Charges Dismissed Against Vince Adame – “the Felony Hedge Trimmer of OB”

by on December 3, 2013 · 16 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Environment, Homelessness, Media, Ocean Beach, San Diego

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Vince Adame during the press conference in “Surf Check Alley”. Adame stands in front of the “crime scene” – where behind the fence he trimmed 5 bushes. (Photo by Matthew Wood)

By Matthew Wood

The nightmare that has been Vince Adame’s long shrubbery saga is finally over.

He has been battling a citation over his trimming of some bushes across the alley from his house that somehow turned into a felony vandalism charge. When the district attorney’s office finally dropped the charges Monday night, the longtime Ocean Beach resident was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Adame pressconf mw media 02A press conference in the alley just outside his house, in “Surf Check Alley”, next to the scene of the crime, brought some closure to this chain of events that started in July.

“I’ve been doing the same thing for years,” Adame said of his maintenance work, which he said only came about because nobody at the city would take care of it.

“I sweep the alley and clean up. I encourage everyone to do the same in their neighborhood.”

When all is said and done, the whole thing seems like a big waste of time for just about everyone involved. The basic story goes something like this:

Adame took it upon himself to trim the five New Zealand Christmas bushes in the yard west of him, which happens to be a haven for homeless people to take refuge for the night and make a mess of the area. It also happens to be city property.

A neighbor called police to complain about the trimming, apparently thinking it was his own property. Adame voluntarily told the cops he did it and gave them his reasoning.

From there, the thing just kind of snowballed.

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Adame’s attorney, Frank Gormlie, led off the presser by quoting from the day’s Union-Tribune editorial which discussed Adame’s case and its dismissal as the City avoiding another black eye. Gormlie asked, “What about Vince Adame’s black eye?”

Multiple estimates were made on the value of the shrubs, according to police reports. Arborists were called in to determine what kind of bushes they actually were, sparking more estimates.

When the dust had settled, the total value of the “vandalism” was set at $3,237.40, well over the amount to make it a felony.

Since then, the shrubs have grown back. The city may or may not get around to maintaining them.

“Of course they’re going to grow back,” Adame said. “You don’t need an arborist to tell you that.”

To call Adame a longtime resident is the understatement of the century — literally. His family has been here since 1905 and he has spent nearly his entire life here.

In that time, he has made many friends, but also a few enemies. He makes no bones about the fact that he complains about what he sees as injustices in the neighborhood. Don’t even get him started on the police trailer that has long sat dormant in the parking by the OB Pier.

“We are very proud to be OBceans,” Adame said of his family. “We’re just taking care of what’s been handed down to us.”

Adame and his lawyer, Frank Gormlie (who moonlights as editor of this publication) made it quite clear at Tuesday’s press conference that he was railroaded by those in power.

“It’s selective enforcement,” Gormlie said of the charges. “He had no malice. He wasn’t cutting down these bushes for his view.”

Whatever the case may be, the fight looks to be over. There is an official ending in a San Diego court room on Thursday, the 5th. It is a fitting end to an OB battle on Tuesday, in a scene that could only happen in our quirky part of town.

Gormlie, clad in a Hawaiian shirt and sports jacket, and Adame in his OB Rag t-shirt, spoke to the throng of media – four local television news stations were present, along with the U-T, Reader and other supporters. As they did, assorted locals strolled by. A man in a truck pulled up behind and stared at the cameras, hoping for his 15 seconds of fame. One of Adame’s cats even made an appearance, weaving its way between the legs of cameramen before jumping on the roof of his house just a few feet away.

After the conference was finished and as the camera crews shot their B-roll footage of the shrubs, a man with long hair and a straw hat walked by, yelling at the top of his lungs something about the homeless being put in concentration camps and dead pelicans on the beach. He was more or less ignored, but he gave the impression his point had been made – whatever that may be.

So, one of our own is free, at least for now. His crime was seemingly only to try to keep the neighborhood he loves clean. He says he’ll keep trimming the bushes, consequences be damned. After his somewhat passionate words at the press conference, he left everyone with the message he wants to get across more than anything.

“Respect OB,” he said. And to make sure his passion was felt, he repeated one more time. “Respect OB.”

Can’t argue with that, Vince.


{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

obracer December 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Hmmm,……..lets think about this , two SDPD detectives, two SDPD sergeants, city attorney, asst city attorney, da, asst. da, prosecutor, director of park & rec., numerous people at multiple garden nurseries on multiple visits, Kevin Faulconer’s office, just a few of the people and offices involved in this case.
Are we ( the taxpayers ) supposed to believe that NOT ONE person had the simple thought that maybe those bushes would grow back ? two seasoned detectives Moody & Anderson can handle homicides, assaults, rapes but they are not wise enough to know bushes or tress grow back ?
If you think this case is about bushes I have a bridge for sale.
If it wasn’t for the OBrag and support from locals getting the word out this case would have continued to trial. GREAT JOB FRANK !


David E. Zamora December 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I just wanted to congratulate the community of Ocean Beach, it is refreshing to see this village deal with the attitude that the locals don’t matter. Yes it was time consuming I’m sure, the idea was the prize. To let the rest of us know that” they were mad as hell and they Weren’t going to take it anymore. Way to go Frank, Way to go Vince. One for the rest of us……….


Dan Shay December 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Nice work Attorney Gormlie!


CC December 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm

If everyone treated the areas around their home like vince does, we’d save a lot of money in taxes.

instead, people just litter and let the city “take care of it”

good luck with all that.


