It’s Time for Lifeguard Ed Harris to Jump in and Rescue Residents of San Diego City Council District 2

by on January 9, 2018 · 38 comments

in Ocean Beach

Photo by Annie Lane

It’s time for Ed Harris – the lifeguard union chief – to jump in and rescue the citizens of San Diego City Council District 2.

Why do they need rescuing?

Well, consider this …

The next election – the June Primary – is less than 5 months away and incumbent Lori Zapf is up for re-election. Zapf, a Republican, faces a district where registered Democratic voters outnumber registered Republicans by nearly 9,000. That ought to make her very vulnerable come next November.

Yet, she faces a field of weak challengers. All of them – and here is where OB Rag makes enemies – from Bryan Bease to Jordan Beane to Jen Campbell – they all have political flaws that make them unable ultimately to mount the District 2 seat in City Council Chambers downtown.

And that’s why Ed Harris – who once sat in that chair for the District – needs to dive in, enter the race and give Zapf a run for her money.

Zapf needs a real run for her money because she advances and supports many conservative, Republican and partisan issues and sides. Lori may be great around short-term vacation rentals, but almost on any other issue, her positions just don’t reflect the blue bent of her district – and certainly doesn’t come close to the flaming liberals of Ocean Beach and other coastal communities.

Lori Zapf does have the incumbent advantage but still can’t win in June, because of a voter-approved rule change that requires a November runoff among the top two finishers – even if one gets more than 50 percent of the vote in June. This change came about to level the playing field as typically the electorate leaned more Republican because of lower voter turnout among Democrats in primary elections. Now, that has changed. Which means the top Democratic candidate in the Primary has a real chance to take the District seat.

But this is unlikely to happen – unless Harris enters the race.

Harris served as councilman for District 2 on an interim basis in 2014 after Kevin Faulconer was elected mayor. So, he’s been there already – and he was damn good while he was there for those few months; Harris brought a refreshing pro-labor bent to the Council; he helped shepard the unanimous Council approval of the Ocean Beach Community Plan; he refused to rubber-stamp questionable city contracts relating to Mission Beach.

No doubt he would be okay, you may say, but what about Ocean Beach Town Council President Gretchen Newsom? Isn’t she as good a candidate as Harris? She was the runner-up for being appointed to the D2 seat back in 2014.

Newsom is great – and would be a wonderful candidate.

I spoke to her several hours ago today about this very issue – but Gretchen is adamant that she cannot and will not enter any race for Council. She just is not there.

So, what about the other candidates.

There’s Bryan Pease – the “environmental lawyer”; Pease does have an activist heart and has worked to help the La Jolla seals, but over the last number of years, he has jumped back and forth into a number of races for local offices, City Council D1, City Attorney, carpet-bagger-ish. He didn’t do well in those other races. Some of his antics seem to be designed for the media and not his potential constituents.

Then there’s Jordan Beane, the former Chargers employee with no political experience. Beane is a really nice guy – and he’s tried to make his name and face known at community meetings in a non-aggressive fashion. He’s one of the few candidates who has called Zapf out – but his inexperience shows; he needs to be tougher. He also needs to understand that some neighborhoods at the beach are some of the most densest in the city.

Beane does have compassion. He told the Voice of San Diego he would “change the city’s strategy of ticketing people who are homeless and using police force to keep them from congregating on downtown streets and sidewalks.”

Apparently, one of the newer Democratic party candidates, Jen Campbell, needs some of that compassion. I agree with Doug Porter over at San Diego Free Press, when he wrote this morning:

I’m also angry. I’ve just seen a video of a supposedly leading Democratic candidate for City Council who seems to think she can win by fanning the flames of hate towards our city’s homeless. Here’s the money quote from District 2 candidate Dr. Jen Campbell, speaking to a group on Thursday, January 4:

“You see all those panhandlers on the corners? They’re probably not even homeless! They’re just pretending they are. They’re begging. Do they have a license? I doubt it. In the city they have to have a license. Is anyone checking that? No. We don’t have enough police!”

The video of Campbell was supplied by Bryan Pease. As Porter said, “Pease also pointed out the irony of her mentioning licensing, given that he was the attorney whose 2006 lawsuit struck down San Diego’s charitable solicitation license ordinance as being unconstitutional.”

Campbell was the hope of the liberals of District 2; she had many Party endorsements; she’s related to President Obama’s former chief of staff. But her gaffe a few days ago shows the illiberal side of her. Other progressives who have seen the video are disgusted.

