Local News Station Learns Identity of Man Who Paid Crane Operator to Remove the Benches

by on July 21, 2011 · 53 comments

in Ocean Beach, Popular

10News has reported that it has identified the person who hired the crane operator to remove the two memorial benches from the bluff at the end of Del Mar Avenue on July 8th.

The television station – the first to break the news of the theft of the benches – reported that Robert Bryson paid George Gonzalez to take out the benches.  The station stated that Bryson wished to tell his side of the story but changed his mind when reporters with the station showed up at his OB home.  The report did not indicate where Bryson lived.

But a simple internet search shows Bryson lives at 1605 Ocean Front Street, the lot just north of where the benches were located.

Gonzalez told Channel 10 a different story:

 “This person told me that he had gone over this situation with the city on numerous occasions and they were illegally placed and also they were causing a lot of noise and disturbances and trash and defecation during the evenings,” said Gonzalez.   I’ve never had this situation happen to me before. I assumed everything was legit.”

 Gonzalez also stated that Bryson told him that he went to the police yesterday, Wednesday, July 20, to give details of the circumstances, but police were mum.

10News also reported:

 Gonzalez said he would be glad to put the benches somewhere where everyone can agree on. The families said they just want the benches back where they were.

 “We’re glad that they were recovered and that they are in good shape and we’d like to see them returned to their proper locations here,” said John Story.   The Story family told 10News the benches are scheduled to be replaced on Friday by the crane operator who removed them.

 However, crane operator said he has been put on hold by authorities until further notice.

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Sunshine July 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm

to all who rallied to the aid of these 2 families, my hat is off to you! way to go, Community. looking out for one another is what i love so much about ocean beach. so many times things have gone the other way for OBceans. its endearing to living a community where individuals still stand up for what is good, right, and true.


OB Dude July 21, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Put on hold for what reason?

Also, Mr. Bryson should have used his $300 (plus the cost to return and install them plus the fines he shall incur for being arrested and his dirty deed) to fix up his own house that has peeling paint and wood rot.

So Faulconer, why are the benches not coming back on Friday?


Citizen Cane July 21, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Maybe the benches are on hold because they’re evidence, and the crime needs to be resolved legally.


Tony July 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Why put the guy’s address in the article? Are we supposed to picket his house now?


Frank Gormlie July 21, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Bryson committed a crime against this community. Neighbors and the rest of the community deserve to know this guy and where he lives. More than a couple people who have made comments in these posts about the benches have suggested that he was the culprit. Their suspicions have been confirmed with his admission. Where he lives is also a matter of public record. You can picket him if you want to. He ripped off the village.


OB Dude July 21, 2011 at 8:21 pm

KUSI at 10 will have another follow up story releasing the name of the culprit and I believe the address. In my opinion, just like a child molester, we are entitled to know where thieves live within our community.


OB Mercy July 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I guess anyone could look up Bryson’s addy…but not sure how ethical it was to print it here. But I do agree he’s living in the wrong neighborhood to have done such a thing. Dastardly! Hey…was Bryson arrested?? I didn’t see that anywhere.


Barbara Latham July 21, 2011 at 9:35 pm

What kind of low, unethical person would deign to remove a Memorial? Deprives the families of their tributes and the rest of us of a place to sit and enjoy the Ocean. Some of us are senior citizens, so it’s uncomfortable to sit on the ground. So sneaky and SO shabby! Glad the benches were retrieved unharmed….but sent to the junkyard! This sleazy guy needs to go back to New York (or wherever he’s from.)


OB Mercy July 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Ummm…Barbara…I was born in NY, raised out here in So Cali…don’t know why you are dissing the East Coast…wow.


Frank Gormlie July 22, 2011 at 10:37 am

Hey, some of my best friends are from New York!


Bill Ray July 25, 2011 at 4:50 pm

I’m on the East coast right now and can’t find more genuine communities and more caring people than Saranac Lake, NY and Millis, MA. These people need a free OB pass.


Andy Cohen July 25, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I was born in New York, too. Brooklyn, to be exact. Never lived there, so not sure it counts, though.


