Meet the Newest Residents of Sunset Cliffs

by on October 14, 2020 · 58 comments

in Ocean Beach, The Widder Curry

By Judi Curry

They come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  They heard it was a great place to vacation – food is plentiful; many different kinds available, although they might have to look for it under mounds of trash being deposited by other vacationers, residents, dog walkers, etc., but it a great place to raise their children, and their children’s children.

Sometimes it is pizza, sometimes it is hamburger, sometimes it is even dog food or food that has been left for the birds. Sometimes the bounty is so good that they can survive for days.

And how does all this wonderful food come to Sunset Cliffs? To paraphrase Elizabeth Barrett Browning – “let me count the ways.”

There are tourists that come to the Cliffs to watch the sunset and leave their trash behind.  There are locals that come to walk their dog and watch the sunset and leave their trash behind.  There are people that go to the cliffs to feed the birds and leave their trash behind. There are party-goers that party all night, playing loud music and shooting off firecrackers, and leave their trash behind. And the latest – ta, ta,ta,ta…….

There are now party trucks that park in the parking lots and sell food. Last night there was a pizza truck, spewing smoke all over, selling pizza to those that were able to find a parking space in the lots. (Oh yeah – double and triple park is now the rule.)

The night before there was a food truck selling everything that you could want to while watching the sunset.

And of course those purchasing the products are not putting their trash in the trash barrels in the lots. Of course not.  You want to know why?  Because they are filled to overflowing and there is no room, even if they wanted to do so.  So the easiest thing to do is to drop it on the ground and drive away.  After all, you wouldn’t want to put it in your car and drive it home, would you?

Remember Richard Aguirre and his “Surf Check” in the parking lot on the corner of Sunset Cliffs and Pt. Loma Avenue?  Do you remember how much difficulty he had in getting the proper licenses to sell his food from his trailer?  It took months to do so and almost every week he was checked out by the Health Department and others.

How in the world can these vendors just pull into the parking lots and begin selling their wares?  And it isn’t just them.  There are party buses here every night with huge crowds; loud music; and, of course, food.  As many times as I have complained to Jen Campbell’s office nothing is ever done.  You can’t do in Pacific Beach what is being done at Sunset Cliffs.  And yet, our Cliffs are more fragile than anything at Pacific Beach.  Tour books tout this area as one of the beauties of San Diego.  And so they come in all shapes and sizes.  And they stay. And they multiply.

Let me introduce you to our newest neighbors – Mr. and Ms. Rat and family.  There are hundreds of them.  And that is no exaggeration.  My neighbor across the street caught 9 in one night.  I have found them in my pool room; in my laundry room; in traps that I have set in my garden.  People on Next Door are asking for suggestions in how to rid their gardens, homes, etc. of these vermin carrying pests.

I’ve had Vermin Control officers come to my home to check it out. They have left traps for me to catch these unwelcome residents; they have encouraged me to tell my neighbors about them so that they can distribute traps all around here.  If you look at your tax bill you will see that we are taxed a “vector disease control” amount.  That’s why I don’t hesitate to contact the office.

But until the city closes the parking lots on Sunset Cliffs for overnight parking, we are going to be inundated by the rat families.  And let me remind you that they carry disease and like those people feeding them, they are willing to share those diseases with us.  The noise is one thing; the infestation of these pests could result in a life-threatening situation.

And please, people, do not put out poison to kill them. Something that might eat a poisoned rat can also die from the poison – like your dog or cat – or a bird – or…..  Complain to the City; complain to Campbell; write letters. Let your voice be heard.

And if you are watching the sunset from the cliffs – please take your trash home with you.

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Judi Curry October 14, 2020 at 12:09 pm

Damn! A crow just dropped a dead rat, minus its eyes, on my front lawn!!!!


Rheta Schoeneman October 14, 2020 at 5:35 pm

Thx for saying no to rat poison.
Also, visitors park in sidestrees off Sunset Cliffs and I have seen trash and beer bottles etc left in their wake. These “visitors” don’t seem to care about broken glass and feeding rats .
More police patrolling when cars fill lots.

Stop allowing jumpers at the Rocks .