There’s also Jim Bell – who is OB’s eco-protector and has been a candidate for many local races; but Bell just unfortunately had a stroke and even though he’s now okay, it looks like his health may limit his candidacy.

Daniel Smiechowski has been around to community meetings and always announces himself, but it’s unclear just what he has done to earn anyone’s vote, and it’s not clear where he stands on key issues. He has a background in real estate.

On Zapf’s right, there’s Joshua Tomolak, a gun rights activist, who calls himself, “A dedicated veteran bringing fiscal responsibility, common sense solutions and limited government to San Diego City Council District 2.”

That takes us back to Ed Harris – who up to now, to be honest – has shied away from any candidacy for the District. He does remain visible with his lifeguard union work and conflicts with San Diego Fire Dept management.

Even he did dive in and swim out to the residents, he’s no shoo-in; it would take work – and I’m sure there’s volunteers in the woodwork – but Harris needs to (changing metaphors) vigorously grab the reins and give it a kick. He was a mayoral candidate in 2016 – so he does have name recognition and fund-raising experience, although he finished third in the 2016 mayor’s race to Faulconer and former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana.

But that’s okay, because we’re talking district elections. If Harris dove in, he could very well win in November.


San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego Union-Tribune

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

unwashedwallmartThong January 9, 2018 at 6:09 pm

If you can swim, vote for Ed.


bodysurferbob January 9, 2018 at 8:27 pm

did somebody say “swim”? btw, this article is certainly a bold statement. ob rag reporters better watch out at future meetings so they’re not bombarded by district two candidates.


Ol OB Hippie January 9, 2018 at 8:29 pm

I don’t know, man, there’s certainly a lot to chew on. I don’t know if your descriptions of the different candidates is sufficient.


Bryan Pease January 10, 2018 at 7:16 am

I received over 23,000 votes to be elected to San Diego County Democratic Central Committee last year–more than anyone else in the county. In the city attorney race, I entered 5 months before the primary–after all the endorsements had already been snatched up–and still came within single digits of my opponents who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars more than me. I have lived in OB since 2012. I was forced to leave for a couple years when an AirBNB investor bought the property I was living in. In this race I am endorsed by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, retired Council Member Marti Emerald, retired Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, and Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina to name a few. I have raised over $40,000 for this campaign and have been in it for a year now. I am releasing scientific poll data later today that will show I am the candidate by far best able to beat Zapf. And Frank, why did you put “environmental attorney” in quotes? I have won cases to protect our environment up and down the state, including most recently stopping the City of Pasadena from damming off a wetlands, and forcing the County of LA to cough up documents related to biological monitoring of the Oxford Lagoon that they improperly claimed were not subject to the PRA due to being in the hands of a third party. Please do your research or at least talk to someone before writing an article like this.


Frank Gormlie January 13, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Not disparaging this part of your history, Bryan; it’s how you are described in article after article in the mainstream press. You and I met during the Occupy Wall Street movement in San Diego, so I’ve known you for 7 years. So these are not just some off-hand comments on my part. And it’s only my opinion.


Bryan Pease January 13, 2018 at 2:10 pm

As for “article after article,” I’m only aware of one SDUT article by Republican hack and so-called reporter David Garrick going after me in this way. I would have hoped you wouldn’t just repeat his talking points in the OB Rag.


miss christine January 10, 2018 at 5:01 pm

I had the pleasure of attending the Environmental Dems endorsement last Saturday. Where Bryan, Jen and Jordan spoke and answered questions afterwards. Bryan Pease is far and away the candidate to beat Lori Zapf. His integrity, his experience, his passion for the city of San Diego is obvious. He has name recognition, he is an attorney, currently San Diego doesn’t have an attorney on the City Council. Having an attorney on the council would be a huge benefit to our community, as he understands what’s at stake when the city to choose to ignore it’s communities needs. Indecision about our homelessness problem, our short term rental/ Air B N B issue, housing. Our current council seem to be unable to make the simplest of decisions. In fact, people are dying in our streets of Hepatitis A, a non fatal disease. The entire county, according to the CDC has an average 80 deaths a year…. San Diego is responsible for nearly a quarter of that number. We need someone who will stand up and address our problems, not bury their head in the sand. That is far and away Bryan Pease. PS Frank….calling Bryan “carpet-bagger-ish” was just plain bizarre and uncalled for.


Frank Gormlie January 13, 2018 at 12:36 pm

miss christine
I’ve observed Bryan’s history in San Diego; he moved to La Jolla, ran for council and lost; he moved to D2, ran for council and lost; he then ran for City Atty and lost. This aspect of his history is particularly rankling.


