OB Town Council Spotlights Unsung Heroes in Graffiti and Trash Wars

by on February 24, 2017 · 1 comment

in Culture, Environment, History, Labor, Ocean Beach, Politics, San Diego

Greg Crowley (in red shirt) being interviewed by TV reporter while Jon Carr, another member of CSI, stands by. Jan. 10, 2016.

During Wednesday’s Ocean Beach Town Council’s monthly meeting –  Feb. 22nd -, the Council cast a spotlight on and honored some of the unsung heroes of OB’s graffiti and trash wars.

Representatives of two groups – OB Clean Streets Initiative and the OB Graffiti Task Force – were on hand to give updates and overviews of their efforts to clean up the village.

Greg Crowley of OB’s CSI told the gathered audience of some 70 people that his group’s motto is “Not talking spotless, just a little bit cleaner,” and how the group has organized 5 clean-ups in OB over the last year. They and the volunteers they organized collected over 600 pounds of trash – with the main items picked up being cigarette butts. One of the differences between CSI and other clean-up efforts, Greg said, was that his group goes into the alleys and away from the beaches to find their trash.

Finally, after urging folks to get active and help clean up OB, Greg announced that CSI’s next clean-up gig will be on April 1st, from 10 to 1pm and co-sponsored by Mother’s on Bacon Street – where volunteers will meet up.

Before and after photos. Some of the work done by OB Graffiti task force.

Board chair Gretchen Newsom also introduced Kevin Hastings of the OB Graffiti Task Force, who said his small group started last summer. They’ve been painting out graffiti ever since.  Last fall, the group received a $1000 donation from the OBTC and they’ve also received money from local residents and businesses.

Kevin explained that his thinks 99% of graffiti goes unreported to the City or police. The vast majority of what the Task Force hits are on public property, mainly in the parks. They try not to paint anything over that’s on private property, but they do work to cover gang tags. Since last summer, Kevin said, they know of 15 to 20 taggers who have been arrested by police.

Each of these unsung heroes received warm applause as they finished up their presentations.

Acting Lt” Waters of SDPD also was on hand and as the theme of the OBTC meeting was all about keeping the community clean, he introduced 4 detectives who are on the city’s graffiti enforcement unit. They investigate gang-related graffiti and go after chronic taggers. One of the detectives has taken on the chore of working with the City Attorney’s Office to deal with OB’s chronic tagger, Mama Bear. He’s working to “prosecute that woman because she has done of a lot of damage to your community.”

The officers advised that anyone who sees graffiti or is about to paint it out, take photos of it to document it. Upon questioning by this reporter, the lead detective said the levels of graffiti are fairly consistent historically, that they don’t see an increase – and complaints about graffiti are the same as last year.

Other News or Issues or announcements

Board Vacancy. There’s an opening on the Board as Melanie Williams has taken a sabbatical from OB. So they’re looking for someone to take over her seat and term.  Anyone interested should send the Board a “Letter of Intent” outlining reasons for wishing to be a board member.

New Routing Procedures Causing Delay in Water Rescues. During the non-agenda comment period, City Lifeguard Union leader Ed Harris, the former City Councilman, complained to the audience that the new Fire Chief hired in December has changed the reporting procedures and that has caused some delays in rescues. Water rescue calls are now with the change routed through the SDPD – and this is the mistake, Harris iterated. (Harris promised to write all this up and have it published in the OB Rag in the near future – so watch this space.)

Kiwanis sponsored OB Kite Parade is May 13th.

The Ocean Beach Historical Society is holding their annual Wisteria Garden Party Sunday, March 19, 2017, 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm, at 4761 Niagara Ave., O.B. 92107. It’s a party to appreciate members and also honor OB historian Carol Bowers. Members $10, or $20 for non-members.

OB Friends of Library now meet at the OB Library Annex, the building between the main library and the Post Office the 3rd Saturday of every month, at 10 am.

March 4th “Impeach” on the sands of OB will be held at 10am.

Treasury Report: The OBTC has $27,922 in the bank.

Zapf voted to Sue Trump. Conrad Wear from Councilwoman Zapf’s office reminded the crowd that his boss voted with the majority of the Council to join the lawsuit against Trump’s Muslim ban. “It’s not everyday,” Wear commented, “that my boss does something like that.”

March 11 OB Clean Up. Zapf’s office is joining I Love a Clean San Diego in organizing an OB clean-up on March 11th, beginning at 8:30am. Already 120 volunteers have signed up.

No Rep from Mayor’s Office. After it was apparent that there was no one from the Mayor’s office, one of the Board members asked for a show of hands from the audience, whether “anyone’s annoyed that the mayor’s office snubs this meeting?” and 50 hands shot up. Apparently there’s been no rep for months.

Calif Senator Toni Atkins has introduced a bill, SB562, that calls for single-payer universal health insurance for Californians. “We’re just starting the conversation about this,” Atkins’ rep Chevelle Tate told the meeting, which was warmly received.

Congressman Scott Peters had his rep there, Brian Elliot, who said his boss is working on a bill to force Congress to work more days of the week initially. Peters also supports some kind of investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia. Peters had held a town hall earlier in the week with about 200 to 300 people, but this night of the OBTC meeting, Peters had joined Congresswoman Susan Davis in another town hall -where 700 were attending.

Lifeguard Report. Lt. Lonnie Stephenson gave the monthly report for January. 84,000 visits to the beach, lifeguards performed 800 preventative actions, had 5 water rescues, 20 medical aids – and 1 cliff rescue.

At the close of the business portion of the meeting, the Board and the audience broke for pie and cookies – it was the 3rd or 4th annual “Pie with the President” event held each year on Gretchen’s birthday.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Frank Gormlie February 24, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Kevin Hastings of the OB Graffiti Task Force has added:

Helpful information from the SDPD’s gang unit:

1. If you don’t report it, it never happened.

2. Report tags via the getitdone app. Whether or not the city repairs it, it still goes to the SDPD gang unit. The photos are added to their graffiti tracker system. They can then link them to taggers and add more counts if an arrest is made. We will be sharing our older tag photos with them that aren’t already in the system.

3. Photos should clearly show the tag, and some reference to show how big. This is important for identification, and cost of repair. If their moniker can’t be deciphered, it’s no use to the gang unit. The cost is used for determining restitution for the tagger. More cost = more deterrent.


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