Louisa Golden October 14, 2020 at 2:31 pm

This seems to be the year of the rat infestations along with everything else. We are having lots of rat issues here in Mission Hills. I miss my ratter cat. He took at least 100 rats his first summer hunting. (I know, because I found the remains. Sigh.)


SSC Neighbor October 14, 2020 at 3:37 pm

Rat poison is the best!!!


Judi Curry October 14, 2020 at 3:51 pm



Frank J October 14, 2020 at 4:11 pm

Wow… I guess I’ll bite my tongue more often when I complain about the bonfires, trash cans, vendors, and 100% neglected boardwalk/stairs from Thomas to Law here in PB. On the bright side, a young owl survived a sliding door smash and stun here, and took off south toward OB. Rat hunter!?!


Geoff Page October 14, 2020 at 4:15 pm

How do you substantiate a sentence like this?

“There are locals that come to walk their dog and watch the sunset and leave their trash behind.”


Judi Curry October 14, 2020 at 6:37 pm

This is nothing to argue about, Geoff, and I am offended by your comment. Come down here and watch the locals walking and/or running their dogs. Many of them frequently are eating something as they walk/run by and drop the wrapper, or the bottle as they continue their run.
Yes – the tourists also drop their wrappers; their food; their drinks; their weed; their cigarettes, but the locals do also.


Tyler October 15, 2020 at 7:00 am

So basically no you cannot substantiate this and are just broadly generalizing locals as contributors to the problem


Geoff Page October 15, 2020 at 10:01 am

That was not a comment, it was a question.

How could someone come down and watch the locals? How would anyone know who is local and who is not?

How many is “many of them?”

People running with their dogs are eating and drinking from throwaway bottles?

The case about people dropping trash on the ground, can easily be supported. The comment about the locals cannot and was not necessary.


Judi Curry October 15, 2020 at 1:37 pm

This is absolutely ridiculous, Geoff. My point is that is not only the tourists are adding to the trash heaps all over the Cliffs but so are the locals. I have seen LOCALS – PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN THE AREA – finish a drink and toss the empty bottle on the ground. I have seen LOCALS pop a piece of gum or a mint in their mouths and toss out the paper it was wrapped in. But for crying out loud – I was not casting aspersions on the Locals! I was merely pointing out that all groups are polluting – whether they live here, or there, or…..,
To take such offense at the term “LOCAL” is stupidity in itself. The trash is bad; the rats are worse. It is not a defensible topic. It was necessary, and if you are so caught up in that sentence then maybe you know someone that is guilty. And what does numbers mean? Hell….I am not sitting at the cliffs and counting the numbers of people that are there and throwing trash on the ground. It is immaterial. What is important is that they are doing it – and it isn’t just the tourists. And believe me – you know immediately who is a “LOCAL” and who isn’t. To pounce on something as innane as locals vs tourists is stupidity at its greatest force, and really doesn’t even deserve an answer.


Geoff Page October 15, 2020 at 2:16 pm

Well, for something not deserving an answer, you sure provided one.

It may seem ridiculous to you but it is not to me and may not be to others. You say you were not casting aspersions on local but that is exactly what you did. The only specific group you mentioned was the locals. My point is, that was unnecessary.

If you want to include locals in the masses of people coming from other places to watch the sunsets and party who trash our community, you better be able to prove it. People who live in OB and Point Loma take a fierce pride for their community.

You want to highlight the trash and rat problem fine, but don’t insult the people who live here if you have no way to back up what you wrote.


Dan October 17, 2020 at 12:59 pm

Geoff, Tyler, as usual, you contribute inanity.


Geoff Page October 17, 2020 at 1:30 pm

Interesting, Dan, this appears to be your only contribution to the discussion.

What specifically do you see as inane? Don’t just hurl insults in the form of generalities because they have no more substance than the morning fog


Frank Gormlie October 17, 2020 at 2:09 pm

Dan – I’ll tell you what’s “inanity,” – last time you posted you included a pro-Trump video and it looks like you’re proud of the Proud Boys. Bye-bye.


Joyce October 14, 2020 at 4:39 pm

Thank you Judy for telling people not to poison


Judi curry October 15, 2020 at 7:17 am

Tyler I do not know you and do not know what your point really is but suffice it to say I’ve lived in this area many years and know or recognize many locals from the area. No, I cannot give you names of offenders dropping wrappers on the ground, but they are part of the problem. Do you honestly think they locals do not contribute to the trash problem? The problem is the trash-the rats-disease, etc regardless of who the offender may be. And if you don’t think locals are contributing to the mess come spend a few hours and watch what goes on.