Bryan Pease January 13, 2018 at 2:00 pm

This is just an odd and factually incorrect statement Frank. Why was it “rankling” to see a fellow civil rights attorney enter the city attorney race–albeit too late to build up the momentum to win in a citywide race–when key issues to our activist bases were not being brought up in debates? And I have never run for city council in D2. I supported Sarah Boot against Lorie Zapf in the last election cycle. As a resident of OB, I did submit an application to be considered for the appointment to the interim seat vacated by Faulconer when he became mayor. This appointment ended up going to Ed Harris, with the support of Lorie Zapf. It is true that in 2012 I moved very briefly to UTC in order to run against Sherri Lightner, the Democratic incumbent who had taken many anti-environment and anti-labor votes. I did not feel someone like that should run unchallenged on the Democratic side. Call that particular move carpetbagging if you want, but OB is my home, and I intend to win this race to represent District 2. Independent polling shows I am by far the best hope to beat Zapf, and that Zapf is indeed a very weak incumbent, with under 40% approval rating and over 49% who have no idea who she is.


Frank Gormlie January 13, 2018 at 2:23 pm

The OB Rag is not the first publication to raise the issue of carpet-bagging; here’s the Voice of SD in 2012 after interviewing Bryan:

“What He’s Taking Heat For

Being the election’s carpetbagger. And he owns up to it. “I’m not hiding anything,” Pease said of his timely move. “I’ve been active on things that affect the district.”

Just moving to the district wouldn’t be a huge detriment, but so far, Pease has struggled to display a connection to District 1 issues beyond the seals. Asked to explain how he would improve the area’s quality of life, he dodged providing specific ideas or proposals.”


Bryan Pease January 13, 2018 at 4:17 pm

I already just said if you want to accuse me of “carpetbagging” six years ago when I moved for 5 months to hold a non-progressive Democrat accountable, that’s fine, but it’s an odd allegation to make in this race right now given that OB is my community.


Michael January 12, 2018 at 10:51 am

The only thing worse than a career politician is someone aspiring to be one. I would hate to live in a community where Bryan’s “issues” would prevail.

Banning landlords from inquiring about criminal history? Well I’ve lived my life without going to prison so if I apply for an apartment alongside a felon, we should just ignore that fact?

Rent control. Housing availability in OB is incredibly low due to low turnover and AirBnB. This would make it nonexistent.


Rick Williams January 12, 2018 at 11:22 am

Frank thank you for the overview, I value your opinion and observations. Owning and living in what one calls the war zone, I’ve seen some small incremental improvements since 2000. The mostly young men that hangout here in OB and ask for cash, discard their cigarette butts and other trash are not what I would consider most in need of city services. With limited resources, higher priorities and overall public safety, we continue to need upgrade to fire, police and lifeguard facilities. I am tried of picking up trash in my neighborhood and wouldn’t be opposed to ticketing those that litter our community. I will consider supporting Ed Harris if he were to run for district 2, but only if he were to show his negotiating and leadership qualities, bringing both fire and life guard management teams together to work as one cohesive unit.


OB Mercy January 12, 2018 at 12:37 pm

I interviewed Ed Harris when he was considering a run for Mayor during his interim fulfilling of office.

He put a kibosh on the article, which I was hoping to sell to a local paper, because he had decided NOT to run due to wanting to spend time with his family. Maybe this is still the case?


unwashedwallmartThong January 13, 2018 at 6:33 pm

Someone sit down w/ Bryan & do the due diligence w/ a google of pointed questions w/ proper follow up & fairness.


triggerfinger January 16, 2018 at 12:43 am

I agree. This article reads like someone has a bone to pick…


Frank Gormlie January 16, 2018 at 7:32 am

For shitholes sake, it’s called an opinion piece.


Geoff Page January 16, 2018 at 3:38 pm

This was an opinion piece and I respect Frank’s opinions. In this case, however, all I want to see is someone defeat Zapf and it looks like Brian has the best shot at that. Maybe he is not perfect but as this piece shows, no politician is perfect. If Harris doesn’t enter the race, then I think The Rag should pick one of those running against Zapf and help drum up support, we don’t need four more years of paying her a salary to be the mayor’s echo.


miss christine January 18, 2018 at 6:52 am

Well said, Geoff! We need to keep our eye on the THE BIG PICTURE. There is absolutely no reason to have another term with Zapf. If we aren’t able to pull ourselves together into ONE supportive, cohesive, recognizable group and move forward very soon, we could end up much like our Democratic party who couldn’t get it’s shit together in November of 2016. We all remember the Hillary/Bernie/Trump debacle…. right? Bryan Pease is the very best candidate for the job for so many reasons.

