Ocean Beach's darker side: an exploration
by DAVE SCHWAB
Jul 17, 2014 | 18284 views | 1 1 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A police officer restrains an unruly homeless man at the seawall in Ocean Beach. The community is struggling to find a balance between meeting the mental-health and substance-abuse issues of the local homeless and pushing back against unruly and sometimes violent behavior.           Photo by Jim Grant
A police officer restrains an unruly homeless man at the seawall in Ocean Beach. The community is struggling to find a balance between meeting the mental-health and substance-abuse issues of the local homeless and pushing back against unruly and sometimes violent behavior. Photo by Jim Grant
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Social-service providers and police officials detailed efforts to curb homelessness in Ocean Beach, while at the same time answering to frustrated residents who feel not enough is being done to solve the problem. Both sides of the issue — including advocacy of the need for services and calls for compassion for human rights and outright ejection of the sometimes harassing and violent homeless squatters — were aired during a public forum hosted by District 2 City Councilman Ed Harris on July 10.

Local residents packed the Point Loma/Hervey Branch Library community room to hear from public officials and then give their own takes on the homeless situation, which some feel has gotten out of hand.

One woman said she felt like a prisoner in her own home, claiming she’s virtually had to lock herself in to keep out homeless vagrants.

Another angry resident half-jokingly suggested the homeless ought to be removed from the area and taken somewhere where their appetites for alcohol and drugs could be appeased without disturbing the community.

A local restaurant owner said he might have reconsidered locating his business into the area if he’d known the homeless problem there was so severe.

A panel of service providers on hand for the homeless discussion included Kalie Standish, PATH-Connections Housing; Piedad Garcia, county Department of Mental Health; Tom Theisen, Regional Task Force on the Homeless; Milissa Peterman, San Diego Housing Commission; and Sgt. Teresa Clark of the SDPD Homeless Outreach Team (H.O.T.).

Standish, associate director of community engagement of People Assisting The Homeless — or PATH — a group of agencies working cooperatively to end homelessness, said putting a roof over street people’s heads is the first step to getting them stabilized and headed back toward leading productive lives.

“We’re able to redirect folks,” said Standish of the program, which she said provides an array of services.

Standish said there’s been a 70-percent reduction in homelessness in surrounding communities when a comprehensive approach involving wrap-around social services is offered.

Meanwhile, Garcia said, “The main challenge for us is to coordinate the efforts of multiple agencies linking the individual with needed services.”

Garcia said it’s very difficult to house the homeless because they need to acquire the necessary identification to get the paperwork accomplished, as well as to clean up any legal warrants or financial black marks from their past.

Theisen talked about a new homeless pilot program under way currently in downtown San Diego, which he said involves a “coordinated assessment and housing placement program.”

That program, Theisen said, involves volunteers who actively count and assess the homeless to categorize them and their needs. Those homeless people can then be dealt with in a much more individualized and focused way once they’re housed and off the streets.

Details of the available programs drew responses from community members and local representatives.

“You need to take those pilot programs and bring them to our coast,” said Gretchen Kinney Newsom, president of the Ocean Beach Town Council. “We need them right now.”

Cathy Kenton, a business owner in the Midway area, said their coastal neighborhood “has become the dumping ground” for homeless people displaced from elsewhere in the city.

“Our employees do not feel safe coming and going to work in our neighborhood,” Kenton said.

Melanie Nickel, chairwoman of the Midway-Pacific Highway Planning Group, said there are four separate types of homeless in the area: people sleeping on the streets in tents, those living in vehicles, those who take to panhandling on medians and others who lounge in business parking lots.

Clark, of the police department’s H.O.T. team, said the key is not only to identify resources for the homeless, but to get the homeless matched up with the appropriate resources.

Theisen urged residents to be patient regarding the homeless situation, saying, “There is no magic solution. If you want to solve the problem, you have to put the resources behind it.”
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johnnytheguitarist
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July 24, 2014
biased article that takes no interview from any "homeless" huh. good job at being inaccurate.

This article spoke about the homeless people of OB as though they were less than human, as though they were all addicted to drugs, that they had no control, and that the majority of them were violent and would harass people. City councillors and shopowners of the area convened and discussed ways in order to deal with the influx of homeless people in the OB area, and the police department have instated a specialized unit that is supposed to be helping homeless people. In reality, these units are there in order to entrap and utilize bullshit laws to make the area as hostile to the homeless as they can. As someone who knows and interacts with the homeless of OB on a daily basis, believe me, they are the least violent people I know. I've seen more violence from locals than I ever have from homeless and travellers.

I am a local street musician.

OB is cheap , I only play music sometimes. I dislike dealing with the negative side of peoples very individual judgements and hyper sensitivity because of their jaded social beliefs. have you heard about that fema or jail bullshit happening in the east. if you ask me America is full of nazis and ass holes who care more about their next paycheck over other human beings because they are collectively stressed out because they are stuck in the wage slavery they chose for themselfs because its what seems normal . normal to me is freedom even if i have to starve. i will not pay rent to an already rich chode. i will not work fo the inflated 10 dollar an hour life stealing chode job for a year . i wont file taxes to the shadow government that consistantly allows the violation of the human rights on a regular basis placing economy above sustainabilility for the sake of their on corperate pockets. i dislike any doctor who accepts western "big pharma" medicine as he end all be all when the cure for disease is a proper diet. or the corperate food that supports gmo and toxic chemicals in food calling it healthy.or the big propagandist newspapers writ to divide my countrymen or the economy killeing greedy beastards that buy their amniesty from corrupt politicians. . or not carolinas FEMA concentration camps .these are the reasons i decided to travel. And what you think we are all the same? im pissed this biased crap get the whole story instead of only talking to the enable andrs not of social injustice. is this real news article or just forced propaganda. next time talk to the folks without the money also because i know these people first hand and this article lies AGAINST them. and also all the people you interviewed are known by us to harass us regularly until we are angered with words like "get a job!" and I already said why I wont ever again because im not going to enable the mistreatment of my fellow man by participating in the American "bull****" dream that drains us till we die. w.e know who and why we are and crap like this article just gives us more resolve to stay truly free and trust we are "truly free". mr schwab you should have titled this article' "OB's bias and scandal. trust me when I say young travelers have been murdered in OB by locals before and it was coverd up. but we saw the body with the missing eyes and stab wounds. and this article is a joke.