Last week, residents in Ocean Beach reached their tipping point after witnessing an objectionable scene at the seawall south of the O.B. Pier.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” said a nearby resident. “There were transients shooting up on [a discarded sofa]. I had to wait for the right time — when they left — to go down there and haul the sofa up to the dumpster where I broke it down only to find that they had also brought down a large BBQ they were getting ready to fire up. I removed that the next morning.”
The resident also told me the sofa “was full in needles…and the transients were stopping tourists to join them on the sofa. They had no idea what they were sitting on.”
In response, Nicole Ueno started a Facebook group — NO More Needles-Clean Up OB — to bring attention to the opioid crisis in O.B. and as a reporting forum for found needles.
“After seeing almost daily reports of used needles found around OB, it's time to demand greater police presence and action taken by our City officials to combat this public safety issue…. We'll be organizing a petition and documenting the many instances of public drug use and safety hazards found on our seawall, sidewalks, cliffs, alleyways, etc.,” Ueno said.
The same day the page was established, reports starting pouring in.
Reported 10/25/17: “My husband recently found a used needle across the street from the elementary school while walking our dog. It was not capped.”
Reported 10/25/17: “Luckily this one had a cap on it — most of them don’t. This was on the sidewalk at Voltaire & Ebers.”
Reported 10/25/17: “Found a bunch on the sand at the pier under the wall this weekend. Coming out of the water a cop standing on the wall asked if we would pick them up and hand them up to him as he was standing on the wall.”
Reported 10/25/17: “I’ve found 2 needles here [seawall]. I've used an empty can or have been able to find the cap and just tossed them.”
Reported 10/27/17: “Saw 3 guys shooting up in Surf Check Alley during the middle of the day Friday when I was riding my bike with my daughter. We can be better OB.”
“I live right across from ABC [liquor store], and we see these laying around a LOT,” commented Penny. “I was born and raised here in San Diego and I will always love our beaches, but as all neighborhoods, there will always be problems…. We all know there are drug addicts everywhere, but tossing their drug-baggies and syringes on the ground is disgusting and if it isn't a crime in itself, it should be.”
Another resident, who wished to remain anonymous, explained the drugs deals he watches daily along the seawall. “Every day, I see someone approach, hand the dealer the cash, then he’s directed towards to the corner of the seawall [where the sofa was] and the buyer picks up the drugs from a hidden stash — which they keep an eye on…and it’s not weed,” he added. “It’s probably heroin because I find needles all the time around here.”
On November 3rd, around 10 a.m., a resident was walking through the O.B. Pier parking lot when she witnessed an incident.
“There were a couple drunk guys in the corner of the lot, living out of their car, when another guy started walking through the lot,” Alex said. “I went up the steps to watch from above because I could see trouble was brewing, as usual — so the two drunk guys went after the third guy, taking swings at him and telling him he isn’t allowed ‘down here’ and ‘to get the fuck out' or ‘we’ll beat your ass.’ The guy who was targeted ran up the steps to get away from the guys…. They [‘travelers’] have become very territorial along the seawall. I tend to avoid it when there are no police around.”
Another resident, Keith, said, “At least three days a week I walk along our cliffs and tide pools just south of the pier. Every single time I find broken glass, trash, and homeless camps. And oftentimes I find needles or crack/meth pipes and little zip-lock baggies. I honestly wouldn't mind the people camping there if they kept it clean. But it seems to be getting worse this year. I've seen them literally dragging furniture down there and building forts to sleep in. Most are nice but some have been aggressive to me — unprovoked — when I'm just trying to clean up the litter. People have told me they're afraid to go down there at night. It's sort of a running joke among locals, but it's just sad because it's such a beautiful place otherwise.”