FLIPPING BACK THROUGH 2017 — Point Loma stadium lights, airplane noise and homeless among issues covered in Peninsula Beacon
Slackliner Eric Hake performs for a crowd during a warm Wednesday evening in September in Ocean Beach last year. THOMAS MELVILLE / PENINSULA BEACON
Two thousand and seventeen was a good year in the Peninsula, despite significant obstacles — over densification, homelessness, traffic congestion, etc. — to be overcome.
But there was also considerable progress made on a number of important fronts.
Jon Linney, chair of Peninsula Community Planning Board, weighed-in on what he felt were the major accomplishments of the city advisory group in 2017.
“With overwhelming community support and involvement, we brokered the quick plugging of a loophole allowing 40-foot buildings in the 30-foot Roseville coastal zone… took significant steps toward revising our 30-year-old community plan… had a record turnout in our March election with 530 votes… saw yet another unanimous vote on the Avenida de Portugal pocket park and the beginning of actual design… and witnessed businesses such as Jensen’s, Shanghai Bun, Car’s Jars, Tech Outfitters, Cabrillo Inn and Bellamar open, creating jobs and more community services,” Linney said.
The following is a month-by-month account of 2017’s major news happenings reported in the Peninsula Beacon.
- Silver Gate Elementary students returned after winter break to find a new flashing crosswalk at the intersection of Catalina Boulevard and Orchard Avenue behind the school. The new safety feature is part of the city’s Vision Zero plan to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2025.
- New laws enacted: initial minimum wage hike from $10.50 to $11.50 an hour for employees also gave city employees future increases tied to the Consumer Price Index on Jan. 1, 2019; legislation made it illegal to hold and use any electronic devices, including smart phones, while driving; AB 70 broadened the definition of rape to include “all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault”; AB 2888 made sexually assaulting an unconscious person a crime with a mandatory prison sentence. Rape, sexual assault and other sex offenses were no longer subject to a statute of limitations under SB 813.
- San Diego Yacht Club was ranked as the No. 2 yacht club in the country behind St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco in the Platinum Clubs of America rankings.
- Cabrillo National Monument Visitors Center received a $5,000 community grant award to help it restore and enhance native habitat.
- New city attorney Mara Elliott cautioned several San Diego restaurants, including a couple in the Peninsula and Liberty Station, that the practice of adding 3-percent surcharges to customers' bills without proper notice, to compensate for a minimum-wage pay increase that took effect Jan. 1, might have been illegal.
- A San Diego Yoga Festival brought good vibes to OB at the end of the month.
- Intent on protecting endangered birds in Mission Bay, the USDA announced plans to trap predators – skunks, raccoons, opossums, rats and cats – of endangered bird species.
- OBMA held its annual Marketing Breakfast Jan. 10 as part of the association’s Business Development Series.
- After President Trump signed an executive order banning refugees from entering the country for 120 days and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations, more than 2,000 protesters were at SDIA condemning the ban and supporting refugees and immigrants.
- While new 72-foot tall light towers were being installed at Pointers stadium, neighbors opposed met with the San Diego Unified School District over a lawsuit challenging their installation. The meeting didn’t yield any immediate results and a June trial before a judge was set.
- Point Loma High School students were upset about the results of the November election, so they did a 90-second public service announcement asking President Trump to apologize to minorities he offended during his presidential campaign.
- OBMA held its annual awards ceremony and 45 businesses/individuals were recognized for their accomplishments.
- The FAA disputed Peninsulans’ claims that SD Airport departures were causing more noise over neighborhoods, answering new noise complaints were attributable to “low-flying general aviation aircraft” largely from Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in Kearny Mesa, and from helicopters.
- A proposed condo conversion on Point Loma's Kellogg's Beach led to opposition and creation of a Facebook page listing subterranean parking, a seawall and the possible blocking of public access and bay views as major concerns.
- Plans were announced for creation of a Portuguese-themed pocket park on Cañon Street in Point Loma's Roseville neighborhood.
