In 2021, Peninsulans pressed on despite the lingering pandemic, and rapidly changing times that left everyone scrambling to cope with the new reality. There was no shortage of difficult issues to tackle during the year, including a controversial short-term rental ordinance, and what to do next with Ocean Beach’s iconic pier, which engineers claimed had “reached the end of its service life.”
Following is a recap of Peninsula happenings in 2021.
The preliminary hearing for Robert Duane Brians, 47, a man charged with driving off Sunset Cliffs with his twin daughters in June 2020, was delayed until April 7. Brians and his two-year-old daughters miraculously survived the crash at 4:30 a.m. in which all three were rescued in the water near Brians’ crumpled truck in the ocean.
Nearly three decades of Point Loma High School students recall with fond memories their days in the advanced and honors English literature classes with a teacher who was both demanding and enthralling. Kermeen "Punky" Fristrom was recruited, while a Harvard University graduate student, to cross the country and teach in San Diego. He was assigned to PLHS where he began in the mid-1950s. Fristrom died on Jan. 3.
MISSION BAY BRIDGE
Mayor Todd Gloria on Jan. 5 was joined by City Council President Jennifer Campbell to open traffic onto a portion of the new West Mission Bay Drive Bridge, signaling that the $135 million project was now roughly halfway complete.
Chris Brisco, head varsity basketball for eight seasons and an assistant football coach at Point Loma High School, died Jan. 16 of an apparent heart attack at age 57. He was well-known to kids and parents throughout the Peninsula for running clinics and summer camps for youngsters at area recreation centers and schools.
After seven weeks of COVID closures local restaurants, museums, theaters, and other businesses resumed outdoor operations under state guidance. Hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, and tattoo parlors reopened indoors along with hotels and other lodgings. The changes resulted from California health officials’ announcement that the Regional Stay Home Order had been lifted for all state regions.
Anne Herrin and Diane Sullivan, long-time Point Loma residents, and Realtors established a new Compass office at 1021 Rosecrans St., previously En Concordia.
Ocean Beach web designer and graphic artist Josh Utley teamed with fellow Point Loma High School chum Nick Coleman to release a model skateboard deck with custom artwork by renowned artist Steve Nazar. The new board featured customized artwork for Nico’s, an iconic longtime OB Mexican eatery at 4918 Newport Ave. Utley added one goal for releasing their new board was “to promote local business.”
San Diego Dance Theater artistic director Jean Isaacs hung up her dance shoes on Jan. 31. She was honored for her 24 years of distinguished service with San Diego Dance Theater on Jan. 8 at Liberty Station’s inaugural First Friday event. The Jan. 8 tribute to Isaacs’ legacy included feature clips and excerpts from her time with the company celebrating her prolific artistry and the training she has provided to San Diego Dance Theater.
The Thursday Club in Point Loma celebrated its 100th anniversary on Feb. 4. “We’re 100 years old and today we’re still a women’s philanthropic and social organization and not much has changed, as we’ve stayed true to the mission our founders put forth,” said Francesca Thiem, centennial chair for the club, which is at 1224 Santa Barbara St. in Point Loma.
An effort to recall District 2 City Council member and Council President Dr. Jennifer Campbell was launched with an early June deadline to collect 14,421 signatures – 15% of District 2’s 96,140 registered voters – to qualify the measure on a special election ballot within six months.
The continuing mission of the Peninsula Shepherd Center was to help seniors, age 60 and beyond, continue to live independently and self-sufficiently in their own homes. “Peninsula Shepherd Center is a coalition of service organizations, local churches, and community groups dedicated to serving the senior population,” said center spokesperson Lisa Nokes. “We have found that, by trying to keep people in their homes, that they’re so much more vital, engaged, and that they want to do things on their own.”
The Ocean Beach MainStreet Association’s annual awards nominated business members exemplifying the OB spirit throughout the past year. Lighthouse Ice Cream won for consistently keeping their storefront clean. OBTV won for positively showcasing businesses throughout OB. Apogee was recognized for its new storefront design, window display, and roll-up security door. Ocean Beach Business Center got kudos for being a great asset to the community while capturing the Community Award as the business the community felt best exemplified the OB spirit making lots of “Lemonade out of Lemons” in 2020. Steve and Teresa Mallory and Tevia Oskin were also recognized for their OBMA contributions.
A computer software engineer by trade and a muralist by avocation, James Armenta’s impressionistic work now graced a wall in Liberty Station Arts District. The untitled piece, in the walkway between Moniker General and The Presley restaurant, merges classic nautical iconography using maritime signal flags flanked by dazzle camouflage to communicate a message to viewers.
Local character and comedic actor Mark Atkinson of OB scored a supporting role in the recent Netflix show “Selena: The Series” about the late Latina singer’s rise to stardom. “My part in Selena is not huge, the show is huge,” said Atkinson. “Selena: The Series,” filmed at Baja Studios in Rosarito, Mexico, is a coming-of-age story about the late Selena Quintanilla’s journey to fame as she became one of music’s biggest Latino crossover artists.
