If you break a sweat during a workout at Robb Field Fitness Club — or if you're homeless and looking for a place to clean up — you'll have to find someplace else to take a shower.
In response to a series of incidents, the showers within the locker rooms at the fitness club have closed as of March 3, according to Rich Possenza, who chairs the Robb Field Recreation Council.
The council voted at its January meeting to end shower use on advice from San Diego police, Possenza said at the February 27 meeting. He confirmed only that a discussion and action had taken place; he did not recall the vote.
“We've had numerous incidents,” Possenza said. “This park [the Robb Field footprint] is 64 acres — it's very challenging to keep it safe.” Possenza declined further comment in a follow-up email.
The fitness club offers four rooms and more than 2000 square feet with gym equipment. Except for customers paying the $5 daily rate, all membership levels include shower privileges, employees said. Possenza said members will be offered refunds. (Memberships range from $30 a month to $170 per year, according to the fitness club's website.)
Lockers will continue to be available for members, and anyone may use the restrooms, employees said.
In a report to the Ocean Beach Town Council on February 26, Chet Barfield, then aide to former interim mayor Todd Gloria, said some of the incidents provoking the closure included an assault that required a police response; also, a report of a homeless shower-user ogling and possibly stalking an employee.
Barfield said his office had received pushback from homeless advocates and had encouraged them to address the recreation council.
Glyn Franks, president of Second Chances–Bread of Life in Ocean Beach, said he took out a fitness-club membership in the mid-1980s during a bout with homelessness. Access to the showers allowed Franks to clean up for his workday at a law office, he said.
“I was going through a divorce and found myself without a roof,” Franks told members of the recreation council. “The showers were such a tremendous benefit to me. At the time, people had no idea I was homeless.”
Franks added that his organization treats homeless people who have afflictions such as scabies, which can be prevented from spreading by regular showering.
“The welfare of our community starts with our most vulnerable members,” Franks said.
The closure will be reviewed within one year, councilmembers said.