Where’s (Waldo) Robert Vacchi? Found!

June 9, 2021 by Staff

By Geoff Page

The City of San Diego’s former Deputy Chief Operating Officer Robert Vacchi, also the former head of the city’s Development Services Department, walked away from his high-profile job on July 2, 2020, and no one would say why. In over a year, no one had obtained any more information about his departure or where he went. Vacchi has finally been spotted and where he landed adds to the mystery.

To refresh everyone’s memory, Vacchi’s appointment to head the DSD coincided with a flood of 30-foot height violations because of how Vacchi interpreted the law. The ultimate, most blatant violation was allowing developers to measure the 30 feet from the inside of tall planters the developers built on their project. Vacchi allowed the surface of dirt in the planters – that the developers put there – to be called finished grade. This allowed buildings 35 feet high and more.

No one with a modicum of experience with construction would call the dirt in a planter finished grade. In order to have a “finished grade,” there has to be “finishing” like fine grading earth or placing hard pavement.

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OB Planners Review Parks, Sick Torrey Pines and ‘Granny Flats’

June 7, 2021 by Staff

By Geoff Page

Parks and sick Torrey pine trees were highlights of the Ocean Beach Planning Board’s regular monthly meeting, Wednesday, June 2. During the city’s presentation about the Torreys, something was learned about the Long Branch Torrey everyone fought to save a few years ago. It was learned that fight was not even necessary.

Torrey Pines

There was a presentation by City Forester Brian Widener. He first gave an update on the second dead Torrey Pine on Saratoga Ave. Just days before the meeting, the dead tree was removed. Widener explained that the city treated the sick tree with insecticide in July 2020 but by January this year it was dead, a victim of the turpentine beetle.

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Report From OB Town Council’s Forum on the Ocean Beach Pier

June 1, 2021 by Staff

By Geoff Page

The Ocean Beach Town Council held a meeting Wednesday, May 26 to talk about a single issue, the OB Fishing Pier. There was an informative presentation and a long public discussion. One surprise for many others was a public opinion that one option to dealing with the pier problem would be to remove it. Period.

The removal opinion was not just one person, although this was a small minority. But, this is why public forums are so important. Most folks were looking at the three proposals in the 2019 engineering report on the pier that The OB Rag revealed to the public for the first time. The three were: temporary repairs, a major rehabilitation, or remove and replace.

No one had considered just “remove,” and those who were of that opinion were looking at money spent on the pier,

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OB Planners: Projects to Review, Dying Torrey Pines, Park Improvements, Volley Ball Courts Dedication? – Wed., June 2

June 1, 2021 by Staff

The Ocean Beach Planning Board has a full agenda for its Wednesday, June 2 meeting.

It has 2 projects to review: ‘granny flat’ proposed at 4742 Niagara (it’s on the consent agenda and somehow includes 4743 Niagara as well, even though on other side of street – is that a typo?); and a granny flat conversion and 2 new units at 4636 Del Monte.

Plus the Board will hear an update about the dying Torrey Pine(s) on Saratoga and a presentation on housing bills currently considered in Sacramento. It will also review the tabled recommendations for OB parks and receive a request to name OB’s volley ball courts (how can a non-permanent volleyball court be named after anyone?)

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Peninsula Planners Table Park Recommendations Until Public Input

May 26, 2021 by Staff

By Geoff Page

The subject of Peninsula parks came up twice during the Peninsula Community Planning Board’s regular monthly meeting Thursday, May 20. Two parks were discussed, Collier Park and the Canon Street “pocket” park. There were, however, problems with both.

Collier Park

Collier Park is all that is left of the Collier land grant legacy that is still just open park land. Bill Cleator park is laid out into Little League fields. Collier Park is bordered by Greene and Soto Streets and is adjacent to the Point Loma Native Plant Reserve.

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Ocean Beach Pier to Partially Reopen Friday, May 28

May 26, 2021 by Staff

Mayor Gloria and Councilwoman Campbell are announcing that the Ocean Beach Pier will partially reopen this Friday, May 28. However, pier visitors will only be allowed to go up to the cafe and bait shop. And only emergency vehicles will be able to drive onto the pier “when necessary.”

In a news release, Campbell’s office stated:

City engineers and maintenance crews have made immediate repairs to make a portion of the pier safe for public access while a longer-term strategy is developed for the future of the pier. …

Public access will be allowed up to the bait shop and café and only emergency vehicles will be allowed when necessary. In addition, the pier will need to close during very high tides. …

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SUV Sought in Fatal Hit-and-Run in Ocean Beach Alley

May 26, 2021 by Staff

There is a video of what San Diego Police say is the vehicle involved in a fatal hit-and-run of San Diego resident Frank Thomas Neal, who was found unresponsive in an OB alley late Friday night. Neal passed away at the scene.

Police are seeking help in identifying the suspected hit-and-run driver whose SUV ran over and killed 60-year-old Neal who had fallen earlier and was lying on the pavement in the north alley off Niagara Avenue and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.

The involved vehicle is believed to be an early 2000s-model Chevrolet Suburban or GMC Yukon with a sunroof, a raised suspension, shiny silver rims and side molding.

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The Year of George Floyd

May 25, 2021 by Staff

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Midway Planners In ‘Shock’ After Navy’s Presentation of 5 Options for NAVWAR Site

May 24, 2021 by Staff

By Geoff Page

The Navy gave its very first public presentation of its potential plans for redeveloping the old SPAWAR site on Pacific Highway to the Midway-Pacific Highway Planning Group, Wednesday, May 19.

The details of the Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, were recently made public and reactions have been intense because of the density and building heights in some of the alternates the Navy’s EIS contains.

The Navy has five possible alternate plans for the site, some of which include buildings 240 feet tall and others with buildings 350 feet tall.

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Police Investigating Suspicious Death of Man Found in Ocean Beach Alley

May 24, 2021 by Staff

San Diego homicide detectives are investigating the suspicious death of a man found in an alley north of Niagara Avenue in Ocean Beach.

Late Friday, May 21, a 60-something year old man was found in the north alley off Niagara Avenue and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard just before 11:30 p.m. When officers arrived, the man was unresponsive, and a citizen was doing CPR. Paramedics took over, but he was pronounced dead soon after. He was pronounced dead at 11:41 p.m.

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OB’s Pat and Susan James Celebrated by SOHO for Preserving Wisteria Cottage and Garden Party Tradition – Thursday, May 27

May 21, 2021 by Staff

Susan and Pat James of Ocean Beach are being celebrated this year by SOHO (Save Our Heritage Organization) for maintaining the tradition of the Wisteria Cottage and Garden Party. It’s SOHO’s 38th annual People In Preservation Awards with an online award presentation. Pat and Susan will be celebrated during the online ceremony on Thursday, May 27, at 4pm, during National Preservation Month.

Here’s SOHO’s description:

On Niagara Avenue in Ocean Beach, you will find a charming turn-of-the-20th-century cottage that plays host each spring to abundant blooms of colorful purple wisteria vines.

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Gloria’s Revised Budget Brings Back San Diego Library Hours But Still Disappoints

May 20, 2021 by Staff

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria revised his budget, released Tuesday, which now keeps libraries open seven days a week. This is a testament to the pushback he received from City Council members and the public about his initial cut-backs in the library budget.

However, to library advocates, Gloria’s numbers are still disappointing. The new budget removed funding for a pilot program to extend morning and evening access in communities that would benefit from this the most.

Patrick Stewart of the San Diego Public Library Foundation made this statement in response:

“We thank the Mayor for restoring the Library’s budget at a time when San Diegans need its essential and free services, programs and resources more than ever, especially in those communities hit harder during the pandemic. We’re happy to see new investments in electronic resources and systemwide programs.

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The City Fiddled While the Ocean Beach Pier Crumbled – A Classic Story of Neglect

May 19, 2021 by Staff

By Geoff Page

While the rest of the news media was doing nothing more than reporting what The OB Rag had already reported on the sad state of the OB Pier, The Rag kept digging. The news stories focused on several things, the major one being that the western end of the pier will be closed to the public indefinitely.

In fact, the engineering firm’s April 23, 2021, recommendation on vehicle traffic at the west end of the pier was almost the same as the recommendation Moffatt & Nichol gave the city five years ago in September 21, 2016. These recommendations were detailed in a memo from the city’s Director of Public Works.

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Navy Says ‘Build 10,000 Units and High-Rise Business Towers’ at NAVWAR Site – Public Comment Period Begins

May 18, 2021 by Staff

On Friday, May 14, the Navy recommended that the NAVWAR site in Old Town be redeveloped with 10,000 high-density residential units and high-rise business towers – and, oh yes, a transit facility.

The Navy’s “preferred alternative” in the draft environmental impact report for the World War II-era bomber plant calls for over 100 buildings, 10,000 residences and 2.5 million square feet of office and retail space. The tallest buildings would be 32 stories high, creating a new skyline in the Midway area over a 30-year development period.

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OB Town Council Wants Residents to Take Survey on Future of the OB Pier

May 17, 2021 by Staff

The Ocean Beach Town Council is asking local residents to take their survey about the future of the OB Pier.

They are gathering information ahead of their town hall meeting on May 26 to discuss the Pier’s future.

In the survey, participants are asked to choose from a list of options, such as “Repair the pier enough to get it at least partially open ASAP. We can deal with long term repairs after the summer,” or “Rehabilitate the pier to get it fully open,” or “Rebuild the pier completely,” or “Other.” Participants can choose more than one option.

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San Diego Police De-Escalation Policy Goes Into Effect

May 14, 2021 by Staff

See story about this incident where a Black, homeless man was taken down for public urination, at today’s San Diego Union-Tribune.

See Nicole Bansal’s video here.

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Mural of Padres’ Fernando Tatis Goes Up in Ocean Beach

May 12, 2021 by Staff

Appletree on Newport Avenue just joined the modern age with a brand new mural of Padres player Fernando Tatis.

Muralists Paul Jimenez and Signe Ditona were the creators of the large image – which is part of a series of murals the Padres commissioned they are painting.

The muralists also did the Tony Gwynn and Joe Musgrove murals earlier this year.

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Ocean Beach Pier Sign Reminds Us that State of California Was Involved in Its Development – Perhaps It Can Help With Repairs or Replacement

May 11, 2021 by Staff

The sign for the Ocean Beach Fishing Pier is right at the entrance on the concrete wall, before you get to the gate in the pier.

Reading the sign makes you realize

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Working Committee for Ocean Beach Pier Being Organized

May 7, 2021 by Staff

The OB Mainstream Association is coordinating the committee’s formation.

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OB Planners: Pier ‘Update’, City Budget Hearing, and Cell Towers on Apartment

May 7, 2021 by Staff

By Geoff Page

The OB Planning Board meeting Wednesday, May 5, drew an abnormally large crowd because of an agenda item that stated, “The board will hear a presentation from the City about the current status of the pier and what options there are to reopen.” According to the on-line meeting information, 68 people had tuned in, far more than most meetings draw.

Unfortunately, the presentation from the city did not happen due to a scheduling mix up, but one will be rescheduled. The city was, however, represented by Teddy Martinez, the District 2 representative. Martinez was not there specifically for the pier item but did field a number of questions during the pier discussion.

In his remarks during the standard “Representatives Report” portion of the agenda, Martinez said

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Ocean Beach Community Garden – Open to the Public – Saturday, May 8

May 7, 2021 by Staff

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Update on the Ocean Beach Pier – the West End May Be Permanently Closed Off

May 4, 2021 by Staff

By Geoff Page

On April 13, The OB Rag published a piece about the OB pier, exposing the existence of a detailed engineering report on the pier’s condition dated September 3, 2019, that the city had been sitting on. Four days later, the city responded by “releasing” the report to the general public using the media.

In the days that followed, the city explained there was an on-going assessment of the pier and a report was expected soon. A public records request was initiated to obtain information on who was conducting the assessment, and what was being done because the city did not provide those details. The following is an account of what was provided,

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It’s Time to Step Up for the Recall Campbell Campaign – Last Month to Collect Signatures

May 4, 2021 by Staff

It’s now early May and the Recall Jen Campbell campaign has one month left to collect the required number of signatures for the recall petition.

Now is the time for everyone who supports her recall to step up, step in, sign the petition, volunteer and send the campaign some funds. The campaign needs 14,000-plus valid signatures by early June.

Have You Signed the Recall Jen Petition Yet?

You can download and print the petition from your computer!

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On Deck at OB Planners: Projects on Brighton, Coronado, Cell Sites on Point Loma Ave, and Update on OB Pier – Wed., May 5

May 3, 2021 by Staff

The Ocean Beach Planning Board meets virtually this Wednesday, May 5.

On deck are projects to review on Brighton and Coronado, new cell sites on Point Loma Avenue and the City will give the Board a status report on the OB Pier and options for a reopening. To register for the meeting, go here.

And, here is the official agenda:

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OB Surfing Legend ‘Mouse’ Robb Passes

May 3, 2021 by Staff

On Friday, the San Diego Union-Tribune announced the sad news:

Jim “Mouse” Robb, a legendary San Diego surfer who started riding waves in the 1940s on 70-pound longboards made out of redwood, and who became a father figure to dozens of local lifeguards and assorted water rats, died April 22, one day shy of his 88th birthday.

His impact, especially in Ocean Beach, inspired a bumper sticker, “Mouse Would Go,” which nods to his eagerness to surf even the biggest waves, and to his willingness to help people as a mentor, electrician, and do-whatever-it-takes volunteer.

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SANDAG’s ‘Grand Central Station’: Spending Public Money Without the Public’s Say

April 23, 2021 by Staff

SANDAG Presentation at Midway Planning Meeting Raises Questions

By Geoff Page

Presentations by SANDAG on the “Grand Central Station” project and the Climate Action Campaign were the items of interest at the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group’s monthly meeting Wednesday, April 21.


The SANDAG presentation was not on the agenda and came more as a Government Office Report on the agenda.

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San Diego Democratic Party Calls on City to End SeaWorld Fireworks

April 21, 2021 by Staff

On Tuesday, April 20, the San Diego County Democratic Party unanimously passed a resolution that calls on the City to end SeaWorld Fireworks.

The resolution calls on the San Diego City Council to take action against the nightly fireworks that SeaWorld blasts off in a public park over Mission Bay, finding that the noise from the explosions “frightens companion animals, terrifies lonely shelter dogs and cats, and wreaks havoc on wildlife, often causing dogs and cats to flee and become lost and injured, and the toxic chemicals released into the air and water poison the environment.”

Through the resolution, the “San Diego Democratic Party calls on the City of San Diego to end this public nuisance occurring at a public park by a private for-profit corporation.”

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After Their Presentation at Peninsula Planners’ Meeting, SANDAG Appears to Be Working for the Navy

April 21, 2021 by Staff

By Geoff Page

The Peninsula Community Planning Board’s regular monthly meeting, Thursday, April 15, was mostly about procedural matters that take place each year after the March elections. This stuff doesn’t usually interest most folks. There were two other items that were of interest though.

Judging by a SANDAG presentation, it appears that SANDAG is now working for the Navy. And, a 1,029/SF, two bedroom, two bath companion unit with no parking in an RS-1-7 single family zoned neighborhood. All depressingly legal.


Gia Ballash gave a presentation for SANDAG describing something called the “San Diego Region Military Installation Resilience” project. Here is how SANDAG describes it:

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Derek Chauvin Found Guilty on All 3 Counts of Murdering George Floyd

April 20, 2021 by Staff

OBcean present in Minneapolis while verdict was read.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter by a jury Tuesday for his role in the murder of George Floyd last May outside of a local convenience store.

Floyd’s death, and the video that showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes, became a catalyst for the country’s racial and social justice movement last summer.

A jury of six white, four Black and two multiracial jurors deliberated nine hours over two days — five hours on Monday; four hours Tuesday — before rendering a verdict.

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City Continues to Deny How Seriously Damaged the Ocean Beach Pier Is

April 16, 2021 by Staff

The OB Rag story about the condition of the OB Pier has generated a good deal of reaction. It shows how much everyone values the pier. So, how has the city reacted?

The Rag received the following statement from Alec Phillipp, Senior Public Information Officer for the City of San Diego. It appears that this was not sent only to The Rag as it was quoted in today’s Union Tribune article.

The first paragraph was misleading and wrong.

“The 2019 draft report (attached) is an assessment of the pier conditions just after the significant 2019 storm and high surf events. In 2019, damage to the pier’s deck and railing was repaired. The columns and other structural elements were determined to need future repair and replacement but were structurally sound to allow public access under operational guidelines.

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