San Diego City Council on Feb. 23 voted 8 to 1 to adopt a new proposed ordinance that would regulate short-term rentals and become effective July 1, 2022. The short-term rental compromise was proposed by District 2 Councilmember Jennifer Campbell. Some supporters of her proposal, however, questioned her condition that a future lottery be held to select whole-home STR operators, arguing instead that operators with the cleanest records be given priority for whole-home rental licenses.
A new local buyer was being sought for one of the oldest businesses in town: OB Hardware at 4871 Newport Ave.
A traditional Irish pub was being installed in the space that last housed Royale at 4204 Voltaire St. Long Story Irish Pub was being designed like a traditional Irish drinking house. The new ownership group included Kyle Schubert, Nathaniel Winnett, Jerod Meents, and Joseph DeNigris. Schubert is a Sacramento bar and restaurant veteran who has founded multiple Irish pub concepts in the Sacramento area.
After nearly a year of sitting on the sidelines, many Point Loma High School athletes were allowed to take the field again. PLHS athletic director Manuel Diaz's message to the school community announced the resumption of sports, enriching the lives of over 800 Pointer students.
STATE OF THE DISTRICT
In her state of District 2 address, Dr. Jennifer Campbell praised frontline COVID workers and defended her record while handing out beach community neighborhood awards. The “neighbor of the year” in 2021was Tyler Badet, a Point Loma High senior who helped rescue two surfers at Sunset Cliffs. “I don’t feel I deserve this recognition, the San Diego Lifeguards deserve all the recognition,” said Badet in a video spot. He also credited San Diego Junior Lifeguards for their training
The freestanding building at 5032 Niagara Ave. was transformed into a functioning and ever-expanding artist’s collective selling coffee and doubling as a community hub and a small-business nursery cradle. The “team” leading the artist’s collective has four core members: Shine, Lucy Ray, Marie Perry-Smith, and Haley Brousseau.
Point Loma High instructor Anthony Palmiotto engaged the interest of his cinema students in a class project titled “How to be a social media influencer.” The assignment was to choose a topic and promote it via any social media platform. It was successful. “I have a student in the class who’s been doing digital media on YouTube for four years and he has 45,000 subscribers on a channel,” said Palmiotto.
Tucked away in a quiet residential neighborhood, the two-plus acre Point Loma Native Plant Garden was profiled as a neighborhood prize and a hidden gem. “The neighbors call it their backyard,” said Al Field, a local garden volunteer. “And they’re very possessive about it.” “This park is for the community,” agreed Jennifer Frey of the San Diego River Park Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to maintaining the 52-mile stretch of the San Diego River from the eastern mountains to Point Loma and the coast.
The stucco home on Rosecrans Street in Point Loma is well known for its longstanding sun-bleached white shell garden out front. But now it was noteworthy for another reason: One of its longstanding tenants, Elisa “Tia Elisa” Mendes, turned 101 on March 23. Asked the key to her longevity, Tia Elisa replied, “The secret is I’ve worked all my life and taken care of myself and lived right. I never drank or smoked.”
Peninsula brokers said the current real estate seller’s market with exceptionally low inventory was making it extremely tough – but not impossible – for prospective buyers. “I’m working with a lot of young clients now who aren’t getting family help, and they’re buying homes in Ocean Beach and Point Loma. So it’s doable,” said Catrina Russell with Coldwell Banker West.
“If they’re a cash buyer, they have much more leverage,” advised Robert (Tripp) Jackson of Catalina Realty. “Be prepared and set to go with a firm-approved lender. Be more aggressive. It’s amazing how, if a buyer writes a nice letter to a seller and tells them about their family or something, how a seller will connect with them.”
Construction was underway for the renovation of Liberty Station’s Loma Club along with the addition of a mini-golf course and cocktail concept, called “Tappers.” The Loma Club had occupied the 9-hole par-3 course since January 2020 and has extended course amenities by adding a live music venue and social club. The new project included a two-phase renovation and the addition of a 3,200 square-foot clubhouse currently at the Loma Club and an 18-hole miniature golf course.
The County moved into the Orange Tier of the state’s COVID-19 prevention framework on April 7, further easing restrictions and allowing more indoor activities. The move came after the state raised the case rate threshold for counties to meet after meeting a goal to vaccinate more than four million Californians who live in areas with the least healthy community conditions.
Point Lomans mulled the creation of a mini-park experience to improve the Del Monte Avenue overlook while addressing the sometimes problematic sunset-viewing crowds drawn there. Peninsula Community Planning Board member Mandy Havlik was working with Del Monte residents around the overlook on possibly securing City approvals to transform the steep site into a mini-park envisioning benches and landscaping.
Hodad’s, the 52-year-old Ocean Beach eatery nationally known for its tasty, juicy burgers and beach vibe, used a familiar theme in decorating its outdoor dining space: surfboards. Lots of them. Jeremy Diem, Hodad’s president/ CEO, said the eatery’s new outdoor dining space took some doing. “We wanted to build something more permanent with a more solid foundation base that was better and more secure and not slanted,” he said.
Whether on grass, sand, or water, yoga outdoors is one of the best ways to practice and enjoy the discipline, as evidenced by a profile of ongoing outdoor yoga practiced regionwide. “I have been teaching a donation-based yoga class on Sunset Cliffs on Saturdays since 2009,” said Jennifer Diamond of Jenergy Yoga. “Originally I started it as a way for my friends to be able to come to a class. Then the movement caught on and many others also began holding classes up here.”
Modern ballet found a new home in Liberty Station as The Rosin Box Project, San Diego’s innovative contemporary ballet company, set up shop at the Dorothea Laub Dance Place, 2650 Truxton Road, in Arts District Liberty Station. The company moved into the Point Loma facility on March 1. “We are a small company, about nine dancers,” said Carly Topazio, artistic director/founder of nonprofit The Rosin Box Project. “This is the very first place that we can call ours.”
Long-time OB Hardware employee Dottie Veal, loved and respected, was sorely missed by all who knew her after she died following a stroke. “She was an amazing person who worked an entire career as an educator then, after she ‘retired,’ began working at OB Hardware, which she proceeded to do for the next 30 years,” said OB Hardware’s owner Michael DeEmedio. “She became a legend in town and single-handedly fixed thousands of household problems in OB with her advice to customers.”
The end may be near for the Ocean Beach Pier, claimed a report commissioned by the City on the beach community’s iconic pier. Excerpts from the report done by Moffatt & Nichol concluded that: “The Ocean Beach Fishing Pier has reached the end of its service life. Corrosion in the reinforcing steel has initiated and the structure will continue to degrade unless corrective action is taken.
Workers were putting the final touches on a new multi-million dollar building on the 96-year-old Point Loma High School campus. The project began in 2019 with the demolition of an outdated two-story building that housed the school's telephone and computer main distribution frame. After that, the campus received a complete re-wiring that provided a new digital telephone system and replacement of the telephone and computer systems in the new building.
Peninsula activist Winston David Martin died on April 9 after a valiant fight against cancer. David participated in too many projects, both large and small, to mention. He regretted greatly his inability to shepherd through one of his most personally meaningful projects, the Ocean Beach Veterans Memorial. The project was later taken up by other community volunteers.
On April 7 the city council approved long-sought-after repairs to the Bermuda stairs in Ocean Beach. “The Bermuda Avenue access point means so much to this community and to visitors who come to enjoy our coastline,” said District 2 Councilmember Dr. Jennifer Campbell. “This action gets us one step closer to fully repairing and reopening this access point and I hope that this repair will ensure coastal access for years to come.” The Bermuda staircase/seawall, which provides the only access to the pocket beach below, was damaged during winter storms in 2015-16.
CHEFS SUPPORT NONPROFIT
Seventeen local chefs pooled their talents on four consecutive Tuesdays at Liberty Station to raise funds to support a nonprofit’s efforts to educate youth against racial hatred and bias. Called Chefs Unite, the weekly Tuesday night dinner series featured four to five local chefs collaborating to create a memorable four-course, prix fixe meal.
Catching the growing wave of popularity in the electric bike industry was EZE Ryders at 4051 Voltaire St., Unit C. “Last year we saw a huge surge with the pandemic,” said ebike shop owner Devin Raymond, “There are companies that went up 200%, 300% because of COVID.” EZE Ryders is named for the ’60s movie and the ease of electric-assisted bicycling. The shop handles electric bike sales, rentals, and services.
As volunteers of Friends of Famosa Slough, Jim and Barbara Peugh were profiled as caretakers of the 37-acre wetland between Ocean Beach and Midway District. The slough is a transitional zone between saltwater and freshwater, as well as being a prime habitat for numerous plants and animals. It is also a birder’s paradise. The goals of Friends of Famosa Slough are to help restore the slough and to promote public awareness of the importance of wetlands.
Jim ‘Mouse’ Robb, a legendary local surfer, lifeguard, and waterman, rode the heavenly waves into the great beyond. He was a tireless community volunteer, and mentor to hundreds of youth teaching them surfing and water skills. In addition, Mouse was active in preserving the history of San Diego Lifeguards through his work for the San Diego Lifesaving Association and was instrumental in helping erect the bronze Lifeguard Memorial in Ocean Beach.
With fans back in stands, the San Diego Padres commissioned a series of murals to promote the Major League Baseball team during the 2021 season, including one on Apple Tree Market at 4976 Newport Ave. in Ocean Beach. A Fernando Tatís Jr. mural, celebrating the 22-year-old shortstop’s bat flip in the 2020 National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, was spray-painted on the side of the building by Paul Jimenez and Signe Ditona of Ground Floor Murals.
The Community Budget Alliance, a coalition of local organizations seeking to re-allocate funding that goes to the San Diego Police Department, expressed, in no uncertain terms, their disappointment with 2021’s $19 million proposed police increase in the City budget. During the May 5 protest, CBA members brandishing signs implored Mayor Todd Gloria to reverse his position increasing police spending. The coalition called instead for the City to support a “people’s budget” diverting some police funding to community program alternatives prioritizing the welfare of under-served communities of color.
