City Road Blocks and Other Shenanigans Keep ‘Surf Check’ From Happening in South Ocean Beach

by on October 19, 2017 · 32 comments

in Ocean Beach

At a time when many protests over the fact that Target wants to becomes established in Ocean Beach rile the community, I think it is about time that people become aware of how a “little man”, wanting to start a successful business in OB is being met with frustration after frustration.

Just about a year ago I wrote an article about the Surf Check – a dream of Richard Aguirre‘s  to own a small business that would enhance the local neighborhood.

For those of you that are not aware of the Surf Check it is located on the northwest corner of Sunset Cliffs and Point Loma Avenue.  It is, for all intent and purposes, a “food truck.”  Richard wanted it to be more than just a food truck, and, with permits from the city, put in a raised platform and added tables and benches to the area.

Richard Aguirre

Someone in the neighborhood complained, and one of the City Inspectors came out and told him he couldn’t do it.  He was asked if he knew about the “set-back” from the street, and when he asked the inspector just what it was, she wasn’t sure.  But Richard was, and he proceeded to enlighten her on the regulations.  And, even though he was within the law, she told him that a “food truck” couldn’t have seats.  So … he took the beautiful wooden platform down and removed the benches and tables and umbrellas.

Then someone in the neighborhood complained that there was not enough parking since he was on the lot of the mechanic.  And according to Richard, the City Inspector told him that the mechanic needed 9 places and he had to have 5.  Strange, because they had more than that, but once again he was hassled about that.

Then one day the kegs that were anchored against the food truck were missing – never to show up again.

This week his surfboard menu was stolen.

But, interestingly enough, a friend of his was passing by and saw the theft take place.  He called Richard and told him that an employee of the gas station across the street carted the menu board away.  Richard waited all day for the return of the board, but it never came.

The following day he called the station across the street and he was told, Richard explained to me, that they did, in fact, have the menu board. But it would cost $50 to get it back.

The wayward surfboard menu.

He was told that they took it so “ . . . that it wouldn’t be stolen,” according to Richard.  After some intense words, he retrieved the menu board, and, I am pleased to say, that no money exchanged hands.

But once again the City Inspectors are after Richard.  His food truck doesn’t have a motor, and how can you have a food truck without a motor?  And it goes on, and on, and on.

I guess the moral is that if you are not liked – or wanted – all sorts of shenanigans will be used to force you out.

Richard loved getting up in the morning and coming to his business, he told me.  Now every day is a chore, not knowing what else will piss off the neighborhood.

Ocean Beach either wants small businesses or they don’t.  We cannot pick and choose who we want here.  That is not the American Way, and it is not the right way.  Maybe Councilwoman Lori Zapp needs to know what is happening to the Surf Check.  Maybe we should be making calls complaining about the fact that Richard is not being told who is making the complaints against him.  Maybe we should stop shopping at the places that are making it difficult for other small businesses to succeed.  And maybe, just maybe, Richard will have a chance of seeing his dream fulfilled.


{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Mari October 19, 2017 at 11:33 am

Wow….what a red tape nightmare. I have always thought that the owners of the gas station were crooks. I’ve been overcharged & short changed several times and I have not patronized them in years. Was a police report made for the theft and ransom of the sign?


Donna Jones October 19, 2017 at 11:35 am

This is crazy. I love the fact that Surf Check came to the area and created a reason to be at that corner … it’s Placemaking, and drawing people there also probably helps some of the other retail in the immediate area, that has suffered. I love being able to walk to a place to get snacks, meals, coffee, etc. I will certainly tell the Councilmember and Mayor’s office of my support for this project and hope the owner persists in trying to make this work!


Julie Ebbert October 19, 2017 at 11:45 am

Richard we SUPPORT YOU!!!! You have an amazing entrepreneurial mind and Todd and I hope that our neighbors and the “powers that be” are supportive of some of the BIG DREAMS you have for our LITTLE TOWN.


judi October 19, 2017 at 11:59 am

Speaking for Richard, Julie, he did not make a police report. He has to “live” with the neighbors and does not want to make waves. (No pun intended.) But it just irks me that this is happening. Thanks for your support. Judi


Mark Ring October 19, 2017 at 11:55 am

How unfortunate. After years of not patronizing the corner gas station because of overly high prices, I recently started supporting them because their prices became reasonable again. If all else is equal I would much rather support an independent businessperson than a corporation.

Looks like my local gas purchases will go back to the 76 station on Sunset Cliffs.


OB Mercy October 19, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Hope he gets out alive. Remember the OB Seafood truck? I didn’t think so. Got run out of town by Shades who are no longer there. Did a story on them for the Rag. Remember the German Mariscos truck in the old Apple Tree parking lot? Gone. Now we have a new and delicious soul food truck at Pat’s Liquors. Just ate there today. Wonder how long they’ll last?


