Open Letter to Spray-Painting Vandals of Abbott and Voltaire

by on March 22, 2016 · 48 comments

in Environment, Media, Ocean Beach

OB fence Graffit abbot n volta-3-14-16-02 ed

Editor: We received this anonymous “Open Letter” addressed to “vandals” and referring to the recent spray painting of newly installed construction fencing on the corner of Abbott and Voltaire. The letter is signed “Ocean Beach community members”. We publish it in its entirety.

An open letter to the individuals who recently vandalized the security fence on the corner of Abbott and Voltaire.

Dear Vandals,

Neighbors in Ocean Beach that care about the health and welfare of our community do not support your message or your medium of choice.

Why do you feel entitled to additional voting privileges about how an owner handles their property? This is the function of San Diego city zoning and permitting, and public opinion is considered at that time.

We found it interesting that you use the term ‘Neighboring Locals’, not simply ‘Neighbors’, to express your group’s dissatisfaction. Actual neighbors, that is, those who care about the properties they rent or own, those that are respectful to one another, and those that are committed to help keep OB lawful and respectable, with the greater good in mind, are what this town could use more of.

It is ironic that so many ‘Locals’ are against installing surveillance cameras yet your unlawful actions do nothing but solidify why they should indeed be deployed.

The use of the word “Locals” in the context of your graffiti is polarizing. Do we not already have enough of this in our world today? Your spray painted hearts and peace symbols didn’t make it OK. How does polarization add value to the eclectic, free spirited, peaceful atmosphere OB is known and loved for? This notion of earned tenure is destructive to a diverse community and intended to be intimidating. “Locals Only” is how your message reads and it is passé. It is juvenile and your media choice of vandalizing property (make no mistake about that), did little for your selfish cause.

Or did you forget that while fetching your spray paint?

You broke the law and we neighbors in the vicinity vehemently refuse to be associated with you. Ocean Beach needs no additional crime and criminals like you are not welcome here. Know this.

You decided to vandalize a third party’s property (the fence company) to promote your entitled, self-righteous message. The fence company owner is not ‘The man’, but more likely a hardworking individual trying to build a business and make a living for himself, his family, and provide opportunity to his workers. You stole from them. Contrary to the message of your graffiti, it can be assumed you do not understand or practice respect.

The grounds of the now fenced property was known to have dog waste, garbage and broken glass on the ground, abandoned furniture, the occasional inhabited RV, and cars parked in a manner that blocked the sidewalk and part of the alley. We saw it daily, for years.  An eyesore and public safety issue to be sure. It doesn’t seem as though you were keeping it up because why would you? “The man” should, right? Wrong. It is assumed you don’t own it, if you were maintaining it, it wasn’t noticeable, yet you expect the owners to act in your best interest? You seem to feel entitled to have control of other people’s property, even deface it, but conveniently assign the burden of responsibility and upkeep to someone else. The property owner has made decisions that will ultimately improve this situation, yet you deem it unacceptable?

As long time neighbors and residents of Ocean Beach we want you to know that we collectively disagree with and refuse to accept the actions of those that act as you did when you made the choice to canvas the ‘Locals’ opinion about improving the area in which we live.

To be clear; many of your neighbors do not support your message and denounce your disrespectful, illegal choice of publication.

Further, we open our arms to anyone who decides to make Ocean Beach their home and chooses to be productive and considerate neighbors. We value good people who respect one another. We look forward to meeting our future neighbors who move into the new construction that will help alleviate the housing shortage here in town.

We wholeheartedly accept and applaud improvement of vacant, unkempt property that individuals use self servingly but don’t maintain or give back to. It would be wonderful to see similar progress to the lot on Abbott and Muir. Users and takers of OB have been dumping their old furniture and garbage there long enough.

Again, neighbors in Ocean Beach that care about the health and welfare of our community do not support your message or your medium of choice. Ocean Beach is on the cusp of great progress, with or without you. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Your neighbors.

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

rick callejon March 22, 2016 at 12:04 pm

“…criminals like you are not welcome here. Know this.” Is that a threat of vigilantism? Vigilantism is criminal. Whence springs such vehemence and loathing? The above screed overflows with assumptions. We all know about the word assume. “We value good people”—How productive and respectful must one be to attain your standard? “Lead, follow, or get out of the way”—Is that a command or a threat?


Rick March 22, 2016 at 5:34 pm

Hi Rick,

Agreed, the above letter presents abrasively.

As resident of Ocean Beach who has had their apartment broken into multiple times, fences tagged, car vandalized, and subject to general ongoing property disregard, I get the message. Interpretation depends on past experiences.