A committee was being formed to explore the future of OB Pier, the longest concrete pier on the West Coast. The pier is suffering from old age and wave/saltwater abuse. Volunteers were being sought to make recommendations and work toward a solution.
OUTDOOR DINING EXTENDED
The San Diego City Council unanimously approved on May 18 an extension of interim urgency ordinances to allow the City’s Temporary Outdoor Business Operation permit program to continue extending the expiration date for all permitted outdoor operations through July 13, 2022. In addition, the extension allows businesses and restaurants to continue outdoor operations even if COVID-19 health orders are rescinded.
Pet Kingdom in Midway District bridges the gap between reptile and fish enthusiasts. That’s general manager/co-owner Matt Thomas’ recipe for success at his exotic pet store at 3191 Sports Arena Blvd. “We’re a grocery store for live animals,” said Thomas of the pet shop which is divided into four departments: reptiles, saltwater and freshwater fish, and dry goods for mammals. “It’s very hard to just be in one segment (fish or exotics) and stay competitive and thrive,” said Thomas. “We’re the largest, independent full-line pet store in San Diego. Most other shops are strictly reptiles, or strictly fish.”
“We’re not going to be back to normal this year, as there are still no large gatherings allowed,
so we will not be having a parade,” said Ricardo da Rosa, UPSES president, about 2021’s Festa, which last year in 2020, was only a drive-thru-pick-up-your-dinner event due to COVID. “It’s a great event and it’s going to be a little bit different this year,” added da Rosa. “But we’re doing everything within the rules. The community wants and needs this, having been cooped up for way too long.”
Instead of the long, full-on parade, there was a short procession from the UPSES Chapel to the Portuguese Hall on May 22.
In the spirit of Memorial Day, Ted Utz of Point Loma and his three boys made and sold wooden flags donating some of the proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project. “My wife, Nadine, and another local homeschooling family discussed having our children create a business as a homeschooling project in early 2020,” said Utz. “Our goal was to have our children understand the basics of managing a small business as well as the importance of philanthropy. “We settled on creating wooden flags. The children picked the Wounded Warrior Project as the charity to donate a portion of their proceeds.
REVISED STREET FAIR
Uncertainty over COVID crowd restrictions caused the cancellation of a live cornerstone community event: Ocean Beach Street Fair & Chili Cookoff. But a more community-centric event titled “Celebrate the OB Vibe” promoting the mom-and-pop business district was substituted for the Street Fair on June 26.
Commencement ceremonies for Point Loma High's Class of 2021 took place June 12 at Petco Park. Each student was allowed to bring four guests to the ceremony, the 96th in the school's long and rich history. Audience members viewed the ceremony on the stadium's massive video screens and those unable to attend were able to view it on a live cast.
OB PIER’S FATE
While the iconic OB Pier was partially reopened before Memorial Day, Ocean Beach residents debated the future of the deteriorating structure at a town hall where some expressed sticker shock and disapproval for restoring or rebuilding it. “There should be a no-project alternative,” argued environmental attorney Brian Pease at the May 26 Zoom town hall.
“That’s a valid question,” replied then- OBTC president Mark Winkie. “We’ll find out having this forum if you are in the majority and if people want to let it crumble into the ocean. The pier serves the community at large allowing people to enjoy the ocean up close. From my perspective, we should build a new pier to replace the one we have now.”
Good neighbors were doing more for one another during the pandemic. Some, like Jerry Gallagher and Jonathan Abing, went so far as to turn being a good neighbor into a business. The two men, who both live in Sunset Cliffs and have wives who are attorneys, pooled their talents to start an enterprise helping seniors with essential personal and household services.
GOOD OB VIBES
The OB Vibe summer celebration on June 26 had something for everyone from arts and crafts to live entertainment, a 5K virtual race and family fun areas, even a homegrown brew. The annual Ocean Beach Street Fair & Chili Cookoff was expected to return in June 2022.
An effort to gather enough signatures in District 2 to get a measure placed on an election ballot to recall Councilmember Dr. Jennifer Campbell failed as volunteers were unable to collect enough signatures necessary with the prescribed time deadline.
An environmental analysis was out on the NAVWAR redevelopment proposal to turn part of the Naval facility into a transit hub with housing and airport connections. Meanwhile, the pressure was building to downsize the project by a local group calling itself Save San Diego’s Character. “Recently, the Navy initiated a direct mail campaign to notify residents and business owners of the impending renovation of the NAVWAR facility in Old Town offering five ‘alternatives’ to review and select a viable option,” said Patty Ducey-Brooks. “The Navy proposes a version that has caused lots of concern regarding the character, integrity, and history of San Diego.”
