By Matthew Wood / OB Rag
The nightmare that has been Vince Adame’s long shrubbery saga is finally over.
He has been battling a citation over his trimming of some bushes across the alley from his house that somehow turned into a felony vandalism charge. When the district attorney’s office finally dropped the charges Monday night, the longtime Ocean Beach resident was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
A press conference in the alley just outside his house, in “Surf Check Alley”, next to the scene of the crime, brought some closure to this chain of events that started in July.
“I’ve been doing the same thing for years,” Adame said of his maintenance work, which he said only came about because nobody at the city would take care of it.
“I sweep the alley and clean up. I encourage everyone to do the same in their neighborhood.”
When all is said and done, the whole thing seems like a big waste of time for just about everyone involved. The basic story goes something like this:
Adame took it upon himself to trim the five New Zealand Christmas bushes in the yard west of him, which happens to be a haven for homeless people to take refuge for the night and make a mess of the area. It also happens to be city property.
A neighbor called police to complain about the trimming, apparently thinking it was his own property. Adame voluntarily told the cops he did it and gave them his reasoning.
From there, the thing just kind of snowballed.
Multiple estimates were made on the value of the shrubs, according to police reports. Arborists were called in to determine what kind of bushes they actually were, sparking more estimates.
When the dust had settled, the total value of the “vandalism” was set at $3,237.40, well over the amount to make it a felony.
Since then, the shrubs have grown back. The city may or may not get around to maintaining them.
“Of course they’re going to grow back,” Adame said. “You don’t need an arborist to tell you that.”
To call Adame a longtime resident is the understatement of the century — literally. His family has been here since 1905 and he has spent nearly his entire life here.
In that time, he has made many friends, but also a few enemies. He makes no bones about the fact that he complains about what he sees as injustices in the neighborhood. Don’t even get him started on the police trailer that has long sat dormant in the parking by the OB Pier.
“We are very proud to be OBceans,” Adame said of his family. “We’re just taking care of what’s been handed down to us.”
Adame and his lawyer, Frank Gormlie (who moonlights as an editor for the OB Rag and San Diego Free Press) made it quite clear at Tuesday’s press conference that he was railroaded by those in power.
“It’s selective enforcement,” Gormlie said of the charges. “He had no malice. He wasn’t cutting down these bushes for his view.”
Whatever the case may be, the fight looks to be over. There is an official ending in a San Diego court room on Thursday, the 5th. It is a fitting end to an OB battle on Tuesday, in a scene that could only happen in our quirky part of town.
Gormlie, clad in a Hawaiian shirt and sports jacket, and Adame in his OB Rag t-shirt, spoke to the throng of media – four local television news stations were present, along with the U-T, Reader and other supporters. As they did, assorted locals strolled by. A man in a truck pulled up behind and stared at the cameras, hoping for his 15 seconds of fame. One of Adame’s cats even made an appearance, weaving its way between the legs of cameramen before jumping on the roof of his house just a few feet away.
After the conference was finished and as the camera crews shot their B-roll footage of the shrubs, a man with long hair and a straw hat walked by, yelling at the top of his lungs something about the homeless being put in concentration camps and dead pelicans on the beach. He was more or less ignored, but he gave the impression his point had been made – whatever that may be.
So, one of our own is free, at least for now. His crime was seemingly only to try to keep the neighborhood he loves clean. He says he’ll keep trimming the bushes, consequences be damned. After his somewhat passionate words at the press conference, he left everyone with the message he wants to get across more than anything.
“Respect OB,” he said. And to make sure his passion was felt, he repeated one more time. “Respect OB.”
Can’t argue with that, Vince.