Reader Rant: RV Vigilantes in OB and a Plea to Be

by on July 3, 2013 · 28 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Homelessness, Life Events, Ocean Beach

OB Entryway Sign goodBy Michelle Hope

I am a California Native and lived many years in Ocean Beach – my People’s card starts with a 1 4. My family owns property on West Point Loma and I still have family here.

For 7 years I traveled the country on my motorcycle working at Rallies to support myself and living in a tent. I dig the nomadic lifestyle and you could read some of my work on the internet of adventure stories of living gypsy. I came home last year and decided to stay to complete a dream of being a Holistic Health Practitioner at a school. So I enrolled and got myself an RV to live in while I am here in school. It is my pursuit of happiness. Everything I owned fit on my motorcycle for 7 years – always close, I am accustomed to it.

Anyway, for my summer break I wanted to stay out in OB and visit my daughter and her family who still live here on West Point Loma.

Most of my stay was okay but on the last night there I was harassed by a vigilante type person who actually followed me after yelling at me to leave the area in front of some construction on Ebers. He began yelling at me there so I decided to go park up the hill by a friend’s house on Newport. He followed me up the hill and proceeded to scream at me and criminalize me for my lifestyle choice, spewing hatred and anger of which I did not earn.

I pleaded with him to stop and addressed his rage the best I could trying to calm him and let him know I was no threat to anybody. In fact those of us who respectfully live in our RV’s are a benefit to your community not criminals.

I have since heard of several occasions from others who have had similar experiences. The unfortunate thing is that those who I have spoke to who have been harassed by these vigilantes (one man even being rocked in his RV) are not the problem makers. The people who are being harassed are the ones who respect and love OB. They have jobs, go to school or are retired after working their lives.

The guy who followed me gave me a “one night pass” he said. I was leaving the next day anyway to house sit for a friend on vacation and to move back to the area where I attend school. I left not because I was threatened with police action.

A few years ago I wintered in OB in my son’s RV while he was living in the family property on West Point Loma at the time. I was approached by the police several times due to residents calling. They could see I was no threat or drug addict and were very kind in delivering their dutiful message to leave. I wrote a piece at the time and will paste it at the bottom of this email.

The thing is, I have the right the pursuit of happiness and just because I chose a different lifestyle then the norm here doesn’t make me a menace or even a nuisance.

I totally love this community for over 30 years now. I am a 55 year-old woman and was a resident of San Diego/Alpine/Ocean Beach for 40 years before I hit the road to New York and then biker gypsydom. Most people love me when they meet me and learn of my heart for people, health, spirituality and personal growth. To be judged and criminalized in the last great community in San Diego is sad to me and not what I would expect from OB.

Please help… Solutions? Stop the gentrification of OB – it has ruined areas all over the country.

this is my own neglected blog: – HD Open Road, these are stories I wrote or have me in them.


Michelle Hope Writing:  Story from a few years ago.

Living Bohemia in a static town…

 California; I am your child. You raised me. I learned in your schools, I worked in your businesses, I volunteered in your communities. I have spoke with pride in other states my native home. I am your product, your creation. My children were born here as were my parents. You are the language I speak, the music in my soul and the free thinking inspiration that motivates my art.

 You raised me to think for myself, progressively you said. You taught me to listen for the tune of a different drummer and told me it was ok to answer that beat. You taught me to celebrate the differences of culture, color, gender, and lifestyle.

 You made me beautiful…

 But what happened to you California? Did you trade your soul for a dollar and the status of materialistic importance? Where is your soul California?

 I am an artist – you showed me the way to Bohemia, but now that I have returned, your pre-judge me. You don’t know me California; your own child you don’t know. You say “she looks like this group of people, or that group, she must be like them, call the police”. Your fear is killing your spirit and I grieve for you as well as the lack of freedom you now grant me to choose a lifestyle different from the one you have traded for. You see, when you bargained your soul, the fear began its subtle conquest.

 I am an artist, I have a commissioned job. I travel all over the country on a motorcycle and I live in a tent. I work at motorcycle rallies, and I paint children’s books. My son has an RV I am trying to stay in it. But you keep calling the police. They don’t want to arrest me. I don’t drink, drug, steal, vandalize, or disturb the peace. They come only because you call. I just want to paint this book, sleep in peace, eat well, socialize with the kind, and live this bohemian lifestyle you taught me was ok.