After reading the comments here, it looks as though on Jan 16 at the Safety Meeting Ed Harris said “no” to running. Is it possible you have you have thrown your support to someone who isn’t even running and further given a lukewarm response to the possibility? Or am I confused?


OB Mercy January 16, 2018 at 5:00 pm

Bryan Pease was referred to me by a friend he was representing in a Short Term Vacation Rental case to handle a possible landlord/Tenant case between our landlord and everyone in our building.

The whole point was that we were being given unfair and too many rent raises in a very short time and we wondered what our rights were. I read about them online and thought maybe we had some kind of case. I got most of the 12 units in our building to chip in a few bucks to talk to someone at a legal center. Then I heard that lawyer was unethical.

I then talked to Bryan once on the phone and we communicated through Facebook messenger. After making it quite clear that the whole point was we didn’t have enough money to handle all these rent raises, he told me he would need a $5000 retainer to handle our case. WTF? How was that helping us at all?? And you wonder why lawyers get a such a bad rap. Sheesh.

Btw, Ed Harris spoke at our Public Safety meeting here this morning and I asked him point blank if he would run. He gave a quick no, but with a caveat that you can never say never!


Bryan Pease January 16, 2018 at 5:16 pm

If you ask around, you will see that a $5K retainer to represent 12 different people in a complex landlord/tenant case is a very, very low amount and would barely cover costs. The real problem here though is San Diego’s lack of a rent control ordinance. I am the only candidate in this race who favors rent control.


Geoff Page January 17, 2018 at 10:49 am

You should also understand what a “retainer” is. We have those in our contracts as claim consultants. The client is billed for actual hours worked. The client can either pay the invoices as they receive them or opt to have the money taken out of the retainer. If the client pays the invoices, the retainer is returned in full at the end of the contract. If they elect to have the invoices taken from the retainer, and the invoicing is less than the retainer, the balance is returned to the client. Our retainer fee is $10,000. Now, if you asked for an estimate to perform the work, that is another matter. Just to put this in perspective, our rates are less than an attorney’s and $5k would only get 18 hours of our effort. The reality is that legal fees are expensive so your reaction to Bryan’s retainer fee is a bit unrealistic.


unwashedwallmartThong January 16, 2018 at 8:13 pm

I just asked my Uber driver re the retainer fee. She said $5K is the going rate for a start-up campaign against property owners.

And while I’m here, is your name pronounced “peace” or “peas” as in the plural for the little round green vegetable one can eat w/ plenty of butter & garlic?
Thank you.


Geoff Page January 17, 2018 at 10:50 am

Your Uber driver? Why would you ask that person? I have yet to hear of an attorney moonlighting as an Uber driver.


miss christine January 18, 2018 at 6:55 am

Peas. As in give peas a chance.


unwashedwallmartThong January 20, 2018 at 5:38 pm

I thought I was wearing my jocularity on my sleeve for a moment there.

So it’s “peez”?


OB Mercy January 17, 2018 at 11:05 am

I know full well what a retainer fee is and what is involved. It’s not the point.

I meant this as one Obecian helping out a handful of others in one fell swoop, knowing that we were all hurting financially and could NOT afford just any lawyer’s fees. We thought one of our own would help without the normal fees.

Bryan also asked me about the family next door who got evicted to make way for a STVR and if I could put them in touch with him for possible representation. I took the time to explain who he was and what he could do for them. He never contacted them.


Geoff Page January 17, 2018 at 11:40 am

Well, if you understood what a retainer fee was, it did not sound like it because you asked if there was any wonder why lawyers get a bad rap. I guess I don’t understand why you would expect an attorney to provide free services just because you and the others are hurting financially. Where would it stop? There are a lot of people in OB and all over the city that would love free legal aid. My point is that your criticism appeared harsh and now it seems it was just because Mr. Pease didn’t offer to work for nothing. That really seems unfair.


Bryan Pease January 17, 2018 at 11:50 am

I offered to charge half my normal rate despite being overwhelmed with cases right now and not taking any more cases due to my city council campaign. No good deed goes unpunished I guess. I also explained to you that without a rent control ordinance, landlords are free to raise rent as much as they want, and proving that increases are retaliatory is difficult. How many other lawyers have been willing to provide you free legal advice? Did you also then trash them online for not spending hundreds of hours working for you for free and fronting thousands of dollars in costs for a risky case? Regarding the other case you mentioned, the potential client did not contact me asking for representation, and it is not my job to go around calling people and asking them if they want me to sue somebody for them. You also told me the individual had moved on and was likely reluctant to sue. My understanding is that case involved possible application of San Diego’s eviction protection ordinance, which has loopholes that I am also proposing be closed and will introduce legislation to do so when on the city council. Litigation is not the answer to your problems. San Diego needs better laws.