HISTORIC WISTERIA COTTAGE
Ocean Beach Historical Society members Pat and Susan James were honored for maintaining the tradition of the Wisteria Cottage and Garden Party by Save Our Heritage Organization. The James’ award was presented to them by the historical preservation group during its May 27 online awards meeting. The pair have been caretakers of the charming OB beach cottage built in 1907. The garden party tradition was started by the late Ned Titlow, past president of OBHS, and Carol Bowers, OBHS co-founder.
“Hey all, we won, woo hoo.” That post on Fiesta Island Dog Owner’s Facebook page summed up the group’s feelings on the California Coastal Commission’s decision to choose the more dog-friendly of two options for re-configuring land uses and the vision for 470-acre, multi-use Fiesta Island. Commissioners chose Option B keeping the island intact and undivided while increasing the fenced, off-leash area.
CREAM OF THE CROP
Lighthouse Ice Cream, a beacon drawing locals and visitors alike to Ocean Beach for treats for more than 20 years, observed its 24th anniversary in the community on June 10.
SPORTS ARENA REBOOT
Stakeholders and City officials reacted with trepidation to news that the proposed Sports Arena redevelopment was likely in violation of the state’s Surplus Land Act, which ultimately caused a reboot of the visionary project. In response, Mayor Todd Gloria initiated a new bid process involving reissuing a request for proposals for the Sports Arena site that prioritizes affordable housing and complies with state law.
Of five alternatives for redeveloping NAVWAR’s World War II-era Old Town Campus, the Navy issued a statement preferring Alternative 4: public-private, higher-density, mixed-use development with a transit center and an estimated 30-year build-out. But most residents weighing in at a June 23 virtual public meeting on the OTC revitalization project hosted by the Navy prefer Alternative 1. That alternative is NAVWAR-only redevelopment with phased construction over five years. It would not involve mixed-use development or an Old Town Transit Center.
Growing concern was expressed at Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group’s June meeting about a surge in unsheltered tents pitched around the former Sports Arena and Goodwill Industries at 3663 Rosecrans St. as well as Big Lots across the street at 3705 Rosecrans St.
A suspect accused of killing a romantic rival in 2018 outside a Point Loma fitness center was ordered to stand trial for murder along with the special circumstance of lying in wait. If Ernesto Castellanos Martinez, 45, is eventually convicted of killing Alexander Mazin, 27, he could be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Martinez fled to Mexico after allegedly shooting Mazin three times around 10:50 a.m. in a parking lot behind the 24 Hour Fitness at 3675 Midway Drive on Feb. 25, 2018.
State funding was secured toward working to find a remedy to Ocean Beach’s iconic, yet deteriorating pier. “The state recently was able to allocate $8.4 million for the OB Pier,” said Venus Molina, chief of staff for District 2 Councilmember Jen Campbell. “Our office is also looking into securing other funding at both state and federal levels working with State Sen. Toni Atkins and Congressman Scott Peters.
The city council entered into an agreement with Bridge Housing Corporation on July 13 to design and determine the feasibility of building at least 78 affordable housing units at the southeast corner of Famosa and Nimitz boulevards in District 2. The action authorized the San Diego Housing Commission to build affordable housing on the 5-acre parcel in Famosa Canyon in Point Loma, which is to include a $910,000 predevelopment loan for Bridge to be used for predevelopment activities.
Liberty Station was becoming San Diego's hub for everything handmade and handpicked from the best local artisans and vendors with the addition of Sea Hive Station and its 23,000-square-foot indoor/ outdoor space, formerly Ace Hardware, at 2750 Dewey Road. Owner Brandon Vega pointed out the branding concept for his antique-like indoor-outdoor market travels well.
GRANNY FLATS SUPPORTED
At a July 29 Zoom webinar, local government reps including state senator Toni Atkins, San Diego Councilmembers Joe LaCava, and Sean El-Rivera, and others supported accessory dwelling units (ADUs), otherwise called granny flats, companion units, cottages, or casitas, as a viable alternative to addressing the region’s affordable housing crisis. ADUs are defined as a second rentable unit that a homeowner can build on their lot.
TOWN COUNCIL SHAKEUP
In July, Ocean Beach Town Council president Mark Winkie resigned over an undisclosed “indiscretion,” and weeks later the 15-member board filled five vacant seats caused by four other board resignations.
REPAIR OR REPLACE PIER?
The son of the contractor who built OB Pier in the ’60s said he believed it should be replaced – not repaired. “People want a pier for OB and all of the City,” said Ralph Teyssier, whose father, Leonard, was the contractor who built the pier dedicated in July 1966. Teyssier noted that “doing a repair or rehabilitation will only extend the pier’s service life for a very limited time. And those options come at a cost. And that cost is reoccurring. So it doesn’t make any economic sense.”
BACK TO SQUARE ONE
The San Diego City Council on Aug. 3 officially declared the San Diego Sports Arena redevelopment area as surplus land, which began the process of putting the project out once again for bid. “We are going to seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to revitalize the Midway District with housing San Diegans can afford and a true entertainment district anchored by a new arena,” said Mayor Todd Gloria.
