“We’re (all) on the same peninsula,” noted Dave Martin, owner of OB Shades restaurant. Martin met recently with The Beacon along with Robert “Tripp” Jackson of the Point Loma Association (PLA) and Tom Perrotti of the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation (OBCDC).
“We’re getting to the point now where we all need to come together because we’re the same peninsula,” concurred Jackson, noting, “You look at aerial pictures: There’s no border.”
“A lot of people don’t know where one (community) begins — and the other ends,” agreed Perrotti.
“One thing we’ve been able to rekindle is a working relationship with the two communities,” added Martin. “We’re on two sides of the hill, but we’re the same peninsula. You get off the freeway and you have to go through OB to get to Point Loma, and vice versa. We should help each other.”
The trio of community activists gathered informally to discuss changing times and ways to pool both communities’ resources.
One thing agreed upon by all three players was that a lot has changed over the years in both communities and that past stereotypes about the distinctive identity of each no longer apply.
OB, for instance, has ceased being the largely youth-oriented, freewheeling community it once was back in the '60s and '70s.
“OB has a lot of rich history during the Vietnam War when it was a center of protest,” said Jackson, adding the community in the '90s also had an infusion of “skinheads,” the OB Rats, who made things difficult for a time.
“They’ve vanished,” Jackson noted.
“A lot has changed for the better,” pointed out Perrotti, noting “I have never seen a fight at the beach, which is family-friendly. And the neighborhoods are quiet.”
Perrotti attributed the change, in part, to rising real estate values and a changing age demographic on the beachfront. He said groups of young people renting out single-family homes, for instance, has markedly diminished.
Martin noted attitudes have changed as well.
“Police were willing to accept more (then) than they are now,” Martin said.
“The community is demanding it (tougher police enforcement),” agreed Perrotti.
“The perception was that it (OB) was not a comfortable and safe place,” said Martin. “It is.”
“The perception used to be that anything goes in OB,” said Perrotti. “That’s not true.”
One project of community benefit to all Peninsulans, agreed all three activists, is ongoing efforts to create a new OB Veterans Plaza.
As envisioned, the OB Veterans Plaza redevelopment would recognize coastal veterans with a new artistic/beachy plaza with an artificial rock wall mimicking Sunset Cliffs’ stratified geology with veterans’ names etched into four granite slabs. Other plaza flourishes would include inlaid stars representing lives lost in battle and low-lying artistic-themed meandering walls.
“We’ve already got 200 people (veterans) signed up to have their names on it (Plaza),” said Martin.
“What’s holding us up is the (city) permitting,” noted Perrotti, adding the process is taking longer than expected and fundraising can’t really begin until that groundwork is laid.
“It will be a focal point for the city,” said Martin.
“We’ve put quite a bit of money into it already with the design, where we are at at this point,” noted Perrotti, adding the Plaza is “going to happen,” though he’s unsure of the timetable.
“We’re hoping to get the plaza up by Veterans Day, Nov. 11, in 2016, but that might be a push,” said Perrotti.
Donors for the proposed veterans memorial wall are contributing $250 for its ongoing maintenance.
“It’s a great project recognizing people who have served (militarily),” agreed Jackson, adding he felt the plaza would represent both communities.
“I don’t think its being in OB should prevent anybody from participating,” Jackson said.
Other Peninsula projects in the pipeline include formation of Saratoga Park. Conceptual plans by OBCDC are to construct park improvements for all ages at the foot of Saratoga Avenue adjacent to the Ocean Beach lifeguard station.
Another large-scale, long-term project, shepherded by the PLA and endorsed by all other Peninsula groups, has been improvements made to medians leading into and out of the Peninsula. Jackson is currently working with the San Diego Port District, and the city, to clean up medians near the airport, which are dying or distressed.
Speaking for all, Martin said there is a growing awareness on the Peninsula that, OBecians and Point Lomans alike need to “work together closely to get things done that we all want to get done.”