 Come talk to me California. I am a good one to talk to. I am kind, sober, spiritual, generous, honest, interesting, and open-minded.

 Before you judge me, ask me to listen to your point of view. Engage me in a conversation. If I am threatening, then determine me so. I have come home for a season California to you who raised me.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyler July 3, 2013 at 10:26 am

It sucks for the people who live in RVs that are actually upstanding members of the community. However, from my experiences the last few years, the majority do not fall in this category. Why should our parking spots be taken up by RVs 6-7 months out of the year? I’ve had the same annoying RV across from my home for weeks now taking up two parking spots! They move for 3 hours a week so as to not get caught. I’ve reported them several times and to no avail. They don’t pay taxes here, why should they be able to take advantage of the things that we all pay for?

I’ve encountered numerous domestic disturbances in RVs within a couple blocks of me. I’ve noticed larger amounts of trash near where RVs are parked.

Just my two cents.


Miki - Michelle Hope July 3, 2013 at 11:33 am

What then is the solution Tyler? Community meetings with RVers to educate, get feed back and be united in addressing the issue perhaps?


Froude Dude July 3, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Yeah, what he said. Not to mention the potential for fires like what happened a few years ago on Bacon…

“The thing is, I have the right the pursuit of happiness and just because I chose a different lifestyle then the norm here doesn’t make me a menace or even a nuisance.”

You’re a nuisance if you park your gas guzzling RV in front of my crib. Think about your carbon footprint for Gaia’s sake! People that work a 9 to 5 don’t want to come home to see you posted up in your Xplorer out front. Maybe OB needs those “No Habitation in Vehicle” signs all over town. I’ve only seen one on Saratoga next to the beach park.


Miki - Michelle Hope July 3, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Froude Dude, my carbon footprint is small in comparison to most who live in a house, Use energy conservatively, eat mostly organic, I recycle and eat a mostly raw vegan diet. I also ride a motorcycle to do most of my traveling. And you would not find me in front of your house when you came home from work. I am also not a person who wants to live in fear about what may happen just because it happened one time before, are you?


Miki - Michelle Hope July 3, 2013 at 7:12 pm
Miki July 3, 2013 at 11:16 am

I understand the issue. I don’t park where parking is an issue and I don’t cause problems at all. I am a peace loving person who contributes what I can to OB even though I do not pay property taxes. I pick up trash where I see it, offer help and support, and patronize local businesses. Anyplace where generalized judgment occurs is not a progressive place. I understand as I did with the man raging on me that night that there is an element that does not respect the community. This element has been present in OB for decades. If I park someplace and somebody lets me know that I am not wanted there I don’t go back. All I want to say is, come talk to me. If you see an old Xplorer 21ft RV parked – just come talk to me. I will honor and understand your wishes. I am not sure of what the solution is but if the community bands together with the RVers that are respectful, the police aren’t called as much so perhaps they will take more interest in the activities of the dysfunctional ones. Domestic violence happens all over the country, it isn’t an RV thing. And most of us have an idea of which ones are trouble. It is obvious by their alcohol consumption. Maybe a coalition of RVers to save our lifestyle who can educate others andif they refuse to be educated… I don’t know. Dialogue? Working together? I am not there anymore, but I am willing to do something to protect my lifestyle choice and benefit the people around me. I have called OB my home for decades. I love it there and I love the people.


Tyler July 3, 2013 at 12:32 pm

You sound like a good person and I’m sorry that others who live in RVs have gained a reputation that works against you. Ignorant people seem to ruin everything


Miki - Michelle Hope July 3, 2013 at 11:31 am

I just noticed I used my nick-name in my reply…


OB Dude July 3, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Just curious….why can’t you part your RV on the property owned by your family? Or, is there someone else in OB that you know and love that can allow you to park in their yard or driveway? Personally, I don’t want to see an RV parked outside my home and someone living it. I have no idea if that person is a menace (there to cause harm) and I do feel it is a nuisance (annoying). Sorry, but that is how I feel. It’s living in an RV on a public street against the law?


