After Fence Is Torn Down, Officials Pledge ‘Enforcement’ of Health Rules at Wednesday Drum Circle

by on August 11, 2020 · 13 comments

in Health, Ocean Beach

At a press conference on the grass at the foot of Newport Avenue today, government officials pledged County health rules will be enforced at the Wednesday drum circle. Dr. Joel Day, Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Response and Recovery, told the crowd of some 50 people that he would personally be on the grass Wednesday along with the “team” of city and county personnel to ensure that crowds don’t gather after the OB Farmers Market.

Before the press conference began, at least one man ripped up the stakes holding the orange net fencing in place and pulled the entire thing down. It had just been installed hours earlier by a City Park and Rec crew. The crew reappeared after the conference and piled it all into a truck. None of the workers would answer this reporter’s questions about why they weren’t putting it back up or why they were hauling it away. The guy pulling it down was reportedly a traveler from out of town.

Unidentified man pulling and yanking up stakes to orange netting a few hours after it had been installed by a city crew.

Mark Winkie, president of the Ocean Beach Town Council, opened the press conference and explained that now OBceans are working with city people or actually the other way around – they had just met yesterday – and said they were using “education” first. He said the situation here in OB was “a test case for the city as a whole” in terms of government dealing with people not following health orders.

Mark Winkie, president of the OBTC. “This is a test case for the whole of the city.”

Dr. Joel Day spoke next and said he will be out here Wednesday for several hours with the team to enforce the health rules. “The message today,” he said, “was businesses are doing the right thing down Newport; residents are doing the right thing by staying home.” But “the action of a small crowd of people puts all the good actors at risk.” He said, “the fence is a symbolic physical barrier,” and that violations of the health rules result in $1,000 fines. The large crowds at the drum circle “are unacceptable.” Day assured the crowd that the SD Police Department is “part of the team,” after this reporter asked him whether he or his team had the authority to write citations for any violations.

Dr. Joel Day

These were welcome words to OB residents and businessowners, who have complained about the irresponsible crowds that have gathered for the last 3-4 weeks at the drum circle, which begins its scene after the Farmers Market begins to wrap up. The market is sponsored by the OB Mainstreet Association. But the two have no formal or official connections and are in that sense, totally unrelated. It’s not just the crowds, but the noise and trash, locals have complained. Last Wednesday night, police had to verbally order the crowd to disperse.

The question is then what will happen this Wednesday night?

Councilwoman Jen Campbell

Councilwoman Jen Campbell – who called the conference – also spoke, and threatened, “we have to get tough.” She reminded the crowd that the County rule is no more than 10 people in a group. This reporter chuckled, as obviously the crowd at the conference was more than that. Campbell could barely be heard through her mask and turned away without too many questions being asked or answered.

There were plenty of TV cameras present and a few reporters asked questions, but overall it seemed a big disappointment. Government’s response is ‘educate first, then we’ll get tough.’ But isn’t that what has been going on? There was no outrage expressed, everyone was being polite – except for the outrage of a couple travelers – one in particular complained of being ticketed – and their disruptive discourse helped the conference organizers close up shop quickly.

The whole thing seemed to have been overblown. But if government officials had hoped to reassure OBceans that the problems will be dealt with – from comments I heard afterwards, that’s far from what happened. The torn down fence piled into the city truck was symbolic of local government’s response. They couldn’t even maintain a flimsy fence for a few hours. How will they manage the hundreds of people who will be assembling on the grass tomorrow night?

There’s all kinds of side issues, like the legalities of the vendors setting up on the grass but not having to comply with the county health rules; use of the grassy park area that conflicts with its official usage as a park; the crowd will simply just move to Saratoga Park or the parking lot; why aren’t police more visible during the problem hours? Another rumor is that a stronger fence is coming, that the orange one was put up without the proper permitting ….

At any rate, it will certainly be interesting Wednesday afternoon and early evening on the grass.


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie August 11, 2020 at 4:38 pm

I am happy to see the city cracking down on people who are not following the health rules.

We’ll never be rid of the virus as long as people are so self-centered and inconsiderate of the community that they won’t work togeether to stop the disease.

Short of an effective vaccine, the only way to defeat #COVID19 is to starve it to death.

