The Boycott of Target Express in Ocean Beach Is On

by on October 12, 2017 · 24 comments

in Ocean Beach

Community Forum by “No Target in OB”, Oct. 11, 2017.

By Frank Gormlie

Members of the “No Target in OB” group hosted a forum Wednesday night, October 11th, and the message from all the presentations is, the boycott of Target Express in Ocean Beach is on, baby!

About 40 people crammed into the meeting room of the OB Rec Center to view a good power-point presentation by Kim McGinley with updates and messages the group wants to get out to the community about why a boycott is necessary.

McGinley pressed the message, “it’s not a done deal yet,” in regards to Target leasing the space in the building that now holds the Antique Center on Newport Avenue. She then ticked off all the ways a Target Express moving into OB violates the OB Community Plan, mainly the Plan’s provisions for “small scale, locally-owned businesses”. And she added the point local businesses spend money in the local community and don’t send profits to some chain headquarters.

A member of the group, Jeannie, then made a call for volunteers to take Petition boards and collect signatures of friends, family and neighbors. Signature-gatherers from the group circulate the petition at OB’s Farmers Markets, and it’s “a lot of fun,” Jeannie said, “and you get to meet your fellow OBceans while you’re at it.” About half a dozen people volunteered to take the petition boards.

Petitioners have gathered just about a thousand signatures, Jeannie told the gathering. It’s also online, Kimmy added.

“Boycotts work,” McGinley said as a slide of articles of successful boycotts of Walmart appeared on the screen.

At one point, Kathy Blavatt rose up and showed everyone a traffic diagram she had created of issues with a new Target on Newport. There’s 4 schools in the immediate area, she said, and all the kids and their parents walk to them. Plus all the other pedestrians use the sidewalks and alleys. She raised fears that Target customers would take the free parking provided for the new building at the OB Library. She shared a rumor that the current vendors inside the Antique mall were told they have “until January 1” before they have to leave.

Blavatt also wondered outloud, “why didn’t the OB Planning Board ask for a traffic study?” The unspoken response is that the Board  doesn’t believe it has such a jurisdiction over commercial buildings coming in on Newport.

Kathy ended her spiel with a pitch for the owner of the Antique Center, “to cut up the building,” in order to lease out the separate spaces – this won a hearty round of applause from the audience.

McGinley then led a broad discussion of the Target situation while another member of the group handed out “To Do” check-list with suggested actions to the audience. Some of the suggestions included, “sign the boycott petition”, “spread the word”, “hang a ‘No Target in OB’ sign in your window, car, or wherever”, and “write a letter to Target corporation”.

The discussion continued. One man didn’t like the “wannabe Obceans” that move in and “who don’t even understand what it means” being an OBcean and care for the community. He was concerned that small businesses would be forced out. A woman echoed some of his points, and said “there are OB people who want to open businesses in OB but can’t compete with large corporations.”

Another woman asked, “Can we get a law passed to ban corporations from renting in OB?”

Kathy Blavatt answered, “there’s lots of corporations who have targeted OB like Seven-11.”

From the back of the room, a businessman asked whether OB businesses are against Target moving in, for he added, “a lot of businesspeople work and live here.” It was Steve Lombardi, the well-known local architect. He asked the organizers, “can you improve getting businesses to sign the petition?” and said, “the businesses are as loud as the people.”

The discussion devolved at one point into the prices charged by local businesses versus what the big stores sell the same products for, and how some people can’t afford to buy something that’s $5 over the price at Target; Starbucks was brought up how they undercut local coffee houses with lower prices.

The OB Mainstreet Association came in for some criticism, as the group supports Target coming in, and it was pointed out one of the Antique Center owners is on its board of directors.

“We need to go to the city council,” one woman in front said,” and show them Kathy’s [traffic issue] diagram.”

Colleen of the Green Center warned the crowd, “we need to outreach to the merchants,” then she added, “Target is talking to them, reassuring them ‘we’re not selling your products’.”