Michelle July 3, 2013 at 12:44 pm

OB Dude, Most of the people I know have to park on the street or limited parking on their property. And I don’t live in front of people’s houses. I park close to friend’s most of the time and I am gone early in the morning to the Dog Beach Parking lot behind my Daughter’s place. I find it uncomfortable to stay in front of people’s houses as it feels intrusive – even in front of my family’s as I consider the neighbors that do not know us. I still think a community dialogue will benefit both sides. I confront RVers who are not living with consideration and respect for the area no matter where I am at. A community effort may make the difference. I am only in OB now for brief periods, some weekends, school breaks, etc. A piece of property would be nice but isn’t possible. I am just looking for a solution. And asking please don’t rage at me, as I am willing to work with you.


OB Dude July 3, 2013 at 6:47 pm

That is no rage from me ….just my opinion. You brought up an important point….if you park in front of someone else’s home that does not have a driveway that means they have to park elswhere after coming home from a day at work. Do you know about that offers amenities and welcomes RV’s? Be respectful of people and their neighborhood. I hope that your family will allow you park in front of their house and explain to their neighbors who you are and why you are there and see if they will work with you. If they won’t accept you being there you will have to take your lifestyle elsewhere because you just cannot do as you please. Good luck and be safe.


Miki - Michelle Hope July 3, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I really wasn’t addressing you personally when I asked not to rage at me, it was a general statement OB Dude, you obviously were not. I guess I could have clarified that or just kept it out all together. I have been accepted by neighbors at my family. It’s all ok there and I am usually only there on weekends. I would still like a solution… And I am respectful…


OB Dude July 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Oops…spelling error….sorry park NOT part


Dallas Martin July 3, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Thank you for writing this article. I grew up on the shores of OB. I spent many a summer day in my teen years traveling from inland (El Cajon) to catch some surf there. I’d sometimes even find myself sleeping on the sands below Tower 3 because I had missed the opportunity to catch the last Blue Line trolley from Old Town that connects to the Orange Line. Eventually, I would start hanging out at my boss’ place on Abbott & Cape May.

For decades, there were always “homesteaders” that would park their RVs at Dog Beach first thing in the morning and then relocated when it was time to close. Many were indeed doing “illicit” activities but never, ever harming anyone. Most of the time, they were actually great company that would even offer a grilled hot dog or a canned soda (from the cooler) to this weary surfer kid from the inland.

That was many decades ago (okay, only three and some change – but who’s counting?) and now as a retired veteran who served in two wars and several years under the corporate thumb, I ponder the map of my happiness. In this, I’ve considered OB as my Valhalla. I lived there again briefly in 2008-2010 (Wonderland Corner – Abbott/Voltaire) and loved it. Sadly, the cost of living there drove me away. I so desire to come back, though. So much that I’ve considered putting my savings into an RV and be one of those nomads. I long to spend my days surfing OB again, enjoying the rich culture of the area, and living a lifestyle of true freedom. I’m a creative person (musically and as a writer) and can surely support myself with that. So long as I can do so within my means and in OB, that would mean living in RV.

Again, I thank you. Your writing has me considering things I may face in my possible decision.


Jo July 3, 2013 at 5:29 pm

i live on w. point loma. its already super crowded with all the tourists coming to visit ob. we dont need these homeless kine people taking up where we park. spots are already super limited. and we pay for our shit. go park your rv in east county….


Sheri July 3, 2013 at 8:16 pm

I applaud your life decision of living simply and strive for that myself everyday. Although it’s impossible for me to crawl out from under my mortgage right now, I hope to one day do something similar. I follow a few blogs of people who live in their RV’s full time and know it’s not always easy. I wonder if maybe posting an ad on Craigslist for free parking on someone’s property wouldn’t be a good idea? What do you have to lose? As an OB native I know there can be mean and crazy people who live there, lol. Although, I also know that there are still a lot of kind people who live there too. I have sinced moved out of the state, otherwise, I’d let you park at my place ;-)
P.S. I’ll check out your blog!


john July 4, 2013 at 8:47 am

The big difference between transient RV people, and paying residents is that all the people who live in homes are are either paying property taxes directly, or built in as part of their rent. It is somewhat unfair to all the people who pay to live here, and thus feed into the system that actually pays for keeping up the area (things like street upgrades and cleaning among others.) While its unfortunate people are not wholly sympathetic with those who chose to live an untethered life of living from an RV, it must be easy for you to realize that everyone that lives in this area is paying a premium to be this close to the beach, and you quite frankly are not.