OBKID October 8, 2018 at 3:05 pm

The loss of German Mariscos was a tragedy…my god that soup broth!!


nostalgic October 19, 2017 at 5:25 pm

In addition to having neighbors who have complained, Surf Check also has neighbors who have called Code Compliance to support the business. One can only assume that some businesses are more local than others, but you can’t get much more local than Surf Check!


doug October 19, 2017 at 5:55 pm

If I know Richard, he won’t give up! Let us know how we can help “Surf Check”. I love his operation, its the definition of ‘LOCAL’!


Harry October 19, 2017 at 6:48 pm

This just confirms my earlier impression. The people who own and run the gas station acosss the street are jerks. My wife had an issue with them wanting to charge her to air her bike tire just to get home. I don’t remember my issue but they were just rude. I’ll buy some coffee from Richard just to support him.


David L Fisher October 20, 2017 at 1:59 am

I don’t get it! O.B. community has a reputation for championing locally owned business yet this happens right under their nose? My favorite destination for food in O.B. is Nati’s but I may have to drive over to Surf Check to show my support for Richard. My parents were small business owners when I was growing up so I’m sympathetic to the tribulations of start-ups. Nobody should be subjected to this kind of harrassment for trying to make a contribution to his community while earning an honest living for himself! It’s inhuman and unAmerican!


OBKID October 8, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Natis closed because it served hot garbage.


Molly October 8, 2018 at 6:29 pm

Didn’t we all have this discussion a year ago. Sure, kick the dog while its down.


south ob girl October 20, 2017 at 7:59 am

Basically anything not nailed down might get stolen in that area. And apparently even things nailed down. If not stolen, at some point hit up with graffiti. The bus stop is right there and the cliffs. People from all over San Diego and tourists from all over the world are in that area at all hours, day and night. Not sure why it is such a secret or a mystery who is doing the complaining. I thought it was pretty well known “word on the street” who was doing the complaining. It’s a competition… who will sell more food, smoothies, whatever. Richard’s hot dogs ROCK!!! I want a California Dream smoothie with mango and guava right now.


south ob girl October 20, 2017 at 8:08 am

The coffee stand by Kaiserhoff doesn’t move. Nor the coffee stand by Barons. Richard attaches the Surf Check mobile to his van (or one of his other cars) and tows it.


RB October 20, 2017 at 8:46 am

When you ask for more government, you get more government, more regulations, and more taxes. Have you had enough government yet?


jettyboy October 20, 2017 at 10:58 am

Willing to bet it’s the neighbors around his spot. They are the same ones that gave The Inn at Sunset Cliffs such headaches when they were remodeling, and trying to rebuild their seawall after the ferocious storms a few years ago. I believe I read something about it on The Rag now that I think of it.


judi October 20, 2017 at 1:43 pm

I don’t think it is the neighbors, Jettyboy. My sources informed me that the people that you are referring to have been championing the Surf Check. They are very supportive of what he is doing.


south ob girl October 20, 2017 at 8:59 pm

That is correct, Judi.
Rumor is the other competing restaurant on the block is behind the complaints. Didn’t know this was a mystery or a secret, and it is word on the street. There is preferential treatment going on in that area. With people teaming up against Richard. The city inspectors have given Richard a lot of time and a lot of paper work. If inspectors were to look to the left and look to the right (and do their job) they would perhaps see the other issues going on.


Patti October 20, 2017 at 3:33 pm

My husband owned a local business in Ocean Beach.. Rich had Rich’s VW Service for 33 years.. I support Richard, and will be coming down for a hot dog and let all my friends know…to stop by… Good luck Surf Check!


PL Local October 21, 2017 at 2:24 pm

So sad. I was there when Richard opened “Surf Check”. It really is a great little spot. But ever since Day 1 the neighbors have been nothing but DICKS. I remember being there on a Sunday at sunset. Neighbors were putting out their trash and one neighbor wanted to fight Richard for putting some trash into his nearly empty trash can.


CSG October 30, 2017 at 8:47 pm

I am disappointed to see a what I consider suggestive and passive aggressive hit piece here on the gas station. Makes me less likely to support surf check to see an advocate for them stoop to that level. Which is too bad because I have enjoyed my experience and coffee there. But I’ve enjoyed my gas from across the street too. I don’t like public businesses bashing each other. Handle it direct and above board. Not some hit piece to garner sympathy.


intheairstream October 31, 2017 at 8:41 pm

In the effort of advocating factual journalism and ethical journalism. I am pretty sure the writer had nothing personal against the gas station. Judi will usually tell you pretty outright what she thinks about things. Whether it is her opinion about a restaurant she is reviewing or her opinion about politics– she will often share it. If she wanted to say something about the gas station (or anyone) — she would. Maybe that’s my opinion — but she usually does not hesitate to write about something if she decides she wants to. And she would do so factually and ethically.


