War of Words Erupts Over Police Cameras at OB Planning Meeting

by on December 4, 2015 · 30 comments

in Culture, Environment, History, Media, Ocean Beach, San Diego

OB Rag Editor Kicked Out of Meeting for Profanity

In one of the most contentious meetings in its recent history, the OB Planning Board meeting Wednesday night – December 2nd –  literally erupted into a “war of words” over the police surveillance cameras being proposed for Ocean Beach.

Opponents and advocates of the cameras traded pontifications, comments, tirades and insults – in a packed meeting with standing room only. However, the meeting soon devolved into a one-sided show, where proponents of the surveillance cameras and police were allowed to dominate what had been described as “a forum”. And yes, this author was ordered to leave the room due to an outburst of profanity (more on that later).

Much of the crowd was there because of the agenda item No. 2Surveillance Cameras along the waterfront, with a promise that the Board would discuss the issue and “gather consensus regarding their use”.

The issue of the cameras was on the Board’s agenda because over the last few weeks, the OB Rag and OB Citizens Against Privacy Abuse (CAPA) – the group that formed to oppose them – had made them an issue within the community. And the Planning Board was responding to requests to look into the issue. The news that the cameras were on the Board’s agenda got out, and the different sides mobilized for the meeting.

Once inside the community room, over 50 residents and business owners took over the space, as uniformed officers lined the back of the room (all police officers except for one lifeguard lieutenant) making it one of the largest audiences at a Board meeting in many of its members’ memories.

Vice-chair Blake Herrschaft began the meeting innocently enough, taking reports, sitting in for chair John Ambert who arrived 15 minutes into the meeting. Once Ambert took over, one of the first things the Board did was move the camera issue to the top of the agenda – as the vast majority of the speaker slips were for that issue.

But tension had already begun, with evil-eyes meeting some of the CAPA members as they filled into the room. (This writer had to personally stare down one red-faced gentleman.) It was just the beginning of a night of contention and incivility.

Once Ambert and the Board focused on the camera issue, Ambert stated:

“This is a discussion, a forum. We’re not taking any action.”

He then set up a ground rule – a half hour presentation and discussion – without indicating who was to say what and when. Ambert turned the floor over to Conrad Wear, Zapf’s representative. It was 6:30.

Wear gave an overview, explaining how they came into office in January, and immediately started receiving many calls about crime in the beach. In April, there was a stabbing in the news and it became a “wake up call” for Zapf’s office. They “engaged the Police Department” – asked them what they wanted and Western Division responded –  they wanted bicycles and cameras.

Zapf, Wear said, was able to scrap together funds out of the budget for a number of items for the police, including the surveillance cameras. Wear continued – each District office had received monies that had been originally tagged for carpeting, and this is where Zapf found the money.  It was $25,000 for the installation of 10 cameras and for two years of maintenance costs.

Since they’ve floated the idea, Wear said, they’ve only received one call in opposition to the cameras, and received dozens in support. Wear pointed to other beach communities, Mission Beach and PB, that have had the cameras, but he admitted, that he “was not sure how effective they’ve been.” Someone else stated that the cameras over there aren’t even working now.

Wear was beginning to flounder. Just then Community Relations Officer David Surwilo jumped in to recapture the ball. Surwilo talked about how cameras had helped the police crack down on prostitution and human trafficking along El Cajon Boulevard. The cameras, he stated, had led to “lots of arrests.”

A Board member made the simple observation, that “OB is not El Cajon Boulevard.”

Opening to questions from the Board, one member pressed Surwilo on “data for crimes at the beach,” which police have not been able to point to, which is a big complaint of opponents of the cameras. That same Board member offered that the money could have been spent on funding part of a police officer.

Another Board member stated that the cameras had not been “vetted” by the community, bringing up the issue of a lack of community discussion or debate on them.

Surwilo – ever the masterful politician (this guy should run for office) – took over the floor, explaining the “vetting” process of the cameras, and even cited his opposition – an OB Rag poll that showed many OBceans had questions about the cameras and didn’t necessarily oppose them. The vetting came in the form of demands for the cameras from the merchants and other community members, he said.  He declared:

“This community has been screaming for the cameras.”

He had his talking points down. As justification for the new cameras, Surwilo pointed out there are already cameras on the police trailer in the OB Pier parking lot.

Then he made his pitch for law and order, citing the need by prosecutors and police to make arrests and convictions – how juries these days in the era of CSI – expect videos of the crimes and suspects. And the prosecutors can’t get convictions without the videos.

(As a criminal defense attorney, I know this to be categorically untrue, an embellishment of the criminal process. The criminal justice system is stacked against defendants, particularly poor ones. The government has the resources to track down witnesses and is usually able to force defendants – who are charged with a myriad of criminal violations – into accepting a plea agreement – without cameras. 99.9% of criminal cases never go to trial as they are mostly resolved with some kind of plea.)

OB needs the cameras, Surwilo continued, to help locate missing children abducted off the beach. (Now, every summer brings a rash of “lost children” who are eventually found by their parents at the beach within minutes. But there has never been a child permanently abducted off the beach. At best, this is a myth.)

As another rationale of how the cameras are “not Big-Brother”, Surwilo explained the limited looping abilities of the video tapes, how they “rewrite” themselves over a short period of time. “We don’t have the memory,” he said to keep them longer.

He described how they had gotten the word out about the cameras to various groups from the Peninsula. Although he couldn’t point to any organization that had actually voted to endorse them.

Next came the “modernity” argument. It goes like this: ‘This is the modern world, where everybody has cameras and there are cameras everywhere. So accept change. Get with it.’ The message: you old hippies and Luddites are in the way of change – accept the cameras.

The clock on the room wall was still ticking. Nearly a half hour into the “forum”around the cameras it had been explicitly one-sided. CAPA had not been even able even to get a question in.  The half-hour mark that chair Ambert had set was quickly coming to an end, and he continued to allow the police to keep the floor – without explanation.  A couple of people in the back of the room tried to bring attention to this imbalance.

Another Board member raised privacy concerns. Surwilo responded that the cameras will be only pointed at the beach, not at residences. They will be high on light poles out of reach, on the Pier, on already existing structures. Lt. Carter entered the conversation by stating that police had not identified all the locations yet for the cameras. One will be under the Pier – and one near the lifeguard station.

Questions were opened up from the floor – and again this was before any formal presentation of opposition. Some one asked why were the cameras just along the beach? Surwilo answered by using examples of recent crimes at the beach – some of them unsolved crimes – but crimes that would have been resolved with the cameras, if they had been there.

At one point, Surwilo used the example of the woman who was sexually assaulted on the beach. If there had been cameras, he said, her assailant could have been identified, there could be a determination of whether a crime occurred.

Yet, this is the very same sexual assault that was the subject of media reports – including the OB Rag – where police refused to arrest an assailant even though there had been eye-witnesses of his assault.

Surwilo also used the well-known case of the Australian youth who had been severely beaten and burned by some guys at a fire ring on the beach a few years ago. Two of the assailants were later arrested and convicted of the serious assault – without cameras.

Surwilo didn’t mention the series of attempted rapes and sexual assaults in the residential areas of the beach – where cameras at the beach would be of no use.

The cameras are meant, it was admitted, to “curb people’s behavior”. In an reply to the question about where the statistics of incidents at the beach, Surwilo referred people to crimemapping.com .

Finally, at 7:10pm – a full 40 minutes into the “forum” and “discussion” the other side got to speak. Ambert gushed as he thanked the police and the lifeguards for all their wonderful service to the community, for appearing at the meeting. No mention of the obvious over-kill by police representative – (why five uniforms?) and no criticism directed toward the Department or the City for not bringing this item of public infrastructure before the Board for its authorization. And no mention to the group or people who had actually raised the issue of the cameras within the community.

Rick Callejon got up before the audience as a member of CAPA – and immediately announced that there was a community forum on the cameras coming up on December 9th – in the very same meeting room. Rick stressed that it was important for Zapf to attend.

Callejon continued: “We believe the money could have been better spent …” and went on to list a series of places for the money – aid and assistance for travelers and homeless, mental health professionals for the homeless, the OB Library, the lifeguard tower itself – “the bathrooms are beyond hideous,” he said.

“We encourage community policing,” he said, “we want more officers to have a presence on the beach,” instead of the cameras. Callejon was countering what had been an underlying assumption about those who opposed the cameras, in that they were “anti-police”. In the heated atmosphere in the room, camera proponents kept hinting that the opponents didn’t like the police.  Callejon said:

“There’s a big difference between officers’ presence on the beach versus the cameras.”

“Do we really want to be recorded every time we step on the beach?” he asked the audience. Then Callejon raised the issue – again -of the lack of statistics of crimes at the beach. “Without empirical justification”, he said, “the cameras don’t make sense.”

Then Callejon brought up the fact that a new sign warning of surveillance cameras has been posted near the lifeguard statute down at the beach. He asked whose it was. Surwilo responded by saying it was “not a San Diego police sign, not an official sign.”

Several people in the audience yelled out “take it down!”

One of the police officers muttered, “call Park and Rec.”

Callejon continued. He spoke of how he’s lived in OB for 22 years and has enjoyed OB’s friendly attitude. But now with the signs warning of video surveillance, he noted, “Seems when visitors come to the beach and see signs that says you’re under video surveillance, it would have a negative effect.” He joked, “it should at least have a ‘welcome to OB’.”

Ambert began pressuring Callejon to wind up his presentation. The police and proponents had been given 40 minutes, whereas opponents were getting just a few minutes to make their case. Tensions were rising – comments were being hurdled around, disparaging opponents – and significantly without comment from the chair. Finally Ambert pounded the table with his arm several times to gain control.

Callejon summarized his opposition. There had no recommendations for the cameras from most of the community; the beach is not a high crime area – compared with other neighborhoods around San Diego (OB is number 13th), and all that had been presented were anecdotes of incidents.  Research shows, Callegjon said, that with cameras criminals move to other areas, other neighborhoods – and would in this case, feed crime into the residential areas of OB.

A Board member interrupted in to comment that the Boston bomber was captured because of cameras. Another mentioned that the signs are “too authoritative”.

Callejon wrapped up, by saying, “This is the first discussion on this issue,” and then asked to no one in particular, “where are we with the process?” This was the unanswered question of the evening. No specific date or fixed time was given for the installation of the cameras, except for a vague “by the first of the year”.  Later speaking with Rick Callejon, he said he felt robbed of time, as the other side had been given over a half hour.

The chair moved to allow people who had filled out speaker slips to say their pieces. By our count, 8 spoke against the cameras and 7 for them.

Issues and questions raised by opponents included:

  • how the process of bringing the cameras to the community “stunk”, that it’s not right “to come here and hear that money was used without community input. We should have a say in how it’s spent.”
  • that San Diego is in a 36-year period of low crime rates,
  • they’re unconstitutional, “where is the respect for the Constitution?”,”we’re not free”,
  • there’s a real need to see the statistics justifying them, that “we need facts”
  • how long-time residents see the cameras as hoisted on them, “no one asked us,”
  • how “cameras do curb people’s behavior” of people not even committing any crimes,
  • a threat to privacy,
  • waste of revenue,
  • “one more thing chipping away at the uniqueness of OB,” and “we need to keep OB the way it is,
  • that “cameras are used in the design of jails. “Now I’m under surveillance like a criminal would be,”
  • Someone said “there’s an unbalance in getting feed-back” about the cameras, that government is “hearing more from money and merchants. We’re not all being represented,”
  • the cameras are the effects of gentrification.
  • “Why can’t we have officers at the beach, looking under the Pier?”
  • Get Alpha Project here for homeless vets.

Advocates of the cameras had more personal anecdotes to share:

  • One 22 year resident said “if it takes cameras to prevent anything happening to my 2 young sons, then I’m for them.”
  • “We need the cameras. My wife runs a surf team,” and they’re always getting accosted by homeless at the beach;
  • “We’re in a war against crime.”
  • “Our store gets robbed.”
  • Police need the cameras, as they’re just tools, like the vests the cops wear. “Do we complain of the vests?”
  • “Cameras will help us get them convicted.”
  • Cameras are used as a tool. “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
  • A mother of a stabbing victim, that a camera got a video of the guy who stabbed him and he’s now doing 3 years in prison.
  • A woman who runs a surf team very adamantly directed her words toward opponents standing in the back – without interruption from the chair.
  • Another person said she and her husband own an apartment complex in north OB, and “see a lot of crime” and was in favor of the cameras.

At one point, camera proponent Julie Klein asked those in the audience who supported the cameras to stand up. About ten did. And it appeared to this writer that there was about the same number of vocal opponents in the room. (To call Julie Klein simply “a proponent” is not to do her justice; she has been a major force in convincing her merchant allies to pressure the police to bring the cameras to OB.)

Planning Board chair Ambert then had Board members go around the conference table and express their views and where they stood on the cameras. At the end of their remarks, we counted seven that supported them and two that were opposed. Ambert’s position was not made clear except for earlier remarks showing a disdain for the process.

OB Planning Board members who support the surveillance cameras include the following: Peter Ruscitti, Valerie Paz, Tom Gawronski, Dan Dennison, Georgia Sparkman, Jane Gawronski, and Craig Klein.  Board members who opposed them included: Nanci Kelly and Blake Herrschaft.

By now, it had become drastically apparent, that the Board and its chair had tilted the entire hearing in favor of those who supported the police cameras. Myths, misrepresentations and downright lies had been uttered over the course of the evening in the rationalizations and arguments for the cameras, and remained hanging in the air without challenge from anybody on the Board.

This author was literally shaking with emotion and anger at what was coming down, as the hostility even had grown – and again without challenge from the Board. And when my friend Craig Klein got up – he physically rose and approached the audience – and began to repeat the reasons for the cameras, “it’s a tool,” and launched into a diatribe about “misconceptions about the Fourth Amendment” and then began repeating the lost kid on the beach argument – this author lost it and expressed what can be called “the bullshit sneeze”.

Following a long American tradition of calling bullshit when its seen or heard, this author couldn’t help himself.

Immediately chair Ambert ordered this author from the room. A scattering of applause indicated approval. Mr. Ghio – as hall monitor – jumped up and opened the door, greasing the skids so to speak. Rising and moving toward the door, this author also then overheard Ambert make several disparaging remarks about this author – one was “immaturity” or something like that.

Once outside in the hall, this author then also overheard someone get up who pointed out that ‘we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all if it hadn’t been for the man just kicked out of the meeting.’ Another round of applause followed.

That was it for this author.

Now, I admit that I did let out a burst of a type of immature expression – in the middle of a public meeting. But I was so upset with what was being said – and accepted as truth – by those who are so quick to throw away any rights of privacy that we cling to and still have, that’s its downright frightening. And this made me upset. The meeting had been so one-sided and dominated by camera proponents that I – and others within CAPA – were outraged.

People who should know better allowed this to happen. Haven’t we all read George Orwell’s book “1984”?

Now, a word about the real immaturity exhibited during the meeting. For a chairperson who is a quarter of an hour late to the largest meeting he’s been at, then to allow the meeting to devolve into a situation where one side commandeered the atmosphere, and then to disparage those who have created the forum – this is the true immaturity.

John Ambert is a smart, intelligent guy – quite knowledgeable about architecture and engineering and clean building concepts – but this meeting demonstrated that he was unable to rise to the occasion that this contentious hearing demanded of him. He set rules – and then violated them. He allowed one side to have 40 minutes, the other side about 5. With his snide comments directed at camera opponents (“they’ll always be some opponents of cameras,”), Ambert actually fostered the acrimony and incivility.

In my case, he could have used humor or some other device to defuse the situation, the animosity and hostility. But he didn’t. Ambert either refused to or didn’t have the ability to do that. There had been others who had used profanity without sanction. There had been others who were allowed to dominate – and even disrupt – the room with their blurts and bursts of opinion.  They weren’t ordered from the room.

Civility broke down Wednesday night during the OB Planning Board meeting. And neither the chair – nor anyone else on the Board – had the gravitas to bring it back together, to fix it, to bring the different, warring sides together – but instead, allowed the animosity to simmer and then to erupt into a war of words.

The upshot, my dear reader, is that until there are mutual apologies, the OB Rag will not continue to report on Planning Board meetings or notices.


{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

unwashedwaLLmarthTHONG December 4, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Bullshit sneezes are an economical way to distract the opposition. It looks like it worked.
The fascists are upset. Tactics moving toward watching everyone all the time have been disrupted. OB’s process of protesting the installation of cameras is a small nick in their armor. Throughout our society, look at the multitude of opportunities those w/ power have to surveil us.
Tell ’em, you want cameras at the beach? Then put them on Black’s Beach.
Frank, grow a callous exactly where it should be & continue reporting on the Planning Board. Shine the light. Shine the light. Shine the light on those who wish to drive us into darkness.


mjt December 4, 2015 at 1:42 pm

The law and order crowd is never appeased. Their sterile black and white world, devoid of creativity will sap the marrow from our beings.


Debbie December 4, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Sounds like days past when Carol used to bang her gavel during OBTC meetings on various topics and say their will be no outbursts!!!!! or when Escobar Eck used to pack the room with cops during public comment about NTC and the McMillin give away and have people escorted out of the room.

One thing for sure….the meeting and discussion would not have happened without Mr. Gormlie. If I understand the article, Mr. Gormlie admits “he let out a burst of a type of immature expression” and I sense an apology for such action. Sounds like some valid points are addressed and a board president needs to apologize for not be too professional either and not keeping his personal thoughts to himself …. too much testosterone and too much favoritism to the the police.

FACT 30 minutes divided by 2 equals 15….


gordon December 4, 2015 at 2:57 pm

well figures


Gristmiller December 4, 2015 at 3:51 pm

Both democracy and community took a beating thanks to the heavy hand of the fellow with the gavel. Democracy is often out of order. To throw a journalist out of a public meeting is waaaay out of order. An apology to Frank is necessary and another meeting with SD City Council member Zapf in attendance is in order. There was plenty of room for compromise.


RB December 5, 2015 at 8:47 am

Journalist report and observe. IMO, he was acting as an representative of his side of the debate and not as a journalist. No apology is necessary.


gristmiller December 5, 2015 at 11:22 am

Rb, you are right.


Posey December 4, 2015 at 5:41 pm

Wow Frank, you’re incredible. I felt like I should have walked out with you. I was there, and I think you hit the nail on the head. I was at that meeting-I don’t want the cameras. I went with someone on the fence about the issue-not any more. The proponents of the cameras backfired for him. Lack of community input, lack of statistics, are they even working in PB, MB? and the El Cajon Blvd. thing! The police can save your life. But I think constant surveillance of police cameras could lead to abuse. Police aren’t perfect either, and god knows there has been abuse in the past. I also think the cameras will move at least some of the crime behind the cameras-our neighborhoods and business. I’m all for personal cameras. I’ve got one in my pocket, my phone. Get as many as you want-your business, your house. If you are a victim of a crime caught on tape, show the police, and hopefully they will help you. But don’t expect the public at large to be willing to pay for the authorities surveillance of us at all times. Look at what just happened in Chicago-it took a year to get a court order to get the police to release a video that shows a policeman killing a man walking away from. He was shot 16 times.


Gristmiller December 4, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Do not stop reporting on Planning Board meetings, por favor.


Lori Hegerle December 4, 2015 at 6:07 pm

Frank…..YES…..you need to continue your reporting on these meetings. I love to hear what you have to say and you always give both sides. From what I know (which is not much) John seems to be a good guy…..things will work out. Keep up the good fight and like mjt mentioned above we here in OB do not live in a black or white world we tend to hover around the grey zones of society…..let’s keep it that way. Speaking directly on the cameras……I sway slightly more and more to NO……The great points I have heard are…..it will just push crime further down by the cliffs and into residential zone possibly, 25 grand could buy a part-time police officer (not exactly sure about the salary), There is no actual data if they do prevent crimes at the beach, MB cameras don’t work anymore because the community has to pay for upkeep past the one year mark…..or something like that….


Posey December 4, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Me too, Frank, I hope you hang with the obpb meetings. I would not know what is going on if it werent for your articles on the meetings. Also, I dont know John personally and I do not like what went down at the meeting, but I do remember his fighting the good fight in the streets re: the FAR planning board’s plan getting petitions. I hate getting petition signatures. It’s not easy. So maybe?


John Rippo December 4, 2015 at 8:45 pm

Cameras at the beach: how Soviet.


Leerysnail December 4, 2015 at 8:56 pm

Thank you Mr. Gormlie for attending this meeting, reporting in great detail, and blowing the BS sneeze at the law & order types that want to smother OB and turn in into Del Mar Sur. I can’t thank you enough for the attention and effort you’ve put in to inform OB citizens of this frightening turn of events. I’m firmly against the cameras. I believe they’re a violation of our privacy. I reject the fear and paranoia that is being peddled by those in favor. I will attend the Dec. 9th meeting and help swell the ranks of OB citizens who wish to preserve our freedom, and advocate for our beautiful precious little beach town – long live OB!


Kimmy :-) December 4, 2015 at 9:37 pm

I thank John Ambert for unselfishly volunteering his time, energy and resources to the Ocean Beach Community. Serving on the Ocean Beach Planning Board is not an easy task, and being the Chairperson brings an extra weight of duties and responsibilities. Facilitating public meetings…..especially when opposing views are present…..is tricky and from the many meetings I’ve seen John Ambert run, I feel that he does a pretty good job.
I also appreciate him running closer to “OB Time” :-)


Cholly December 5, 2015 at 6:30 am

My Dear Mr. Gormlie,
Please keep reporting on the OBPB Meetings. You are the one and only voice Ocean Beach has. Your actions are exactly what the Big Brother advocates want. Remember Rabbitt ‘n the Tar Baby? They would like a nice tidy Reaganesque world of ” … little boxes on the hillside, and they’re all made out of ticky-tacky…” Fock ’em! -Gooooo Gormlie


Richard December 5, 2015 at 7:49 am

Where is Gretchen Newsom on this topic? Is she just another cookie cutter politician? She is the OB town council president and she’s running for mayor against Faulkner. So what is it Gretchen? Where are you with your bold progressive agenda for the city in OB?

Just asking


Dana Levy December 5, 2015 at 10:58 am

Frank, don’t be petulant. I relish and enjoy the follies at the planning board and will feel bereft of quality information if you actually stop reporting on “their” antics, both good and bad.


Frank Gormlie December 5, 2015 at 11:20 am



Richard Cranium December 5, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Storm the Ocean Beach Hotel, tear down their cameras! A clear invasion of our privacy, and you know the NSA monitors the feed.
Please keep your promise of not reporting on Planning Board meetings, it only benefits the community to not have you and your daft crew of flower children there.
Put on your tinfoil hat and Guy Fawkes mask, and stay in Lemon Grove.


Marc Snelling December 5, 2015 at 3:18 pm

According to the proponents the end of Newport is always as bad as it’s ever been. It was the same story 16 years ago when the police trailer went in, then armed security, now a battery of cameras. One thing that never changes with the same people arguing this issue, is that crime is always the worst it’s ever been in OB. Forget the fact that crime statistics are lower than ever. La plus ca change, la plus c’est la meme. How many beach goers really want to be on camera?


unWASHedwallmartTHONG December 5, 2015 at 7:24 pm

I could very easily dilly-dally in front of a beach camera in a thong, an unwashed one. I won’t shave around my belly button, & I’m hoping the pasty white thighs show up w/ excellent contrast in the footage. I could wear a policeman’s cap & some aviators, & carry a beverage of American diet high fructose corn syrup w/ some red dye in it. As a protest maybe we should all show up in thongs at the beach. We could set up a spanking tent–spank the cop, three bucks! How about a BB pistol tent–shoot the cameras, three bucks! Use the profits to print more Only You Can Prevent Cameras in OB t-shirts.
Frank, go back to the meetings. I can’t make it; I’m always stuck waxing the water heater or washing some thongs.
Do Not Give Up!


tj December 5, 2015 at 10:52 pm

+1 Frank

there’s plenty of Paranoid City Bureaucracies with Spy Cams EVERYWHERE the Freedom abdicating proponents can go.

plenty, unfortunately.


Anon December 6, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Perhaps we can trade allowing the cameras for allowing drinking on the beach.

Seems that now that Big Brother is watching, we would be able to have a few beers at sunset.

Freedom always seems to be slipping away. Time to get some back.


Jay Sun December 6, 2015 at 6:10 pm

I am 100% opposed to the cameras.
At first I was initially ambivalent, maybe it does have some use and isn’t so bad.
It’s clear though that they want to unfairly ram this in as quick as possible, with bogus evidence and unfair procedure. That smells like an ulterior agenda. I can’t say if it’s part of the surveillance state that we all live in, or simply just lazy cops, or cops that more toys to play with.

The supposed value is not clear at all. They should be able to back that up with something more.
And true, how about let the community decide what it will spend extra money on?


