Is Tragedy in Ocean Beach Over the Weekend Linked to Multitude of Alcohol Establishments?

by on June 13, 2016 · 33 comments

in Culture, Environment, History, Life Events, Ocean Beach, The Widder Curry

skid marksA Tragedy Over the Weekend

A sad incident took place over the weekend in Ocean Beach. The information I have is second hand, but several people that I talked to gave me the same version of the incident.

Apparently a man was walking his dog and crossed the street at Newport and Sunset Cliffs.  A man driving a jeep made an erratic left hand turn and almost hit the man.

The pedestrian, apparently scared and angry, yelled at the driver and kicked at the car.  (One person told me he made contact with the car; another wasn’t sure.)

The driver swerved to the curb and pulled over and he jumped out of the car, screaming and threatening the pedestrian.  The pedestrian dropped the leash of his dog and told him to run away.

The driver got back into his car, after yelling more threats. The dog was scared and as he was running away, got hit by a car.  That driver did not stop. A driver behind him, probably unaware that the dog had been hit, also ran over the dog, and he, too, did not stop.

The situation is a sad one; not just for the pedestrian losing his dog, but for the entire community of Ocean Beach because this is not the first time that this has happened, and it probably won’t be the last.

The question that I have is why is this happening, and why is it  happening so often. And, of course, I have a theory.


Is explosion of drinking joints in OB going unchecked?

A Lot of Changes in Ocean Beach

I’ve lived in Ocean Beach since 1966 and have seen a lot of changes. All the “variety type of stores” are gone.  Elms, the men’s clothing store; Lownes, the department store, Smiths, the jewelry store; Coronet, the ‘five and dime’; etc.

For a while these stores were replaced with antique stores, but they are now becoming obsolete.

Now – Multitude of Beer Joints, Wine Tasting and Places to Buy Alcoholic Drinks

What is replacing them is, in my opinion, is a multitude of beer joints, wine tasting bars, and places to purchase alcoholic drinks.

And with the preponderance of these new establishments, people feel free to drink and drive, without any thought to whether they are able to do so or not.

I thought that when the community fought against CVS coming into Ocean Beach, one of the big factors was that they were going to be able to sell liquor.

Most of these new establishments have opened since the CVS problem.  Drive down Newport at night and there are no parking places anywhere; look into the buildings that are housing these drinking establishments.  In some cases it is standing room only. Last night people were standing in front of a tasting room drinking their beer because there was no room inside. (I thought one could not drink on a public street but it was happening.)

How many more licenses to sell beer and wine are going to be issued as building after building closes?

How many more dogs and/or pedestrians are going to be hit by drivers coming out of these establishments?  How many more accidents are going to be caused by people going from place to place “tasting” the wares of the bar?

Don’t get me wrong. I drink. I like to drink.But I do not get in my car and drive after drinking.

It seems to me that the city has to stop giving licenses to more establishments that want to sell alcohol, particularly in Ocean Beach.  Enough is enough.  Haven’t we reached our quota yet? And until there are restrictions, we are going to see more accidents like this weekend.  (And it doesn’t have to be just the weekend, either.)  The police department is doing everything they can do to make our community safe.

It is going to take more from the proprietors of these establishments to aid in that goal.

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

PL Local June 13, 2016 at 11:54 am

The other week some guy going super slow along the Cliffs stopped his car in the middle of the road and got out to yell at me.

Please don’t drive below 15mph along the Cliffs while not even watching the road in front of you.

The speed limit is 25. Not 15 and Not 50! I drive 20-25. I didn’t come out of no where, you were just driving really slow and I caught up with you.


Candy June 13, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Judi, This is horrible. My deepest sympathies to the pedestrian whose dog was killed. I definitely think you’re right that there are too many places to buy alcohol in Ocean Beach & other San Diego County cities. So more people drink, & some of those people get in their cars & drive. Candy


OB Dude June 13, 2016 at 12:46 pm

This story is heartbreaking. So all are all those bars that line Newport and perimeter streets. Where are the DUI check points? All those people drinking probably don’t live here.

How can more permits be granted? Why should the this be like PB? Didn’t anybody learn from what happened in that town?

