Advisory Council: Safety in Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

by on August 6, 2014 · 8 comments

in Culture, Environment, Ocean Beach

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Lt. Jason Weeden (All photos by Meredith Lane)

Report of Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Advisory Council

By Lois Lane

At their recent meeting on August 4th, the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Advisory Council welcomed Lt. Jason Weeden of the San Diego Police Department, on his first day as a Lieutenant. He will be replacing Lt. Natalie Stone in her Western Division duties, as she has moved to investigations.

Lt. Weeden,  with a background on the SWAT team and the Vice Squad, seems very well equipped to take on whatever Ocean Beach and Sunset Cliffs Park have in store for him.

The topic for the evening was “Safety in the Park”, and Community Relations Officer David Surwilo was there to explain what was happening in the beach area, and how the community and the police can work more effectively together.

His message: “Report, report, report!

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Community Relations Officer David Surwilo

Officer Surwilo told us, ‘don’t just complain that there people painting graffiti, people sleeping in their cars, people dealing drugs, etc.,  call it in, he said, to the general police number (619) 531-2000 with as much information as possible.

Surwilo told us, if, in fact, two hours go by and nobody shows up they will get there eventually, as they may be off investigating murders, stabbings and other 911 calls (not necessarily right here on the Peninsula). And when they do, the suspects will start to get the idea that this is not the best place to hang around.

When the Police see the number of service calls to an area, they actually do patrol that area more, Surwilo continued.  Police “assets” are allocated where they are needed. So, if Western Division goes in to the Police Chief and asks for more officers in OB and Sunset Cliffs Park, and there have only been a few reported requests during that month, the response is likely to be less than enthusiastic.

Officer Surwilo also covered the co-operation among agencies. Police work with the Lifeguards, with graffiti control, with animal control, and Parks & Rec to encourage synergy within the City.

Because there was a recent gang-related stabbing in the area on July 27, many questions came up about gang members visiting our beaches.

The officer told us that police no longer “depend” on only “saggers”, “hoodies”, and white socks to identify suspected gang members. Some, Surwilo said, have taken to wearing designer duds like Armani and Prada at the beach, the current trend of the cartels. Gangs do not host gang wars here, but tend to stay on their own turf, he advised.  And since the stabbing, extra gang sweeps separate from Division Patrol have augmented the Division Patrol forces.

Yes, there were statistics reported by the police at the meeting.  Since May, Crime Mapping shows 20 crimes reported near Sunset Cliffs Park. Of these only two were robbery/violent crimes.

As reported by Officer Surwilo, people go to the Park to:

  • drink,
  • do drugs,
  • have sex,
  • and walk their dogs off leash.

This rosy picture of the park contrasts with the Newport Avenue scene. Since January 2013, the Sunset Cliffs Park has had 820 crimes reported while the Newport Ave area reported 5100.

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Park neighbor Judy McEntyre

Nearby neighbor Judy McEntyre presented a list of incidents in the park during the month of July, some resulting in calls to the police and some resulting in interaction. During July, there was also a stabbing and a death from falling. Officer Surwila cautioned her and others to avoid personal confrontations.

The committee will address outstanding issues as part of a formal motion at the next meeting. Who should lock the gate at night, Parks & Rec or the Police? Who is responsible for dogs off leash? Why can’t the police get telephone/communication service in the park? More next time.

The meeting was adjourned by the Chair, Ann Swanson.

We all long for the day when watching the Sunset is the most important activity of the day at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.

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Chair Ann Swanson and unidentified Council member.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Lois Lane August 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm

To clarify, Officer Surwilo did not specifically mention Armani and Prada. Just trying to distinguish the gist of the fashion statement from Guess Jeans and Ralph Lauren polo shirt, which might commonly be worn by our more fashion-conscious OB Locals.

The SCNP Officers in the picture above are Ann Swanson and Vice-Chair Barbara Keiller.


obracer August 6, 2014 at 3:46 pm

After you “Report, report, report!” ask for an incident number, it will identify each call.
You may be surprised by how many incident numbers you accumulate and the same problem continues.
When the choice is made to actually SOLVE a problem things will change.
I speak from personal experience, I have hundreds of incident numbers for the same issues, every time a shift occurs in personnel at western division we start over again.
Start over is good and bad, we get a new captain that makes a hard push and things change for the better, but we get new officers that don’t know the area’s problems so we go back to basics with the same old problems that we thought we had solved with the previous officers, consistency seams to be a big problem.
Most locals that frequent the pier parking lot and park notice the van that sells drugs, people come and go all night, it was 30 ft from the police trailer a couple days ago.
People live out of the van and sell drugs in the parking lot next to the police trailer.
How many incident numbers does it take, how many photos have to emailed ?, it’s a choice police make and it’s wrong.

