A Look at San Diego’s Infrastructure Blues


By Doug Porter

While there is near-universal agreement about the sorry state of San Diego’s infrastructure, building a consensus on the ways and means of getting the job done has proved to be challenging.

The Mayor’s office has been very public about wanting a deal to build a new football stadium, but conversations about how to keep the roads to that stadium in shape and the pipes carrying all the recycled beer away have been muted.

And then there’s the Convention Center, where monies that could have been used for keeping the building in shape were gambled on an improbable expansion plan.   [Read more…]

‘Empty the Tanks’ Campaign to Hit San Diego’s SeaWorld This Weekend

Orca Corky banner

Animal rights activists from throughout Southern California will gather in San Diego this weekend in a kick-off for a world-wide campaign called “Empty the Tanks” with demonstrations against SeaWorld.

The main demonstration is on Saturday, June 6th outside SeaWorld from 10am to 1pm, at the intersection of SeaWorld Drive and SeaWorld Way. The goal is to advocate for marine mammals held captive worldwide for entertainment and profit.   [Read more…]

Birds of Paradise Art Show at Te Mana Cafe

Mic Porte Bird of Paradise: Mic

For the remainder of June, local beach artist Micaela Porte is displaying her recent works – Birds of Paradise – at Te Mana Cafe in Ocean Beach, over at 4956 Voltaire Street.

The show has been running since the end of April. They’re open daily until 6 pm, closed Wednesdays.

Micaela told us that acrylic paint, some old canvases and bird of paradise heads from one of her neighbor’s yard inspired a binge of colorful paintings of bird of paradise flowers – which all harmonize with the aloha theme at the Te Mana garden cafe.   [Read more…]

“The Solid Citizenry of Ocean Beach are Aroused.”

Complaints About Homeless Have Echoes

By John Lawrence / OB Rag

The solid citizenry of Ocean Beach are aroused. For some time now, there has been a virtual state of war existing between businessmen and merchants, on the one hand, and homeless on the other. The growing homeless community in OB has been met with growing alarm on the part of the established citizenry.

Those with Establishment interests want to drive the homeless out of OB since they view them as a treat to their businesses and are offended by the mores and folkways of the homeless youth culture. Homeless contribute very little economically to established businesses and tend to scare away more conventional people who would have patronized these businesses. Homeless people have been refused service at several places of business and in turn have taken revenge through acts of vandalism and theft. Because of this, insurance companies have raised the rates charged to OB businessmen.

Recently, there have been several public acts of sexual intercourse including screwing on the front lawn (an all-time first in San Diego according to some sources) which established citizens feel set a bad example for their own families.   [Read more…]

It’s the OB Rag’s 7th Birthday!

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.   [Read more…]

6 Common Mistakes Made By Cities and Towns in Urban Renewal

by Bill Adams / San Diego UrbDeZine

For the last half century, cities have attempted to repair the damage to their urban cores from migration to suburbs and exurbs. Redevelopment has evolved into smart growth, transit oriented development, and complete streets. In the last 15 years or so, the urban renewal efforts have had a receptive audience as people, tired of the car oriented lifestyle of the suburbs, are returning to urban cores and older urban neighborhoods. However, while cities get the big picture, too often in my 25 years as a land use attorney, I have seen the same mistakes repeated.

1) Failing to Understand How to Provide for Pedestrian and Other Active Transit:

Too often, cities and towns seem to think that all pedestrians need are sidewalks to walk on and greenery to look at. The same goes for bikes and bikelanes. It goes without saying that pedestrians and bikes work differently than cars, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.   [Read more…]

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

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.”

  [Read more…]

A Proud Day of Activism for Labor, Refugee and Environmental Advocates

By Doug Porter

Tuesday, July 22 was a remarkable day for San Diego. Starting with an early morning prayer vigil at San Diego City Hall in support of a higher minimum wage and ending with hundreds of Escondido residents calling for a humanitarian response to the border refugee crisis, people stood up for causes they believed in.

At noontime a broad spectrum of supporters of organized labor rallied in Mission Valley, vowing to support workers for Food-4-Less should they go on strike. And in the afternoon environmental activists testified before the city council, urging Mayor Kevin Faulconer to move ahead with a review process needed to consider an ordinance curtailing the use of plastic shopping bags.