Geoff Page October 15, 2020 at 10:04 am

“The problem is the trash-the rats-disease, etc regardless of who the offender may be.”
Exactly, so why the attempt to blame locals?


Hawke clothier October 15, 2020 at 9:21 am

I grew up here so I’ve been here longer than most people that love here now combined… point is they’ve always been here from upper’s to the the jetty and they’re always gonna be here the more important issue in this article is all the trash that the redic amount of people that come here to watch sunset just toss like it’s no big deal .. I haven’t watched a sunset at the cliffs in years because the traffic on sunset cliffs blvd from garbage to West Point Loma after the sun goes down is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.. with no end in sight not only are the people that don’t live here leaving they’re trash behind, they’re also polluting with trying to have the loudest stereo contest while the sit in traffic because they don’t realize there’s more than one way out of Ob…just so over how people treat a town that I grew up in bled for had friends die in… I’m from the real ocean beach this new style Ob has no soul no respect it’s a free for all …. hope all you outta towners are enjoying it… the evidence of dirty beaches and cliffs say you are ????


Hawke October 15, 2020 at 9:23 am

And just cuz you’ve lived here for 2 -5 years DOES NOT MEAN YOURE A LOCAL.. act accordingly please have respect….


Frank Gormlie October 15, 2020 at 10:28 am

… and just because you’re a long-time “local” doesn’t mean you exhibit respect of our environment. For decades Peninsula locals voted in Republicans who didn’t respect the ecology of our fair city.


Hawke October 15, 2020 at 11:40 am

Guess I’m one in a million …


Frank Gormlie October 15, 2020 at 12:23 pm

You could be. Did you attend PLHS?


Hawke October 15, 2020 at 10:09 pm

Mission bay and Point Loma


Tyler October 15, 2020 at 11:51 am

Amen, Frank. I have to eyeroll at people obsessed with longevity of time spent on the Peninsula as if some sort of appendage swinging contest. I know natives who treat the community terribly, and folks here 2 years who do more than their fair share.


Geoff Page October 15, 2020 at 12:42 pm

Hawke, the term “local,” as used most of the time, is wrong. Those who say “local” mean “native.” A local is anyone who lives here. A native implies someone born here. There is no time element in the word local. But, the word native does have a time element because it means that person was born here, implying a period of time. If the “locals” want to pull this weird superiority card, they could at least use the correct word. I’ve been here 40 years, but I’m not a native. I surely am a local though.


Judi Curry October 15, 2020 at 1:39 pm

Another crazy comment. When you say “Native” you mean just that – born here. When you say “Local” you mean people that live in the neighborhood. What’s the argument?


Geoff Page October 15, 2020 at 3:03 pm

I don’t how this got so personal that you had to open that way, but I will refrain.

If you will notice, my comment was addressed to Hawke.

If it was not clear to you, I’ll explain. It was a commentary on the superior attitude some folks exhibit because they were born here and have lived here all their lives. They call themselves locals, thereby eliminating about 85% of the people who live here. Anyone who lives here is a local so if they want to play that card of being in that exclusive club, they should say native, and not local.


Hawke October 15, 2020 at 10:15 pm

And saying everyone that lives here is a local is def not a true statement, you can’t even get you’re ob green card for atleast 7-10 years and you must have lived here and not moved for that amount of time .. not my rules! Uncle sams guidelines..
Anyway this was fun everyone have a good eve… signed you’re local OBLH ??


Geoff Page October 16, 2020 at 1:34 pm

Hawke, how about something to show us about “Uncle Sam’s guidelines.”


Hawke October 17, 2020 at 12:46 am

It was a joke bud you really think there are green card guidelines town by town…city by city…..


Geoff Page October 18, 2020 at 11:56 am

Oh, it was a joke. I had no idea.