A dozen fatalities in bicycle-versus-vehicle accidents in 2021 underscored the need for infrastructure improvements to make San Diego’s streets safer. Mayor Todd Gloria said: “One cyclist's death is too many, particularly when we know it’s preventable. My administration has taken several steps to help reach our Vision Zero goal of eliminating fatalities and serious injuries on our roads, including establishing a new team to create bike lanes more quickly, joining the National Association of City Transportation Officials to learn and adopt best practices, and working with SANDAG to reduce the time it takes to process a bike infrastructure permit by 75%. Saving lives should not be controversial, and my administration will continue to work to make sure all who use our roads, regardless of method of travel, are safe.”
UPDATED PARKS MASTER
For the first time in 65 years, San Diego had an updated Parks Master Plan aiming to modernize and equalize its park system, making it more equitable and accessible to everyone. The new Parks For All Of Us plan aligns park planning with the City’s vision to achieve the shared citywide goals of sustainability and resilience, equity, livability, and connectivity. Under the new Parks Master Plan, to address current park inequities, a minimum of 80% of citywide park development impact fees will be prioritized to park-deficient communities, with at least 50% of that amount to be prioritized solely within Communities of Concern for at least five years.
On Aug. 10, in Mission Beach, the Southern District won the 68th annual Ron Trenton Memorial Lifeguard Relays. The Ocean Beach lifeguards – wearing “Mouse would go” T-shirts – got off to a fast start during the second event (landline rescue) and then expanded their lead throughout the competition to win minutes ahead of second-place Central District. The lifeguard relays inspire esprit de corps and healthy competition among the lifeguards from each district, encouraging them to perfect their abilities.
STRIP CLUB REPURPOSED
A former strip club in the Point Loma area was to be converted into a nonprofit center serving sex-trafficking victims to be known as the San Diego Freedom Center. The new center, at a site now being renovated, will be a clearinghouse for sex-trafficking victims allowing them to get information on a variety of subjects including shelters, counseling, education, and job opportunities.
Early on, Point Loma native Capt. Fred Huber had to choose between going to a four-year college or breaking into sport fishing. “As much as my mom wanted one of her five kids to get a four-year degree, and I was her last chance – fishing just won out,” admitted Huber who, since 2004, has operated sportfishing boats for charter out of Point Loma along with business partner Steve Peterson. “Steve runs a majority of the trips on the Mission Belle, and I take a majority of the Daily Double trips,” Huber said of their two crafts, which have a maximum carrying capacity of 29 passengers.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
OB Hardware was sold and new owners Jenae and Joe Kuchman took control of the bedrock Ocean Beach business at 4871 Newport Ave. on Sept. 1. “I’m a native San Diegan and my husband and I have lived in OB for 15 or 20 years,” noted Jenae, who said they got interested in purchasing the business in June because “being an entrepreneur was something that interested us and ultimately we didn’t want to see the store close.”
ELECTRIC WASTE BAND
On a 29-year run at Winstons in Ocean Beach, Electric Waste Band featuring the music of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead passed a significant milestone. “We just did our 1,500th Monday night show there, having played just about every Monday night except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,” said band guitarist and vocalist Robert Harvey. “We’ve probably done double that in actual shows.” These days, Electric Waste Band can also be seen performing live, along with band percussionist Bill Walton, at other local venues such as Aquarius Bar and Grill at 1548 Quivira Way on Sundays.
CLASSIC CAR SHOW
Point Loma had a classic car show evolving in its backyard. Called Point Loma Cars and Coffee, the auto exhibit is held Saturdays in Liberty Station in the SeaHive parking lot at 2750 Dewey Road. The event was begun at the start of the year by business duo Grayson Barbour and Josh Sistar, both self-professed “car fanatics” who also own Garage Collective (garagecollective.com), a San Diego-based vehicle club offering vehicle storage, special events, group drives, media, and race track days.
Midway-Pacific Highway Community planners steamed about not being informed about plans for a homeless shelter in their neighborhood, or a local boutique hotel being used by the Department of Homeland Security for asylum seekers.
A towering century-old Canary Islands dragon tree gone from Ocean Beach will never be forgotten. “We always took our daughter’s picture in front of that tree the first day of school,” said an almost tearful Denise Seymour, whose family was remodeling their home, and the dragon tree crowding it got in the way. But instead of cutting it down, the family got movers out of Los Angeles to come down and spend the better part of 30 hours digging up and boxing the tree with heavy equipment, before whisking it away. The Canary Islands dragon tree has since been transplanted to a nursery where it will be tended to until its new owner, Senna Tree Co. in Sun Valley, Calif., finds a new forever home for it.
CABRILLO SERVICE AWARDED
Mission Bay High School senior Sita Antel won a national award for her volunteer work at Cabrillo National Monument honoring the centennial of the 19th Amendment granting women voting rights. On Aug. 25, Antel was named the 2020 national award winner in the youth service category for creating an exhibit “picket garden.” She researched prepared text and created original artwork, as well as assisted with setting up the exhibition on women’s suffrage that was made available to the public both in-person and online.