Shana made the point, “after all the local businesses are driven out, Target will raise their prices.”

Rio jumped in and said, “Starbucks is not open because of cheaper prices but because it’s the brand.” One of the best quotes from the evening was Rio’s “I’m getting tired of people trying to show how big their OB is,” to some laughter.

Then a young man with family beside him rose in front of the audience and described how he and a partner have tried to work with the realtor, Tony Franco, to buy the building. His name is John Bellis and he explained that they had a plan to tear the old building down and construct a 3-story mixed-use building with commercial space on the bottom floor. The new building would be modeled on the plan for mixed-use that the OB Planning Board came up with.

“Six and a half million is a lot,” he said (the going rate for the building), but also added he would expect to spend a projected $20 million on the new construction. But Franco backed out of the potential deal, he said. Some grumbling emerged from the crowd. John said he hadn’t given up and wanted to approach the property owners.

More talk about OB businesses and where they stood. “Businesses are neutral, ” Rio said, and struggling and cannot afford to pick fights with Target or the OBMA for their support of Target.

As the discussion drifted into more dissing of the OBMA – how they don’t go to local businesses for local services and products (they didn’t go to the James Gang, for instance, to print out their T-shirts) – to talk about BIDs – business improvement districts, people started leaving the meeting. It had gone on for nearly an hour and half.

But the plain fact is – the Boycott is on – and Target Express is in the sights of OBceans.

For more petitions, signs or info, go to the OB Green Center, 4843 B Voltaire or visit the website or email them




{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Oldob October 12, 2017 at 1:44 pm

The arrogance illustrated in this article is amazing!

First of all, what gives anyone the right to claim that someone is less of a member of a particular community because they are new to it? Maybe OB is leaving you fossils from the 60’s behind and replacing you with you ER people with families who care about the fact that drug addicted vagrants litter the beach and sidewalk and want to eliminate the problem. People who want to see better services and retail option like target rather than second rate amenities that serve the needs of sonfee people that those stores are closing in favor of ones that run a sustainable business.

OB isn’t yours because of how long you have lived here!! As a matter of fact, my guess is your tenure as a resident is coming to an end!!!

Also, quit spending other people’s money. Devising a commercial building is an expensive proposition. If you want that done, buy the building yourself and do it. Otherwise, keep you opinions to yourself!


triggerfinger October 12, 2017 at 4:31 pm

I think the point is if you are new to a community, maybe sit back a little while and learn some respect for the history preceeding you… before you go gangbusters changing it to suit your interests.


SaneVoice October 12, 2017 at 2:06 pm

The arrogance of you telling people to keep their opinions to themselves. Go take a long walk off the OB Pier.


Oldob October 12, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Ahahahahahahaha….can’t wait to shop at the new target that you all will be as effective at boycotting as you were at boycotting Starbucks. Look at it this way, Target will be a great place for people to panhandle. That should make you happy.


retired botanist October 12, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Oldob- yes, well, sigh, your attitude is also part of the problem. Have you actually read the OB community plan? Do you actually understand how local government works? Do you understand that some of the people who are opposed to the presence of Target do shop at Target elsewhere, but understand and respect the goals and missions of the OB community? The only arrogance I’m reading here is from busters like you who have a mantra of “Get over it, its coming whether you like it or not. Move aside for the juggernaut”.
“Ob isn’t your’s b/c of how long you’ve lived here.”- Are you kidding me?!! Ob is “their’s” because local people, like the OB Green Center, have spent thousands of hours and many years ensuring that the goals and policies of their community plan are implemented. Arrogance? Well, what a prime example you are. Ageism, profiling, throwing shade where it doesn’t belong…own that.


Val October 13, 2017 at 11:49 am

Retired botanist – I heard the mike drop from here ;)


RB October 12, 2017 at 10:22 pm

The OB Planning Board is a gerrymandered group that does not reflect all of the residents of 92107. Personnel property rights are more important than the opinion of this left leaning Board. Even Berkeley has a mini Target. Let’s boycott the boycotts.


