For over 30 years, Willie’s Shoe Shine has been on the southwest corner of Cable Street and Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach. Now his shack being replaced by a coffee cart.
Willie is being forced to remove the shoeshine shack and work out of a toolshed on the lot. He can remain on the lot, but his small building has to go by Wednesday of this week because it’s an unpermitted structure. It took the city about 30 years to enforce the code violation, an action that apparently came at the request of the new owners of the lot.
Several months ago, Ronson "Ronnie” Shamoun took over the lease of the property. Shamoun and his family own several businesses in O.B., including the O.B. Quik Stop on Voltaire and the Newport Quik Stop. Willie was moved to another area on the lot to make room for a drive-thru coffee cart and additional parking. The trees were chopped down, and the community bulletin board was removed.
The city's Code Enforcement department has ordered that the structure be removed by Wednesday of this week (November 23), the day before Thanksgiving. If it stays, Shamoun could face hefty fines. The owners of Mallory's Furniture — also tenants on the property — are allowing him to work out of their store, and the community has rallied to preserve Willie's way of life.
Though wired for electricity, the shack isn't hooked up and has no running water, which is why it's in violation of city code. If enough money is raised, Willie might consider bringing it up to code and reopening at another location; for now the urgency is finding somewhere to store it until he sells it or finds new location.
Within hours of the announcement on Facebook that Willie had to “sell the structure,” concerns were raised about the 78-year-old and how he would support himself if pushed out of business. A Go Fund Me page was started and has raised over $1500 in less than 24 hours.
An effort to relocate and save the structure is also underway. According to a Facebook summary compiled by Kevin Hastings, the community is hoping to find a purchaser for the shed or somewhere to store it until a new location can be found. (As this article went to publication, someone had offered to store it.) If interested, contact Willie directly. The shack is a little over eight feet square with a small overhang all around. It was built in about 1996 and sits on a raised wooden frame with small wheels.