It was time to dust off your lederhosen, grab your friends and meet up for two days and nights of fun and festivities for the 20th annual Ocean Beach Oktoberfest on Oct. 8-9. Festivities included family-friendly and adult activities organized by the Ocean Beach Main Street Association in the grassy area and Saratoga Park. “OBMA is thrilled Oktoberfest is back in full swing,” said Kristen Keltner, OBMA event and program manager.
A project to add lights over Rosecrans Street was underway.“We got a permit and the project is actually under construction, which we hope will be done by the end of the year,” said Branden Boysen, a board member of the Point Loma Association, which is spearheading Anchor Lights, a series of string lights reaching across Rosecrans Street from Talbot to Cañon Street.
SPORTS ARENA HOUSING
The City issued a notice of availability for the 48.5-acre site including the Sports Arena. The City intends to lease the site for redevelopment and said interested developers must include in their proposals at least 25% of proposed housing units as affordable. It also stated that preference will be given to developers with the highest number of proposed affordable units and the highest levels of affordability.
The Airport Authority received $25.9 million in two airport safety and infrastructure grants through the Federal Aviation Administration for noise mitigation measures. The grants are the largest annual given to the Airport Authority by the FAA for its Quieter Home Program and one of the largest annual amounts given to any airport nationwide. The Quieter Home Program is San Diego International Airport’s residential sound insulation program.
To protect schools and the community from COVID-19, San Diego Unified School District staff and students, ages 16 and up, were required to be fully vaccinated against the virus, under an initiative unanimously approved by the Board of Education on Sept. 28. The vaccine requirement follows similar policies implemented in districts across the state.
A new mural on the side of La Doña Mexican restaurant in Ocean Beach honoring Mexico’s tequila-making tradition. Titled “Mi Tierra” (my soil), the artwork is on the side of the restaurant building at 1852 Bacon St. Volcan de Mi Tierra tequila, which markets itself as a “humble tequila brand,” commissioned Mexican American artist Paola Villaseñor to create the mural, which was unveiled on Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 16.
Ocean Beach resident Erick Toussaint’s avocation as a chalk artist began as a “quarantine thing,” said Toussaint, while creating a whimsical cheeseburger on horseback for Mad Munch on the sidewalk in front of the shop at 4817B Newport Ave. on Oct. 2. “My kids were getting stir crazy and I thought, ‘This might be a way to excite them and get them outside, but without having to interact with people too much.’ “ Erick said his kids “quickly lost interest.” But he didn’t. Toussaint describes his work as “live, public, temporary art.”
Ocean Beach resident and landlord Steven Krueger, 61, was killed on Oct. 11 when a plane crashed into his delivery vehicle on his route in Santee. “All of us on his property thought of him more like family,” said Wendy Adelstein, a 12-year tenant on the property Kruger owned on Muir and Bacon. “His laugh always made you smile and he always greeted you with a warm, upbeat, ‘Hey.’ If you needed anything, he was the guy to go to.”
TEACHER OF THE YEAR
OB resident Jacquelyn Jourdane, one of five Teachers of the Year honored by the San Diego County Office of Education, credited her parent’s influence for her success as a second-grade instructor. “My greatest accomplishment is being able to draw from my own experiences learning from my Latina mother and disabled father to incorporate equity and empathy into learning,” said Jourdane, who characterized her award as “very unexpected, especially concerning this last year of distance learning.”
COVID didn’t deter Alexandra Watkins and Glenn Millar at 1835 Venice St. from rolling out their animatronic Halloween extravaganza replete with pirates, witches, and dueling skeletal banjo players. “We love it, we have a crowd here every night,” said Alexandra of their Halloween display. “We have this great big front yard, so we put up a couple of things including a pirate in a crow’s nest in our palm tree that’s up year-round and people liked it. Every year, we do a little bit more, add more stuff.”
GULLS FLY HOME
After a year’s “migration” to Five Point Arena in Irvine during the pandemic, the San Diego Gulls in the American Hockey League returned to action Oct.22 at Pechanga Arena for the first home game with fans in 609 days. The club’s 68-game regular schedule began Oct. 16 on the road.
Ocean Beach neighbors sued the City in an attempt to block the scheduled emergency removal of several Newport Avenue palm trees, arguing the trees were healthy and historic and not a threat to incoming aircraft, as the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority claimed.
Peninsula Community Planning Board added two new Point Loma High School student liaisons to one of its subcommittees. PLHS sophomore Anastasia Birmingham and junior Caleb Rogart were to join the planning group and participate in its environmental subcommittee. “The High School Student liaison position is a new pilot program that was recently approved and established by the PCPB to encourage high school students to get involved in their community and to learn how it helps to make a change in our neighborhood,” said Mandy Havlik, who, along with Eva Schmitt, co-chairs the group’s environmental subcommittee.
Trisha Goolsby started a movement to trade recyclables to help purchase children’s books that would benefit communities including Point Loma. Known as the Cans4Books Community Initiative, the drive was started by Goolsby who works with Stellar At-Home Educational Consultants and whose educational background focuses on early childhood/special education.