- A campaign by the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation sought support to build a children’s playground and adult fitness station on the grassy area at the west end of Saratoga Avenue adjacent to the lifeguard station parking lot.
- The winning design for James Gang Company's OB T-shirt design contest was created by Luke Brogoitti, with a stylish re-imagining of the beach community's trademark seagull logo.
- Midway Community Planning Group got briefed by SANDAG on a plan to implement the Mid-Coast Trolley extension linking Santa Fe Depot downtown to Westfield UTC, serving major activity centers along the way, including Old Town.
- Overriding neighbors’ concerns, Peninsula Community Planning Board voted overwhelmingly to allow Sunshine Liquor to relocate up Voltaire Street to a strip mall near a consignment shop and a music center offering children lessons.
- The San Diego County Bike Coalition discussed reuse of an existing structure, the 20-by-80 foot Building 191 in Liberty Station, to be used as a future cycling hub.
- The Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation kicked off its long-awaited fundraising drive to create a new-and-improved plaza honoring military veterans.
- EF Education First teamed with KTU&A architecture firm to transform the parking lot of the formerly shuttered Cabrillo Hospital into its newest EF International Language Center with classrooms, residences and community spaces.
- Rumors that Mission Beach’s jetty cats could become part of the annual USDA predator cull to protect endangered birds in Mission Bay led to a petition drive initiated on Forcechange.com to protect the feral felines.
- An impasse between the lifeguard's union and San Diego Fire-Rescue over how water-related emergency calls are routed had lifeguards talking secession, presaging a vote later in the year to do exactly that.
- The 10th anniversary of Liberty Station's Arts District was celebrated year-long with programs and activities on the former Naval Training Center's 100-acre campus.
- The City Council voted 8-1 to deny an appeal by animal advocates and the Sierra Club to end the annual predator cull at Mission Bay, in place to protect endangered birds.
- A new automated traffic-signal optimization system on Point Loma's Rosecrans Street was dedicated by Mayor Faulconer and Peninsula leaders.
- Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman unveiled a mobile, saliva-screening device, Drager 5000, to test for illicit drugs including cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines and prescription narcotics, which was immediately implemented.
- The Port of San Diego embarked on a year-long process to improve the Shelter Island Boat Launch Facility, one of the busiest boat launch ramps in California, with an estimated 50,000 launches annually. The approximately $9.5 million project was expected to be done in March 2018.
- The stalled, skeletal development at the corner of Ebers and Greene streets, which some believed oversized and out of character with the neighborhood, was causing consternation in OB as the structure was deteriorating and hadn't been worked on in months.
- After eight years away, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship returned to fly over San Diego Bay April 15-16.
- New owners of OB Surf Lodge (formerly Shades) introduced a new theme, menu and style. “The bar is now indoor-outdoor,” said Mina Desiderio of the surf-themed restaurant at 5083 Santa Monica Ave., which had a soft reopening March 15, after six months of remodeling.
- SeaWorld ended its nightly summer fireworks displays.
- An area just south of Ocean Beach Pier, where crumbling cement, rocks and dirt had fallen creating a debris field, was tarped with warnings that the eroded area was unstable.
- An annual homeless count revealed the San Diego region has 9,116 homeless people, a 5 percent increase from 2016. Broken down, 3,945 were sheltered, a decrease of 6 percent from 2016, while 5,621 were unsheltered, an increase of 14 percent from 2016.
- An eight-woman, four-man jury deliberated 9.25 hours before finding Thomas Francis Burke, 32, not guilty of first- or second-degree murder, but guilty of voluntary manslaughter, for personal use of a gun that killed Jess Matthew Robles, who was the boyfriend of Burke’s female roommate in Ocean Beach. Burke faced a maximum term of 21 years in state prison.
- Led by former San Diego City Councilman Byron Wear, an April 18 workshop at OB Rec Center was attended by about 20 Obecians who weighed-in on what they’d like to see in planning for a park at the foot of Saratoga Avenue next to the OB Lifeguard Station.