People chose to make a stand on issues that were important to them. They faced off against institutional and political hostility, along with a corporate media all-too-willing to give a platform to those willing to spew ridicule (the UT’s Greenhut) and venomous language (Escondido’s nativists). They stood up and said “we’re not going to take it any more” (UFCW’s Kasparian). They testified that now is the time to protect the environment (representatives of Coastkeeper, Surfrider and the Sierra Club).

It was a great day to be an American. It was a great day to be an activist.

  [Read more…]

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

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


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.   [Read more…]

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

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.   [Read more…]

OB Rag Looking for July 4th Monitors and OBservers

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.   [Read more…]

Reactions to Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Decision Range From Real Disappointment to Really Dumb

By Doug Porter

The Supreme Court saved its most controversial decisions for last for this session, announcing twin 5-4 votes yesterday in cases limiting public sector unions and extending the concept of corporations as persons to include the right to opt out of contraceptive coverage based on the religious beliefs of the owners.

While the rulings were narrower than they could have been, they triggered reactions filled with hyperbole and misinformation. For purposes of today’s column, we’ll take a look at responses to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the ruling holding closely held corporations (90% of all companies) are “persons” as defined by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

Make no mistake about it, the creeping person-hood of corporations combined with a ruling favorable to the theocracy set is serious business. But the headlines at places like the Huffington Post were beyond the pale.   [Read more…]

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

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. …

  [Read more…]

Personal Statement from Frank Gormlie on Having His Email Hacked

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.   [Read more…]

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 / 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.   [Read more…]

The Community Plan Domino Effect: First Barrio Logan, Now Ocean Beach Challenged

By Doug Porter

More than four decades ago a grass roots movement arose in Ocean Beach in response to development plans that would have destroyed the essential nature of the community. Now the  city planning commission is seeking to override sensible conditions for development included in the latest up date of the Ocean Beach community plan.

At issue is a change in the formula used to determine floor area ratio restrictions. Currently development in OB is regulated in size and scope by a requirement that can limit the size of the building on a lot. The change being insisted upon by downtown will allow development similar to that in place in Mission Beach, where sprawling buildings sit cheek by jowl in a soulless wasteland.

The grand plans drawn up back in the 1960s by the spawn of the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce for high rise hotels, apartment complexes and a yacht harbor may not be possible these days thanks to the 30 foot high limit and environmental concerns. However, the desire to over-develop with little or no regard for the consequences continues to exist.

The current community plan up for consideration was written over a 12 year period by community members and has the support of every community group. There are, however, several landlords with clout who have made their opposition known.   [Read more…]

New EPA Power Plant Rules: Here Comes the GOP’s Climate Change Denial Onslaught

By Doug Porter

Climate change was a major issue in the 2008 elections. Both the Republicans and Democrats made proposals aimed at reducing carbon based emissions.

Here we are six years later and, after watching Congress dither around the topic, President Obama has issued an executive order to significantly cut carbon pollution from power plants. The goals proposed are modest compared to those supported by Presidential candidate John McCain and included in the 2008 GOP platform.

CNN was the only cable network of the big 3 covering the EPA announcement this morning. (Fox News was covering…Benghazi!)   [Read more…]

Who Has Energy, a Fresh Perspective, and Fantastic Ideas for San Diego?

An introduction to Sarah Boot, Candidate District 2 City Council

By Judi Curry

Over the past several months, I have attended many “meet the candidate forums” for those people running for office on June 3rd.  I have been amazed at the quality of one of the candidates running for District 2 City Council seat because she is so aware of the problems facing those of us in this particular district.  And furthermore, she has answers to overcome those problems.

Let’s tackle a few of those problems right now:  For those of us living along the Sunset Cliffs corridor, I have a question for you.  When was the last time you were able to leave your home and go directly to the Highway 8 on-ramp without being detoured around Ocean Beach?  Yesterday it took me over 10 minutes to get to the freeway because of the streets that were blocked off – again – and detour signs were everywhere.

When I came home from my excursion to El Cajon, the detour signs were gone but the roads from Newport to Santa Cruz were so bumpy I thought my car would end up with flat tires.  That, plus the steel plates all over the road only tell me that today will be the same way, and probably for  weeks to come.   [Read more…]

Sarah Boot Takes on District 2

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.   [Read more…]

The OB Hippie House Dedicates a Peace Pole

On December 21, 2013 at 9:11am, the Time & Day of the Winter Solstice

By Judi Curry

To call this beautiful remodeled house on the south side of Ocean Beach a “hippie house”  truly does it an injustice. The new owner – Scott – has put a great deal of money into the house to make it liveable, and the fact that it is not the “normal” Pt. Loma residence is incidental.  But….it is gaining fame, even though Scott and his significant other Layla, have just recently moved in.