REASONS FOR LONGEVITY
Faith and family have always been the two pillars supporting Point Loma resident Ruby Lee Lewis Bigelow, who would celebrate her 100th birthday on Jan. 5, 2022. Asked her secret to longevity, Bigelow replied: “I don’t know if I have a secret. But I was brought up in a Christian home, and I was taught to try and always do the right thing.”
ICE RINK BACK
After a year’s hiatus, Liberty Station’s outdoor holiday ice rink returned, once more raising funds for Rady Children’s Hospital. Rady Children’s Hospital Auxiliary, Sentre, and NTC Foundation welcomed everyone back to celebrate the holidays with the return of the ice skating rink to the Central Promenade at Arts District Liberty Station.
OB LIBRARY RENOVATION
After a COVID pause, plans to expand the currently closed Ocean Beach Library were back on the front burner. City staffer Shannon Stoks filled the community in on the latest conceptual plans for the long-awaited library expansion at a meeting of the Ocean Beach Planning Board on Nov. 3. “Our design can only be successful if we fulfill the needs of the community,” Stoks said. “The library is approximately 5,100-square-feet and with the addition, it will expand to about 9,300 square feet. We’re about 30 percent through the design, and we still have many items to coordinate.”
VETERANS PLAZA INITIATIVE
Veterans Day was celebrated at OB Veterans Plaza, during which time a steering committee announced it was launching a $200,000 fundraising effort to build a redesigned plaza monument honoring those who’ve served.
Most everybody knows about iconic Ocean Beach ’40s-style cocktail bar Pacific Shores. But few are aware it opened on Pearl Harbor Day on Dec. 7, 1941. The establishment, known for its nostalgic ambiance, clam-shell bar, and black-light murals, celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2021.
A federal court judge on Nov. 10 ruled against OB residents represented by attorney Marc Applebaum who contended, on behalf of a Point Loma couple and other neighbors, that the City should be stopped from cutting down a dozen or more palm trees in their right-of-way on Newport Avenue because it would violate their property rights and depress their property values.
Midway-Pacific Highway Community planners were told that a homeless shelter being developed in their neighborhood would open soon. “All the tenant improvements are complete and supplies are starting to come onsite,” said Lisa Jones, executive vice president of strategic initiatives at the San Diego Housing Commission, about the now-vacant former Pier 1 Imports building at 3220 Sports Arena Blvd., which is being converted into a shelter. “We anticipate a soft opening sometime between Dec. 6-10.”
HOLIDAYS IN OB
Ocean Beach Town Council’s 42nd “Holidays in OB” celebration was held on Dec. 4. The OB holiday theme for 2021 was “Rockin’ Around the Crooked Tree,” paying homage to the beach community’s left-leaning, specially selected Christmas tree.
FOOD & TOY DRIVE
Ocean Beach Holiday Food & Toy Drive co-chairs Stacie Woehrle and Cameron Reid ramped up to provide food and gifts to more than 150 needy local families and seniors. “We’re volunteer-driven and last year we had to limit the number of volunteers participating in sorting and packaging due to COVID,” said Woehrle, about the food and toy donations, which were distributed by volunteers working out of OB Masonic Lodge at 1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd. on Dec. 18.
On Dec. 13, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority along with federal, state, and city officials held a groundbreaking celebration for San Diego Internation Airport’s new Terminal 1. The new T1 project includes the replacement of the outdated Terminal 1, improvements to the airfield, improved transportation connectivity to the airport, and a new facility for the Airport Authority administration.
NEW TRANSPORTATION PLAN
Overriding public objections that the San Diego Association of Government’s estimated $160 billion new Regional Transportation Plan was too costly and had too-little mass-transit ridership to succeed, the agency’s board nonetheless voted for it on Dec. 10. The plan provides a long-term blueprint for the San Diego region that seeks to meet regulatory requirements, address traffic congestion, and create equal access to jobs, education, healthcare, and other community resources.
With a Sports Arena redevelopment reboot underway due to a new affordable housing requirement, five applicants were now vying to re-create the 48.5-acre Midway site maximizing its potential. The new mix of five applicants includes the two who battled it out originally – Discover Midway (formerly Brookfield Properties/ASM), and Midway Village+ (formerly Midway Sports and Entertainment Team Development), along with newcomers Midway Rising, HomeTownSD, and Neighborhood Next.
MEASURE E REVERSED
A San Diego Superior Court judge reversed voter-approved Measure E, which sought to remove the decades-old 30-foot height limit in the Midway District. Judge Katherine Bacal sided with Save Our Access, a nonprofit corporation opposing Measure E, which brought an environmental lawsuit challenging the elimination of the 30-foot height limit in Midway District and the former Sports Arena. In her ruling, the judge said the City should have studied the environmental impacts of taller buildings before putting Measure E on the November ballot.
LETTERS TO SANTA
Santa was busy answering letters with Christmas wishes from Ocean Beach youngsters. In recent years, Ocean Beach Business Center has set up a “Letters For Santa” mailbox in front of its workplace at 4876 Santa Monica Ave.