Where is the OBMA on attracting quality businesses? What about the landlords that are in it for the money?

And PL local….people drive slow along the ocean to enjoy not have someone ride their ass. Get real! It should be 15 MPH…to bring peace to the neighborhood and allow people to safely cross the street.


joyce June 14, 2016 at 10:10 am

i absolutely agree with going slow on Sunset Cliffs…..i walked along the cliffs most every day….and it is very dangerous when i cross over….people are driving like its a freeway…it has gotten worse and worse…i have a bad back and can’t go fast across the street….if i were to fall, i would probably be killed by someone driving way too fast…..i think we need speed bumps and stop signs to slow people down.


RC June 13, 2016 at 1:34 pm

I am sad for the loss of the dogs life!, but don’t blame the enjoyment of an evening out on the death of the dog. If the owner of the dog would not have kicked the passing car and let go of the leash, this fabricated article would not exist. Is it too many liquor licenses or global warning or Donald Trump for that matter. You are guessing at causes and have no factual data showing the correlation. STOP


JC June 13, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Agreed. I realize this is just her ‘theory’ however there is nothing to indicate any of the people involved in the dog’s death were drinking at all. This article is a reach…


Maxine June 13, 2016 at 3:31 pm

right on!


Scot Stephens June 13, 2016 at 1:47 pm

Completely agree. Way too many drinking establishment on one block. The high density drinking absolutely contributes to a variety of more crime in the vicinity. The reckless approval of liquor licenses is also what ruined downtown Encinitas. We all know about PB. Most of us like to drink but we’d also like a safe and sane downtown. The homeless issue is one thing and then we add fuel to the fire by turning Newport into one giant bar. Thanks Judi for covering this topic.


South OB Girl June 13, 2016 at 7:59 pm

Thank you Scott and Judi.


South OB Girl June 13, 2016 at 8:02 pm

And KUDOS to Judi and another wildly popular article!!


Judi June 13, 2016 at 8:02 pm

Thank you


Rhonda June 13, 2016 at 2:23 pm

This is just tragic, unnecessary. The poor dog. <3 and the man who lost his dog.


Deana June 13, 2016 at 2:32 pm

There are a lot of drinking establishments, however, in this case the fault does seem more related to the dog owner. There was no reason for him to drop the leash and tell the dog to run away. Sounds like a crazy incident, but not certain how the bars correlate to this event, more the fault of the crazy driver (not necessarily under the influence) and the dog owner.


Mary Lou St. Lucas June 13, 2016 at 2:35 pm

This is so sad. I remember OB as being a dog-friendly family place back in the day. For many of us, our dogs are our family. How dare anyone who hit someone’s dog not stop. Some people don’t seem to have any heart at all.


George June 13, 2016 at 2:36 pm

I’m not surprised by this incident. I’m a walker and I can say that OB drivers are by and large some of the rudest and meanest in the country. By California law all intersections are crosswalks where pedestrians have the right-of-way. You can stand all day standing in the street at an intersection on Sunset Cliffs Blvd. and no-one will stop for you. I’ve actually had drivers try to run me over and I’ve seen many pedestrians have to jump out of the way. I believe that a police officer could make a huge haul by citing these drivers for failure to yield.


rick callejon June 13, 2016 at 3:29 pm

Perhaps the policy of allowing canines to hang out in drinking establishments ought be questioned.


Maxine June 13, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Wait a minute….being an OBeacean, I have to ask. Was it determined drinking was involved? Until then don’t slam the establishments making up our community….


Christo June 13, 2016 at 3:41 pm

Where does anyone say either person was in a bar or tasting room or whatever?

Or were they serving the dog and THAT was the problem?

BTW- the reason the tasting rooms can be there is tied to their alcohol production license. It allows additional tasting rooms to be placed in areas that are already maxed out in liquor licenses- like OB.


Marilyn Steber June 13, 2016 at 3:54 pm

Is the proliferation of drinking establishments connected to the high cost of rents in the business district?
What if some streets were closed altogether to make an area called “OB entertainment Mall”?
What if strapping young dudes or dudettes on bicycles with rickshaw-like thingies on them had pick-up zones for drinkers and deposited them near their cars parked outside the entertainment mall?
I haven’t formulated this plan entirely. If Ocean Beach is more friendly to drinkers than we are to the homeless and panhandlers, maybe we should re-think what we are about.
Just sayin’.


Zen June 13, 2016 at 11:57 pm

Marilyn I think that is a great idea. I’d love to make OB less car friendly and therefore nicer for everything else: walking, running, riding a bike, shopping, dog walking.

My preference is to go with parking meters at the beach lots and Newport Ave. Make them a mix of 2, 4, and 6 hour meters so people can stay for a while. Less free parking means less cars here and more people using other means to get here.

Part of the traffic problem is people hunting around looking for a free street space, even when the private lots are nearly empty despite being pretty cheap.


Zen June 14, 2016 at 12:05 am

Another way to make OB less auto-centric is to make some streets one lane one way, and use the extra space for larger sidewalks and/or bike lanes.

Newport is the best option for this. It is already partly closed down once a week in the afternoon for the farmer’s market plus another 15 times a year or so for various special events. Is this really a problem for anyone? Seems to me that this is when people like to come to OB the most. Somehow, when we are at peak enjoyment and numbers of both residents and visitors, we manage to go without having noisy disgusting dangerous polluting vehicles in the heart of our public space.

While taking cars completely off of Newport west of sunset cliffs would be ideal, we could also just remove one lane of traffic and one side of the parking, resulting in wide sidewalks, areas for sitting, safer biking, and have not have a conflict between space for outdoor cafes, which are wonderful things, and space for pedestrians to move about.


RK June 13, 2016 at 4:05 pm

It’s about the people that are making the bad choices which leads up to fatality & accidents. I see pedestrians walk through red lights all the time on purpose, so don’t blame the drivers for that scenario if the pedestrian(s) get hit. OB Dude is right, where are the checkpoints in OB? There are so many drinking establishments in the OB area especially on Newport, they should enforce it more often. Don’t want to see anybody getting killed.


rick callejon June 13, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Hobos could be employed pulling the rickshaws.


Seth June 13, 2016 at 4:25 pm

That was always one of the big questions to me living in OB and serving on the Planning Board. With the rise of online shopping and big box stores, it has become very difficult for mom and pop commercial strips such as Newport Avenue to remain economically viable. OB wasn’t the first to turn to turn to the idea of becoming a “restaurant and entertainment district”, but an increase in these kinds of incidents is part of the price you pay for that. Oh… and a loss of parking. Condolences to the dog owner. Sad stuff.


Colin Purdy June 13, 2016 at 4:40 pm

I don’t know much about this stuff, but I guess it all comes down to local vice City control, the same way it does for residential building permits, OBPB has no authority (I think) but the City Planning Commission (I think) has it all. With no local authority, OB is at the whim of the City. The balance of this type of control makes or breaks the long term integrity of historic districts or the unique character of provincial towns whose residents would like them to remain so. I’m generally sympathetic to local folks who’d rather their Main Street provide a diversity of commercial outlets typical of a more or less self-contained residential and commercial neighborhood and town, especially if the proliferation/monoculture of alcohol sellers is benefitting outside business entities, money leaving OB rather than money being made in OB. That said, I have no idea the financial viability/tribulations of associated real estate owners and landowners, if these commercial zoned spaces cannot support themselves any other way than by alcohol licensing (I doubt it).


Ed Hopkins June 13, 2016 at 6:50 pm

Most if my friends that frequent the brewery tasting rooms are all locals or take Uber. There are even more such establishments in North Park and in Vista. The fundamental thesis of this article appears to jump to the conclusion that one erratic driver, which occurs everywhere on a regular basis is because of places that many responsible people enjoy and respect, was due to drinking, without any actual evidence. I agree that there are a ridiculous amount of clueless drivers in OB but much of this could be addressed by more stop signs, as was done at the corner of Niagra and Bacon. But it took three serious accidents there before anything was done. Personally I am more concerned about the seemingly increasing frequency of robbery and theft, such what occurred last Tuesday night. I am not sure that can be blamed on the tasting rooms. Twenty cops showed up for that one call alone with a helicopter overhead, and no one found the suspects, I happened to be walking right by there when the police showed up and unfortunately did not see anyone … we are living in a new era and the population is ever expanding, but the best thing anyone can do is more community involvement … in the case of the dog owner, how is it that no bypasses were able to get the license plate of the car? How can twenty cops and a helicopter not find two guys on foot in a small community the borders the ocean?! All good questions.


Connie June 13, 2016 at 7:30 pm

It would be helpful to know whether other sorts of businesses (other than bars/wine tasting, etc.) could be financially viable here. It would also be helpful to know what (if anything) the Ocean Beach Main Street Association was actually doing to try to bring other sorts of businesses here – particularly to Newport Avenue. As for the drivers, O B is an extremely difficult place to drive through, even if one is sober and has had nothing to drink. The sight lines are poor, plus there are myriad pedestrians, skateboarders, and bikes, plus tourists who’ve never driven here before. All these things are ingredients for the problems such as occurred in the above story. Adding alcohol just ups the ante.


South OB Girl June 13, 2016 at 8:09 pm

I don’t have the numbers in front of me but it was my understanding that the OBPB does have a say in liquor licenses and restrictions. If anyone followed the CVS’s attempts to secure a liquor license prior to moving in. There was extensive discussion and restrictions were put in place.

There are statistics which can be provided by SDPD — for density and concentration of liquor licenses in a community. Prior to the CVS moving in, my recollection is that the community was near/at capacity for liquor licenses. Editor Dude Frank and OBPB Chair John A. can probably help a little more with the details.


Byron Wear June 14, 2016 at 7:43 am

As a 52 year resident of Point Loma and OB and a lifeguard stationed in the old tower at the foot of Santa Monica, I can remember shopping on Newport Avenue to buy clothes and shoes, visiting the Coronet variety store, the OB hardware, SD Glass and Paint and the local drug store independently owned. There were always a few favorite restaurants like Little Chef, Village Kitchen, Pomas, Natis and of course Hodads. Beginning in the late 60’s we began to lose our local neighborhood shopping districts (Point Loma, Pacific Beach, North Park, etc) to big box retail. We all started driving to Midway/Sports Arena or Mission/Fashion Valley where we could catch a movie. It was cheaper to buy our clothes at Mervynn’s or household stuff at Fed Mart (now Target) and fill our prescriptions at Savon. And we lost the Strand Theatre. So Newport became a center of Antiques and great local restaurants and drinking establishments. There have always been a few unique places for ice cream, special health products, beads and of course The Black. On Voltaire, we worked to improve the pedestrian orientation, planted trees and created diagonal parking.

They key to Newport and Voltaire Street is to create a safe, healthy and attractive business atmosphere for a balance of retail and restaurant establishments that will attract shoppers from all of the Peninsula including the 92106 zip code. Well operated restaurants, bars, and tasting rooms can attract people that might shop at the other specialty “mom and pop” retail stores. Additionally, developing a vibrant and active performing arts facility could be an important strategy with evening performances. (Note: The successful Point Loma Actors and Comedy at The Point Loma Assembly on Talbot St.)

The key is to maintain the balance, continue to beautify and enhance, effectively deal with homeless and assure public safety to attract all ages in a friendly environment. The new Veterans Plaza, a children’s playground (near Tower 2) , along with an expansion of the OB Library and replacement of the lifeguard station and restrooms are good long term projects that will attract families and people of all ages.


Frank Gormlie June 14, 2016 at 9:22 am

Byron – Thanks for the comment; we are reposting it as a “Reader Rave” this morning.


Judy Collier June 14, 2016 at 8:51 am

I really like Marilyn Steber’s idea of making OB a walking area. This idea was first proposed back in the OB Planning Group days, before we even had a Planning Board, around 1976. Logistics of parking are a challenge. Back then, we suggested parking across from Robb Field and shuttling tourists in.


Yankee Pete June 16, 2016 at 10:07 pm

what a load of bollox. sad that the dog died but this story is a stretch, at best…you should be ashamed of yourself, using a dead dog to push your agenda for less places to get a cold pint.


South OB Girl June 19, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Followed up on Judi’s article. The numbers are not looking good. It does appear that the Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control specifies a maximum number of liquor licenses that should be issued in a community.

And that number does seem to have been exceeded.


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