Town Council Prez Urges OBceans to Come Out to Meet Councilwoman Zapf

by on January 21, 2015 · 0 comments

in Economy, History, Homelessness, Ocean Beach, Organizing

Newsom Cites Spike in Numbers of Travelers in OB and Spike in Complaints About Them

Gretchen Newsom is urging OBceans to come out to the next OB Town Council meeting next week and meet the new Councilwoman for Ocean Beach – Lorie Zapf – elected last year.It will be held on Wednesday, January 28th at the Masonic Center.

She has real concerns these days about a spike in the numbers of travelers in Ocean Beach lately. Newsom is the president of the OB Town Council, recently elected to a 2nd term. And she is no stranger to working with homeless and on the homelessness issue. “It’s very complicated,” she told the OB Rag in an interview.

Newsom thinks the spike in the numbers is connected to it being the winter months, with the warm weather and sunshine of the beach a strong attraction for travelers from the East. Not to mention, the East and Mid-West were both hammered early this winter.

“There’s rumors,” she said, “that ‘Slab City’ was shut down.”

Slab City is an area way out in the desert in Imperial County that is a huge slab of concrete where dozens of people – if not hundreds – have made it their rent-free home.

Nevertheless, Newsom believes that there’s “an abnormal increase” in the traveler community in OB. And a lot, she says, are homeless by choice. She knows – she’s been out interviewing them, talking to travelers on Newport Ave or down by the Seawall whenever she can.

There’s the annual San Diego homeless count this Friday, Jan. 23rd, Gretchen said, but she added they won’t have the hard numbers until later in June. They will have some preliminary figures on the area’s homeless population in late March, she said.

Newsom does acknowledge the draw that OB provides to young travelers from the East, and understands how youth going on crosscountry journeys is an old American tradition. And naturally, the recent Great Recession had its role in creating many homeless.

Still, she says there’s “more aggressiveness, more obnoxious behavior” by the current crop of travelers and other homeless in the village. Newsom also acknowledged that she has seen a spike in residents’ complaints about the homeless and the travelers as well. As the head of the Town Council, she sees the emails, the calls – and has heard the issue raised many times at the Council’s meetings.

When asked about how the San Diego police have responded to the problem, Newsom responded by saying that part of the problem is that over the last 18 months to 2 years, the Western Division has seen 6 to 8 different captains. Each one has to be introduced to the area and the problems, and then moves on. So, there is a disconnect at the higher police command levels – not necessarily at the community outreach level, as OB has had Officer David Surweilo for a number of years.

Finally, Gretchen agreed that the issue of homelessness rears its head every now and then in OB.  And because of the role that her Town Council plays, it catches the community’s gripes and complaints.

To that end, Newsom said, OBceans should attend the Council’s next meeting – next Wednesday, and let Lorie Zapf know their concerns.

Newsom also added that there’s lots of other concerns that OBceans should turn out for, like the spike in recent burglaries, but also – importantly – to talk to the new Councilwoman about what people want to see in terms of new or expanded infrastructure – like a new lifeguard station, public restrooms and expanded library.  “Come out and meet Ms Zapf and hear her legislative priorities,” Newsom said.

Go to the OBTC website.

Here’s what the OBTC states about the next meeting:

Zapf and OB Holiday Parade Winners!

To kickoff our first meeting of 2015, Lorie Zapf, our new San Diego City Councilmember, will join our OBTC meeting on Wednesday, January 28th.  Lorie will provide OB with an overview of her legislative priorities for 2015 and take questions from community members.  This will be an opportunity for OBeceans to inform our Councilmember of our top concerns and advocate for our priorities and ideas!

As usual, SDPD law enforcement representatives will be in attendance and they will provide our community an update on the recent increase in burglaries and car break-ins. Remember to be safe, OB and watch out for one another! Try forming a neighborhood watch program (or at least getting to know your neighbors); diligently locking your doors and windows, and above all — report ALL criminal activity! (If it’s not reported, we won’t get additional public safety resources). For crime in progress: dial 911. Afterwards, dial the non-emergency SDPD number: (619) 531-2000. You can file a police report here:

We’ll also award the winners of the 35th Annual OB Parade (which was phenomenal!) with their award plaques. The parade theme was “35 Years of Peace Love and OB!” Come congratulate the Parade Winners as they get their award plaques and learn about their floats and involvement with our community!

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