Hawke October 15, 2020 at 10:08 pm

Yep me too I’m 45 moved here from pb when I was five… ob is a very different place now a days somethings are kool , but mostly I wish for the ocean beach of old.. progress no way to stop it .


sealintheSelkirks October 18, 2020 at 12:30 pm

Hawke, I’m not sure what’s happened to OB and the beach areas in general can be called progress. Growing up in the 50s/60s/70s in OB & MB…they were VERY different places than they are now, or at least the last time I was down there 2001 to bury my last San Diego relative. I hardly recognized the place. All the massive over-building, the far worse crowded traffic jams, the ever-larger population increases, the loss of all the open spaces I grew up with…the freaking smog layering to the horizon…even the surf got worse from what I see on the OB Hotel surf cam since my last years living there in 1980s OB. Since I haven’t been down there since I’m sure I’d be in for even worse ‘cultural shock’ nineteen years later! I’m with you on wishing for the old OB & MB…but it’s gone never to return. And if the wealthy real estate types get their way this election, what’s left will turn into…Miami Beach. It’s what they have always wanted…

Vote to keep it, people!


The only thing left saving what’s nearly unrecognizable is the 30 foot height limit, and that has been under attack since it was voted in by those that profit from the worst


Frank Gormlie October 15, 2020 at 10:26 am

You know you’re in the right place when you see columnists arguing with each other. No other webplatfrom allows that.


Peter from South O October 15, 2020 at 2:33 pm

Thank you for that ear-to-ear grinner.


retired botanist October 15, 2020 at 2:53 pm

hahaha, nailed it, Frank :-)
Maybe the column should get back to the rats- are they locals? Natives? Indigenous? Exotics? Hybrids? Varieties? Short-timers? Squatters? Newcomers? Insurgents? Foreigners?
Meanwhile, better nail down your pizza…


Frank Gormlie October 15, 2020 at 2:59 pm

Well, I love both of them. Ever heard of a family squabble?


Geoff Page October 15, 2020 at 3:07 pm

Well now, retired, you bring up a good point. Are these native rats, as in the designation meaning coming from native plants? If they are, seems they have a right to be here.


retired botanist October 15, 2020 at 4:13 pm

Haha, precisely, Geoff! In the plant world when we apply these terms, we have to be very careful. What’s a weed? Just a plant in a place its not supposed to be? There are native weeds, exotic weeds, even indigenous weeds! Well, and then there’s just plain weed…anyone want to claim THAT?! Haha, sorry, laughing at my own joke- lame! :-)


Geoff Page October 15, 2020 at 4:35 pm

Some humor is always good, retired. Now, about claiming that weed, are we talk about quantity or …


Larry OB October 15, 2020 at 1:14 pm

Seagulls can get into the rat poison, even when the poison baits are deep in the jetty rocks. Plus there’s the issue of rain washing over the forgotten poison. Poison should not be an option.

How are the food vendors allowed in a regional park?


Sarah October 15, 2020 at 2:52 pm

Stop arguing about who is and who is not a local. It doesn’t matter.
Instead, go down and pick up the trash as many of us who live here do on a regular basis.
Also, keep writing letters to Jennifer Campbell and the city council. Idea: we could all coordinate trash picking up duties on a specific Sat or Sun morning then take it to Jennifer Campbell’s house and hold a rally at her house. Thoughts?


Geoff Page October 15, 2020 at 3:21 pm

Fines for illegal dumping in San Diego can run from $100 to $1,000 a day. If the PD would just run a few littering campaigns and hand out a few expensive tickets, there would probably be improvement.


Marc Johnson October 15, 2020 at 8:56 pm



Peter from South O October 16, 2020 at 12:58 pm

Judi’s observations supported by actual Science!!!

ATLANTA, Oct. 13, 2020 – Rats have taken to the streets of Chicago, yet again. Orkin released its Top 50 Rattiest Cities List today, and for the sixth consecutive time, the Windy City takes the top spot. New to the Top 10 this year is Baltimore, taking the eighth spot, and

moving into the Top 20 is San Diego, rising 13 spots to secure the #19 ranking.

Orkin ranked metro regions by the number of new rodent treatments performed from September 1, 2019 to August 31, 2020. This ranking includes both residential and commercial treatments.


Geoff Page October 16, 2020 at 1:30 pm

Very interesting, Peter. I guess it’s safe to assume this is a city-wide statistic and probably not the result of activity along Sunset Cliffs only.