- Renowned Bird’s Surf Shed opened an OB satellite branch at 1963 Abbot St.
- Wonderland joined Hodad’s, both of OB, in the food and beverage lineup at Petco Park.
- Liberty Public Market in Liberty Station announced plans to open up a farmers market.
- The popular Ocean Beach Farmers Market celebrated its 25th anniversary.
- Renewed backing for a long-sought-after public pool at Liberty Station came in the form of $1.1 million in “seed” money proposed for the project from District 2 Councilmember Lorie Zapf.
- May was National Bike Month and communities across San Diego, including the Peninsula, seized the opportunity to promote the pastime. The special month included Bike To Work Day May 18, when thousands of San Diego commuters cycled to and from work.
- After a nearly four-year wait and a grueling remodel, the new Apple Tree Market opened for business in OB at 4978 Newport Ave.
- In May, Peninsula Community Planning Board grappled with public discontent over development changing their community's character and opposed discontinuing Bus Route 84 service to the Point.
- The 16-acre former post office distribution center in the Midway District was resold for $40 million with plans for a $325 million, mixed-use project called The Point.
- On Sunday, May 28, the Point Loma United Methodist Church at 1984 Sunset Cliffs Blvd. held its final worship service after 88 years at the same site.
- The Portuguese prayer chapel, built in 1922 at 2818 Avenida de Portugal, was named to the National Register of Historic Places.
- Dorothea Laub Dance Place was dedicated in Liberty Station honoring the Point Loman for her decade-long support of the arts.
- SeaWorld dedicated a new education-oriented Orca Encounter to replace its killer whale shows that ended earlier in the year.
- A Moms on Maternity support group was started in OB.
- The ’60s Summer of Love was the theme for the June 24 OB Street Fair & Chili cook-off.
- KTU&A Planning and Landscape Architecture was chosen to lead planning on design of the proposed, Portuguese-themed Cañon Street pocket park.
- Point Loma High School became the third high school in the San Diego Unified School District to designate a campus student restroom as gender neutral.
- Councilmember Lorie Zapf obtained $200,000 from the city’s budget to begin the design process for a new OB Lifeguard Station.
- Point Loma Summer Concerts held its 17th season of concerts at Point Loma Park.
- Likely signaling the end of the mega-antique mall era in OB, the Target Corp. was negotiating to acquire the 18,000-square-foot Antique Center building in the 4800 block of Newport Avenue.
- A judge suspended criminal proceedings on July 14 against Jon David Guerrero in the murders and attacks of homeless men in Ocean Beach, the Midway District, and near Mission Bay. San Diego Superior Court Judge Michael Smyth set a mental competency hearing for July 24 by another judge for Guerrero, 40, in which he could be returned to a state psychiatric facility for treatment.
- OB Plaza was razed, and a new retail complex was planned in its place, but some were concerned that the new building would be modern rather than ’50s era design.
- A July 26 public workshop was held to implement a new pocket park for Cañon Street in Point Loma.
- Community planners were considering creating a new maintenance assessment district to achieve long-sought-after traffic and aesthetic improvements on Voltaire Street Bridge.
- The Pointer football team played its first Friday night home game under new stadium lights following an unsuccessful challenge by neighbors in which a Superior Court judge ruled that the San Diego Unified School District acted properly in installing stadium lights.
- A judge committed Jon David Guerrero to a state psychiatric facility after he was found mentally incompetent to stand trial in four murders of homeless people in Mission Bay, Ocean Beach and elsewhere.
- Thanks to the Point Loma Association, Taiji, a 13-foot sculpture the nonprofit commissioned, was donated to the city for public display in Point Loma on the Nimitz Boulevard median.
- The Midway Community Planning Group in July debated whether or not to continue to seek a private security company to increase surveillance in the largely commercial-industrial Midway District, before opting to continue to pursue that objective.
- The annual OB Pier jump raised funds for Junior Lifeguards Programs.
