On the eastbound off-ramp of Highway 78 at Jefferson Street — the location that inspired a 2012 panhandling article — a turf war developed on January 8, causing three California Highway Patrol units to respond.
Ian, from San Diego, and Randall, from Houston, both in their 20s, were standing on the off-ramp with a cardboard sign that read, “Save a Life. Give a Smile. Need $,” reportedly trying to get some money to take the bus back to Ian’s home in Ocean Beach. Both had full backpacks; Randall also had a duffle bag, his leashed dog Bubbers, and a surfboard.
Two other men with a homeless appearance were yelling at the duo from the opposite corner. The men were becoming verbally aggressive and gesturing in a frustrated manner with their arms.
Ian said he called 911 because the other two men came up to him and Randall and were “Boss Hoggin’ us,” a reference to TV’s Dukes of Hazzard character Boss Hogg, the town’s powerful mayor, saying they had to leave. “It was their corner,” said Ian.
For about ten minutes, the two angry men would walk several feet in the opposite direction, only to turn and charge back closer to Ian and Randall, threatening the pair. Ian and Randall started to walk south on Jefferson to get away from the men.
When the other men saw me, they charged across the street at me. I identified myself as a reporter. The white man said his name was “Angry Oceansider” and his buddy, a black man, said his name was “Anonymous.” Anonymous said, “We own this intersection.”
As CHP units arrived at around 3:15 p.m., Anonymous said to me, “You better get your fucking story straight and I ain’t talkin’ to you.”
The four men were separated, told to sit on the curb, searched, and interviewed. After about 30 minutes, they were released. Both pairs were ordered to walk in opposite directions. The CHP officers admonished each one, saying it was illegal to panhandle near a freeway off-ramp, and if they had to come out again they’d be arrested.
As Anonymous walked north, across the Jefferson Street freeway bridge, he yelled back at the officers. An officer yelled at him to turn around and keep walking.
A four-inch box cutter/letter opener was confiscated from Randall, which Anonymous had described to officers as the “knife” Randall had allegedly pulled on him.
Just prior to the group’s release, two bicyclists came by and said they had ridden by when everything started to happen. The cyclists said the angry guys were totally at fault. “They were out of control and acting crazy,” one cyclist told a CHP officer. “I told them to leave the boys [Ian and Randall] alone. Then they started to get mad at me, so we left.”
Ian said he rides the rails, hopping freight trains around the country. He met Randall at Union Station in L.A. and offered him a place to stay in O.B. at his family’s house.
Ian said he is not homeless and has a job at one of the O.B. bars when he is in town. Of the two other men, Ian said they are called on the streets “homebums” — meaning one who lives in the area, but, as Ian described, “spend their time begging for money to buy alcohol and heroin.”
“They give guys like us a bad name,” said Ian. “I just get what I need for bus fare and move on.” Ian and Randall moved on to the downtown Carlsbad Transit Center, where Ian said most of the bus drivers know him and will let him on for free.