‘Enough Is Enough!’ Says Ocean Beach Town Council Over Large and Irresponsible Wednesday Night Crowds

by on August 5, 2020 · 9 comments

in Ocean Beach

The Ocean Beach Town Council is crying “enough is enough!” over the large, irresponsible crowds that gather Wednesday nights after the Farmers Markets.

In a public letter sent to political and government leaders, the Town Council implores those in authority “to do something about the unacceptable levels of crowds gathering in our beach community during this public health crisis,” particularly on Wednesdays, where “hundreds of people closely gathered on the lawn with live amplified music, unpermitted food and craft vendors, drug sales, and more.”

It’s not just the size of the unrestricted crowds, it’s their noise and sounds which “continue into the early hours of the morning disrupting our residents,” and the trash and mess they leave for the rest of the community to clean up.

The letter was sent to Councilwoman Jen Campbell, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, SDPD Officer David Surwilo, and Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten.

In the very timely letter, the OBTC also cites “the double standard” for local businesses and residents, where businesses must adhere to restrictive regulations to re-open safely, but there are no restrictions as yet on the crowds that gather without masks and safe distancing.

“Customers and staff are required to social distance,” the letter states, “businesses must be licensed, sterilization requirements are in place, and capacity is heavily restricted if allowed at all.” And for the OB Farmers Market – which could be tainted by the irresponsibility of the people who congregate afterwards – it “has been forced to implement expensive, time-consuming, and labor-intensive precautions to protect the community.”

The letter – which obviously reflects the thinking at the OBTC – implies that the crowds, the noise and trash are from people who don’t live in Ocean Beach. “Our neighborhood,” it states, “should not be used as a playground for crowds of people who do not take the public health and safety of others seriously and come here to act irresponsibly in our community. People live here. Enough is enough.”

Also the letter takes a needed swipe at the city’s lack of enforcement of violations of the zoning laws by allowing illegal short term vacation rentals. It ends with, “We are calling on you as our elected representatives to immediately begin providing adequate trash services in public spaces, to put an end to the disruptive, dangerous, and prohibited activities taking place in our front yard, and to enforce the zoning laws as it pertains to illegal short-term rentals.”

Here is the full OBTC letter:

To: Councilmember Jennifer Campbell, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, SDPD Officer David Surwilo, Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, Mayor Kevin Faulconer

The Ocean Beach Council Board of Directors is writing to you today to again implore your offices to do something about the unacceptable levels of crowds gathering in our beach community during this public health crisis.

Trash left after one of the Wednesday night gatherings. Photo credit: OBTC

San Diego County and California Public Health officials have issued orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The order instructs residents to, among other things, stay home except to take care of essential needs, go to an essential job, go to a reopened business, or go out for exercise. The order states residents must practice social distancing, avoid gatherings of ANY size, and wear a face covering when within six feet of anyone from another household.

These orders also place extreme regulations on our local business community to re-open safely. Customers and staff are required to social distance, businesses must be licensed, sterilization requirements are in place, and capacity is heavily restricted if allowed at all. This is especially true of our OB Farmers Market, which has been forced to implement expensive, time-consuming, and labor-intensive precautions to protect the community.

There is a clear double standard for the residents and businesses in Ocean Beach. We are witnessing very large crowds and vendors gathering in Veterans Plaza throughout the week, and especially every Wednesday evening. Consistently on Wednesday’s, there are hundreds of people closely gathered on the lawn with live amplified music, unpermitted food and craft vendors, drug sales, and more. It continues to be nothing short of mayhem in our public spaces. These mass
gatherings continue into the early hours of the morning disrupting our residents. The city provided trash cans overflow in our parks as well as on our beach, and we are left cleaning up the mess made with the help of local volunteers. Our own volunteer board members have collected over 6,000 gallons of trash in just the past eight weeks!

The illegal STVRs which run rampant in our neighborhood continue to provide daily rentals to tourists who do not adhere to public health orders and further endanger the residents of Ocean Beach. These STVR units typically have exceedingly more occupants than a typical residential unit which is further contributing additional large groups of people to the community.

Our neighborhood should not be used as a playground for crowds of people who do not take the public health and safety of others seriously and come here to act irresponsibly in our community. People live here. Enough is enough. We are calling on you as our elected representatives to immediately begin providing adequate trash services in public spaces, to put an end to the disruptive, dangerous, and prohibited activities taking place in our front yard, and to enforce the
zoning laws as it pertains to illegal short-term rentals.