08/04/2014 A large part of the pier parking lot closes from 2:00 am – 4:00 am, by 2:15am an officer was citing EMPTY cars in ” violation ” while groups of people are LIVING in multiple cars less than one mile away at dog beach, the EMPTY car in the pier parking lot may have been left behind because someone decided not to drink and drive, the people at dog beach are breaking the law in a way that affects the quality of life in Ocean Beach.
The cars with citations in the pier parking lot had left by 6:30 am, while the van loads of people are still at dog beach, who are they protecting ? who are they serving ? the purpose of the law is to cite people for living in their cars at the beach ! not EMPTY cars left by employees working late or people fishing.
Don’t tell me you don’t have officers available or in the area, your writing parking citations on empty cars. It’s a choice police make and it’s wrong.

5:15 am- 5:45 am five days a week, one SDPD suv vehicle will drive down the beach starting at dog beach and provide wake up services for 15-20 people sleeping illegally between the pier and dog beach , the same people return the following day, sometimes wake up services doesn’t come by , so they sleep in. Many phone calls and incident numbers.
Visit the sand dunes and bird breeding areas, watch your step ! besides the obvious trash and clothes there are piles of human feces, how many incident reports does it take ? SDPD is closing the barn door way too late at 5:30 am, these camps are visible from Robb Field and the beach parking lots, you can see the fires burning all night, they don’t hide, SDPD doesn’t look , it’s a choice police make and it’s wrong.

I hope this new Lt. provides real solutions to these quality of life issues, others have been here all along and have NEVER done a damn thing but talk at meetings.
Things have improved over the last couple years, and it’s because of the hard work from SDPD , I wish they could find a way to ” keep the pressure ” and make it last, it only takes a couple days to undo what others take months to fix.
At the end of the day I’m thankful for what the men and women of SDPD have done in O.B., but it can be better, much better if where are ALL on the same page ALL the time.



Abalooney August 24, 2014 at 8:40 am

Good rant, all true.


obracer August 7, 2014 at 7:39 am

08/07/2014 van with drug dealer living inside still in the same spot , still in business .

30 ft from police trailer that provides a police presence in the area.

CVC 10.30.030 Use of vehicles for human habitation prohibited on public property. ..

Drug Possession for Sale Law Health and Safety Code 11351 HS

Called SDPD at least 5 times for same van, today’s incident number 14080011724

Talk is cheap, especially at community meetings, ACTIONS or in the case of S.D.P.D lack of action , speaks much louder.


Scarlett Begonia August 7, 2014 at 7:46 am

Much of the community may not realize what a huge thanks we owe to the leadership of the SCNP officers and SDPD officers… for looking looking out for our amazing and beautiful Cliffs which we are all so fortunate to have in this beautiful city. If you ever visit Nebraska– No Cliffs!!! Such an amazing and beautiful place here in San Diego.


Abalooney August 24, 2014 at 8:34 am

Thanks for the police phone #. Have never had to use it. Aside from cleaning up after the crowds I feel the need to find a way to show them that they cannot trash The Cliffs. The pattern I see regularly is groups of kids carrying bags of beer/booze down to the arroyos North of the College to drink. Fine, drink up Johnny. The problem I have is that they never bring any of the empties back. This is either for fear of getting caught or utter ignorance and care for a beautiful natural space. Putting that # in my phone memory.


Tyler August 26, 2014 at 6:50 am

Got out of the water and back to the teuck with my friend last night from a surf session at around 8 PM. There were four 20 year olds in the parking lot getting wasted. Two of them decided to start peering into a Dodge Charger and begin looking inside the car and they start discussing the locks on the car. Then one of the kids takes off his shirt, wraps it around his elbows and starts charging the passenger side window to smash it open. This was RIGHT in front of us. They didn’t even care. We drove right outside the lot onto Ladeta and called the cops. The response time was near 10 minutes but luckily these kids were so dumb they were still there and got busted. But what would have happened if we weren’t there? This should not be happening with such brazenness.


Scarlett Begonia August 27, 2014 at 10:27 pm

That’s a great story… Glad those kids got busted. All that– Right in front of you!! Crazy!! Cliffs have been getting crazier and crazier… Thanks for this story.


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