Peter from South O October 16, 2020 at 1:39 pm

Not just City of San Diego, but the “metro regions” of San Diego.


nostalgic October 16, 2020 at 1:56 pm

Presumably someone has mapped cat communities (Top 50 Cities with most cats) and correlated them to rat populations. Something like how we analyze COVID-19 statistics here.
Maybe we need more cats. But cats eat birds when they run out of rats. Requires more research.


Peter from South O October 16, 2020 at 4:12 pm

Feral cats seldom hunt rats in an urban environment. They go for easier prey. Quite a few studies done and the Google machine will steer you in several directions, all leading to the same conclusion.


nostalgic October 16, 2020 at 5:37 pm

But Peter, will rats live with a cat around every corner? Perhaps we can organize a mixture of predators, like native plants – owls, snakes, weasels, and bobcats. As I don’t think these would do in Point Loma, perhaps a domesticated dog corps, like rat terriers.


Peter from South O October 17, 2020 at 2:41 am

Might as well seed PL with snakes. Yeah, that’s the ticket! PYTHONS!


nostalgic October 18, 2020 at 6:01 am

Peter, the predators have to be NATIVES! That means local possums.


Peter from South O October 18, 2020 at 6:29 am

Yes, Opossums would be more effective, but just IMAGINE Judi’s next rant if her neighborhood was infested with Pythons. I’m not looking for solutions; just entertainment.


Judi curry October 18, 2020 at 12:53 pm

Peter, I like possums. Someone else will have to write the article!


lyle October 18, 2020 at 2:37 pm

Possums eat birds and bird eggs as well as rats. So you may not too many of them around either. Owls eat rats, and also skunks, so maybe we can forgive them for eating a few birds.


sealintheSelkirks October 16, 2020 at 7:46 pm

Why hell, I’m an OB native but lost the local status having moved off in my 30s. But was local to both OB and MB so I can claim Dual Localism but I don’t think I went to OB Elementary for Kindergarten since I have no record of where just 1st grade and up. Is schooling a requisite for that designation? Then I was a PB local, too, and La Jolla for one semester of 10th grade. Wow. I’m an old surfer of…many parts?

But I do remember rats in MB but up more towards the Catamaran not in Middle Mission. Never saw a rat in OB, though, except as pets (shades of Bubonic Plague fleas!). Mice yes, but not full blown rats but maybe back then I wasn’t really looking.

I wonder how many different kinds of rats there are from all the worldwide shipping coming through the harbor? Certainly many many breeds from the Navy scows that touch port everywhere…maybe they are crossbreeding monster zombie rats that will be carrying off babies… Frankenrats! You heard it here first.

One of the main problems of rats and feral cats is that all the normal predators of the area have been extinguished (or nearly). And honestly, just how well are they gonna survive when catching a kitty is a lot easier? People will just kill them, with poison or a bb gun or whatever. We always kill the predators.

I have much the same problem. Lots of cats get dumped off on the dirt road, many find their way to this property from down the ridgeline behind me, but by mid-winter I start seeing frozen stiff carcasses with their middles eaten out (cougars & bobcats) or pieces here and there (coyote or wolf). Dumped dogs are also a problem…for a while. But the discarded dogs and boxes of puppies are much more likely to come home with one of the dogs I live with. I’ve ended up with a couple that way, some survived others got eaten.

When our species kills out everything that belongs in that place, runaway ‘pest’ problems nearly always result. I don’t really see much of a way to solve this problem in OB/Pt. Loma to be honest.

Just be glad you don’t have the big pack rats yet. They’ll chew holes right through your siding! So far I’ve been lucky but neighbors haven’t. They are as big as a cat or bigger… But I agree with the theme here; DON’T USE POISON. Remember, if it will kill one mammal species it can affect you and yours even in small amounts. Remember Dioxin?



Peter from South O October 16, 2020 at 8:28 pm

From the CDC:

“”Jurisdictions have closed or limited service at restaurants and other commercial establishments to help limit the spread of COVID-19,” the CDC said. “Rodents rely on the food and waste generated by these establishments. Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas.”

As a result, rats are scampering elsewhere — including residential areas. Given the circumstances, they may even exhibit “unusual or aggressive” behavior, the CDC said.


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