Michelle July 4, 2013 at 10:52 am

I don’t live in OB, I stay there some weekends etc as I have stated several times. It is clear that no matter who I am or what I say, minds are shut tight. It doesn’t matter how much community service I do in the community, outreach to educate others who may be causing problems with your parking or what. It hasn’t mattered what I have to say. The bottom line is the clash of cash. I pay you don’t… My money worth more than your humanity and freedom. Sorry, this was a bad idea. I thought minds were open enough to dialogue about this. I thought resolution was possible that would ease your pain as well as my own. but it seems I was wrong.

I park on W Pt Loma sometimes, in front of family property I take up one spot and there are usually others around. I move because I understand the parking problems. But all that matters is money here. San Diego… California…

I work hard, I go to school, I do charitable work, I am conscious. But none of that matters as I do not pay. I am only here for a couple of years then I will be on my way again. In the mean time I am afraid you will have to put up with me here and there as I come to visit my family. Until then I guess I will have to put up with the stigma, judgment and prejudice as well. I will be glad when my education is complete and I can return the the states that have shown this California native more hospitality, warm caring and acceptance than the one I was raised in. It is sad, but I guess expected.


john July 4, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I live in OB all week, I tend not to drive on the weekends if I can avoid it, there are usually no easy spots to find on the weekend afternoons. I pretty much have to live an opposite life to your schedule of “living” in OB on the weekends just because so many people’s are part time residents who only weekend here.

It is easy to see why people who pay a premium to live in most coastal areas don’t appreciate people who are not making the same financial sacrifice but are having an impact on their ability to park. Discounting people who are upset over people who have found a loophole to live right next door to a 900$ apartment for nearly free is a narrow view on your part. It is easy to discount why people disagree with your point and call them greedy or whatever, but that is a shallow slam on people who “work hard” and also pay to live here.

Also maybe you are a college attending RVing well-doer. But take a ride by Robb Field parking lot at 8 am on a weekday. Most of those people Don’t subscribe to your well meaning ethos, sorry but is just a fact.

I think the over all theme of your post brings up a very valid point. We live in a country where private ownership of land is coveted, and the laws and regulations that dictate what people are able to do in public spaces are becoming ever more restrictive. However I think it will be tough to ever build a consensus to support openness to people who choose to live more transient lifestyles. Don’t forget the American Dream is still owning a house to most people.

Go start a group of self regulating RV homesteaders, start a group that promotes RV lifestyle to local people. Start a group that does outreach to RV people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Petition the planning board to implement a different course then the RV ban, Petition the city council on the 8th to not implement the RV ban. The people who live in this neighborhood have preconceived notions about RV dwellers for valid reasons. Work to change them, or move along.


Miki - Michelle Hope July 4, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Thanks John, you are right. I just really got my feelings hurt, I have spent the day inside a friend’s house hiding from the world that judges me (not in OB). Not who I want to be really. I have been looking for a perm place to park at a price I can afford and I certainly don’t want to remain shallow in my views. And I will probably begin some kind of outreach. That is in my heart to do even though I don’t even know how to start. I guess with the people I know who are respectful is a place to start. I certainly don’t want to discount the community for your experience and justified preconceived notions, in doing so I am guilty of the same thing I am asking others not to be on my behalf. With this not I am done. This has been depressing for me mostly cause I just don’t know where to start and this perhaps wasn’t it… or was it?


Miki - Michelle Hope July 4, 2013 at 8:06 pm

typo “with this note” instead of not.


OB Dude July 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Just a thought….community outreach residents and property owners that if they want RV’s, boats, trailers, commercial trucks parked in front of their home they place a sign in the front window “OK TO PARK YOUR RV HERE”. If the sign is not present, don’t park there.


