Day after day, year after year, salt air, sand and foot traffic wore away the sidewalk medallions designed to render honor and respect to the men and women who have defended the country. Today, less than two decades after the plaza’s installation, most of the 84 inscriptions nestled between the plaza’s two flagpoles are severely damaged, if not unreadable.
But the elements weren’t the only problem. Attempts at repairs were largely thwarted – due to lack of funds.
Members of the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation (OBCDC), the entity spearheading the development of a new plaza on the grassy area south of the community’s lifeguard tower, say they’ve learned from past mistakes. An annuity will be established, with its funds strictly earmarked for maintenance, through voluntary $250 donations from people who want to honor a vet at the new plaza, organizers said Aug. 26 at the monthly public meeting of the Ocean Beach Town Council.
Dave Martin of the OBCDC said he was cool to the idea at first. “I was the one who put my foot down and said I’m not going to charge anyone to put their name on that wall,” Martin said.
“These veterans have made enough sacrifices, but to maintain the integrity of the project, it seems fair to me.”
The plaza design, dubbed “Life’s Journey,” will consist of a representation of Sunset Cliffs with four 15-foot-wide granite walls attached that contain the names of honored veterans. An adjacent walkway with a tide pattern and inlay of stars representing those lost in battle would run from Abbott Street to the sand.
At first, the plan called for a height of seven feet. It’s now likely the wall will vary in height from four to six feet, said Steve Grosch of the OBCDC.
Martin, who owns the nearby Shade’s restaurant, said patrons and others have expressed concerns about obstructed views. He said the OBCDC is looking into placing poles and ribbons to provide a visual guide and demonstrate the wall will run perpendicular – not parallel – to the ocean.
“We realize people are concerned about the height. We want to make sure the community understands. Rest assured: We’re not going to allow this to be a huge monstrosity,” Martin said.
Applications for wall inscriptions are now available for download at obcdc.org or in hard-copy form at Shades, 5083 Santa Monica Ave. Submissions from 92107 or 92106 have priority until the end of the year, but the honorees – living or dead – don’t have have to reside in those zip codes, Grosch said.
He advised anyone interested to apply soon. “We imagine it will fill up quickly,” Grosch said.
With space for at least 2,000 inscriptions, the initial deposit in the annuity could top $500,000 for maintenance funds. The application fee is voluntary, but those who donate will receive priority, according to obcdc.org.
Ocean Beach is ready for a rip-roaring, free-flowing public debate on short-term and vacation rentals that have rapidly spiked with the advent of online tools like Airbnb. The point became obvious when four residents spoke out – two in favor, two against – on the issue.
Lori Hegerle – an opponent of the recent trend whereby vacationers obtain lodging in neighborhood homes – called on OBceans to get involved in upcoming hearings such as the city’s Community Planners Committee, which meets Sept. 22 in Kearny Mesa. That committee will examine a draft city ordinance to allow the practice with restrictions.
“This is a quality of life issue. This is a neighborhood issue. This is an issue OB should have a say in. We should have a voice to protect our interests,” Hegerle said, prompting solid applause from the audience of a few dozen.
But two citizens countered they couldn’t afford to live in OB without the income generated by the practice.
“In a lot of ways, it’s been a blessing for us,” said a man who identified himself as Justin. “I understand the fear around something new – just understand before you judge it,” he said, adding that he’s avoided bad tenants through diligent screening.
“We did it this summer and had no problems at all,” said a man who described himself as a homeowner on Narragansett Avenue. “It’s the only way we’ve been able to keep our house.”
Crossing guards needed
Summer vacation is over for the youngsters at Ocean Beach Elementary, and the students – especially the new kindergartners – count on adult supervision when navigating busy intersections around Santa Monica and Newport avenues and Sunset Cliff Boulevard. Parent Joseph Piña, better known as “Moondoggie the Crossing Guard,” has asked for more adult volunteers to give 30 minutes of their time before or after school.
Morning shifts begin at 7:15, after-school shifts at 2:10. Volunteers meet at the midstreet crosswalk in the 4800 block of Santa Monica Avenue.
It isn’t hard to become a volunteer. “Just show up,” said Piña, who revived the program several years ago after the school stopped allowing students to be guards.
Piña also launched his latest crusade: restriping the crosswalks from the outdated, two-yellow-lines format to a modern ladder-style design and calling on the Town Council for support.
Your unwanted books, CDs and DVDs could be someone else's treasure. The Ocean Beach library, 4801 Santa Monica Ave., counts on donations for fundraising and is accepting contributions for its next book sale to be held Sept. 26, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Laura Dennison of Friends of the Ocean Beach Library announced.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Ocean Beach Fire Department, and a long-awaited commemoration T-shirt is ready for unveiling, announced Battalion Chief Ty Shimoguchi. He said he'll return to the September meeting to model the shirt and provide purchasing details.
Balloting for eight of the 15 members of the Town Council’s board of directors ended earlier this month. Winners for the two-year terms will be announced at the next public meeting Sept. 23.
The Ocean Beach Town Council board of directors meets publicly the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting takes place Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Point Loma Masonic Lodge 620, 1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.