The Ocean Beach Town Council Board of Directors

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Dr. Jack Hammer August 5, 2020 at 10:24 am

Always wondered how/why those vendors have been able to set up and sell their wares with absolutely no intervention on behalf of the city.

Never seemed fair with so many small businesses/artists having to pay outrageous rent/permits to be in these prime spots.

OB sure has turned to $hit…

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sealintheSelkirks sealintheSelkirks August 5, 2020 at 11:40 am

My oldest friend over in the Islands is seeing the same thing. His last conversation was how they are permitting tourism (from spiking Mainland states!) because there is no other economy (big wealthy hoteliers etc pressuring the gov) and the freaking Islands are just collapsing. But the tourists have a mandatory 14 day quarantine in their hotel rooms before they can go outside, so they fly in and depart their hotel unannounced a couple days later and fly to another island. Since they’re flying inter-island and not from the Mainland, they aren’t subject to the quarantine. Guess what’s happening on the outer islands? And, for that matter, the freaking tourists can fly right back to O’ahu and book a room since they are, again, coming from an outer island. But it feeds the profits of the wealthy corporations…

Vicious circle, and STVRs in OB are no different, and neither is this gathering that has been happening for months and months even before the Pandemic slammed us. I noticed it quite a while back and wondered what was up with it…

As for the vendors, somehow I’m betting that the brick&mortar shops and eateries really dislike the tents. Obviously they are paying the rent and funding the tax base etc etc and probably losing business to them.

Hey, what do you think the city would do if this was happening in La Jolla; say the Shores on Wednesday night or maybe at WindanSea? Think the city’s reaction might be a bit different???

sealintheSelkirks

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Avatar Chris August 5, 2020 at 1:44 pm

I buddy of mine is stationed over there (active duty Navy) and said the exact same thing.

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Avatar nostalgic August 5, 2020 at 12:09 pm

This is an illegal use of the space under the terms of the Deed transfer from the State of California to dedicated park space.

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Avatar Geoff Page August 5, 2020 at 12:56 pm

I think the Town Council is right on, I just wish they had joined forces with the planning board and the Merchant’s Association in presenting this letter.

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Avatar Tyler August 6, 2020 at 9:52 am

I just want to point out the “official” OB instagram account has been plugging/enabling this by posting about it in a positive light for weeks. Wish I knew who owned it.

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Avatar Debbie August 6, 2020 at 10:38 am

Set the vendors up at Veterans and a portion of the parking lot.

Allow the tenants who pay those high rents should have use of a few blocks of Newport on Farmers Market Day.

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Avatar Geoff Page August 6, 2020 at 10:44 am

Actually, that is where the vendors are set up now, every day. Giving the merchants on Newport those blocks only on Wednesday won’t make up for the inequity the other six days of the week. Or make up for the costs and rules the legitimate businesses must follow. If anyone should have first rights to any open space, it should be the existing merchants, not newly arrived street vendors.

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sealintheSelkirks sealintheSelkirks August 6, 2020 at 10:53 am

And last night I looked at the OB Hotel beach cam around dark and it was packed again. Even more people than last week I think! Ya know, if it wasn’t a damn Pandemic it wouldn’t be that big a deal. Beaches are places where people congregate and party and I grew up on these beaches, played many many gigs in front yards on the Boardwalk in MB (The ‘Fine Line’ Band rock & roll) all through the mid-late 70s, and this kind of gathering was part of the scene! It was DAMN fun and those of us that haven’t forgotten our youth should still realize that the Puritan straight-laced ‘no fun for you’ attitude then, as now, just sucked. It was my band playing at Kingston Court when the cop riot of…1977(?) shut Mission Beach down, so I know of what I’m talking about! I watched the line of riot cops charge around the corner of San Luis to attack the crowd…and saw how it started and the justification they used…

But when the consequences are sickness and death it is batshit crazy to do what I see happening, even in masks. And yes I did see some but an awful lot of faces were bare…and even with masks that kind of exposure is so scary. Here’s why this scene is scaring me as it is no different from this freaking YMCA DAY camp:

260 Kids, Staffers Tested Positive For COVID-19 In Outbreak At Georgia Summer Camp
The CDC report is not good news for school reopenings.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/georgia-ymca-camp-covid-19-outbreak-260_n_5f24a33cc5b68fbfc8833269

Freedumb isn’t free in a Pandemic of sickness and death. Otherwise I’d say let’s party…just clean up after yourselves…

sealintheSelkirks

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