Frank Gormlie October 13, 2017 at 12:44 pm

RB – that’s bull pucky! There is no gerrymandering at all, and they have open and democratic elections each March where any OB resident, property owner or business owner can vote. This has nothing to do with “personal property” but with land use. It’s been a long time since anyone who had title to a tiny piece of coastal property could simply do what they liked with it. For instance, you can’t build a 10-story mini-skyrise on it; you can’t store toxic shit on your property; you can’t dig for oil under your neighbor’s lot; I mean there are just a lot of logical, reasonable restrictions on land use and abuse and there have been. RB, we no longer have open-throated un-checked capitalism, when they fed children cocaine to make them work faster in factories a hundred years ago.


RB October 14, 2017 at 9:34 am

It is not very democratic to exclude the residents of 92107 in OB planning. It’s not very democratic to exclude homeowners who live a short walk from their shopping area on Newport. Stopping the boundary at Ebers is not a reasonable restriction for OB planning.

Yes we have restrictions on property use, but we have no restrictions on Target moving into this site. In short, the planning board is abusing what little power they have by trying to excluding a Mini Target and excluding all the other resident who live, work and shop in OB from voting on OB planning.

We have Federal, State, County and City government to make sure we don’t have un-checked capitalism.


Frank Gormlie October 14, 2017 at 10:29 am

And with Trump et al you can see how well that’s going …


Craig Klein October 17, 2017 at 7:48 am

RB: If you mean some of 92107 is excluded, you must be referring to the fact that when the OB Planning Board district boundaries were drawn in the 1970s the Southern/ East boundary was set on the West (downhill) side of Froude Street, you are technically correct, but political gerrymandering was not the reason. The boundary had to be drawn somewhere, so the “up the hill” parts of OB are in the Point Loma planning district.


Jeffeck October 13, 2017 at 8:59 am


I feel you in some ways. Times change and people here don’t want to change with them. It may be time for some new blood to run things. It would be nice to be rid of the crime and filth. I think we all want that.

But you moved here, I would assume, for the vibe of OB. Also because it was affordable enough to live here. Picture if we replaced all the downtown with generic stores, big expensive condos etc. short term rentals. All of the eclectic-ness of OB was removed. Would it be favorable to you then or would you feel we lost our character? Could you afford to live here?

There was a time when they wanted to make OB like Miami Beach.. shopping malls and housing for tourists. The hippies etc fought against that and OB is what it is today, a lower middle class beach town.

I agree the time has come to clean up OB but lets not completely destroy what makes OB the community it is. I for one am not against all corporations having a shop in OB. Target has a point, there are really no electronic stores or general housewares stores. They might be welcome on some smaller scale but the big Target is just over the hill and an “express” store even of the size they are proposing, is not a good fit for OB.

As far as being new to OB, you have your opinion but you may want to see what OB is about before you turn it into the community you moved away from. After all , if where you lived was so great, why did you move?


john October 13, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Target is keeping the character of OB by maintaining the historic building. The mentality quoted by John Bellis will do more harm to OB than Target’s proposal. Tear down the old building? What? That is the a complete misunderstanding of environmental character of the community. Newport Ave. is a special place. Keep the building, keep the scale of the street, keep the palm trees, keep the sidewalks, etc…. the tenants of buildings are flexible.