Kelly July 22, 2011 at 12:02 am

I feel bad that Mr. Bryson decided his only option was to remove the benches himself. I think that the people using these benches late at night,leaving trash, defacating( so disgusting and so disrespectful) should be the ones to be removed, not the benches,, if of course that is what has been happening. The benches are there for all of us to enjoy as adults. In no way do I agree with what Mr Bryson did but I do believe he had to have been at his wits end in order to pull a stunt like that. Hopefully the benches will be back at their permanent home and maybe the problem can be solved by the police keeping an eye on the area just a little more :)


moe July 22, 2011 at 12:07 am

so glad to hear they will be returned…i had a lovely picnic on the bench facing south about a month ago and was moved by the memorial message on the back of the bench…i silently thanked the family for placing the bench there and pondered the love they had for their son and the life he had in this beautiful place before he passed…the bench is a beautiful tribute to that life and it’s nice that it will be back in place before long…


BOBOB July 22, 2011 at 8:25 am

funny story I drove by a few days ago on my way home (orchard) and went through the alleyway to the spot where the benches were and I parked my car illegally against the metal guard rail to see what all the fuss was about. Right in front of me some scruffy older gentleman was getting some materials from his pick up and I noticed some work being done upstairs on the grey house that the story says is the person who moved the benches. He turned and scowled at me so hard I smiled back at him. I’m thinking that he was Bryson. Can’t wait to return and find some creative ways to make him miserable : ) its one of my natural talents…


OB Dude July 22, 2011 at 8:39 am

Based on the Turko segment last night, a comment was made that Mr. Byrson has cancer. I don’t know if it’s terminal cancer ????? Maybe his sickness has made him ornery and easily agitated….not that this makes it ok to remove the benches but maybe a reason for his actions. Take it easy on the man, he’s 77 years old.

I hope that he would reach out to these two families and apologize for his actions so that everyone can heal. Sometimes acknowledging you are wrong and asking forgiveness can make all the difference :-)


BOBOB July 22, 2011 at 11:02 am

thats sad. lifes rough all around these days I guess. Thanks for the heads up, duly noted. no joy in hassling a sick old man.


Obecean July 22, 2011 at 10:30 am

77 years old man and he still doesn’t understand the difference between private and public property?? He should surely know better.

Btw, where did the information come from that he has cancer? He already has proven to be a thief…….


Frank Gormlie July 22, 2011 at 10:39 am

Here’s a riddle for you: a 77 year old man walks into a bank and holds it up. When the police show up, he says, “Hey, I’ve got cancer.” Do they let him go?


Citizen Cane July 22, 2011 at 10:39 am

Soul cancer…late stages.


Street Ends July 22, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Where is the City Apology for ignoring the ongoing nuisance and illegal activities at this Street End? Is it even a Real City Park?
Who among us would like to breathe second hand smoke from an illegally placed: not to-code bench right outside our bedroom window? Never mind policing the area, removing graffiti from the benches and picking up used condoms and human feces…. Really? Anyone? Try owning property and paying taxes and having the peaceful enjoyment of your home ruined every day and every night by illegal activities The CITY DOES NOTHING TIO CORRECT. It could get on your last nerve I bet.
Here’s to finding a legal appropriate place for the benches when the time is right.


not a redneck in east county July 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Those benches were placed legally with the permission of the city. I own property and pay taxes. Just because you live near the beach doesn’t give you more rights to the nearby city property than me. You cannot live near the beach without having to put up with the public, just like you cannot live near the airport without the noise. I know there are those that are disrespectful, but all of us, no matter where we live have to deal with people like that.


Obecean July 22, 2011 at 2:41 pm

The benches were placed there by and belong the City. It was a crime to remove them.

Hope you go to jail and pay a stiff fine. And once you’re out of jail, you will look out your own eyesore (yes, you’re place detracts from the area) and see the benches right where they belong. Cheers!


john July 27, 2011 at 6:51 am

“Real City Park”?

Hey Gramps, there’s a little thing concerning coastal access that says it doesn’t have to be a city park for people to enjoy the coastline. When you buy property you get to control what goes on on IT. If having to be in the presence of others bothers you so much buy a much bigger property and stay in the center of it or don’t buy property on the coastline of America’s 7th largest city and expect peace and quiet. What the hell is wrong with all these “I want to retire AT THE BEACH” people anyway? Silly Geriatrics, the Beach is for kids!


OB Dude July 27, 2011 at 9:48 am

The beach is for everyone.

What is needed are people that are respectful of property, others and most importantly of themselves. If people were considerate then this issue probably would have never occurred.

Channel 10 ran a segment on this story last night http://www.10news.com/news/28663569/detail.html
stating this “may not” be a crime.

So now every bench in this town needs a permit? Really?

Why does it take so long to determine if something is a crime? No wonder why our city is broke!


Bill Ray July 27, 2011 at 10:18 am

Yeah we see how that works out for the entire city of SD when the kids run the beaches. Several years ago “The Raging Youth” started a riot in PB and as a result we can no longer take a cup or can of beer down to the cliffs and enjoy a sunset.