Dallas Martin July 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm

So the gist of it is that the people shelling out their money are upset at the people who don’t. I’m sorry but I can’t subscribe to that. I’ve lived there and paid. I’m still living and paying and in all honesty, tired of paying. At one point in time, it was like an investment. You went to a job you didn’t like and paid rent/mortgage on a place that after half your lifetime will eventually be yours. So you tolerated such a lifestyle in hope that you will get a positive return on your investment. In the 20th century, it’s not like that. Instead, those whom you are indebted to receive the premiums and your best bet is to “just get by.”

While living (and paying) a block away from the beach, I spoke to a man living there in his “portable abode”. He was a retired Marine Captain that served in Desert Storm. He was an avionics mechanic/engineer that also worked Solar Turbines until they laid him off in 2005. A decade with the company and “downsizing” caused for his dismissal. He sold his house in the Clairmont Mesa area with a sum of about $10,000 in his pocket. He used that money to buy a used RV with some money left over to cushion his pension from the Marine Corps. That money is now gone and he does “odd jobs” via an ad on Craigslist. Aside from his partaking in a medical marijuana program, he has not other vices. His lips only touch liquor once a year, Memorial Day in honor of a friend he lost in Afghanistan (although by the sound of it, he could have been referring to his son – he didn’t specify).

In regards to “paying,” he has been sited a handful of times for trespassing, parking violations, and other nominal tickets. I have no idea what he’s paid over time but if it’s anything like the $250 parking ticket I got one day for blocking the street sweeper in front of my place there on Voltaire, I’m sure it wasn’t cheap. Surely not as much as paying rent but I can assure it wasn’t “free” living as some may presume. So it’s safe to say that if it’s a matter of money that forges one’s opinion, then I say that perhaps the issue isn’t about paying or not. More that some people feel these people to be lesser because they found a way to circumvent paying top dollar.


john July 6, 2013 at 9:26 am

Not lesser because they aren’t paying top dollar. Lesser because they are contributing nothing, and taking what they need from everyone else who pays into the system. It’s a selfish, and entitled way to think.


John August 2, 2013 at 5:03 am

Parking in violation of signs (street sweeping) was a $40 ticket plus a $12 state surcharge last time I got one. $250? What are you talking about?
Anyway I don’t see what the big issue is here, it’s against the law to live in a vehicle on the street, you people haven’t “found a better way” and citizens are jealous, you’re breaking the law.
I sympathize with the economic issues and realize for some that may be their only option. Pretty sure there’s that place out in the desert where they welcome free spirits who march to the beat of a different drummer.

Slab City:,8599,2105597,00.html

Send us a postcard.


Christo Kuzmich July 5, 2013 at 3:23 pm

So OB is your campground?

How do you think the parents of children who go to OB Elementary feel about you camping right where their kids go to school?


Steve July 9, 2013 at 12:06 am

Sorry but parking in OB is already crappy as is. Seeing bigass RV’s taking up 2-3 parking spaces really pisses me off. There’s just not enough room around here for those monsters to park, it’s just a fact of how it is.

“Stop the gentrification of OB – it has ruined areas all over the country.”

Sorry, but I prefer gentrification over being in a ghetto.


Lee August 1, 2013 at 9:54 am

I think it’s horrible how unfree we really are in this world. And how can anyone say that RV dwellers are contributing to nothing? Do they not pay income tax? Is there exception for sales tax? What about tickets, fines, registration, and insurance? Do these sink holes of money not count as being part of a system? Basically people are just pissed off because some other person found a way to do it cheaper and more simple. The later being the deterrent for most people. My gf and I just bought an RV and have plans to dwell in it until we leave SD in a few months. It’s sad that we live in a “free world” that places so much regulation on what we can do. It’s not as of these RV’s have anywhere else they can go; there isn’t a single public parking lot that will let an RV stay overnight. What are people left to do? Is it any surprise that you find them on your streets when they’ve been banned everywhere else? The American dream isn’t working 50 hrs a week to come home to your $1400 a month apartment. It’s living a life of excitement, travel, and meeting new people. Most people that get bent out of shape about RVs in OB probably aren’t happy with their own complicated lives and are just jealous at those leading much happier and simply lives, yet for a fraction of the cost. It’s those bitter people stuck in the rat race that I recommend take their own advice. Get out of OB, go somewhere cheaper where you can be happier and not have to waste your energy on others living a simple, honest, and happy life. Just because your rent is high doesn’t mean you own the streets and community.


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