Hey Ocean Beach – Got Flies?

by on September 18, 2018 · 7 comments

in Ocean Beach

Hey OB – got flies?

Several weeks ago, I was having dinner with a group of friends in Point Loma – and we were eating outside. The hosts apologized numerous times for the flies that seemed to be trying to enjoy our food. Later, I thought, we’ve eaten outside many times before at their house – which is just a few blocks from OB – but never have the flies been this bad.

Then just this weekend, I was visiting with friends who live down in the flatlands of Ocean Beach. We were sitting outside in their back yard – and there was no food around – but there were flies. As my friends were lighting a whole bunch of incense sticks and placing them around the patio in an effort to ward off the flying nuisances, they told me the flies have never been this bad since they’ve lived here – over 10 years now.

So – have you been bothered more than usual this year by flies? Just why are there so many at the beach?

We’ve known Mission Beach residents have been complaining for years how their community has been plagued with flies. And for years, the flies were blamed on all the homeless and on tourists and short term vacation rentals. As the April 21, 2018 San Diego Union-Tribune reported:

A scientist hired by the city said in 2013 that Mission Beach struggles with flies more than other parts of San Diego because it has high-density housing, relatively little open space and scavengers who pry open trash cans and rip into bags searching for recyclable items, which allows flies to enter and lay eggs.

The winter population of Mission Beach is less than 6,000, but tourists increase that number to an estimated 20,000 in the more fly-friendly summer.

Many of those additional people stay for only a week or two in vacation rentals, leaving them confused about trash handling and not focused on snuffing out flies.

Because most vacation properties are rented weekly from Saturday to Saturday, departing tenants across Mission Beach typically throw away all of their uneaten food simultaneously when they leave on Saturday mornings.

One solution the City came up with was to double the weekly trash pick-up in Mission Beach during summer months. But as the U-T reported:

The second trash pick-up was eliminated during budget cuts in 2010, leading to six consecutive summers in which the fly problem persisted, with some seeing damage to the tourism economy, demand for vacation rentals and business at outdoor restaurants.

Last minute lobbying by community leaders convinced the City Council to add funds to the budget in order to revive the second trash pick-up for summer 2016 and for summer 2017. This year San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer included $70,000 for a second weekly trash pick-up for the hard-hit fly infested beach neighborhood. The city also increased street sweeping for Mission Beach this summer. The second weekly pick-up will end in early October.

Increased trash and recycling pick-up and street sweeping is working – says the City. Mario Sierra, the city’s Environmental Services Department director, told NBC7:

“This effort has proven to be quite effective at reducing the number of flies in this community,”

On a side note, concerns were raised by San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott about the second trash pick-up. Last June, Elliot issued a memo that stated the presence of so many vacation rentals in Mission Beach made it “very likely” the second trash pick-up was illegal. Her reasoning is due to a city law called the People’s Ordinance which authorized trash collection — at no charge beyond standard taxes — to homes in which residents stay for at least one month at a time. As the U-T reported:

Elliott wrote that it is legally risky to double the amount of service to an area where the city is already aware it’s collecting trash from homes that are ineligible: short-term vacation rentals. She said that’s especially problematic when community leaders say the presence of those vacation rentals is the root of the problem.

But the council added the money last spring depite Elliott’s concerns, and Faulconer chose not to instruct city trash workers to cease the second weekly pick-up.

Okay – that’s good for Mission Beach – but what about the rest of the beaches?

Is OB now inundated with flies because of our homeless and all the short term rentals?

Or are there other sources where the flies are coming from?

It’s a no brainer to think that other beach communities besides Mission Beach are having the problem. In fact as  10News ABCreported beach goers up in Solana Beach have noticed unusual amount of flies along the shoreline. You know what else they noticed? Large amounts of kelp.

Why? How about this –

We’ve recently had record-setting high water temperatures near 80 degrees at local beaches. And the heat is destroys the kelp – which of course, washes up on the sand.

San Diego Lifeguard Captain Jason Shook told ABC the heat is killing the kelp which in turn is attracting flies. Beaches up and down the County have see large piles of kelp wash up during these recent hot summer months.

And of course, flies grow from maggots – and if one looks closely at an undisturbed pile of kelp – you may see them. Shook passed it off as ‘all natural’. He said:

“As the kelp breaks down, the flies create larvae, and then the birds eat the larvae, the larvae is washed into the ocean, the fish eat the larvae it creates nutrients and food for shore birds.”

Here is a clue from Captain Shook.

“[Kelp-buildup] happens generally in the warmer months and it usually coincides with the grunion season, which is March through the end of August. So, then we are restricted on our beach-raking areas. We are not allowed to rake the beach along the high tide line so the kelp will build up a little bit.”

News Sources:

7SanDiego NBC

 San Diego Union-Tribune



{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

judi curry September 18, 2018 at 12:45 pm

The flies are the worst I have ever had in 50 years of living here. Yesterday when I took out the black trash for pickup I noticed maggots squirming all over the street; all over the sidewalk. The casing is very hard; stepping on them created a loud “crunch.” Yuck!


Elisabeth Burke September 18, 2018 at 3:12 pm

Absolutely! I’ve lived here for 10 years and this summer our front yard and back porch area are just filled with flies! We are thinking about putting in outdoor fans in the areas we spend time in just to keep them away. We tried fly traps and they have killed probably hundreds of flies, but they just keep coming…


Arny Audobon September 18, 2018 at 11:50 pm

The balance of nature, tourists attract flies, but soon the flies will drive out the tourists.


Tyler September 19, 2018 at 5:45 am

These fly traps are amazing: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FGQ288K/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I’ve filled 10 of them up in the last 6 weeks!

We live near the trashy weekly rental spot on Bacon and their dumpster area was the worst forever. Last week somehow they got in trouble and started to lock the dumpster and clean up around it daily. Our fly problem cut in half the second this action was taken.


Eric September 19, 2018 at 10:06 am

Problem with flies on our back alley was/is the endless parade of dumpster divers rummaging through, tossing out what’s in their way and leaving the lids open to the cornucopia of trash exposed for the flies to do their thing. Put the cans out the night or morning before and get them back in after pickup. No food, no flies. The beach and the kelp is a natural occurrence that provides food for the dwindling populations of shorebirds so I’m cool with that.


OBKid September 21, 2018 at 10:07 am

Few reasons:

1) when it gets hot, the breezes stop and the flies are all over,
2) lots of kelp brings lots of flies added with no breeze you get the picture,
3) Dumpster Divers, people who poop in alleys, etc etc.
4) Does not seem worse than previous years but still killing the daily fly in the house


vern September 21, 2018 at 10:18 am

More people, more garbage, more flies.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: