Don Bauder 4:30 p.m., Dec. 9
What in God's name of hippy heaven is happening in OB? This laid back beach community that prides itself in being a peaceful and free spirited town has lately turned into a nesting ground for criminal activity. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Ocean Beach and I take great pride in calling this place home, but I find the series of recent crimes that are plaguing this town to be disturbing and disgusting. Over the last few months we've seen a number of sexual assaults, stabbings, vandalism, theft, and an overall disrespect for the community. This is not the peaceful beach town that I love, and this is not the type of place that should need community night patrols, organized events calling for people to "Respect OB," or posted warnings of predators.
There's so much blame going around, and it's frustrating because it's difficult to pinpoint the root of these recent problems. Some are blaming the homeless (more specifically the young "travelers,") while others are blaming the abundance of bars along Newport Avenue and the number of drunks roaming the streets, while others choose to blame the lack of police presence and response.
Is it one of these? Perhaps it's a combination of them all. But then you have to ask yourself...what's different now than in the past?
There's a fine line between tolerance and letting anything go, and OB is the epitome of a town that toes that line. Sure, it's laid back, live and let live, peace and love, but it's more about a group of people who live by that law as opposed to people who just like how that idea sounds. Live and let live only works when people respect that notion. Once people stop respecting, it's time to toss that notion out the window and crack down. Lack of respect can come from a number of areas, including: tossing cigarette butts into the street, not picking up your dog's crap, sleeping on the beach all night and burning toxic items, theft, littering, etc.
Has OB turned into a community where people go just to party? Do some come from all over San Diego because they see this town as a place where they can go, get drunk, stumble around a bit, trash the town and then return back home? Is there the sense that people can come here, do whatever they please without any consequence because "OB is chill, laid back, and full of a bunch of stoners who don't give a crap about anything?" Who knows?
What I want to know is since when is heavy drug use, out in the open, down by the pier and in the parks okay? How is it that this continues to be allowed, without any type of consequence? It came as no surprise to me when I heard that a couple was mugged and stabbed by the pier recently. That area has become a cesspool of drug use, theft, and assault, and an area I completely avoid. I haven't gone up on the pier in at least two years because I refuse to walk along that seawall. Is this tolerance? No. This is just putting up with nonsense. Clean it up!
I give the community a lot of credit for putting together night patrols, hanging warning signs, teaching women self-defense classes and putting out the warnings of recent activity; I just find it sad that it has come to this. Hopefully things can turn around, and OB can return to the peace-loving community that I love so much. I want to continue to be excited about bringing friends and family here, take them down Newport and show off this beach town. What I want people to know is that tolerance does not translate to a free-for-all, anything goes type of environment. If current residents or visitors to OB can't get on board with this, maybe it's time to find another place to go.