When local property owner Vince Adame filed a complaint to the California Coastal Commission about a code violation specifically that the trailer was never issued a coastal development permit (CDP) debate flared about the police trailer’s use, purpose and aesthetic appeal at its location by the sea.
According to police Lt. Natalie Stone, who was put in charge of handling the notice of violation, the trailer was installed in the parking lot after the Newport Avenue police substation closed in 1999 because of the city’s financial duress.
To continue fighting or at least preventing crime in the area surrounding the pier, which was notorious for vagrancies, drunkenness and criminal activity, the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association (OBMA) explored the option of placing a temporary police trailer in the pier parking lot for officers to use the facilities, write reports or take breaks while on patrol in the area. The Ocean Beach Planning Board (OBPB) approved the temporary installation in 1999. Now, 14 years later, the matter appeared on the same planning board’s docket on Jan. 2. Residents, merchants and board members gathered to determine the fate of the trailer.
Area business owners at the meeting including Dave Martin of Shades OBistro, Steve Grosch of Ocean Beach Hotel and local attorney Craig Klien spoke in favor of the trailer by the waterfront, saying the police presence there has considerably improved safety around their businesses over the years.
“Our local merchants appreciate it when the police can arrive quickly if there is an incident. It’s important for all of us to feel safe in our communities, and having the police ready and willing to help us is a good thing,” said OBMA executive director Denny Knox.
Although Adame said he is not opposed to the additional police presence near his home, he was dubious of the trailer’s effectiveness in countering crime, as it does not serve as a staffed police storefront available to the public.
“The trailer is a restroom and storage,” he said at the meeting. “What is helpful are the phone calls to police.”
He said the trailer was a view-blocking eyesore that takes up parking space and should be moved to another location like Robb Field or beneath the pier.
At the conclusion of the debate, eight of the nine OBPB members voted in favor of a motion to recommend approval of the CDP, with the caveat that police officials seek out a more suitable alternative for a permanent location.
“This is our best alternative at the moment, and we know that more limited police presence would be a disaster for the community,” said Knox. “We believe that the trailer will remain until the community can find an alternative. Everything is on the table. Unfortunately, it is always about the money. If any community can come together, it is Ocean Beach. We hope that a long-term, permanent solution will be found.”
The California Coastal Commission will hear the permit application at a future date, which has yet to be determined. To air concerns or support for the project to the California Coastal Commission, write to the district office at 7575 Metropolitan Drive, Suite 103, San Diego, 92108, or call (619) 767-2370.