HOMELESS DEBATE REIGNITES PASSIONS IN OB
by ANTHONY GENTILE
Published - 07/14/10 - 05:14 PM | 7333 views | 3 3 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Protesters on both sides of the homelessness issue in Ocean Beach engage in heated debate along Newport Avenue recently over a bumper sticker being sold by The Black reading: “Welcome to Ocean Beach. Please Don’t Feed Our Bums.” 	PHOTO BY JIM GRANT I THE BEACON
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Homelessness, a contentious issue in Ocean Beach that has triggered recent shouting matches, arguments and protests, was a topic discussed in earnest by a cross-section of the community July 6 at Sacred Heart Church.

More than 200 people packed the church’s parish hall for a local faith-based community forum to discuss the ripple effects of the local homelessness population and a slate of possible solutions.

“It just seemed like we were going the wrong direction, that we weren’t going toward any solutions,” said Thomas Ziegert, pastor at Point Loma United Methodist Church. “Nobody was seemingly on the same page. We’re looking for a page.”

Long a tense topic in Ocean Beach, the homeless situation has recently turned ugly. In response to aggressive panhandling by a loosely-linked band of transient youths, local retailer The Black created green and yellow stickers that read “Welcome to Ocean Beach. Please Don’t Feed Our Bums.”

That sticker appears to have contributed to an already sticky situation that exists between local residents, business owners and transients, who are clearly divided between the “take back our streets” mentality and those who subscribe to the defining “live and let live” Ocean Beach philosophy.

According to Ziegert, seemingly everyone in the weeks leading up to the community forum had different and conflicting opinions on the issue.

“Churches were doing our feeding and sheltering, the merchants were upset about the homeless that were panhandling and scaring away people — particularly customers — and our neighbors were mad because we were letting people hang around the church,” Ziegert said.

The faith-based community in Ocean Beach got the ball rolling on this issue to get the community on the same page when it comes to homelessness. With the help of the San Diego Restorative Justice Mediation Program, the initial meeting got people talking to each other, something that recently seemed unimaginable.

“We’ve really just begun to work so that we can all have an understanding about what our common desire is,” Ziegert said.

After a brief introduction by Sacred Heart pastor Ron Hebert, those in attendance broke into 10 smaller groups called “peace circles,” to discuss eight questions about the community in general. Members in the mediated groups were each given a turn to speak on each of the topics — and lengthy conversations ensued.

“I think what we’ll find is that we can have a sense that we can do it together and I think that what we will find is our common ground tonight,” Ziegert said. “We can then build up other meetings for a more specific direction.”

According to Ziegert, the faith-based community will hold two to three future meetings to discuss homelessness in Ocean Beach, with the next meeting to be held in about six weeks. While the July 6 meeting involved mostly talking, the faith-based group plans to use future meetings to pursue solutions to the homelessness conflict in Ocean Beach.

“This is phase one of us getting to know that we actually all feel the same way about things,” Ziegert said. “We want the same Ocean Beach.”
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jeni92107
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July 21, 2010
Given that historically for the last thousand years here that autonmic behavior says people live a certain way for the environment to support itself that people who appear homeless might just be more in tune with what nature has needed of them for several thousand years here being met this way is normal. In Europe where much of the areas population MIGRATED from had differnt needs and learned behaviors from there say you live and work at the church or castle for the last several thousand years and humans are creatures of habit so them seeking church for safe sleep is realistic and medically the sign of an aware stability seeking miond. That assisstance(gardens, kitchens, sanitation facilitsetc.)that were usually at church or the castle and their environs being denied people who had been raised for generations to expect them there being often kept disparately here inother hands under other social guises makes it harder on the those who do provide the support earned by all inc. the the Natives who shared this land with us when those who came had NOTHING!Learned behaviors inc. greed,addiction,murder for gain are hard to change and taking when not needed hard habits to break. Recentering to churches and other functionaries is good human behavior and must be protected to also protect the supporting land. Merchants here have also worked hard and need therir businesses protected and as much as people complain about the kids they do good work and advertise things to areas to help bring in money and struggle despite their positions(no work home eetc.) to take of those around them and provide to all when means come around;live here and see it alll the time. Attacks on RVers in this country have hurt businesses like these in rexcent years and created unreal social problems her to za point of murder attermpt and cannot be tolersted by people attempting to call themselves a society. Remember by historical development San Diego is like 200 AD Rome in it's years of social cohesion and stabilizing in a world that is still destabilized by over a hundred years of wars and other massive changes. As my aging father tells me "breathe relax digest cogitate sleep react"ie.THINK fully first about your actions and you will be more in control of your circumstances.
jeni92107
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July 21, 2010
Being residentially challenged in OB, the last bastion for any hope at all for employment if you're walking, is not unusual and usually safer than most place as it is a smaller, more social area than the more tourist areas of PB and LaJolla. This area is also heavily targeted by terrorists because of it's port access and no lighthouse to keep things in order and SEEN!The kicking of a young guy's puppy who was sitting with a group of young people seeking fortunes who had just come into town the day before by an "ol lady" and breaking his leg says that people need to respect one another's situation more and try to understand how to work them out better. This area since the Obama administraton has been being targeted for publicity of problems not usually seen in the area before or being brought from other areas to create trouble and cash flow by theft,insurance,pandemic creation, and drug terrorism. The area NEEDS and employment agency, low to moderate priced hotels and communications services to achieve a more stable comunity than is being created by unseen and seen forces in the area not homeless handouts. We all need work not bullcrap.One of the parks in the area being declared "safe sleeping zone"(since sleep is inevitable) would help curb these issues and since we are at war we can use buildings here without rent by commandeering them for the war like the old CCC and get people there and keep beds,sanitation,and food there for them unless other work for facilities is available and needed governmental unbudgeted work done there and let people live there and pay by working there unless other work is needed done.Solutions are needed here not troublemaking.

Dr. Jenifer Speidel Jordan,Ph.D.,ret.

Progressive Universal Life Church
OBRagFrank
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July 16, 2010
Anthony, I'm glad you covered the community forum. (How did Jim Grant get those photos? All cameras were banned.)

Homelessness is a complex problem and not OB's problem by ourselves. But at least we're talking. We're all glad the churches stepped forward at this level. I also think the OB Rag's coverage, the sticker controversy, the boycott of the Black, and the new alternative sticker have also greatly added to this community coming together.
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