In early October 2016, residents in Ocean Beach began complaining on Facebook about graffiti that started appearing everywhere around town.
“Has anyone been noticing this 'Mama Bear' person tagging up the seawall and memorial benches with paint markers scribbling personal 'message board' style stuff?” asked Steve. “This one I saw today was for lost people. The others were for stupid things like found objects etc.”
Most (if not all) of the scrawlings seemed to refer to missing persons and were signed by "Mama Bear." She has written her messages on the seawall by the pier, retaining walls, trashcans, utility boxes, and even on a post in front of Dog Beach.
Her messages were painted over nearly as quickly as they were noticed by concerned citizens.
On November 3, I found Mama Bear sleeping under the pier. I asked her to please stop tagging. Her answer: “No — will you please stop painting out my messages?!”
We had a somewhat coherent conversation, which boiled down to the fact that she claims to be looking for missing "travelers."
On November 24, Mama Bear was caught red-handed at the seawall, after a local called the authorities. Police responded and issued a citation for vandalism. The case is currently under review by the city attorney’s office, according to police.
A representative from the police department said that Mama Bear is on their radar: “She has a stay-away order from the wall at 1900 Abbott [Street]…. We have been trying to get another stay-away order extension and will be speaking to the city attorney about all her vandalism.”
The community kicked around the idea of giving her a message board, but the idea was shot down after another Mama Bear tag was found on a sign on December 4th.
“I don't ever yell but this just made me scream, 'F this sht!.' This Mama Bear lady has to stop! That is total disrespect of our whole beach community. It's on the corner leaving OB (West Point Loma/Sunset Cliffs) and one of the first things you see when entering OB,” Steve wrote on Facebook.
On December 6, the seawall just south of the O.B. pier was covered in what appeared to be Mama Bear’s writing: black paint, handwritten messages in the same handwriting as hers, and the same message as one she left before, which usually contains the word "Book" (the name of her "lost love" according to her Facebook profile).
The following morning, I encountered Mama Bear sleeping one block south of the pier, with black paint under her fingernails.
“Look in my bag, I don’t have anything,” she said as she opened her bag — revealing a wide black Sharpie inside. “You can’t have my Sharpie, though,” she said as she snatched it.
“We saw the seawall,” I told her.
“Nope, wasn’t me. I’m not allowed down there and if you guys would quit erasing people from the face of the Earth I wouldn’t have to keep doing that.”
I tried my best to explain what she's doing is vandalism.
“No it's not, you’re erasing people,” she said as she collected her belongings while leaving her trash behind. “Yeah I leave trash. It’s a good thing; otherwise, people wouldn’t have jobs to come clean it up so they should thank me.”
On December 10, someone dumped about three buckets of paint along the footpath south of the pier — Mama Bear territory.
On December 12, Joe Little from Channel 10 ran a story about Mama Bear and her vandalism.
On December 21, a “Mama Bear” tag appeared on a stop sign; on the same day, she was arrested for outstanding warrants not involving the tags. According to police, she spent two days in custody before being released. She returned to Ocean Beach and now has bright orange hair.
On January 3, the community found her latest message in the usual spot just south of the pier.
According to public records and police, Mama Bear (aka Kimberly Fish) has a probation revocation hearing on February 8. It is not known why she is on probation.