Silly kids….sometimes it helps to exercise critical thinking skills, for as smart as you think you are.


john July 27, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Well at 49 I’m not really a kid unless you buy into that “50 is the new 30” nonsense. What I was getting at is the idea of living right at the beach in such a large city and expecting the peaceful, quiet tranquility of an old folks home.
The person I responded to actually complained about having to breathe second hand smoke coming from an open air bench into their home, gimme a break, close the window or turn your oxygen tank on.
As for the riot yeah okay, there was a riot.
What does that have to do with the 99.99% of those in San Diego under 30 that didn’t participate? I didn’t support the booze ban and in fact strongly oppose it even though I don’t drink. That was used as justification by people who are a lot like the guy who removed the benches, it bothers them to hear other people living, laughing, just existing in their presence.
I do sympathize with the problem of trash and people relieving themselves, but there are ways to deal with it other than ruining it for all.


Sisyphus July 22, 2011 at 7:40 pm

In Greek mythology Sisyphus was a king punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity.

The debris left at the end of Del Ray reminds us of Sisyphus and the harsh punishment of a never ending supply of other people’s garbage to clean up.


OBlique July 23, 2011 at 8:59 am

As one of the eyewitnesses to the removal of the benches who lives literally in the thick of this mess, it has saddened me to read the speculation, threats, and misinformation that has circulated throughout this blog. I am disappointed that instead of discourse and the desire to fix the problem, people have resorted to petty criticisms and talk of revenge. I am looking for that “teachable moment” here. What does it say about a neighborhood where people do not know each other well enough to sit down and discuss the problems we face together? While I in no way condone the actions of my neighbor, I have to ask, what drove him to that point? To speculate about someone’s motives from afar is only speculation. And I must add that it has been rather strange to read about my other neighbor, who was considered by a blogger to be a possible suspect because he didn’t get the license plate number of the crane truck when he took that now infamous picture? To be flipped off the other day by someone who must have been confused about which house was involved? Tar and feathering and pitchforks? I am trying to wrap my head around all of this in the land of OB, where peace signs prevail………..


RB July 23, 2011 at 9:33 am

It is always good to hear a voice of moderation.
Luckily for me, this location only has great memories of watching the sunset every night when I lived in a garage apartment near here twenty five years ago.


OBlique July 23, 2011 at 10:19 am



John Story July 23, 2011 at 11:07 am

For me there is incredible irony to all this. If my father George Story, was still alive and working for the City as the Director of ‘The Dept. of Citizen’s Assistance and Information’ he likely would have been involved in this matter. Who knows, the irate homeowner may have contacted ‘Citizen’s Assistance’ before he took renegade action over his ongoing frustrations. To my knowledge, that Department has been defunct for several years. Too bad.

My father was a problem solver for the City of San Diego for 20 years (he had in that department) he fielded calls from the public: complaints, concerns, and questions from citizens who have a right to answers. He was the City’s ombudsman. He worked with all the City’s departments to help find solutions and answers for the people of San Diego on all matters related to City governance. Say what you will about the City these days, but a public liaison within the City is as necessary as the Fire Department in a municipality.

I learned over the years from my father, that in that not all solutions amenable to all parties. But that’s life in the big city.

My hope is that we follow my father’s lead in moving forward and find a way to resolve this that would make George Story proud. Not because its his memorial, but because the resolution works and its “the right thing to do.” as he may have said.


Sunshine July 23, 2011 at 9:57 am

there is no need for retaliation from the community. nothing anyone else could do to the person who had the benches removed could possibly be worse than what the individual did to his own reputation. i guess now its him and stebbins alone at their summer bbqs


Frank Gormlie July 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm

LOL !!!


Bill Ray July 23, 2011 at 10:45 am

On one hand I can see the frustration caused to Mr. Bryson by the inconsiderati leaving garbage, defecating/urinating on his lot. Maybe a fence or other barrier would suffice?

We have a new place and the water spigot outside my window seems to be the unspoken rinsing-off spot for those who would frequent the small cove beaches at the end of Santa Cruz ave. Last month I looked out my window and saw what had to be a $80,000 Lincoln Navigator with the “gull wing doors” up and a family outside rinsing off. The father of the lot was PISSING ON MY CAR TIRE. I opened my window and started to debride this idiot.

What do you say to a person who exhibits absolutely zero civility and is laughing at your reaction? Should I have gone out and opened up on him physically, only to have him bring back a few of his larger family members to seek retaliation? Instead I congratulated him for setting such a shining example for his children.