Debra December 3, 2013 at 4:38 pm

I so agree.


Tyler December 4, 2013 at 9:21 am

I hear you. Nothing bothers me more in our village than the amount of litter. We are supposed to be the most progressive and environmentally friendly beach town in SD, yet we easily have the most litter.


jim grant December 4, 2013 at 6:35 pm

and cig butts….


OB Dude December 3, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Trying to do a good deed and Vince got nothing but grief…..thank you for your time and effort in looking after OB. Frank….good job on your end.

The city should be on their knees with apology to this man and to the rest of OB residents. It’s the bums, thieves and vandals that need to be arrested and run out town!


UNWAshedwalMaRTthong December 3, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Hmmm, thinking & thinking again. I know thinking may be illegal in the future, but when I read articles about the abuse of power, it makes my little gas-powered two-stroke mindengine rev up to the red line.
What we have here again, folks, is the pigs misbehaving. We know the right wing pigs have only two things firing through their collective synapse: power & money. They exercise the power wherever & whenever they choose. They also accumulate money at an alarming rate.
Review this: Mr. Jeff Olson was “busted” for writing slogans on the sidewalk in chalk earlier this year in San Diego. There’s a ridiculosity (my very own coined word) if I ever heard of one. As I remember there’s a little tradition where high school kids will descend upon a member of their clique’s home in the wee hours of the night & spray paint & paint slogans on the street in front of the house. I’ve never heard of even one arrest when this occured. Juvee hall would be packed to the gills if the cops started busting kids for this misdemeanor.
The govorporation (another of my coined words) does not like it when the sheep remove their fleece, step out of the herd, and start thinking for themselves.
“No thinking,” they say as they steal taxpayers’ money, mine away all the minerals, invade other countries, pay workers less & less & less & less. “No slogans in chalk. No trimming the hedges.”
The more time the Dept. of Homeland Security spends training & outfitting the U.S. police departments, the more abuse we can expect. Are we the people the enemy? Are we not the ones paying them to abuse us? Are we non-combatants? Am I wearing a target on my back? I can’t see because the govorporation won’t let the press report how many targets are on the backs of the people; that number is top secret. When the targets start to appear on the forehead, mirrors will be outlawed.
Thinkingthinkingthinking–when are they going to install the laser cameras in OB. If you break a law in OB, the camera will just incinerate you. Bye bye. Burn burn.


Debra December 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Funny thing, the moron who prank called his sister with a fake bomb threat, shutting down the freeway on Thanksgiving Day for hours, inconveniencing thousands of people (myself included), costing taxpayers thousands of DOLLARS, is probably going to get off scott-free. Yet our District and City Attorneys found fit to go after some guy writing on a sidewalk with chalk and almost crucified another for trimming shrubs. I hope everyone remembers this, when election time rolls around again.


Chuck December 4, 2013 at 8:24 am

Sounds like a stupid neighbor quarrel to me. Who in the hell calls the police to report someone trimming hedges…even if you think/assume they’re yours?? Why not just walk over and say “hey neighbor, wondering why you are trimming my shrubs? You know this strip of land is mine and I like the shrubs tall”. Certainly better ways to handle it and much more in the spirit of O.B. Thanks neighbor!….not


obracer December 5, 2013 at 7:51 am

Who called the police ? The maintenance man Antonio Amador and Mitchell Ramsey from MSSR Property Management started this whole problem by claiming personal property was vandalized, knowing very well it’s city property. They notified the owner Forrest Colburn in New York, he came to San Diego and told police he wanted to press charges.
PUBLIC RECORD : Forrest Colburn and MSSR were notified RECENTLY , prior to this incident, by code enforcement of illegal construction on city property for building a retaining wall on the south end of the property on a coastal bluff and installing an illegal sewer line were the bushes were trimmed a couple months prior. Colburn and MSSR lost a law suite for $ 1,500 against Vince Adame, so they manipulated police into filing charges. Civil law suite is coming soon for these morons, no brainer this had malicious intent on the part of Forrest Colburn & Mitch Ramsey of MSSR.

***The retaining wall and illegal sewer lines still remain on public property today. Approved by code enforcement *** look for yourself.

Detective Moody, Detective Anderson and Sgt. Rowe from SDPD Western should also be held responsible and liable for manipulating the facts in regards to damage, are we really to believe these two experienced detectives and sergeant didn’t know or were never told ” bushes grow back ” ? These scumbags recommended charges be filed without having justified damage of even $ 1.00.
The City Attorney and DA decided to play along until the media caught wind.
A few people called in some favors and this is the result, another law suite for the city.


jim grant December 5, 2013 at 8:19 am

WHAT? you have to be kidding right ?


Chuck December 5, 2013 at 9:12 am

Well there you have it, knew something was up for such a ridiculous reaction to shrub trimming. Thanks for the real story obracer…I appreciate your comments here.


jim grant December 4, 2013 at 8:41 am

Good job Vince on the clean up we need more like you. Frank nice work .
Good to see reason finally took over.
Surprising to me Kevin Falconers office did not get involved at the early stages of this it ALL could have been avoided and big time community points could have been scored for KF.
Note to the City: Plants grow back. Ok pay me the fancy tree guy’s fee.


Marilyn December 4, 2013 at 6:35 pm

I seem to recall reading that one of the Scripps women (Ellen Browning Scripps?) walked the town picking up trash back in the day…maybe the 1920s? She was proud of her community, and humble enough to do something about the litter personally.
All the San Diego History Buffs are welcome to fact-check this. I’ve long since donated my book about San Diego History.


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