After Over 30 Years, OB Planning Board Changes Its Logo Due to Request From Originator

by on July 1, 2015 · 9 comments

in California, Culture, Environment, History, Media, Ocean Beach

OBPB logo old ed Sm

Former logo of OB Planning Board.

For over 30 years (we believe) the Ocean Beach Planning Board has sported its logo on agendas, letterhead, fliers and other documents.

The logo has the famous OB seagull with the “OB” with the planning board’s name below.

But now, the current Board – run by a bunch of upstarts apparently – has changed the logo into a symbolic “OB” with a parrot. My goodness! A seagull for a parrot. What’s next for OB? Veggie tacos instead of fish tacos? (JK guys, really.)

How could they change it after all these years? you may ask yourself.

OB seagull orig

Bob Sorben’s original decal – The OB Seagull.

But wait, they had a good reason it turns out.

Now, the reason the Board has switched logos is because the originator of the infamous OB seagull is a guy by the name of Bob Sorben. He’s a local (PLHS class of 1960) – and he and his brother Rick ran a graphics business.  In 1973, they created the first decal with the seagull and “OB” – and ever since there must have been a million printed up, as just about every car in OB has it – and many outside OB as well.

So, a while ago – Bob estimates a couple of years – he noticed that the OB Planning Board was using a version of his copyrighted graphic. He called the Board up – he doesn’t remember who he talked to – but it was a “congenial guy” who assured him that the Board would change the logo.

OBPB Logo New sm2

New OB Planning Board logo.

Fast forward to today – and it has been changed and the change is on the latest agenda for the Board’s meeting tonight, Wednesday, July 1.  I spoke with current Chair of the Board, John Ambert, who told me he inherited the  request from Peninsula Graphics for the change from his predecessor.  Bob Sorben owns Peninsula Graphics along with his wife.

Ambert got together with fellow Board members, Pete Ruscitti – former chair, and Andrew Waltz, and together came up with the new design.  It will be presented publicly for the first time tonight at the meeting. Ambert played down the whole thing. They didn’t want to “ruffle anybody’s feathers” he said, intending the pun as I had just given it to him, and just simply changed the logo.

I suggested that the Board hold a design contest – but Ambert seemed to think there were better things for him and the Board to do. I don’t know – what do you think?

Anyhow, I called Bob Sorben over at Peninsula Graphics and he recounted his side of the story, about how it was a couple of years ago that he made the request to the planners, etc.

OB longhorns logo

OB Longhorns by Peninsula Graphics

Bob Sorben goes back so far he was a member of the “OB Longhorns” – a genuine OB surfers group. They still have reunions, he told me, every year, and there were 59 people at the last one, he claimed, all OB old-timers.

Yet there was bigger news from Bob.

He has sold the graphic – the infamous gull and OB initials – to John McCoy, who owns and runs Ocean Gifts right there on Newport Avenue. Sorben told me that he had to be careful as he had to find someone who would keep the history and follow Bob’s philosophy that the decal “is for the people,” he said. And McCoy was the perfect match. McCoy is supposed to be putting together some kind of display with the original.

Here is what Bob Sorben says about himself and the  history of the seagull graphic on his Peninsula Graphic website:

 Bob Sorben owns and runs Peninsula Graphics in Point Loma. He was born & raised in OB/Point Loma, always liked to draw and had an interest in art, especially graphic’s and creating designs & art from ideas. Growing up, Bob and his friends all hung out at the foot of Newport Avenue. Most everyone surfed at least once in a while.In the 60’s Bob and his friends would go to Homer’s or Cornet and buy OB stick on letters to put on their cars to personalize them. Bob wanted to do something more artistic.

Bob Sorben n suzie

Bob and Suzie Sorben, 2010.

After graduating form Point Loma H.S., he spent 13 years at Convair, then moved to Tahoe City with his brother Rick to open an art design and silk screening business. After returning Bob opened his first printing business “India Ink” on India Street and has been working at the graphic design & printing business ever since.