The only way to do that is follow the rules.

Mask it or Casket!


JO'C August 12, 2020 at 9:54 am

In just a few sentences you managed to prove that you know as much about viruses and epidemiology as I do about needlepoint (I know absolutely nothing about needlepoint).

Keep wearing your mask and don’t forget your goggles. Maybe you can add ‘No goggles? The mind boggles!’ to your tag line.


Peter from South O August 12, 2020 at 2:32 pm

And by extrapolation we are supposed to infer that YOU know something about epidemiology? What Katie has reported is the inconvenient truth. There is no shortcut! Instant gratification is not gonna happen this time.
Not wearing a mask where required demonstrates selfishness. Nothing political. Pure and utter selfishness.


Sam August 11, 2020 at 7:43 pm

What a $h!+show. Perhaps its time for the local community to reconsider their laisiaz faire attitude toward a bunch of “travelers” and panhandlers. People in La Jolla don’t have to put up with this crap and neither should we! Let’s take back the community!!


Polecat August 12, 2020 at 12:57 am

I think the drum circle and vendors are charming, and don’t mind the AirBNBs or height limit change at Midway. Guess I’m not a real resident of Ocean Beach, notwithstanding what my driver’s license and voter registration says.


Paul Webb August 12, 2020 at 10:59 am

Polecat, You certainly have every right to feel that way.

Many of us who live here remember the struggle to get the Coastal Act (in its original form as Prop 20) passed and the struggle to get the height limit on the ballot and passed. We remember what plans were made for OB that would have drastically altered our community. We have fought City Hall for years to avoid development plans that would have damaged our community. We fight against STRVs because they have already altered our community in significant ways (you would probably not be as supportive of STRVs if you had experienced the party turned rock and bottle throwing melee that happened on my block).

If serious, dedicated people had not made in the past, nor continue to make now, objections to changes to the height limit and a conversion of our community to a tourist-centric, high rise community, I doubt you would want to live here. I also doubt that many of the people who currently live here, including you, would be able to afford to live here.

By the way, you do know what Polecat is slang for, don’t you?


Polecat August 14, 2020 at 8:36 pm

Paul, I’m sorry you have issues with AirBNB neighbors. 100% of my neighbor issues here are with non-AirBNB people who own their house. If there is a bad actor in your neighborhood, deal with him, not try to restrict everyone’s property rights and take away people’s incomes.

As for highrises, sounds better than the abandoned Pier 1 and porn stores there now. I don’t consider that area Ocean Beach and hope it can be home to many people who want to live kinda close to the beach.


Peter from South O August 12, 2020 at 4:39 am

That seems to be about a grand’s worth of temporary fencing that was cut down, with the perps caught on camera.
Will there be any enforcement?
Don’t hold your breath.


Chris August 12, 2020 at 9:46 am

As irrational as this sounds, I kinda doubt the powers that be expected the fence NOT to be brought down. It being put up was more symbolic than an actual deterrent.


Frank Gormlie August 12, 2020 at 3:00 pm

That is what Dr. Day said, the fence was symbolic. Another wrinkle or 2; some of the vendors that set up on the grass used to be part of the Farmers Market but due to the virus, the FM had to shorten its lines and some lost out. Also, at least one of the city workers tried half-heartedly to stop the guys pulling up the orange net fence.


OB Dude August 12, 2020 at 11:25 am

What gives this guy the right to destroy public property? He needs to be banned from OB.

Another show of disrespect. If you don’t agree with something get a sign and stand out there and protest and state your opinion.


Frank Gormlie August 12, 2020 at 3:07 pm

The man tearing up the fence is a poster boy for modern American ignorance. Is it true he doesn’t live in OB and is not a member of the regular house-less people in OB? Ok, why didn’t anyone try to stop him? Why weren’t there city workers on site? Why couldn’t they have called in the police? Did anyone call 911? or 211? or 811? Several news people and others videoed the men doing it – so, why didn’t they call their editors and have them call the POlice if they couldn’t? So many questions, so few answers.


Peter from South O August 12, 2020 at 3:24 pm

There was an irrational man with a knife cutting up city property. Did someone call the cops? Valid question, but expecting city workers to step in is kind of a stretch.


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