He gave me $20 and I told him that I’d rather him keep his cash. SO that $20 is going towards a lock for the spigot, and it’s assheads like him who ruin it for all.


OB Dude July 23, 2011 at 10:57 am

Next time, take a photo of the activity and get the license plate number in the picture and post it on the RAG.

In regard to the park at the end of Del Mar….I understand how and why residents get frustrated with unacceptable behavior and actions. Your weapon is the camera if you know what I mean.


Bill Ray July 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm

I took pics of the guy, even video. Told him he was gonna be the next YouTube viral video. Did he give one flying F? Don’t think so.


Andy Cohen July 25, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Send the video to the cops. The guy on your property broke the law, and a visit from the police would likely prevent him from doing it again.


Bill Ray July 27, 2011 at 10:15 am

Cops won’t do anything unless they witness it. I’ve been told this on more than one occasion.


Bill Ray July 23, 2011 at 10:49 am

Then again, Bryson is a thief for stealing the benches.


Justchecking July 23, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Facts to check before writing about it-

1.Is the Del Mar street end a City Park or isn’t it?

2.Were formal complaints filed regarding illegal activity at the benches?

3.Personal information about private citizens….


Obecean July 23, 2011 at 9:41 pm

1. City property or not ? Is a better question
2. Complaints followed up on or not? Was real problem determined or not?
3. Personal information about private citizens? What does that mean, Bob?


Citizen Cane July 24, 2011 at 11:39 am

Is it a park? A park is in the eye of the beholder. For some of us this piece of ground is mitigation for the destroyed coastline. It’s a memorial that bears no plaque. A memorial to the lost coves and habitat at the intertidal zone when the city made a great effort to make us look more like Shelter Island and less like Sunset Cliffs.


Cuhulain July 24, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I used to live on Del Mar Ave not far from the benches. Bryson is not friendly, but not obviously mean. I’d say he’s more socially awkward to to a fault-a Paxil script might help. His wife is friendly-I’d say he lets her handle the socializing for the family.

The lot at the end of Del Mar Ave is PRIVATELY OWNED and there use to be a house on it. The house (along with some adjacent apartments) fell into the ocean or were condemned/demolished when the bluff was undermined in an early 80’s El Nino storm. The lot is now too small to build on-the Costal Commission and city would never allow it. A couple years back, the lot was noted in a READER article about the last few empty privately owned beach front lots in San Diego county.

As for Mr. Bryson, his property is adjacent to this lot. Over the years, he’s aggressively encroached on it with large prickly agave plants, perhaps hoping to keep others out of his yard while, in fact, basically taking over a nice piece of it. I’ve been told the driveway to the left of his house is not even on his property, but part of the adjacent lot. Still, he put an automated gate in front of the driveway, essentially claiming this piece of adjacent property.

I’ve seen homeless people sleep on the benches more times than I can count. Ditto for people having sex on the benches. Also, the end of the street can be a hangout spot for
couples, drunk revelers and OB transients, especially in the summer. None of this would be that much of a problem if the police patrolled the area a bit more, but they don’t. Also, if you call the police non-emergency number for any trouble, they come too late, if at all. We could use more car patrols and fewer police helicopters blasting overhead at all hours, wasting fuel and disturbing our peace.

The real problem with the end of Del Mar Avenue is not the dirt parcel at edge of the bluff where the benches were, but the bluff itself, which is crisscrossed with walking trails and large bushes. Summer homeless encampments pop up on the bluff and people sleep in the bushes. I’ve seen as many as twenty homeless kids camping down there, playing their drums and having a high old time. Theses campers create the majority of mess including trash, abandoned sleeping bags and human waste. Even without the benches, this issue needs to be dealt with. How? When the neighbors call the police they need to actually show up and write citations.

As for Herr Bryson, I imagine the infamy he’s recently achieved through his actions has brought him more discomfort and anxiety than any punishment he could receive in court. The idea that he should be personally protested is absurd. He likely committed a crime, got caught and will have to pay some fat fine. That’s enough. If you want to improve the situation, pick up a large garbage bag and fill it up with some trash from the bluff side.


OB Dude July 24, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Ditto on the helicopters! They are flying around OB right now…..11:00PM Sunday.

I know the police department is facing budget issues but there has to be a better way to have effective police patrols????? I think getting back to the old fashioned way of having a “beet”, knowing the neighborhood and having the respect of it’s residents would be beneficial. That way when there are issues, someone is responsible for them and accountable.

As for the condition of the “park” at the end of Del Mar….the neighbors can always get together and do monthly clean up and people can volunteer to monitor the activity if it is out of control. Sometimes you just have to shut off the TV, get off your butt and do something :-)

Now, it’s time for the helicopters to go home!


OB Mercy July 25, 2011 at 10:12 am

Hey OB Dude, I saw SDPD walking a beat this past Saturday on Newport…not sure if I ever noticed that before, but they’re doing it.


OB Dude July 25, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Just had channel 10 news flying around OB at dinner hour….so I called the station to find out why they were circling around. They wanted to get a shot of the power lines on Solot for a news update tonight.

H-E-L-L-O! Can’t you send a van with a camera out to get this shot. Must our community be raped with noise so you can get a 5 second shot on the nightly news for something that happened at 10AM?

If anyone out there would like to ask Channel 10 to refrain from Helicopter runs over our town unless it’s an ABSOLUTE EMERGENCY…. emai your comments to



Frank Gormlie July 25, 2011 at 9:45 am

Really good thing it wasn’t some kid or transient or homeless person who took the benches – people would be crying for blood! It’s a good thing that some local old guy committed the grand theft – because that is what stealing public property worth several thousands of dollars is – and he could be let off with just a “fat fine”. What?


liveinOB July 25, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I applaud the OB police men & women
they may not come with sirens blazing or 2 minutes after your call, but they do come, 619-531-2000
you need to call everytime you have concerns
and make sure your neighbors call in too, neighbors look out for neighbors
Cape May Alley has never looked better


Cuhulain July 25, 2011 at 4:58 am

Helo Redux.

OB is blasted daily by helos from multiple sources: the police, military, Coast Guard and Homeland Security. On any given day, I’ll have a dozen or more separate fly overs by low flying loud helos. Sometimes it seems that they are landing on my roof. There were fewer helos in Apocalypse Now than on an average day in OB and the ones here are not blasting a cool Doors soundtrack.

The military copters can be loud and dramatic but tend to keep going up or down the coast and mostly fly during the day. If you wave, they usually wave back.

The Coast Guard helos tend to loiter longer and fly at all hours. However, I tend to not be bothered by these as they are usually trying to save someone or find a disabled boat.

Homeland Security copters seem to fly on a rigid schedule. For years, one blasted over my home between 3:30-3:40 am each night. Annoying and somewhat Big Brotherish, but maybe a permanent nuisance post 9/11.

Police helos are the most frequent flyers over OB and seem to blast by morning, noon and night, usually with no clear purpose. Occasionally they blare instructions over their loud speakers to some unknown quarry, further increasing their infernal effect. I’ve never seen a police copter over La Jolla-not one. Perhaps the peace of La Jolla residents is more valuable than ours in OB.

Why not restrict the use of these expensive platforms to true emergencies? Routine low altitude fly overs are a waste of public money that shatters the peace of residents and visitors that come to enjoy the sea and sky. I don’t believe that they peace they routinely ruin for thousands of residents is worth whatever benefits they claim to bring. I can’t believe that our current generation of police are doing a much better job then previous generations who lacked the technological crutch of helos but were not afraid to walk around and see what was up. Is OB safer now than it was in the 40’s and 50’s? I seriously DOUBT IT.

Crimes are not being committed in the clouds. So unless seagulls start robbing antique stores or pelicans start mugging tourists, why not put police funds to use down here on earth where the bad guys are? If the SDPD can afford to use these expensive toys so frivolously, maybe we need to tell our council members that the police budget may have some juicy fat remaining for future cuts.


OB Mercy July 25, 2011 at 10:09 am

This morning as I was leaving for work around 7 am, there was a Ch 10 helo flying around and around and then as I left the OB Gateway, there was a Ch 10 van coming in. Anyone know what was going on??


Patty Jones July 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm
Donzi July 31, 2011 at 10:52 pm

I can understand how having noisy, defecating transients outside of the window of your home late at night every night would drive a person up the wall. Further, as one respondent pointed out, this is taking place on private, not public property adjacent to the “criminal” who took matters into his own hands. The real problems here are a city bureaucracy that takes forever to respond to real, legitimate complaints about people howling at all hours, and a politically correct neighborhood that thinks its o.k. to act so rudely and crudely as this (so long as it doesn’t happen outside of THEIR bedroom windows. The people who want to take out their anger on the person who had the benches taken away are probably just jealous that they cannot afford oceanfront property, and love to see those more well off then them tormented. Shame on you!


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