from them. And for those vets, I feel they deserve it. Now, with this location I also feel they will have a responsibility maintain good relations with the surrounding community and make a point to be good neighbors, police themselves as necessary and make sure other members do the same.


Andy Cohen February 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm


I asked Bill Havrilla about the thrift store at last week’s meeting, and he told me that the store would be incorporated into the new location. They were going to have to do some construction on the interior in order to build it and partition it off, but that was the plan.

The thrift store is an integral part of what they do, as is the canteen. The combined revenue from the two entities allows them to pay their bills. And remember, this is a non-profit organization.

In short, the canteen will ultimately end up being not much bigger than at the old location, if at all.


Goatskull February 4, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Every vet is different. I know some that wouldn’t get within 30 feet of a VFW post with a 20 foot pole, and others who really enjoy them for the camaraderie and family like comfort that comes from them. And for those vets, I feel they deserve it. Now, with this location I also feel they will have a responsibility maintain good relations with the surrounding community and make a point to be good neighbors, police themselves as necessary and make sure other members do the same.


Nancy February 5, 2011 at 9:14 am

You’re right, Goatskull, about the vets being different, and thanks, Andy, for
the update. I like thrift stores.

Regarding the vets being responsible, I agree with you. My husband went to some of their meetings, and said they ran them “like the Army” and were tough. They didn’t tolerate bad behavior at the old location either. The landlord they had for many years, said he made the decision to raise the rent for “business” reasons, no other reasons, so he must have been satisfied with things. The inside always looked fine when we went there.

We’ll see what happens.


Goatskull February 5, 2011 at 9:42 am

Like I mentioned before, if it comes down to having to behave or not have a post at all in OB, they will pick behaving. One thing a lot of people seem to over look is the most of these guys are no spring chickens, so they are not likely to act like the dee bag frat daddies on Newport on a weekend night.


BOBOB February 7, 2011 at 8:51 am

heres an interesting stat/fact for you from a news story today. 25% of san diegos homeless are veterans. So we could reasonably say that 25% of OB’s homeless would be able to drink at the VFW no? Say theres 100 permanent homeless in ob, thats 25 homeless vets who could be at the VFW on any given day. Just a thought.


Goatskull February 7, 2011 at 9:08 am

I’m well aware of that stat. That’s been pretty well publicized. That still doesn’t mean that members who spend time at the new post should it go up are going to be homeless. From what’ve read, most of the homeless who hung out in the alley where the old post was were either not vets or not members of the VFW. Also I doubt homeless people are going to make their way up to the new location since it’s kind of away from the center of everything else. Also a thought.


Danny Morales February 8, 2011 at 8:44 am

BOOB-Statistics 101, Lesson #1- Figures don’t lie. Liars figure.


Judi February 4, 2011 at 5:39 pm

I saw two signs today that made me chuckle. I can see them both on the door of the new VFW building, where ever it may be:




Danny Morales February 4, 2011 at 7:05 pm



Ron Weiss February 12, 2011 at 9:10 am

To all that have commented:

It seems that those that are willing to give the VFW a chance really understand what this organization is all about and why it would be a shame to be deprived a location in Zipcode 92107.

On the other side of this coin it sounds like we have panic struck neighbors that just believe an alley that has a history of homeless people hanging out and all the garbage that seems to go along with it is/was caused by the VFW.

As a patrol officer in Ocean Beach, I can tell you first hand that the homeless are still in that alley, and we still have the same amount of unsavory folks hanging out since the VFW has closed it’s doors over a month ago.

The VFW did not invent homelessness and does not advertise to attract them to their locale. If anyone would do a little fact checking and even snoop around at other VFW locations in San Diego, you will find they all operate efficiently and are not considered to be a hazard for any community that they are located in.

Ocean Beach residents, this is a golden opportunity for you. I firmly believe opening up the VFW at this location will improve profits for the other businesses in the immediate area. This location could become a model for all other VFW’S to emulate. Work with the VFW and you will have supported your vets and have an organization in your neighborhood that you can be very proud of.

The homeless will not leave Abbott Street or Newport Avenue. Your beautiful neighborhood will stay intact, in fact you probably will have more visits by law enforcement patroling this area. I know I will. I am a vetran and I consider them family!

God Bless!


Frank Gormlie February 12, 2011 at 11:03 am

Just a reminder re Zucchet et al: In 2003, though, federal prosecutors indicted three councilmen — Charles Lewis, Michael Zucchet and Ralph Inzunza — and accused them of accepting campaign contributions in exchange for supporting proposed strip club regulations. The scandal came during a time of remarkable political upheaval in San Diego.

While awaiting trial in 2004, Lewis died unexpectedly of liver disease. A jury convicted Zucchet and Inzunza in 2005, though Zucchet has since been acquitted and Inzunza continues to appeal his conviction and 21-month prison sentence.


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