Jay Sun December 6, 2015 at 6:14 pm

Frank, by the way. It’s understandable to have an outburst like what happened. But remember that if you get your roles of journalist, citizen and activist all jumbled up you’ll end up negating your own intentions.

The smart way to go about this is not simply to make a stink and noise.
How about act more respectful and civil, gather more community support and get some legal advice? That what I think would actually work best at shooting this down.


Dana Levy December 7, 2015 at 10:05 am

Quite the contrary. If nothing is done with emotion when it smells like dead fish or the tendency os to just rollover or be rolled over, then, where will we be when it really gets thick? I applaud Frank and he is entitled to wear as many hats as he chooses and tell it like it is whether in person or in print!


Obsurfer December 6, 2015 at 7:59 pm

Tryimg to argue with them is a waste of breath. Let them wage their righteous battle. Good luck. Oh and thanks for the armed rentacops and eye in the sky. Sound a lot like fascists to me lol.


Larry N Maggard December 7, 2015 at 8:19 am

Instead of all the pointless debate, why don’t we do what we should’ve been given the opportunity to do in the first place; let We the People decide by vote? After all, this is still the “Federal Constitutional Republic of the United States of North America” not the “Zeit des Nationalsozialismus und im Dritten Reich,” not yet anyway.

2 0 1 6 Election – Vote/write-in: “We the People” for President.


Belief December 7, 2015 at 10:20 am

There were no facts presented to support the installation of the cameras. Before the community agrees to compromise our privacy we should know the following:
1. What kinds of crime are committed on the beach? Crimemap does not show crimes on the beach.
2. How often are these crimes committed?
3. How would’ve cameras prevent those crimes?
The last meeting was overloaded with stories about crime and cameras, but emotional anecdotes are not a good basis for making this kind of decision.
I’ve spent many hours on the beach and I’ve seen very few crimes other than people sleeping on the beach and drunk guys fighting.


dan dennison December 8, 2015 at 8:29 pm

It is regrettable that the “forum” for presentation and comments about the anticipated OB beach surveillance cameras at last weeks’ OB Planning Board meeting became so contentious.

I believe that expression of the strongly held feelings of our residents is an enduring tradition of Ocean Beach and has to be respected and acknowledged. I personally appreciate the strong advocacy of opposition to the whole issue of surveillance from mounted cameras. However, I recognize that the world is not like it used to be when I was younger. The virtual digital ‘“vice grip” affecting all of us today very significantly eliminates both private and public privacy.

I believe a bit of perspective about last weeks’ meeting is helpful in understanding why the conflicts arouse so much emotion.

The OB Planning Board has no jurisdiction or approval capacity for what are generally called Public Safety issues. The collective opinion of the OB Planning Board is no different from that of any other resident or group of residents. We can influence decisions if we are adamant and organized, but we are not the decision-makers.

• There was some public discussion of the beach cameras at the November OB Town Council meeting and also Frank had raised this as a matter of concern at the November OB Planning Board meeting.
• Even though we, on the Planning Board know that we have no jurisdiction over Public Safety techniques and working practices, our chairman, John Ambert, made the decision to put this matter on the agenda for presentation of each side of the camera issue for public comment. I believe he did this in the spirit of the exceptional stewardship he has demonstrated for our community
• I believe the pure intention of having this matter on the agenda was to make an effort for a controlled public forum because there really is no other venue or mechanism for what is, essentially, an operational decision from our Public Service officials.
When a public meeting moves in such a disruptive, antagonistic and emotionally-charged direction, it becomes virtually impossible to find a neutral “common ground” for effective communication.

Was the process handled perfectly? No, it was not, but I strongly believe that John is not the villain. He truly made a strong effort to make this a productive forum but it was a very difficult and stressful circumstance for him, as Chair, to manage the emotions that were fueling the discussion.

I also want to reinforce some comments about the stedfast work and leadership John has provided for this community with both the updated community plan and his “laser focus” on FAR .This has included effective management of the approval process even though we know that the OB Planning Board only has the ability to make recommendations to the City. We are most fortunate to have John at the helm of the Planning Board. I strongly recommend we all take a deep breath and move beyond the anger exhibited at last weeks’ Board meeting and continue to work together to do everything we can to keep the character and special sense of community in our wonderful OB!


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