Bryan Pease January 17, 2018 at 11:54 am

PS Frank is a lawyer–why don’t you also yell at him for not filing lawsuits on your behalf at his own expense?


SaneVoice January 17, 2018 at 2:35 pm

Okay. So you’re for rent control. What’s your stance on the whole STVR/AirBnB issues ?


Bryan Pease January 17, 2018 at 6:18 pm

I was actually forced out of my previous home in OB a few years back along with the other tenants on the parcel (duplex with third unit in back) when an investor purchased it and flipped it for AirBNB. We left rather than face an eviction action and took legal action separately for damages for the tenants. If San Diego’s eviction protection ordinance for long term tenants didn’t have the loopholes that it does, defending an eviction action in cases like this would not be so risky. My position on AirBNB generally is that it is illegal in the residential zone as our city attorney has pointed out.


RB January 18, 2018 at 8:56 am

If you want to limit rent increases, let’s stop property tax increases when rental units are sold…….
If you want to stop STVR, let’s have the City Council, controlled by Democrats, enforce the current laws (noise, parking, operating a business, etc.) for R1 neighborhoods.


Geoff Page January 18, 2018 at 9:38 am

If you stop the property taxes when rentals are sold, you’d bankrupt the state. The real problem with Prop 13 is that it includes business properties and businesses have found a way already of transferring property without a “sale” to avoid the tax increase. And, to your second point, the City Council has no enforcement authority. The police answer to the mayor, who is a Republican, go ask him to do that.


RB January 18, 2018 at 10:55 am

I never said “stop property taxes when rentals are sold”. You don’t seem to understand that when properties are sold that the dramatic INCREASE in property taxes are paid by the renters within their new higher rents. Rent control should start with the state capping property taxes, IMO.


Geoff Page January 18, 2018 at 11:12 am

I left out the word “raising” before property taxes. But, I have to disagree with your point. Higher property taxes do add something to the rent increases but what affects the rents far more is the price of real estate now. I have two units next door to me that were owned by a family for many years. The guy in the rear unit paid only $600 a month for a two bedroom one bath. The units sold recently for $1.2 million. Each house now rents for $2500. Figure what a mortgage would be on that new price and you’ll see that is why the rents are rising on some properties. The property tax would be about $12,000 a year and divided between the two houses could add $500 a month to the rents but the increased cost of the property added the larger increase. The cost of real estate is not sustainable. Unfortunately, those increases allow greedy landlords, who don’t have a huge mortgage, to raise their rents accordingly because that is the market.


RB January 18, 2018 at 3:35 pm

I have no problem with your example. I do disagree that adding $500 a month for property taxes is not significant. New landlords who covers their large cost of the mortgage and taxes are not greedy when they dramatically increase rents. Old landlords who charge the market rate for rent based upon supply and demand are also not greedy. They are raising rents to cover the opportunity cost of rising land values and the lack of supply of housing. They have an opportunity cost decision of raising rents or selling the property to harvest gains from property price appreciation. Government decisions to limit available of housing supply with regulations, permitting delays, taxes and fees are were problems in the market has occurred.


Geoff Page January 18, 2018 at 4:08 pm

RB, I did not say that adding the $500 a month for property taxes was not significant.

I also did not say that new landlords are greedy for raising the rents to cover the large mortgages and higher taxes. I said that is the main reason why the rents are going up.

I disagree with your comment about old landlords. Some of these properties have been in families for generations and have no mortgages or very low ones. They could still make a very nice income by renting for much less than the market rate is now. They have made an opportunity cost decision and that is take advantage of the opportunity provided by this unsustainable real estate bubble.

What government decisions to limit housing supply are you referring to? That just is not the case. Permit delays, taxes, and fees are excuses that are as old as the hills.

The problem is that there is very little cheap available land anymore. Another problem is that government and developers have destroyed older cheaper housing stock, especially downtown, in favor of luxury condos. The real problem is the same one that caused the recent recession and it is a sure thing we are heading back into that once this house of financial cards collapses. Then, people who paid $1.2 million for two old two bedroom one bath houses will be stuck with high mortgages they will not be able cover with the rents, then the rest of us get to bail them out. Again.


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