Vigilantism is unacceptable however practicing vigilance is not only good for the neighborhood, it is the onus of true neighbors. Personally, I see the bar for productivity and ‘goodness’ is attainable. Clean up after your dog, don’t throw your cigarette butts on the ground, don’t intimidate people when panhandling, etc.. The aggregate of these is meaningful and good for everyone. Just don’t be unproductive.

Leaders have the ability to influence change. If people strongly disagree with the development choices here, lead, and then convince others to follow the good cause. Spray painting a message or agenda on someone else’s property is not productive or leading. I for one would be happy to do without that.

Just my two cents.


Geoff Page March 22, 2016 at 2:23 pm

So, if these people feel so strongly about this, enough to write this overly long winded letter about “graffiti” sprayed on a temporary construction fence fabric, why was it anonymously written? Any time I read something like this, something anonymous, my first instinct is to believe it was written by someone involved in the development itself, otherwise, why not sign your letter?


Jon March 22, 2016 at 2:49 pm

Should the vandals have left their contact info as well?


OB Dude March 22, 2016 at 6:22 pm

Point taken.


Happyinob March 30, 2016 at 12:51 pm

Valid Point


Rick March 22, 2016 at 5:55 pm


One of the issues this letter addresses is the larger problem we have in OB which is crime. It’s unacceptable and whether the vandalism was across the entire side of a house or small tag on a sidewalk, it’s illegal, and someone else has to fix it. Doesn’t matter that it was a construction fence, it was theirs.

Given the response to change that some people have had here in OB (eg., a brick thrown through Starbucks window, the spray painting of a construction fence..) I don’t think I’d want my name on the letter either. It’s a message, and as Jon mentions if individuals are willing to break the law out in the open, why would someone feel comfortable announcing their personal details and open up to retribution?

Is it surprising someone, or a group, that lives here wrote this? I doubt it was the developer. The text sent with the pictures a few days ago was pretty mellow. They are getting paid if this project comes to fruition, and then they’re out of here. I understand why residents would write this.

I too would like to be clear, I did not contribute to this letter, but I do agree with the message.


PL Local March 23, 2016 at 8:30 am

Could be a neighbor who doesn’t want to make themselves a target. I’d do the same thing. The person already vandalized property, who’s to say it won’t happen again.


Geoff Page March 23, 2016 at 10:44 am

It is just my opinion that standing in the dark and tossing out remarks is a sign of weakness, which is not what is needed to solve problems like this. If you believe strongly in what you have to say, you should have the courage to put your name on it. Frank’s comment about Ben Franklin below is, I think, in another realm. If you face retribution from an entire nation, maybe, but this is not the case here.


Pedro March 23, 2016 at 3:56 pm

I’ve been pretty open about my role in this development going so far as to a writing a pretty lengthy post on the “Ocean Beach!!!” facebook group in a discussion about this same vandalism of our construction fence. Had I written this letter, I would have signed it.


Devon October 28, 2018 at 1:46 am

Dear Pedro. You have drunk children peeing off your porch tonight. Zachs going to get more beer. You lied to me. You lied to everyone In this community. karma catches. Looking back, she was write what she wrote on your temporary fence. Your damage is permanent. You’ve stolen my sleep.


Jon March 22, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Just to be clear, I did not pen the letter. Although I agree with a lot of it (maybe not the “lead follow or get out of the way” remark. that seems aggressive).

But I’m thinking I would be cautious of putting my name on something like this knowing I’m addressing someone or group that is totally cool with defacing property (temporary or not) to get their ill-informed point across.


Geoff Page March 22, 2016 at 3:06 pm

I am not a fan of hiding behind pseudonyms. If a person has an opinion, believes in it, and desires to publicize it for the world to see, then have the courage to put your name on it. There is no way of knowing the designs of whoever is hiding behind the pseudonym. If a person wants to go into battle, what good are they if they are hiding behind a tree?


Jon March 22, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Fair enough, and Is it also fair to assume you feel the same about those who anonymously spray paint their message all over a fence.


Geoff Page March 22, 2016 at 3:44 pm

No, I don’t. Spraying the fence is illegal, and I don’t condone doing it, but revealing their names would open them to criminal charges so I understand why they would not sign that. Writing a letter to a publication is perfectly legal, therefore no need to hide. I honestly think those who painted the fence owe the fence company for the cost of the fabric for ruining it.


Rufus March 23, 2016 at 5:33 am

Geoff…when written anonymously, words have to stand on their own, without the pedigree of their writer.

Unfortunately some readers weigh the value of words against the assumed reputation, background, or even race of the writer. “He only said that because he’s black, or a conservative, or a nut, or whatever.” Name your pejorative.

