Reader Rant: “Are OB Merchants Out of Control?”

by on January 22, 2016 · 30 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Environment, History, Media, Ocean Beach

Editor: We offer the following rant, a view that reflects the responses of a number of our readers of late. If any individual or group would like to submit a rebuttal, please send to

Reader Rant by Offended Jack

I have to ask: Are OB merchants out of control? Or more specifically, is a small group of OB merchants out of control?

I say this because this small group of Newport Avenue business owners have unilaterally altered Ocean Beach.

With the hiring of private armed guards who patrol OB streets and the advent of the soon-to-come police surveillance cameras – both projects of members of the OB Mainstreet Association – the face of Ocean Beach is changing.

These armed and uniformed members of a private security firm – with questionable background – now patrol our sidewalks and streets. They harass travelers and locals alike – without informing people that they are not cops – just because they look like cops – they can get away with whatever they say or do.

The real cops look the other way – and some of the merchants are beside themselves in applauding the private police.

But OB never had any kind of discussion about having private armed cops on our streets. No, but the force was pushed for and ultimately hired by this small group of OB merchants.

Some people call these guys “armed thugs” or even “Julie’s Army” after Julie Klein – who heads up the merchants subcommittee on crimes, and who has been known advocate of the arming o the security patrol. There had been an unarmed security patrol, but they were dismissed.

So, as a citizen and resident of OB – I am offended by the presence of these uniformed fake cops.

And the police cameras. Another project pushed by this same small group of OB merchants. And it looks like they’re coming in, all ten of them, stretched from the OB Pier to the Dog Beach parking lot.

There are lots of reasons to oppose these cameras, but once again a small group has pushed for them and it looks like OB will get them – again, without a community discussion about whether we want them or not, or whether they’re even needed.

So, again, I am offended by the actions of this small group of business-people and property-owners who make decisions for the rest of us, for the rest of the community, without asking our opinions, without getting our say-so, our okay.

This small group is changing OB – and they are proud of it. And no, I can’t make your 7:30 a.m. weekly meeting – I have to go to work.

I answer my own question. OB merchants – or at least a small group of them – are definitely out of control!

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

jettyboy January 22, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Just wait until one of these armed private police injure, shoot, or even kill someone, and see how fast the merchants try to distance themselves claiming they aren’t responsible in any way. As far as the surveillance cameras go, why haven’t they purchased their own cameras if they feel the need for them?


Frank Gormlie January 22, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Well, at least we’ll have the shooting by the armed private guard on surveillance video.


triggerfinger January 22, 2016 at 5:22 pm

We’ll have to hope the shootings happen on the beach, at least until we find more carpet money to put cameras in the streets and alleys.


Dave January 22, 2016 at 9:40 pm

Who’s “we?”


jettyboy January 23, 2016 at 9:01 am

Remember the police said the cameras WON’T have live monitoring. Popo said the cameras will just record so that they can “review” whats on the tapes when needed, and there are sooo many stores on the beach that need protection aren’t there?


Molly January 22, 2016 at 1:39 pm

The merchants are acting in their own narrow interests.


Molly January 22, 2016 at 1:40 pm

The merchants are not “out” of control but “in” control of their interests.


Molly January 22, 2016 at 1:41 pm

It’s just that the interests on these issues of the merchants don’t match the interests of the vast majority of OBcieans.


editordude January 22, 2016 at 1:43 pm

Molly – why are you limiting yourself to one sentence each comment?


Old Hippie January 22, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Although drawn out somewhat crudely, “Offended Jack” makes some good points about the non-representational nature of the policy decisions of the small-commercial class. Every community is run primarily by the local propertied and commercial class that have ties to the institutions and power elites. The residents, middle-class, working class and urban poor that actually inhabit the community are usually too busy with life’s challenges to take the time to manage their own community, so by default, that power falls on the local elite usually eager to steer the community to satisfy their own interests.

Rarely – except usually in places like OB – do the inhabitants figure out what’s going on early enough in the process of de-democratization of their local community to do anything about it.


triggerfinger January 22, 2016 at 5:18 pm

Congratulations to the private security company (NPS) on passing their 3-year probation period against their firearms permit and operating permit! Hopefully the owner learned from his mistakes and will think twice before playing cop next time. And hopefully he fired his employee that was involved in a DUI hit and run while on duty.


CliffHanger January 22, 2016 at 6:04 pm

Editor dude: Would you consider a follow up article please to investigate who these private security firms are, what authority they have (if any) more than the rest of us citizens and which OB businesses have hired them? Any photos of the rent-a-not-a-cops?


Frank Gormlie January 23, 2016 at 10:56 am

On behalf of editordude, see this


unwashedwallmartThong January 22, 2016 at 6:16 pm

Bye bye OB. I won’t be visiting as often. The wind has turned sour.


Cuss Varmint January 22, 2016 at 6:32 pm

Well, Jack. I appreciate but disagree with your concern. I have lived in Ocean Beach for over 15 years and have seen the “traveller” situation grow out of control of late. Worse than ever. I don’t believe the police are doing a good enough job curtailing aggressive (i.e., demanding and threatening) pan handlers / petty criminals. I am happy with the security as well as the potential security cameras. This nonsense (stabbing, armed muggings, burglaries) has got to stop. Oh, and by the way… It’s not the homeless who are responsible for these crimes, overall. It’s the chronically lazy. I’m pretty sure vigilantism is in order. Also, you’d have to be impressively stupid or guilty of something to suspect these are “real cops”. Finally, I don’t believe they have bothered locals. I’d have to hear an OBJECTIVE first-hand description of that…


Marc Snelling January 23, 2016 at 5:46 am

One thing that doesn’t change is its always the worst it’s ever been according to OBMA types. It was the same story twenty years ago with the police trailer.


jettyboy January 23, 2016 at 9:49 am

First, the cameras on beach won’t see anything on the streets, so they will be useless in curtailing crimes against the merchants.
Secondly, if they are not “real cops” that means they are un-trained, which makes them walking around with guns more dangerous.
Lastly, who are you to decide what is out of control, or who is “lazy”? You have no idea or information about the situations, or motivation for any of the people you seem to think are petty criminals do you?

In America the Constitution guarantees its citizens freedom of movement and travel. I’m pretty sure OB is still part of the United States.
Perhaps you would like to “build a wall” to keep out anyone you determine to be un-wanted.
Crime statistics show crime rates in OB have dropped since 2013-2014. As for your vigilantes, that would be illegal now wouldn’t it? So that would only increase crime.


Kevin H January 23, 2016 at 12:37 pm

The owner of the private security co just got off a 3yr probation against his weapons permit and operating permit. It was for playing cop running around a property with his gun drawn, until someone called the real police on him. Also one of his employees made the news awhile back for a DUI hit and run while on on duty.


objamie January 23, 2016 at 11:20 pm

Last night I saw cop after $55/hr cop driving around OB on a slow and cold Friday night. As an easy definition of vigilantism is “rationalized by the idea that adequate legal mechanisms for criminal punishment are either nonexistent, insufficient, or inefficient. ” I find your comment, and you, to be full of shit. And if you lived her 15 years you should be applauding how much safer it is now then ever before.


Patty January 23, 2016 at 5:33 am

I never thought I would see the day that the Great Ocean Beach would be brought to its knees by a bunch of spoiled rotten merchants.. some of which I believe don’t even live in Ocean Beach! Our precious quirky way of life is now in the hands of a few fascist! Julie’s been trying for years to be the mayor of OB, looks like she’s finally gonna get her way, as we all stand by and watch…How sad.


RB January 23, 2016 at 8:20 am

Travlers or aggressive panhandlers are the worst I have seen in my thirty years here.
They, like the OBMA, operate in their own self interest and will stay as long as locals fund their operations……..


Spare change January 23, 2016 at 11:49 pm

You think they’re surviving on locals giving them money? Or maybe the same tourists the merchants are attracting more of? They are begging on Newport not in the residential streets.


Posey January 24, 2016 at 9:55 am

Really? I’ve lived in OB for 40 years. I’m fortunate to live in a house. I’m retired, so I hang out at the beach. It seems that there are more homeless, but not more aggressive. Hey, the stabbing just last week was not at the beach. And they were not reported as being homeless, but were reported as being very drunk and got into a fight. Hey, OBMA! quit picking on the homeless and address your dual problem. OB has become more popular as a place to party-more people for the shops and restaurants and bars, but the partying causes more problems. Many people in OB love to walk and ride out bicycles. It’s a wonder we’re not always being flattened by the drunk drivers! One very positive development in OB is the Buskers! Hey, how big is the threat from musicians playing music for a little money. A lot of the music is really great! OB is so lucky to have that, but many of the merchants want to get rid of them.


RB January 24, 2016 at 11:31 am

You are confusing the homeless with these twenty something Travlers and Panhandlers operating in groups, with their Iphones and drums, and often coming to OB by car to enjoy the beach and our local easy marks. But I am glad you have never been surrounded or followed down the street by these new entrepreneurs/grifters.


Marie January 25, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Have you?


Kevin H January 23, 2016 at 12:33 pm

OBMA has already taken over Newport with their sidewalk patios and private police. Why stop there? Maybe after they get their cameras put up they can require permits to walk on the pier.


Posey January 24, 2016 at 10:28 am

Hey, OBMA! You know who the biggest business and employer is on OB? People’s Food Coop! Hey, maybe it would increase your image and business if you took in the wants and needs of the whole community.


Newport Worker January 24, 2016 at 7:02 pm

I wonder how many of you work on Newport. As some one who work on Newport 7 days a week, morning to night, I can tell you that these private security guards have made my life a lot easier. The amount of mornings that I have had to mop up human/dog poop from the front entry ways has decreased significantly. The response time of the cops was starting to get outrageous. I remember having to wait for 40 minutes just to talk to someone on the non emergency hotline and then another 30 for the cops to actually show up to deal with a twacked out guys smoking meth out of a can and pooping in the bushes.
I’ll admit I saw the Elite guards do some very sketchy things but these new guys seem to be on top of it. We called them one time about a vagrant who refused to leave our business and the new security company told us that they weren’t patrolling but they would contact the police on our behalf. The police showed up in less than 10 minutes.

Grant it, Julie can be a bit much to deal with at times but I don’t see anyone else actually doing anything about this. I applaud her for all the work she does for free.


Frank J January 25, 2016 at 5:45 pm

As a PB resident who loves visiting OB for many reasons, I have to think its a minority that could be against this. If your merchants are happy I’m happy. If I don’t have to step out to the street on my walk down Newport or near the beach because of, lets say, ‘overly outgoing’ street residents… Cool. If I don’t have to hold my breath and nose passing a group of smokers, even better. And if anyone, business, merchant, customer, feels a little more secure… Great. Lastly… Do you want to ‘Control’ the supposed ‘Out of control’ merchants. Right.


kipofVoltaire January 27, 2016 at 2:42 am

it looks like the $BIG BROTHER$ cameras are on there way. what a shame. OB used to be a tolerant community, but now the newport ave. merchants have found an uninformed and immature councilwoman to do their bidding for them. [I’m sure most of them are for Donald Trump for president] Oh well, all is not lost… and as you may not know, Earth First! is always monitoring these kinds of transgressions that happen thru-out the state. So, as always, there is always spray paint, pellet guns, drones,and other more draconian methods that will undoubtedly come into play to alleviate this hideous example of the capitalistic/ democratic system of govt. functioning at its worst. NAMESTE PEOPLE!!!


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