News and Notes From OB Town Council Meeting

by on August 28, 2015 · 4 comments

in Culture, Environment, Health, History, Life Events, Media, Ocean Beach

OB Orchard End

End of Orchard Avenue. Red circle is approximate location of alleged “cave”.

Caves at Foot of Orchard Bring Complaints of Government In-Action

Here’s more news and notes from the recent monthly public meeting of the Ocean Beach Town Council, held Wednesday, August 26th.

One of the best things of the OB Town Council meetings is the “non-agenda public comments” period at the very beginning. This is when folks can get up and either complain or announce or comment on anything – usually OB-related – and have not only the Council members hear what they have to say, but also the reps of the various elected officials who have some jurisdictional claim on OB, as well as members of the first-responders who show up to give reports.

And last Wednesday, it was no different.

During this period, 3 women rose from their seats in the back, and nearly in unison complained of the homeless people burrowing into the cliff at the foot of Orchard Street. This was not the first time the OBTC has heard of complaints about the caves behind concrete slabs that homeless people have dug.  But here was the issue again.

The most vocal woman was Marjorie and she and her friends from a group called “Friends of Orchard Beach” did not have kind words for the City of San Diego. She and the others spoke of “travelers’ drug problems”, but they were “tired of false promises”, they said, from city officials, whether police or politicians. They claimed they have been calling agencies and whomever for 4 to 6 months now, and nothing has been done about the situation.

“It’s very dangerous,” one of the woman said, as a claim was given that the people living in the caves have dug a 30 foot by 30 foot chamber into the side of the cliffs, into the sandstone, and in the process undermining the condos above.

There were other complaints about feces on the Orchard stairs, that there’s an unholy stench coming from the caves, and that the cliff cave is collapsing.

But the central point of these women was that nothing has been done, despite months of complaining to government. Their frustration of government in-action was palpable and numerous other heads nodded in agreement.

Later in the meeting, Police Sgt Sal addressed the issue. He told the assembled meeting of nearly 60 people, that police and law enforcement agencies have taken over 200 photos of the site – and that they were well aware of the problem.

“It’s a process,” he said, “a slow process, but it’s moving forward.”

The cave is similar to a homeless camp, Sgt Sal said.  And police and the City must give a 3 day notice to remove any property at the site.

“Police have gone in there,” he said, “police have accompanied code enforcers when they posted signs.”

Board member Jon Carr stated, “We as a board have not addressed the problem.”

Nothing was resolved, however everyone heard the issue loud and clear.

In other news and notes

From Councilwoman Lorie Zapf’s office, we heard:

  • DECCO Bikes has come to OB – at Newport and Abbott and at Spray and Brighton.
  • The City is looking into lowering the speed limit on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard in south OB and Point Loma.
  • The ranger for the Sunset Cliffs park will be hired in the Fall.

Other stuff:

  • Sgt Sal also stated that the case of the alleged sexual assault at the end of Cape May has been forwarded to the DA’s office for consideration, and that it’s an open investigation.

July Beach Stats

The Life Guard rep, Sgt Lonnie Stevens also made a report, and for July, the stats were :

  • 251 water rescues
  • 114 minor medical aids (no hospitalization)
  • 8 serious medical aids – hospitalization
  • 14 “lost and found” children
  • 237,773 visitors at the beach.

OB Surf Schools Want Longer Hours

Sgt Stevens also told the meeting that OB has two surf schools, or camps, and that right now they stop at 4pm, but the camps want to extend the hours of their permits to allow them to be open for another hour and half on public sand.  Perhaps, he suggested, the OB Town Council can take up the matter next month. (Why lifeguards are pushing this issue is beyond the wits of this reporter.)

OB Veterans’ Plaza Taking Names

Stephen Grosch and Dave Martin gave the meeting an update on the OB Veterans’ Plaza that the OBCDC is developing.  Many if not all OB organizations, they said, have donated money to the project. They have now opened up applications for names on the granite wall to be built, with plans to have it include 2,000 names. Their priority right now, Grosch explained, is for applicants from the 92106 and 92107 zip code areas. On January 1, 2016, they’ll open up the process for all San Diego.

One can find the applications on the OBCDC website, or at Shades, the restaurant across the street from the planned project, which Martin owns and runs.

Each space for the vet’s name allows inscriptions of 21 characters on the first line, and 28 on the 2nd line.

They also explained the $250 fee – “it’s a maintenance fee,” Martin said almost apologetically. “Park and Rec will not maintain it,” he said, so the money will be collected and placed in an annuity fund just for the maintenance of the site over the coming years.  He said he didn’t want to charge anything and didn’t want to get involved if there was a fee. But it’s a donation.

Pancake Breakfast and Coastal Clean-up – both set for Sat, Sept 19th. The Breakfast will run from 7:30 to noon.

The big event of the meeting was the Candidates’ Forum, which we covered here.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

OB Dude August 28, 2015 at 11:16 am

“It’s a process,” he said, “a slow process, but it’s moving forward.”

Well, if our dear ole smiley face Mayor can get an EIR done in three weeks for the Charger Babies…I think “they” can speed things along! Stop making dumb excuses.


intlpmp August 28, 2015 at 3:34 pm

While we are on the subject, can we get some enforcement on the bike path along the San Diego River between Robb field and Dog Beach? There are homeless people burrowing into the rocks, making camps in the bushes and parking lot, and also in the dunes. I wouldn’t mind, but the feces, hypodermic needles, and meth heads gets old. And the police are outrageously ineffective… even with their fancy little four-wheelers (that they can’t seem to handle so well).


Barb Friends Of Orchard Beach August 28, 2015 at 4:54 pm

Thank you for reporting on this very serious issue.
First I want to clarify it is not the homeless! It is meth heads occupying the cave. They are stealing anything out of our yards and laundry rooms in broad daylight!!
We have been dealing with the city for six months on this. Several e mails and phone calls. No action to close the cave nor remove the trash that is in there. A group member went in the end of May and cleared out 3 huge bags of trash!! Which included butane canisters and other drug related trash!! Can’t even begin to imagine how much trash is in there now!! We have Been told several times police will not go in the cave it is a safety hazzard for them. Fear of collapsing. So close it up if so unsafe and doesn’t collapse on anyone else!!
Town council is aware of it. It has been mentioned at three meeting and Conrad Wear has addressed it. We need the city to take swift action and close the cave!!
Again thank you for reporting on it.


obracer August 31, 2015 at 9:52 pm

“They also explained the $250 fee – “it’s a maintenance fee,” Martin said almost apologetically. “Park and Rec will not maintain it,” he said ”

A Veterans Memorial built on city park land maintained by Park & Rec. will NOT be maintained by Park & Rec. ? said who ? & why ?


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