I used to comment under my real name until one day at work, my boss told me that my public opinion that was expressed in the local on-line newspaper wasn’t appreciated. So I moved on to another job and started posting thoughtful comments under a pseudonym.

And that’s where I’ll stay. The nice thing about using a pseudonym is that when you see me at Raglans, Litikers, the Olive Tree, Shades or Wonderland, you’ll treat me for who I am and not for what I believe.


Geoff Page March 23, 2016 at 9:03 am


I’m having trouble following your reasoning. “When written anonymously,” words are just words without context.

What’s wrong with weighing a person’s words against who wrote them? How would I know your race from using a real name? If you were a conservative, the name would not tell me that, what you write would. Likewise, if you are a nut, it will show. You assume too much knowledge to be gained from using a real name.

That’s too bad about what happened at work, but if what you were writing actually harmed the business, you would need to think about your choices. If what you wrote simply offended the politics or opinions of your boss, he had no right to say anything and you should have said that. So, you moved to another job and assumed a pseudonym assuming your new boss would object to your writing? Looks like you let others silence you.

But, your last sentence was the most interesting “treat me for who I am not for what I believe.” Who are you then if not what you believe?


Frank Gormlie March 23, 2016 at 10:16 am

Hope that wasn’t the OB Rag you were busted on …


Dr. Jack Hammer March 23, 2016 at 7:42 am

It seems like everyone has their panties in a ball over nothing. From my perspective, some local residents resorted to an age-old manner to express their ideas…

Using public space to express their ideas.

Were the muralists in Mexico belittled by some narrow minded ninnies? Probably. Is the fence graffiti part of a national revolution and change of consciousness? Not at all. Was the surfing Virgin vandalism? Not in my opinion…

The fence wasn’t tagged with gang signs, vulgarities, or even misspelled or grammatically incorrect phrases. Was it beautiful? No. Was it effective? Well, you are reading this…

When the common man/woman is removed from the public sphere and has limited input about their neighborhood and immediate world around them, other means are necessary. It was a piece of fabric that lined a fence…


Geoff Page March 23, 2016 at 9:05 am

Well said Mr. Hammer. Boy, that name must have given you fits in school.


Jerry Sweeney March 23, 2016 at 8:58 am

TO open letter and all the folks upset by any of this stuff, get a life.


Geoff Page March 23, 2016 at 9:05 am

If you don’t think the discussion is worth having, why not just stay out of it?


editordude March 23, 2016 at 10:20 am

We have enjoyed this discussion immensely. Just to be clear, we follow Ben Franklin’s habit of allowing “anonymous” letters to be printed (some he wrote himself) in order to raise issues that may get the writer in trouble. Not everyone lives at the behest of no one.


Debbie March 23, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Frank and Patty are the bosses and they make they calls :-)

An opinion is a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge …


Geoff Page March 23, 2016 at 2:14 pm

No one is disputing the Rag’s editorial policy, the discussion was with the one poster.

What was the purpose of the one definition of an opinion? There are several others that are based on fact and knowledge.


Debbie March 23, 2016 at 5:00 pm

No purpose, just my pick. Not up for debating. My comment, my pick

Everyone is entitled to the same.


jim smith March 23, 2016 at 2:34 pm

All this over nothing, as the powers at be use the standard ‘divide and conquer’ strategy just like the current administration (local & federal). And the gentrification rolls on.
You’re all suckers caught up in this BS. Start looking for another place to live because if you can’t afford to live here-you’re gone!


rick callejon March 23, 2016 at 2:52 pm


Debbie may have been referring to a Trump opinion.


Geoff Page March 23, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Actually Rick, you may be right. A Trump opinion should have its own definition.


Tyler March 24, 2016 at 5:57 am

Didn’t write it but completely agree

Shocker the rag crowd doesn’t approve of this message /s/


Jerry Sweeney March 24, 2016 at 7:55 am

Geoff Page who tf are you?


PL Local March 24, 2016 at 9:12 am

Who TF are you? I’ve never seen you write here before. Geoff writes here all the time, everyone knows him.

I hate all these people with one line comments just hating on other people and not making a single productive comment about the story in hand.


Geoff Page March 24, 2016 at 9:27 am

Not sure I understand your question Mr. Sweeney but if there was any doubt, Geoff Page is my real name, so that is who TF I am.


Rufus March 24, 2016 at 8:17 am



Devon March 24, 2016 at 8:39 am

The arrogance and boot kicking cries of this letter diminishes any power or point it sought to achieve. To claim a large collection of neighbors stand behind it without saying how many, or even an anonymous description of the people who stand behind it renders it irrelevant tword any forward movement and leaves behind nothing but agitated commentary. Worthless toward anything positive, it lacks leadership of any positive kind. It’s a follower, distantly alone at the top of its own self constructed mountain that cannot see the beauty of its own town below.


Geoff Page March 24, 2016 at 9:28 am

Nicely written, Devon.


Rick March 24, 2016 at 9:47 pm

Donning a pseudonym doesn’t make a person’s argument incorrect. That’s lazy thinking. Disagree with an argument by addressing the argument, not the person who penned it anonymously or a few secondary nuggets of verbiage. Interesting but not surprising that there are comments doing that. That is a sign a weakness and agenda in itself.


Geoff Page March 25, 2016 at 9:36 am

I don’t think anyone said that using a pseudonym made a person’s argument incorrect, that was not the point. I can’t follow the rest of your comment though. What is lazy thinking? What did you mean by “secondary nuggets of verbiage?” And what is a “sign of weakness and agenda?”


Devon March 25, 2016 at 10:17 am

I did not claim incorrect
I claimed ineffective
I was not disagreeing with an argument
I was pointing out ineffective speech
I wasn’t speaking of the person who wrote it, I was speaking of what was written
My agenda is to understand the people in my neighborhood

Ocean beach saved my life
I give it my full attention as if it breathes, because it’s the only town I have ever experienced that had and has a live beating heart. I fear it falling.

I was Pointing out the possibility of effect that the open letter (which I perceived as closed) could create; The creation of future arguments like the one I’m responding to. And now that the future arguments have become present, what do they accomplish? It seems they create even more future arguments stemming off the initial argument, yet ignoring the original argument, and adding no progress tword the intent of the initial concern. We all loose caught in that Gravatron.

What hellish verbiage just took place in that above paragraph I typed! I’m naucious.
Yet I knew no other way to detail a response to your comment. We speak a different language, and that’s awesome. Yet, creates excessive nauseating effort to communicate and that sucks.

Verbiage holds more power than the actual words. It’s an amazing beautiful thing. I’ve experienced my own verbiage captivating large audiences and the times that it didn’t through public speaking on stages, and IPA fueled excitement amongst a few.

Verbiage holds more power than words.
Speech is art. Not a machine.

Why are you telling me how to communicate as if it’s absolute? If you find me ineffective, I accept. But I learn nothing from ur dictations. There are no rules Rick. Just collective agreement that shifts through time. I didn’t realize till now that you were talking about my verbiage. I had misinterpreted by perceiving you defending their verbiage. Because that was what my whole original comment was about.


Devon March 25, 2016 at 10:48 am

noun: verbiage; noun: verbage

the way in which something is expressed; wording or diction.



Jerry Sweeney March 24, 2016 at 9:29 am

O, because a person writes often they have the right to dictate what others have to say.


Geoff Page March 24, 2016 at 9:40 am

No not at all, Mr. Sweeney, you have every right to comment here. I did not dictate anything, I wrote a question based on your comment that clearly indicated you did not think the subject was worth discussing. I said “If you don’t think the discussion is worth having, why not just stay out of it? The question mark at the end indicates a question. A sentence dictating something would not end with a question mark.

Your second comment did not answer the question, but was rude because you misread my comment questioning your motive for bothering to comment at all on a subject you did not think was worth discussion.


rick callejon March 24, 2016 at 10:00 am

“Even good opinions are worth very little unless we hold them in a broad, intelligent, and spacious way.” John Morley, “Critical Miscellanies”, 1908


Debbie March 24, 2016 at 10:17 am

How about a poll on this plot of land/development etc. instead of back and forth and blah blah blah


Geoff Page March 24, 2016 at 10:56 am

I am going to try and be polite here. If you feel the discussion is “blah blah blah” you have the option of not following it anymore, which solves your problem. I will never understand why people decide at some point the discussion should stop because they feel it is pointless or it doesn’t interest them. Just stop reading if you feel that way and let the discussion play out on its own.

As for a poll, I don’t see what use it would serve, the project is approved and will be built. But if the Rag thinks it is worthwhile, that is fine with me.


Debbie March 24, 2016 at 12:05 pm

“As for a poll, I don’t see what use it would serve, the project is approved and will be built.”

Good point here!

Taggers take note….no need to tag it’s a done deal :-)


triggerfinger March 24, 2016 at 10:26 am

Meanwhile at the OB planning board meetings, sit empty chairs, on both sides of the table.


Debbie May 19, 2016 at 6:45 pm

There is a facebook page to fight graffiti in OB based on the info in this recent Reader article about a tagger caught in action


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