Geoff Page October 31, 2017 at 12:14 pm

CSG, What hit piece against the gas station are you referring to? The only thing in the story was that they took Richard’s sign and wanted to be paid to give it back. Those are facts. If facts appear to be some kind of hit piece to you, then there isn’t much in the way of news that you can read.


CSG November 1, 2017 at 8:26 am

Geoff glad you asked,

The article mentions a single business in the whole article by description.
Then concludes with “Maybe we should stop shopping at the places that are making it difficult for other small businesses to succeed. ”

It I should inferred hat the gas station is the business making waves. If you disagree then look at the comments above mine to see the result of the article. Was this not the intent? Because the comments sure show it as the result.


ge November 1, 2017 at 9:25 am

CSG, I think you leaped too far on your conclusion. Yes, the gas station is mentioned because of the incident with the sign. And that incident did not shine a good light on the gas station and made it a possible suspect. But, the article doesn’t say they were the ones reporting to Code Enforcement. The last line you quoted does not mention them either. The comments are not part of the article but the sign stealing probably generated those. My only argument is that this was not a hit piece on the gas station as the Code Enforcement culprit.


judi November 2, 2017 at 12:40 pm

No! It was not the intent. I stated only the facts. Someone saw an employee from the gas station take the surf menu. The menu was not returned during the day. Richard had to go to them to get it back – they wanted $50 to return it. Richard did not pay the money and retrieved the board himself. These, CSG, are facts. I did not cast any aspersions on the gas station that they did not cast on themselves. There was obviously dishonesty on the part of the employee of gas station. That is the only business mentioned because that was the only business involved.


CSG November 2, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Judi with all due respect you stopped stating “only the facts” when you began suggesting actions readers should take, including

“Maybe we should stop shopping at the places that are making it difficult for other small businesses to succeed.”

And being that these were your final paragraph takeaways, they will generally leave the final impression a reader is left with. In this case, a suggestive (albeit passive with your use of “maybe”) call to action.

If that was not your intent, but you only wanted to shed light on the facts, then the last paragraph could have been omitted.

And the fact that the only business mentioned in the whole article was the gas station, due to their poor actions, it is not a leap to connect the dots that they might be behind the other actions taken against the surf check.

Maybe a hit piece was a harsh phrase to use. But based on my gut response and other commenters, you have successfully villinized that business. And it made me want to avoid the whole scene down there. Probably not your intent.?


judi November 2, 2017 at 7:09 pm

Sorry. I reported it as I saw it. Your read into it much more than I intended. Other things are missing. I NEVER said that the gas station employees took it. You assumed that. My comment about not patronizing places that are making it difficult for others to do business is just what I meant. You read into “gas station”; that was your take on it. Whomever is taking the items belonging to the Surf Check should not be patronized. Yes, it is my opinion but if one knows that something is amiss then to continue to give them business is only allow them to continue bad practices.


south ob girl November 1, 2017 at 9:20 am

I don’t see too many comments about the gas station above (“Mark Ring” mentions his opinion and his experience at the gas station). I see a lot of comments in support of Richard and Surf Check. Not even sure what the first sentence of your last paragraph in your comment above is saying (It I should inferred hat??). Also note, the comments section of The Rag (or any publication) should be taken seriously, but not too seriously. Now that you mention it though– the gas station and market there probably should have a whole article done on it. Lots of locals do have lots of opinions about it — some love it and some have boycotted it for years. Gas and market prices, product quality –probably a lot of material for someone to write about. I’m not sure every time the gas station itself has been robbed has been reported in the news. Usually if something has happened (bunch of police and fire trucks around) — if I ask the owner what happened, he doesn’t want to talk about it.


south ob girl November 1, 2017 at 10:04 am

While we are talking about the gas station — I do not know the number of times the market/gas station has been robbed per year. But it has happened in the past. Also do not know the number of miscellaneous arrests that have happened there per year (I have seen some occur over the years). Also do not know the number of times a person ‘under the influence’ has passed out on the gas station property (this seems to have happened fairly often over the years — sometimes the same person). Additionally — it would be interesting for a traffic study to be done at the gas station. The number of cars and trucks that park at the gas station to go to nearby businesses would be an interesting study. All of those would be interesting statistics for someone to research. Though I would speculate a number of incidents have not been reported. Lastly, the gas station owner and workers have been very nice to me (personal opinion and personal experience).


OBKid November 3, 2017 at 12:34 pm

1. That Gas Station overcharges, charge for debit, and generally follow bad practices.

2. The Little Lion is pretentious and don’t understand the community.

3. The surf check is rad – he seems to serve more food than some of the other coffee carts in ob – might be causing him headaches.

4. God bless the old seafood taco trucks that used to roam OB – pushed out by the OB mainstreet association and now closed businesses.

5. Support Surf Check!!


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