Is a strip of beach-front grass in a park in Ocean Beach the right location to place a memorial that honors veterans? An important decision looms at city hall.
The Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation (OBCDC) wants to construct a 20-feet wide walkway that runs perpendicular to the ocean immediately south of the Ocean Beach lifeguard station. Dubbed “Life’s Journey” by its designer, the project would consist of a 67.5-feet faux rock wall resembling Sunset Cliffs that incorporates three polished, black granite panels ranging from four to seven feet in height. The panels would feature engravings with names of 1500 honorees. The adjacent walkway would flow from Abbott Street toward the shoreline and contain an inlay of stars to represent veterans lost in battle.
The group spearheaded the project three years ago through a series of community workshops to replace the adjacent existing memorial at the foot of Newport Avenue, where the names of the 84 honorees engraved on the sidewalk have been rendered unreadable from years of sand, salt air, and foot traffic.
The project has drawn only scattered opposition, mostly in the form of comments on social media, from people lamenting the removal of a heavily used piece of parkland or objecting to the militaristic connections. But most politicians and community groups have expressed support, the latest being the Ocean Beach Planning Board, which voted in approval of the permit earlier this month.
Once the permit is obtained, fundraising for the project will begin in earnest, Steve Grosch of the OBCDC said. The group intends to raise a total of $1 million in private contributions for construction. In addition, a $250 donation is being requested for ongoing maintenance from applicants who want to place names on the granite panels.
The loss of grass will be partly made up by converting sidewalk to grass on the south, Dave Martin of the OBCDC said.
“If you’ve served our country, you have the right to be thanked. That’s the motivation behind this,” Martin said.
The city’s hearing officer will make a determination on whether to issue a coastal development permit June 29 at 8:30 a.m. at city council chambers, 12th floor, City Administration Building, 202 C St.
The hearing officer’s decision can be appealed to the San Diego Planning Commission and California Coastal Commission. More information about the project is available at obcdc.org.