Thoughts on the Dilemma Ocean Beach Planning Board Faced on Approving Another Liquor License

by on February 7, 2019 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

Some of the OB Planning Board members preparing for the start of Wednesday’s meeting, Feb. 6. Photo by Frank Gormlie

OB Should Be Proud of Its Planning Board

By Geoff Page

Having been on a planning board for some years, I really had an appreciation for the dilemma facing the OB planning board as they struggled with the issue of another liquor license in Ocean Beach.

Board member Craig Klein took an informal street poll in his quest to see what the community thought, and he said the 50-50 result was not much help to him in making a decision.  What that did illustrate was that the board would make half the community happy and half angry no matter how they voted.  The discussion was very impressive, and it was plain that the board members took it very seriously.

The problem was they were facing a small group of businesspeople who appeared to be good people sincere in wanting to bring a new restaurant to OB with a good track record in their other locations.  But, the board was also facing a community that is over saturated with liquor licenses.  Anyone who has lived in OB for a long time knows how Newport has changed into a place with bars and restaurants and tasting rooms.  And, with that has come a rash of crimes, hit and runs, and basic unpleasantness as inebriated people get sick or piss in the street.  And, a lot of this is caused by people who don’t live here, OB has become a party destination.

The board discussed the matter for a long time and there were members on each side of the issue at the beginning.  To their credit, they all listened carefully to the applicants and members of the audience.  What evolved was a great example of what a planning board can do, they found a solution that appeared to be acceptable to all by granting the license with a condition about the restaurant hours that seemed to allay many concerns.  I was very impressed.

The board members are all volunteers and they often are called on to make difficult decisions.  OB has become ground zero for the short-term vacation rental problem, an explosion of drinking establishments, and developers that are here only to make money with little or no consideration of the community.  I think Ocean Beach should be proud of its planning board and should support it so that these decisions don’t just fall on their shoulders. What seemed odd to me last night was that the audience was mostly supporters and only a few seemed opposed. It would have been a bit easier had more of the opponents showed up to talk, but their absence indicated that there was not as much opposition as believed, leaving the board in the lurch.  But, the decision seemed to be a good one albeit a difficult one.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

retired botanist February 7, 2019 at 1:43 pm

This is disappointing. I have a lot of respect for OBPB, and I wasn’t there, but neither of these is the point.
It seems to me the MO is always the same: The applicant is sincere, has “good intentions, the business is “different”, and would bring ‘something good’ to the community-yep, they all say this going in! Once in, attention gets lax, rules/restrictions get loosened, hours get extended, and all of a sudden its just more of the same.
Also surprised at the interpretation of Craig’s 50/50 survey- do you think those in favor of an alcohol dispensing chain would really notice or put up a fuss if it WASN’T there? I suspect not…
And a lack of attendance from those opposed should not be an endorsement of a yes vote. This issue has been discussed heavily in the past-I’ve seen that room filled to capacity when a presentation was given to explain how the licensing works and what the data show when compared with the police incident reports.
Its a shame- another noisy, charmless room with bar stools and 10 TV monitors…gee, so unique. Oh well.


Paul Webb February 8, 2019 at 9:19 am

The sad fact is that restaurants don’t make any money off food. Any profit they receive comes from alcohol sales.

I hate the fact that there are so many bars and tap rooms on Newport Ave., but the reality is that a restaurant has to serve alcohol to survive. Even the People’s cafe serves beer and wine!

That said, I’d love to see some of the bars and taprooms close.


Doug Blackwood February 8, 2019 at 6:52 pm

The Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) has the power to turn down licenses: but will they say no? Probably not!
Whats needed is housing: not bars!


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