Doors were slammed and chairs seemed on the verge of being thrown at yet another O.B. Planning Board meeting regarding the temporary, yet seemingly permanent, police trailer in the Ocean Beach Pier parking lot. The trailer has been in the lot going on 14 years now.
The California Coastal Commission has requested a permit from the police department to keep it there for another five years and the planning board had to approve it, but when I spoke to Lt. Natalie Stone regarding this matter, she said the city’s Development Services department was responsible for approving or denying the permit.
The issue was amped up from the heated speeches of some locals who were for keeping it there, claiming O.B. needs a police presence at the end of busy Newport Avenue. Lt. Stone said the police store their bikes in the trailer, use computers to write reports, and utilize the bathroom facilities. She said the board approved the permit with a five-year “sunset clause.”
Those against keeping it in the parking lot included a man who was vociferous in claiming that Lt. Stone was lying about the use of the trailer by police. Another local against keeping the trailer there claimed they have staked it out for hours at a time and have never seen anyone go in or out of it. The vocal resident said the trailer blocks his view of the ocean, as he lives in a building at the edge of the parking lot.
The board gave only two minutes for each person to speak and when the resident claimed he wasn't finished at the end of his minutes, they told him sternly to sit down. He grumbled loudly all the way back to his seat and proceeded to push his chair around to show his displeasure. Several others in attendance offered up their two minutes so the angry resident could finish his thoughts, and he did.
Another argument against keeping it in the lot was that it is an eyesore and takes up parking spaces. When the suggestion was made to move the trailer underneath the pier or up against a building, Lt. Stone and other board members claimed people could then jump on it and possibly throw things onto it. She said she once found the doors super-glued shut; the vandalism cost the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association — which maintains the trailer — $400 to fix.
All parties agree that the trailer needs to be relocated, but no one has been able to agree where that might be. A storefront would be great, but none are available and no business owner is offering one up. The ultimate plan is to station the police and lifeguards in the new lifeguard tower, which has been discussed for many years.