Bob’s OB Seagull Decal was created in 1973 out of his love of Ocean Beach. The design is copyrighted for 95 years. I wanted something that would signify our area and to achieve the feeling of freedom. The design is simple yet appealing. Stratie of the Paras Shop was the first one to carry the OB decal. He thought the design was terrific. The decal appeared at a time when Ocean Beach society was close knit, almost tribal. It has been seen around the world.

Bob went back to City College in 1995 to learn computer graphics from Professor Candace Lopez. While there he entered a nation-wide design contest won first place. The Anheuser-Busch Design contest awarded a prize of $10.000, which was split with the school.

In 1997 Bob was awarded the Landmark Award in recognition for OB Seagull Logo. The etched Wooden Plaque was given by the Ocean Beach Merchants Association.

Bob is also the “good-times organizer” of the OB Longhorns, a group of born & raised OB locals and friends who grew up together. With their offspring and younger generations the have kept the tradition alive. We have a had a reunion every year since the mid 70’s. True locals can purchase an official OB Longhorn T-Shirt at the store.

Bob and his wife Sue operate Peninsula Graphics on the corner of Cañon & Scott Street in Point Loma Village. Producing the “OB Seagull” & “Tunaville Fisherman” shirts and other products, decals, hats and other local apparel. We will soon be expanding our designs and products.

We primarily serve the entire Peninsula Community, business and residences, with any printing or graphic needs. The main business continues to be custom printing & design.

Turning ideas into designs . . .“Designs That Last”.

 It’s all good.  Still down for a design contest, however.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Kyle July 1, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Got worried there for a minute. Thought that OB Planning Board Logo was the new proposed logo which very much reads as “db”. As a designer of 15 years, I’d be 100% up for a design contest. Let OB’s people contribute.


Doug July 1, 2015 at 2:58 pm

I agree with it looking like “db”. It’s hard to tell even knowing what I am looking for


Steve July 1, 2015 at 9:34 pm

+1, totally agree


Sammy July 1, 2015 at 5:27 pm

It looks like a pair of glasses for Mr.Magoo.
Whose idea was this ? I mean, Really?
It’s Stoopid lookin. Leave well enough alone .
It’s not Broken, why try to fix it ?
Those Parrots are not even native here.
Some highfalutin people never cease to amaze me.
Go find something else to do …..
Work on Childhood Obesity which is prevalent around here.


Dana Levy July 2, 2015 at 7:47 am

There is no getting around that OB is most known and recognized by the seagull logo representation. Even if the logo needs updating, a “peaceful” dove in a better pose might be worthy where the Parrot is nonsensical. Then the issue of a “real” readable OB is still needed not a brain freeze contraption that is almost indecipherable. The “peace sign” was integral to my recollection of OB when I was a teenager in the 60’s. If creating a new design is required, as it seems, I think community input into a community group’s identity crisis is the appropriate and logical solution that would be accomplished community wide with a “contest”. Certainly after all this time there can not be any time constraints for such a worthy endeavor necessitating a rush to judgment.


Rogue Five July 2, 2015 at 9:16 am

The parrot makes total sense considering that OB has a sizable flock of parrots patrolling our skies.


Dana Levy July 2, 2015 at 9:57 am

What??? Are you a new guy??? Do we live in or close to the Amazon jungle? What are we about? The beach and all it offers! Not a bird sanctuary!


Geoff Page July 2, 2015 at 12:13 pm

I actually think it is kind of clever but would suggest changing the parrot to a pelican. I like the parrots but a pelican is a beach bird and they are amazing and they look laid back. I would also suggest finding a way to distinguish it from a db, maybe capitalize it as in the original.


Doug Card July 4, 2015 at 3:37 pm

Having been in OB back in ’73, and an active member of OBCPG and the first OB Planning Board, I’m bothered by this one. However, as it had not yet become the Planning Board logo at the time I was there I really have no say in this.
The OB/seagull is so perfect (in fact I let out a cheer yesterday when I saw it on a car in Yachats on the Oregon Coast) and the suggested replacement is so, well,……
Isn’t there a way to Save the Gull and work out a modification of this?
If not, you could try our old OB CPG Crab, remember Frank?, the logo of our successful first OB Planning Board election in 1976.
And hurrah the 4th of July, which inspired our exuberant beach community celebration in ’75. My God, 40 years ago and still rolling!


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: