Frank Gormlie

Thumbnail image for It’s the OB Rag’s 7th Birthday!

It’s the OB Rag’s 7th Birthday!

by Frank Gormlie 10.29.2014 Culture

By Frank Gormlie

This is the 7th birthday for the online OB Rag. During the October fires of 2007, Patty Jones and I launched the OB Rag out of our small cottage on Long Branch Avenue. Many of our early articles critiqued both the mainstream media’s coverage of the fires plus how the fires were being fought.

Seven years later, much has changed, of course. We’ve gone from a little-known blog to one of the best community-based websites in Southern California, which is constantly referred to by the local mainstream media, police, and local politicians, and occasionally we make the national news. Other notes of interest: quotes from the OB Rag made it up on the ceiling of OB’s newest public “comfort station” on the beach – whose design won an Orchid Award in 2012.

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Malin Burnham and the U-T San Diego Idea Factory

by Frank Gormlie 10.24.2014 Business

union-tribunefrontbldgPart Two of two parts

By Frank Gormlie

As we delve more now in Part Two into Malin Burnham, “the last Corte Maderan” as Mike Davis calls him, and his possible take-over of San Diego’s only daily newspaper, longtime City Heights community activist, Anna Daniels, one of the editors at San Diego Free Press, cautioned:

When the news broke that Malin Burnham was interested in purchasing the U-T San Diego with the intent of turning it into a non-profit, the main and often only description of him was as a San Diego “philanthropist”. And it is true–Burnham is known for his extensive philanthropy.

He is also known for his role as a local real estate developer, as chairman of First National Bank at San Diego and as a former Director of San Diego Gas and Electric. It might prove useful in the future to keep these other interests in mind.

Malin Burnham fullWhich pretty much sums up Part One for me. As City Hall veteran, Norma Damashek, reminded us:

As you know, Burnham has been a VIP mover and shaker in San Diego for decades. He’s not stingy with his money. Some is philanthropy, some is strictly political.

It’s also useful to know that Burnham represents a wing of the local Establishment that has challenged the other, more conservative wing on numerous occasions – with the back and forth between the different factions going for decades.

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What Does Malin Burnham’s Possible Take-Over of the U-T San Diego Mean?

by Frank Gormlie 10.23.2014 Business

Malin Burnham fullhueAs ‘Old-Money’ Point Loman Burnham emerges to operate San Diego’s daily, questions are raised whether this is the “Moderate Wing” of the Establishment reasserting itself?

Part One of two parts.

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

The news has been out for nearly a month now that well known wheeler-dealer and financier Malin Burnham of Point Loma has initiated efforts to purchase the U-T San Diego from Doug Manchester, the current owner and publisher.

Burnham, who calls himself a moderate Republican and who has lived in Point Loma all his life, told the press that he is the spokesman for a 5-man group of economic power-brokers who want to form a non-profit that will take over the newspaper and run it as a profit-making enterprise. Any profits, Burnham has pledged, would go back into community charities. Now as crazy as that plan might seem in this day and age of folding newspapers and expanding internet news sites, there are at least two other major dailies in the country that are run by non-profits. …

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How to Destroy Mission Valley

by Frank Gormlie 10.16.2014 Business

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

If you want to destroy Mission Valley, what’s coming down the development pipeline will surely do it for you. There are four massive residential and commercial projects and another giant handful of minor ones- all in various stages of blueprints, planning and construction – heading for this landmark river canyon. If all are built – the total impact would permanently damage Mission Valley to the point where the Valley that we now know would no longer be there.

Some old-timers believe Mission Valley was destroyed a long time ago, when it was a long, lush valley of dairy farms and agricultural fields. Then the hotels, resorts, golf courses and freeways came and Mission Valley lost its beauty, serenity, and its soul.

Ironically then, there’s also another group of “old-timers” – a special group – a group of Mission Valley landowning families – who have their own plans to develop and damage the Valley even further.

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Thumbnail image for Three Years Ago this Month the Occupy Wall Street Movement Burst Upon San Diego

Three Years Ago this Month the Occupy Wall Street Movement Burst Upon San Diego

by Frank Gormlie 10.08.2014 Activism

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

It was October 7th, in the year 2011, that the Occupy Wall Street movement hit San Diego.

In a huge outpouring of demonstrators, up to 4,000 San Diegans marched through the Gaslamp District of downtown San Diego – mainly protesting for social and economic justice, against the state of the economy and the role of banks and Wall Street responsible for the financial downturn. Occupy San Diego was born in a giant – for San Diego – protest in solidarity with the rest of the country and particularly those in New York City – where the Occupy movement began.

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Thumbnail image for Backlash Grows Over Private Clubs’ Use of Public Beaches

Backlash Grows Over Private Clubs’ Use of Public Beaches

by Frank Gormlie 10.01.2014 Activism

The backlash is growing – the backlash against the use of our public beaches and coast areas by private clubs who host work-outs, volleyball games and yoga classes. About a week ago, the U-T published an article entitled, “Residents Cry Foul at Beach Courts’ Access” – how Carlsbad residents and beach-goers are complaining about a private volleyball club agreement with the state that gives their members priority on volleyball courts.

This echoes a “reader rant” just this summer here on the OB Rag about how a surf school takes too much space on the beach as well as in the ocean. The writer’s complaints about lack of access and safety issues found a lot of resonance among the commenters.

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Thumbnail image for Councilman Ed Harris: Why He Rejected the Proposed Lease for Belmont Park – “It’s Pathetic.”

Councilman Ed Harris: Why He Rejected the Proposed Lease for Belmont Park – “It’s Pathetic.”

by Frank Gormlie 09.24.2014 Business

Harris: “We can’t keep giving away our assets to big business.”

Just got off the phone with Councilman Ed Harris – he represents OB, Mission Beach and the rest of District 2, of course.

He had a lot to say about the Belmont Park lease that the City Council just rejected on Monday. He knew that we’d been covering the issue. Today, the U-T ran an article on the rejection, tacking in favor of the current managers, it seemed. Harris wanted to set the record straight.

Harris, you see, led a Council majority yesterday in rejecting the proposed new lease for Pacifica Enterprises because the cut the City is getting is not fair. All the Democrats followed his lead (Emerald was out) and are having the issue return to the Council in 60 days. The Republicans all voted to renew the current lease.

“We have to take in the big picture,” Harris told me. “We can’t keep giving away our assets to big business,” he said.

The deal that the City of San Diego has in the current lease for Belmont Park is not fair, he said in so many words.

“The City has received $1.6 Million dollars in 26 years – that’s only $5,000 a month,” he said. “It’s pathetic.”

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Thumbnail image for California Fish Stories – How Some Seafood Has ‘Come back’ and How San Diego’s Bluefin Tuna ‘Is On the Way Out’

California Fish Stories – How Some Seafood Has ‘Come back’ and How San Diego’s Bluefin Tuna ‘Is On the Way Out’

by Frank Gormlie 09.18.2014 Business

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

There’s mixed California fish stories right now. There’s good and bad.

Twenty-one species of commercial fish have just come off the ‘watch list’ and are no longer on the ‘avoid list’.

On the other hand, at the same time, the population of Bluefin Tuna – popular here in San Diego – has plunged to just 4% of its historic highs on a worldwide basis.

It was recently announced that 21 commercially important species of West Coast groundfish have been removed from the “Avoid” list. This was announced by the prestigious Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program. They were upgraded to either “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative”, and includes species such as sablefish, rockfish typical sold as “snapper,” and popular flatfish species caught by bottom-trawl and other methods.

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Thumbnail image for Mayor Faulconer’s First 100 Days: Veto Minimum-Wage Ordinance and Stalling on City’s Environmental Policies

Mayor Faulconer’s First 100 Days: Veto Minimum-Wage Ordinance and Stalling on City’s Environmental Policies

by Frank Gormlie 08.10.2014 Business

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

Mayor Kevin Faulconer has been in office now just a little over one hundred days. And if this start to his administration is an indicator, the remainder of his term as mayor may be cause for some very rough going for San Diego environmentalists and minimum-wage supporters.

Faulconer’s actions – or, rather, inactions, around environmental policies have made eco-advocates furious.

To the more immediate news, Friday, the 8th day of August, Faulconer formally vetoed the minimum-wage and sick-day ordinance passed by the City Council on July 28th.  The measure would if enacted increase the hourly minimum wage to $9.75 on Jan. 1, $10.50 in January 2016 and $11.50 in January 2017, plus it provided access to five earned sick days.

The Council, with a 6 to 3 current ratio of Dems to Repubs, is expected to over-ride the Mayor’s veto, and the measure will become law. But then, in turn, this is expected to set the stage for an extremely divisive referendum effort by businesses and the Chamber of Commerce seeking to overturn the ordinance – which will be placed on hold until the referendum issue is settled.

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Thumbnail image for An OB Victory! City Council Unanimously Approves OB Community Plan

An OB Victory! City Council Unanimously Approves OB Community Plan

by Frank Gormlie 07.30.2014 Activism

With a 9 to zip vote, the San Diego City Council approved the Ocean Beach Community Plan Update, yesterday, the 29th of July and in the middle of the afternoon. Immediately, the 150 plus OBceans jumped to their feet with whoops of delight and sustained applause that went on for minutes.

It was an emotional day for OB, with the Council vote culminating a very long process of updating the community’s urban design blueprint, a blueprint that will significantly affect OB for the next 20 to 30 years.

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Thumbnail image for The Shooting Down of Malaysian Airliner Reminds Us When the U.S. Shot Down an Iranian Airbus in 1988

The Shooting Down of Malaysian Airliner Reminds Us When the U.S. Shot Down an Iranian Airbus in 1988

by Frank Gormlie 07.23.2014 Government

Navy Ship Responsible From San Diego

The shooting down of the Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, July 17th – allegedly by separatists fighting the Kiev government – killing all 295 people on board, has shocked the world, and has intensified the demands for sanctions on those responsible.

But if no sanctions materialize, it wouldn’t be the first time a civilian plane carrying hundreds of passengers was shot down by combatants – with nothing happening to those responsible.

In fact, a lot of the general elements are the same. But the incident that I am reminded about is the day – back in early July 1988, when two US military missiles fired from U.S. Navy ship Vincennes hit Iran Air Flight 655, killing all 290 passengers and crew members on board.

Nothing – I repeat – nothing ever happened to the U.S. because of this incident. It did go a long way in creating a deep distrust towards America by an entire generation of Iranians.

But nothing happened. No sanctions. No boycotts. No United Nations condemnations. Nothing. Most Americans alive then have probably forgotten about it.

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Thumbnail image for The Story of How Community Planning Came to O.B.

The Story of How Community Planning Came to O.B.

by Frank Gormlie 07.18.2014 Activism

Staff: This is the second part of a 2-part series published this week. The series is loosely based on a talk by Frank Gormlie at the February 21, 2013 OB Historical Society monthly meeting. Here is Part 1

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The Twists and Turns of the Community Plan for OB

By Frank Gormlie

Last we left off was the Spring of 1972, when the City Planning Department canceled or postponed all its meetings or workshops on the Pen. Inc sponsored Precise Plan. This was due to the establishment of a substantial opposition to the plan, which was in the form of a damning survey of resident attitudes toward development, high-rise and density increases, and a petition calling for a building moratorium signed by thousands.

So, in the spring and summer months of 1972, the crisis was over – at least temporarily as Ocean Beach had awoken, and its residents had successfully halted the threatened onslaught of massive development.

There appeared to be a lull … for about 6 or 7 months.

City Steps Up Drive to Have Planning Commission Approve Precise Plan

The lull didn’t last. In early 1973, the city began making noises about getting the same old Precise Plan before the San Diego Planning Commission for its approval.

This once again caused activists to mobilize, and about 20 people – from OB Ecology Action, the OB Rag and Save OB Committee – met in mid February to plan an organizing meeting. Its goal: to once and for all put together a planning committee for Ocean Beach.

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Thumbnail image for The Story of How Community Planning Came to Be in Ocean Beach – How Ocean Beach Was “Saved”

The Story of How Community Planning Came to Be in Ocean Beach – How Ocean Beach Was “Saved”

by Frank Gormlie 07.17.2014 Activism

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

I have a story, and it’s a story about urban planning in Ocean Beach during the mid-1970’s – and how community planning came to be here in OB. It is a story about how a crisis of over-development encrusted the village of OB – and then it’s a story about how OBceans responded to that crisis –  a crisis that affected much of coastal of San Diego and of the rest of the Southern California.

It is a great and wonderful story about how a small village rebelled against a top-down blueprint for OB, a blueprint that would have benefited the elite who drew it up. It’s a story how the small village blocked a plan that would have literally paved the way for the community to be redeveloped into a San Diego version of Miami Beach.

It’s the story of  how Ocean Beach saved itself, and how the small, seaside community led the way within the great city of San Diego and in the great state of California in actually forming the very first neighborhood planning committee that was democratically-elected.

And finally, it is a story about how the successes of grassroots activists in Ocean Beach revolutionized urban planning for the citizens and residents of not only Ocean Beach, but throughout San Diego and the state.

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OB Marshmallow War 2014 – a Shadow of Its Former Self

by Frank Gormlie 07.05.2014 Culture

OB July 4 2014 road

By Frank Gormlie

The Marshmallow War in Ocean Beach last night, July 4th, was less than a third of what it was in 2013. Way less marshmallows were thrown, the throwing did not get out of hand, and by 9:50 it was over and there was hardly a marshmallow in the streets down around Newport and Abbott. It indeed, was but a shadow of its former self – and that was a good thing. No violence. No riot.

Compared to last year, there were no marshmallows thrown before the fireworks, none thrown during the fireworks, and after the explosions and light show, it took a few moments before the first white globs were seen in the air.

Police were fairly low-key, although their presence was known – they had set up a command post in and around the trailer in the OB Pier parking lot. At least two arrests were made – one was related to the marshmallow throwing.

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Thumbnail image for OB Rag Looking for July 4th Monitors  and OBservers

OB Rag Looking for July 4th Monitors and OBservers

by Frank Gormlie 07.03.2014 Media

Will the Marshmallow Ban Hold?
Will Homeless Advocates Be Arrested?

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

Your online, local website is looking for a few good observers who have cameras for July 4th.  That’s right, the OB Rag wants to sign up a handful of volunteers who will assist us in monitoring what happens in Ocean Beach on Friday, July 4th.

There’s a bunch of stuff to observe – and we’re not talking about the surf or the fireworks.

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BREAKING NEWS: City Council Hearing on OB Community Plan to Be Postponed

by Frank Gormlie 06.28.2014 Activism

At the 11th Hour, Coastal Commission Makes 43 Recommended Changes to OB Plan

The San Diego City Council Hearing on the OB Community Plan scheduled for Monday, June 30th, will be postponed to as yet an unknown date.

Councilman Ed Harris’ office was notified by the Mayor’s Office late on Friday afternoon that due to a brand new, 11th hour submission of 43 recommended “modifications” to the Plan by the staff of the California Coastal Commission, the Mayor will be seeking a continuance – or postponement – of the hearing slated for 2pm. It needs to be postponed in order to allow City staff sufficient time to evaluate the recommendations and make a response. …

COME INSIDE FOR THE MEMO …

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Another Community Whose Plan is in Trouble – and This Time it’s Ocean Beach

by Frank Gormlie 06.23.2014 Activism

By Frank Gormlie

Coming on the heels of the electoral defeat of the community plan for Barrio Logan in the June 3rd Primary, there’s now yet another community whose plan in trouble, and this time it’s Ocean Beach.

After a 12 year process of updating its community plan, Ocean Beach finally had a Draft Update that was supported and endorsed by every community group in the village. The OB Town Council was on board as were the merchants’ association. Plus other groups as well, like the Friends of the OB Library.

But on its way for the anticipated final approval by the City Council, the OB Community Plan ran into a roadblock: the San Diego Planning Commission.

At their May 29th hearing on the Plan, the Planning Commission – having listened to City staff endorse it, and after nearly every Commissioner praised OB’s “unique character”, turned around and recommended gutting the very tool the community and its Planning Board have used for nearly 4 decades to create that “unique character” by its limits on bulky over-development. The design tool, the FAR, limits how many square feet a developer can construct on a lot.

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Thumbnail image for Personal Statement from Frank Gormlie on Having His Email Hacked

Personal Statement from Frank Gormlie on Having His Email Hacked

by Frank Gormlie 06.22.2014 Culture

Some of OB Rag Email Contacts Stolen – As He Calls for His Former Contacts to Email Him

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

Yes, it is true, and at first, I sort of laughed it off, as I went ahead and changed my password to the email account that was hacked on Thursday, June 19.

But then I realized all 2300 of my email contacts were gone ! – stolen by the hacker. Hundreds of  those were my OB Rag email accounts. (It was my personal yahoo email account that was hacked – not the OB Rag gmail account.)

This is a real blow – as it’s through emails that I contact OBceans, planning and town council leaders, other activists, other journalists. And now I have none. I have no way of contacting the hundreds of people on my “OB Alert” list for example.

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Thumbnail image for Councilman Harris’ Office Abruptly Cancels Meeting With OB Planners Supposedly “On Advice” of City Attorney’s Office – Which City Attorney Denies Giving

Councilman Harris’ Office Abruptly Cancels Meeting With OB Planners Supposedly “On Advice” of City Attorney’s Office – Which City Attorney Denies Giving

by Frank Gormlie 06.19.2014 Activism

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

Councilman Ed Harris’ office  abruptly cancelled a meeting that had been scheduled with OB planners to discuss the OB Community Plan. The meeting had been set for Thursday, June 19th.

While the Plan goes before the full City Council on June 30th, OB planners had expected to be able to have a sit-down with the Councilman of OB before the hearing in order to explain in detail why the Community Plan is a good deal.

Harris had earlier met with the leader of the opposition to the Plan, property investor and owner, David Stebbins.

The two members of the committee responsible for the Plan Update and who have been working with City staff and who were expecting to meet with Harris, Gioivanni Ingolia and Peter Ruscitti, both were notified by Harris’ staff on Tuesday, June 17 about the cancellation. Ingolia is the Co-chair of the Update Committee  and Ruscitti is the current Chair of the Planning Board.

The reason for the cancellation? It’s unclear.

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Thumbnail image for Bob Brewer Is Ready to Be District Attorney of San Diego

Bob Brewer Is Ready to Be District Attorney of San Diego

by Frank Gormlie 05.31.2014 2014 June Primary

By Frank Gormlie

The first thing I asked DA candidate Bob Brewer when I met him yesterday was if he could do “something about the traffic?” as it was bumper to bumper at 2:30 in the afternoon on I-5 as I drove to the interview – (okay it was a Friday – but really?) . We both chuckled and grimaced and he responded, “yeah, I’ll build another freeway” knowing full well that wasn’t the answer.

We sat down in an empty conference room on the 3rd floor of one of those new fancy buildings in the Carmel Valley area. He’s “of counsel” for the firm Jones Day where he’s been for the last 6 years.

Bob handed me some campaign literature just before beginning, and asked me if I wanted some coffee. When I said yes, he whisked away and brought it back. He didn’t hit some button and ask a secretary or clerk to get it.

I told him I wanted to get to know the “real Bob Brewer” and for the next hour plus I peppered him with questions and he responded in kind. First we explored his personal history.

Brewer had been a prosecutor up in Los Angeles. He did that for 2 and a half years. Then he was hired on as an Assistant US Attorney for the LA office and dealt with federal courts – he did that for four and a half years.

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Thumbnail image for May 1970 Student Strike Against Vietnam War to Be Commemorated at UCSD May 9th

May 1970 Student Strike Against Vietnam War to Be Commemorated at UCSD May 9th

by Frank Gormlie 05.08.2014 Activism

UCSD Students to Honor George Winne’s Self-Immolation and Protests 44 Years Ago

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

Forty-four years ago exactly, college and university campuses across America exploded in violent and non-violent protests against President Nixon’s expansion of the Vietnam war. It was May 1970.

Over the course of the month, the nation would witness more than 450 university, college and high school campuses being shut down by student strikes that involved more than 4 million students. It was the largest American student protest before and since.

During protests, National Guardsmen killed four students at Kent State University on May 4, 1970 in Kent, Ohio, and Jackson city police and Mississippi state troopers killed one student at Jackson State College and a high schooler passerby, in Jackson, Mississippi on May 15.

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Thumbnail image for The Best Bicycle Ride Around Mission Bay

The Best Bicycle Ride Around Mission Bay

by Frank Gormlie 05.03.2014 Culture

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

The tour I now present around Mission Bay is a great one and it is a ride that has been honed by me and a few riding friends over the last three decades – since the early Eighties.

It is a ride along a route that has a minimum of traffic and street exposure, and it is a route that is practically 13 miles round trip from the Ocean Beach Skateboard Park in Robb Field.

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Thumbnail image for Sarah Boot Takes on District 2

Sarah Boot Takes on District 2

by Frank Gormlie 04.16.2014 2014 June Primary

By Frank Gormlie

Sarah Boot and I grabbed a table outside at Nati’s in OB the other day for our interview – but as the sun was playing hide and seek, we later had to move inside. Sun or no sun, Sarah is running for the District 2 City Council seat in the Primary which is coming up on June 3rd.  The mail ballots go out in May.

Before we sat down outside, we met in the foyer of the iconic family cafe on Bacon Street.  We shook hands, then while leading her into one of the dining rooms, I informed Sarah that Nati’s was the oldest Mexican restaurant in the Peninsula.  I pointed to the oil painting hanging prominently on one of walls of Louisa – the famous server who worked at Nati’s for over 50 years – and who I met when I was a teenager when my family came during the Sixties.

Once outside, we ordered some lunch – Sarah’s a partial vegetarian – she does eat fish and cheese – and we settled in for a back-and-forth discussion over the next hour or so.  And it was a discussion, for she’s good at listening and I had a whole mental cabinet full of OB and Peninsula history and issues to share with her.  I also threw her questions, and I’ve integrated her responses into my story.

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Thumbnail image for New Regulations Prohibit Food Trucks From 2 to 3 Blocks of Beach … and More

New Regulations Prohibit Food Trucks From 2 to 3 Blocks of Beach … and More

by Frank Gormlie 03.06.2014 Business

By Frank Gormlie/OB Rag

New food truck regulations just passed by the City will prohibit them near the beach in Ocean Beach. In fact, the new law will not allow any food truck – unless on private property – from operating within 2 to 3 blocks of the beach.  This will certainly bring smiles to restaurant owners in OB, but it is also bringing frowns to the mobile meal managers.

However, the new restrictions will not apply near the coastal communities until the California Coastal Commission weighs in and grants its approval

Yes, the City of San Diego finally took action to provide guidelines and new rules for the exploding gourmet food truck industry, on Monday, March 3rd, when the City Council approved an ordinance restricting their hours of operations, location prohibitions and permit requirements.

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Thumbnail image for Point Loma High School Students Honor “Blackfish” Director and Her SeaWorld Expose

Point Loma High School Students Honor “Blackfish” Director and Her SeaWorld Expose

by Frank Gormlie 02.05.2014 Activism

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

Hundreds of Point Loma High School students honored the director of the controversial film “Blackfish” – the expose on SeaWorld’s treatment of their Orcas – on Monday, Feb. 3rd.

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite came to the campus after some film students had produced their own film criticizing SeaWorld and addressed an assembled group of them.  She told them she wanted her documentary about the water-park’s captive killer whales to persuade SeaWorld to discontinue “using animals as entertainment.”  Cowperthwaite also told the students that they need to form their own opinions on the issue.

Her film began, she said, as a research project on the death in 2010 of Orca trainer Dawn Brancheau and Tilikum, the killer whale.

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