Ocean Beach Rec Center and its Programs ‘Saved’ From the Ax

by on May 25, 2011 · 6 comments

in Culture, Economy, Ocean Beach, San Diego

The Ocean Beach Recreation Center is located at 2525 Bacon Street. (All photos by Shane Finneran.)

Mayor Sanders’ new budget avoids cuts to rec centers in OB, elsewhere

The Ocean Beach Recreation Center — like similar centers across San Diego — had been targeted for cuts to its operating hours in Mayor Jerry Sanders’ initial budget proposal for the city’s next fiscal year.

Under an updated proposal Sanders released last week, however, the city’s rec centers would maintain their current 40-hours-a-week schedule. Sanders originally had slashed rec centers hours by half, but his new plan reflects the better-than-expected performance of the local economy in recent months.

The OB Recreation Center’s gym hosted a ballet recital May 21st.

On a recent Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., with the neighborhood’s “Beach Ball” event in full swing a few blocks away near the pier, the OB rec center’s gymnasium hosted a ballet recital in front of an audience of about 35 people. The performance included students from ballet classes held there on Tuesdays.

The center’s meeting room — used regularly by residents and local groups like the Ocean Beach Planning Board — was empty that afternoon. In the center’s main hallway, the faint signature of music from the recital blended neatly with an extended segment of church bells from Sacred Heart that carried in through the windows.

Outside, three young men played the hoops derivative “21” on the basketball court. Across the alley, about a dozen children and adults frolicked in the rec center’s playground at Ebers Park.

The OB Rec Center offers indoor and outdoor basketball.

From August 8 through August 26, the city will once again set up a temporary swimming pool for children on the rec center grounds. The pool will be used for swimming classes and, after 4 pm, will be available for open swimming for kids.

“Last year (the pool) was very successful,” said Cristiana, a rec center employee. “The kids loved it.”

OB’s rec center hosts classes in subjects from karate to contemporary dance, many geared for children.

The center’s indoor and outdoor basketball courts, which are open year round, draw about 40 players — mostly men — on a typical day, another employee estimated. Leagues for sports such as adult coed dodgeball also bring in dozens of participants and spectators regularly.

Family fun in the OB Rec Center’s gym.

The rec center offers a lunch program for senior citizens, which features food from Souplantation for $3.50 per person. A source familiar with the lunch program said it was formerly managed by the city and offered every day, but is now organized by a volunteer and takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The city’s website says the OB rec center was “dedicated in 1950” and “is one of the oldest (rec centers) in the City.” Frank Gormlie, editor of The OB Rag, remembers attending dances with live bands at the rec center when he was a teenager living in the area many moons ago.

According to the San Diego Union Tribune:

“the Park and Recreation Department has an $83.5 million budget and 757 workers who maintain and operate 55 recreation centers, 13 pools and nearly 40,000 acres of public parkland throughout the city.”

With about 1.3 million people in San Diego, that budget works out to just over $60 per resident, per year.


To schedule a meeting in the OB Rec Center’s meeting room, call 619-531-1527.

Monday: kids tumbling and dance; adults dance; all-ages karate

Tuesday: kids ballet; adults pottery and clay sculpture

Wednesday: all-ages karate

Thursday: kids ceramics, tap dance, jazz dancing and ballet

Friday: ages 1 to 5 gymnastics; ages 3 to 5 sports introduction

Saturday: sewing for teens and adults

for more details, see the center’s program guide


The playground in Ebers Park, across the alley from the OB rec center.

Community members on the OB Recreation Center Council “work with city staff to promote recreational activities for the citizens of Ocean Beach,” says the rec center’s brochure for winter/spring 2011. The council meets at the rec center on the second Tuesday of every even month at 6 p.m., and its next meeting is June 14.

The OB Rec Center takes reservations for Dana School Fields, Bill Cleator Fields, Plumosa Park Dusty Rhodes Park and Collier Park by phone at 619-531-1527.

Other nearby rec centers include the Cabrillo Recreation Center at 3051 Canon Street near Rosecrans Street and the Presidio Recreation Center at 2811 Jackson Street near Old Town.


San Diego could use help from volunteers at rec centers, pools and parks across the city. To learn more, contact the volunteer office at 619-533-4017.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie May 25, 2011 at 8:09 pm

This has got to be the best informative article ever written about this treasure of OB. Thanks, Shane. And great photos.


OB Joe May 25, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Gormlie is not the only one who remembers those dances at the Rec Center back in the 60s. Around 64, 65 I think. I would go to hear these live bands, man, can you believe it – live bands at the Rec Center, wow! Then there was the whole ‘shall I ask her to dance?’ routine. The boys gathered along one side of the giant auditorium /gym, looking embarrassed. The girls giggling together, stealing glances over at the boys.

If I arrived too drunk, the Rec Center boys room was always a great place to circle the porcelin king.


Frank Gormlie May 25, 2011 at 9:49 pm

You were there also? So that was you in the bathroom spilling your guts.


Patty Jones May 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm

This is great news! It’s one of those places you can pass by everyday and never really know how many great programs they have to offer.


Nancy May 26, 2011 at 8:00 am

In the early 70’s, I took ceramic classes at the Center and made many gifts as a result.

Didn’t know they have the M, W, Friday lunch meals and will check that out.

Thanks for update on this great community resource.


jeani/ut August 2, 2014 at 9:19 am

I went to school at Ocean Beach Elementary School starting in Kindergarten in 1948. I remember making kites every year out of sticks and paper at the Recreation center. Then we would walk down to the beach and try to fly them. I also remember taking tap dance lessons and being in plays there. It is so fun to see pictures of the Recreation center. Great article. What a great legacy to have it still running.


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