The conversations are free events sponsored by the Point Loma Association, a nonprofit working toward community beautification and improvement. Topics pertinent to the neighborhood range from ongoing projects in the Peninsula to citywide or federal issues (military, bay or airport).
Panelists included: Fred Kosmo, first vice-chair of Peninsula Community Planning Board; Andrea Schlageter, chair of Ocean Beach Planning Board; Mark Winkie, president of Ocean Beach Town Council; “Denny” Knox, executive director of Ocean Beach MainStreet Association; Lt. Danny Grubbs, SDPD Western Division; David Martin, PLA chair; and moderator Clark Anthony Burlingame, PLA Vice-Chair.
The panelists first introduced themselves before addressing impromptu audience questions.
Winkie noted the OBTC is nonprofit and all-volunteer. “We also host events like the pier pancake breakfast, the food and toy drive and the holiday parade,” he said.
Knox, one of the original founders of OBMA business improvement district, noting the organization is in its 41st year, adding, “We have more than 500 members and we really want to just promote OB.”
Kosmo of PCPB noted planning group’s like the Peninsula’s have been making land-use recommendations on development projects to the city since 1966. “We have a March 21 election for seven seats,” he said. “If you want to change the community and be involved – think about running.”
A nearly lifelong Obecian, Schlageter of OBPB urged Peninsulans to become involved in the community planning process urging them to “become one of the loudest voices in our community by helping to determine how your tax dollars get spent.”
SDPD Lt. Grubbs, a 28-year veteran of the force, noted the department continues to grapple with a personnel shortage. Despite that, he added, “We try to walk those fine lines and encourage businesses and residents to come to us for help. We always try to respond.”
PLA’s David Martin pointed out, “I’m thrilled to help chair this organization, working closely with communities on both sides of the hill. We’re one Peninsula.”
One of first questions posed to the panel, referencing a recent spate of assaults, was whether crime was rising in OB and, if so, what can be done about it.
“There has been a small uptick in some areas,” answered Grubbs, who then addressed particular incidents, pointing out suspects in each case were in custody. He urged people involved in traumatic incidents to seek out police help in investigating.
“I would like to thank the SDPD,” said Knox. “We hire private security, though they can only do so much. We are stronger as a community together in combatting crime than individually.”
“In each of our communities, we work on how we can better take care of these problems,” said Martin.
Schlageter addressed short-term vacation rentals. “They’re an illegal use in residential zones,” she said. “Visitors are buying properties in neighborhoods with all-cash offers. We need to tell them to stop.”
Addressing a query about the future of North Chapel in Liberty Station, Kosmo said: “The city is going to have to come up with a plan that is consistent with the historical design of the building. That’s going to be the battleground.”
Regarding electric scooters, Winkie said: “The concept is a good idea. In practice, obviously, we’ve seen a lot of problems. The city is responsible for controlling and regulating it.”
The next PLA community conversation is expected in May.