- A project replacing two 16-inch diameter water mains installed in the ’40s and ’50s with new 16- inch polyvinyl chloride water mains to improve the area's overall drinking water system had the Peninsula torn up for awhile.
- San Diego International Airport received two grants totaling nearly $14 million to continue the airport’s Quieter Home Program, which decreases airplane noise by insulating residences within the 65-plus decibel level surrounding the airport.
- Responding to a public outcry from beach community business owners, residents and the city over boardwalk bike share stations, the city and DecoBike backed off on beach area bike-sharing, opting instead to remove and relocate the stations to more urban parts of the city.
- Next Space, new owners of the dilapidated small shopping center on Voltaire Street at Las Lomas, announced plans to makeover the old Sunshine Liquor site with a 24-unit apartment complex and 9,000 square feet of retail.
- Cabrillo National Monument proposed hiking entrance fees for vehicles from $10 to $15 per vehicle, $7 to $10 for motorcycles, as well as increasing from $5 to $7 entrance fees for walk-ins and cyclists, effective January 2018.
- The Midway District was one of three areas designated by Mayor Faulconer for use as a new temporary “bridge-to-housing” shelter, as part of a new public-private partnership to help homeless get off the street to be administered by Veterans Village of San Diego.
- The 54th annual Cabrillo Festival celebrated and recreated the voyage of 16th-century explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who landed on the shore of San Diego Bay on Sept. 28, 1542, discovering California and all of the West Coast.
- Obecians rallied to urge the Minnesota-based Target Corp. not to put a proposed store in the 18,000-square-foot Antique Center building at the 4800 block of Newport Ave.
- An OB man and former Marine, Taylor Winston, was given a car by an Arizona auto dealer for the role he played in conveying victims of the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas to hospitals.
- The Point Loma Association handed out annual Lighthouse awards to deserving community members for their contributions at the nonprofit’s annual dinner.
- Council members Barbara Bry and Lorie Zapf of District 2 offered a “coastal” proposal to curb the growing proliferation of short-term vacation rentals.
- An outbreak of hepatitis A, a liver infection caused by a highly contagious virus from feces contamination, afflicted more than 500 people, killing 19, and causing the city to vaccinate tens of thousands region wide.
- The 13th annual OB Oktoberfest beachside festival Oct. 6-7 showcased numerous titillating contests, activities, and entertainment, as well as plenty of beer, with proceeds benefiting local nonprofits.
- An abatement notice requiring the dilapidated structure at 2269 Ebers St. in OB to be cleaned up— or torn down — was issued by the city.
- Point Loma attorney Ann Lipscomb Hill was honored with the Spirit of Community award from the Junior League of San Diego for spearheading programs to end racial disparities in education and curb the drop-out rate.
- One of Ocean Beach's bedrock businesses, James Gang Co. print shop and silk screening, moved from 1931 Bacon St. to 4851 Newport Ave. on the beach town's main drag where it started out years ago.
- Two "Pointer Sisters" from the Class of ’66 headed a campaign to keep, restore and protect the Balboa Park carousel.
- A proposal to eliminate consolidating substandard, contiguous land parcels headlined discussion by Peninsula Community Planning Board at its October meeting.
- A nonprofit serving homeless youth, an entrepreneur and The Mean Green Team of the Point Loma Association were honored by The Wine Pub in its eighth anniversary salute to Peninsulans making a difference.
- In a groundswell of discontent over rapidly escalating rents, a rent- control group known as San Diego Tenants United held a protest march in Point Loma.
- Some of the year's highest tides, known as “king tides,” hit the California shoreline providing a glimpse of what the state can expect as sea levels rise in the coming years.
- A recent tiff over the playing of “To the Colors” over the loudspeaker system at Naval Base Point Loma led to neighbors’ complaints and the base turning the volume down.
- A boating-accident victim was the recipient of an annual yuletide hot cocoa charity fundraiser by the Ybarra family begun nearly 20 years benefiting needy neighbors.
- The annual year-end Garrison Street holiday light show drew a “major league” sponsor — the San Diego Padres.