First of all the views are spectacular.  The scenery changes from minute to minute. What were high waves an hour ago are small little ripples now; the pelicans fly over going both north and south. The surfers are not there today – waiting the 72 hours after the rain – before dotting the scenery with their black wetsuits and multicolored surfboards.  So why were we there this morning, braving the cold and wind, standing outside looking at a pole set in concrete , albeit in a beautiful design?

Today, at the beginning of the winter solstice, Scott was dedicating one of his two Peace Poles in an informal ceremony. How familiar are you with “Peace Poles”?  They symbolize the oneness of humanity and the common wish for a world at peace.   [Read more…]

Support Local Artists, Artisans and Small Businesses, Buy Independent for the Holidays

By Brent E. Beltrán

The holidays are upon us and the time for gift giving is here. Instead of shopping at the malls and giving your hard earned cash to a corporation why not purchase items from local artists and artisans?

Here is a short list of holiday art bazaars and small businesses that deserve to be patronized this holiday season.   [Read more…]

OB Bamboo Bicyclist Lives to Inspire “Earth-Friendly Lifestyles”

Activist to Give Away Free Seeds

By Rob Greenfield

This spring I left my comfortable beachside home in sleepy Ocean Beach to wake America up. On April 16th I hopped into a van with a stranger from a Craigslist.com rideshare board, stopped in Santa Cruz to pick up a bamboo bike, and arrived in San Francisco a with a few days to prepare for a 4,700 mile bike ride across the USA.

The journey, coined Off the Grid Across America, was designed to inspire Americans to start living a more earth-friendly lifestyle for themselves, their community, and the earth.

To lead by example I followed a set of rigorous ground rules:   [Read more…]

Kevin Faulconer and the Republicans Really Don’t Want Liberal Voters to Vote for Nathan Fletcher

By Frank Gormlie/OB Rag

It’s very clear – Kevin Faulconer really doesn’t want you – the liberal voter at the beach – to vote for Nathan Fletcher.  Faulconer, of course, is OB’s current City Councilperson and sole Republican candidate for mayor of all San Diego.  And of course, Nathan Fletcher is one of his Democratic opponents.

Two recent, slick campaign fliers have recently hit the beach area and tell the story.

One of them shouts out that “Nathan Fletcher is a trusted conservative.” as a quote from liberal nemesis, Karl Rove.  Natch, there’s also a nice color photo next to the quote showing Fletcher and Rove standing together – and Karl has a huge smile.   [Read more…]

The War on Pensions: Workers Lose, Wall Street Wins

By Doug Porter

Three recent news stories and one older account tell the tale of what’s really going on behind the current public sector pension “crisis” in the United States.

To make a long story short: there are good pension systems and bad pension systems.  Some are broke and need to be fixed. Some aren’t. But all public sector pension plans are under attack as part of the conservative goal of reducing government and the greed of Wall Street hedge fund managers seeking to get their hands on a huge pot of money.

Frying Pan News published an account this week about a group of pension policy advocates here in California working on a until now secret ballot initiative that would cut State and local government employees off at the knees, retirement wise.

At Salon.com we learn about the for Enron executive whose been working hard to craft the argument that defined pension benefit programs need to be scrapped no matter what shape they’re in.

At Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi takes a sharp tongued look at the profits being made by corporate ‘management’ of pension plans.

Inside: Pigs Fly Over Ocean Beach

  [Read more…]

23 Candidates Running for San Diego Mayor (and Counting) As Councilman David Alvarez Declares His Candidacy

By Doug Porter

A mayoral contest best characterized thus far by the quantity of candidates took a turn towards being much more interesting yesterday as Democratic City Councilman David Alvarez entered the race.

Should he end up in the winner’s circle come February (which is when a final runoff will decide the victor), Alvarez will be the first mayor of Mexican descent since the city emerged from being ruled by trustees (bankruptcy) back in 1887.

This is no small thing in a city with a growing Hispanic (28.8%) population.  It wasn’t so long ago that brown-skinned people were prohibited from buying homes in many San Diego neighborhoods.

Alvarez is also popular with many on San Diego’s Labor Council, whose participation in get out the vote efforts in recent elections has boosted turnout in less affluent neighborhoods.  His electoral base is mostly south of Interstate 8, which changes the dynamics of an election many thought would be decided by mostly white, older voting blocs in other areas of the city.   [Read more…]