retired botanist October 13, 2017 at 4:13 pm

john- that’s a really lame justification- Target is more likely keeping their costs down by “maintaining the historic bldg”, and then using that as “sell bait” along with their other proffered “we know what you want” tactics. There’s a Target Express in Golden Hills, Berkeley, and probably a 1,000 other spots, but with perseverance, there won’t be one in OB!
I haven’t seen Mr. Bellis’ design, and don’t know what other ‘mixed’ use is planned besides commercial in the bottom, but I can assure you that Target in NO WAY honors the environmental character of the community. Having said that, I’m inclined to agree that keeping the bldg, with perhaps some modifications if necessary, is preferred to razing the whole structure. Newport Ave IS a special place, and OB wants to keep it that way. The tenants of bldgs are only flexible if they are CONSISTENT with the community ‘s PLAN. Honestly, which part of this doesn’t Target get?? How many more ways can it be stated…


john October 16, 2017 at 12:52 pm

How does allowing US Bank, Chase Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Union Bank, Shell Oil, 76 Oil, etc. to operate within the community consistent with the OB Community Plan?


Frank Gormlie October 16, 2017 at 1:43 pm

John, you’re not being reasonable. First, all of these banks and gas stations preceded the OB Community Plan. Second, are you seriously suggesting OBceans boycott all the banks and petrol stations? Residents don’t have a choice or options when it comes to these types of institutions and facilities. Third, also they are necessities. A Target Express is not.


john October 18, 2017 at 6:33 pm

Oh please , Target provides some basic necessities for living. That is a fact. I think one has to be “fair” in land code development. Let them exist. However, I understand your concern and share it. I’m a small business owner and usually always frequent local business as opposed to larger chain stores. ( been to Wall mart one time in my life) So I’m not pro Target, or pro global corporations. But Target is conforming to the fabric of OB – OB is not demolishing its fabric or giving tax breaks to Target. If you want to Boycott- by all means do so.


Alex Alexander October 14, 2017 at 7:58 am

Hipocrates…..all !!!

If any of you has the same situation (which is not) you will fight for your property… know why…. because is yours.

Do you remember Starbucks…..Hipocrates……….


Chris October 16, 2017 at 8:04 am
Frank Gormlie October 16, 2017 at 1:40 pm

Your vid on the internet trolls is great. Very appropriate for Halloween.


Laughingnonstop October 16, 2017 at 1:05 pm

I would hate to think that some people who are complaining about a Target in OB are the ones shopping at the OB CVS and RiteAid…if Target was the first big business to come into town, I get all the noise. But when you have those two major name brand pharmacies AND a Starbucks, get over yourselves. Change happens in a community. You just manage it and balance it. That is the message for the mayor. You people are trying to live in a time capsule. Start boycotting all the homeowners putting their houses up for sale. After all, new homeowners are coming in everyday and cleaning up the neighborhood by building new multimillion dollar homes and raising property values while some people leave their houses looking like decrepit eyesores. The new homeowners should be filing complaints against those people. Talk about misdirected energy…


Frank Gormlie October 16, 2017 at 1:46 pm

“You people” ? Where have we heard that before? The “time capsule” you accuse OBceans of having is the very quality and character that makes new home buyers and visitors come here. New homeowners, btw, are not coming in and cleaning up the neighborhood – they’re contributing to gentrification and the wholesale turnover of the community into a network of short term vacation rentals. The cleaning up is done by residents and business leaders. Move on …


retired botanist October 17, 2017 at 7:34 am

Haha, oh, so “open the floodgates” is appropriate? Now that a CVS/Rite-Aid/Starbucks have established turf, let’s just encourage Target, another 1/2 doz 7-11s, and why not a Home Depot since all “YOUR people” are “cleaning up” the neighborhood? What IS the compulsion to laminate everything with “big culture”? Since when was “live small and live local” a time capsule? For the forward-thinking, it IS the new model.
For a little enlightenment, and certainly better-directed energy, why don’t you read some Leopold Kohr? And come to think of it, last time I checked, malls weren’t doing so hot, so your multi-million- dollar-homes- big-box-store concepts aren’t exactly thriving :-)


Chris October 17, 2017 at 1:11 pm

After all, new homeowners are coming in everyday and cleaning up the neighborhood by building new multimillion dollar homes and raising property values”

And in effect are forcing others out. Is that ok with you? Or is that “just the way it is”?


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