On January 22 Isaac Darby found man in his driveway next to a cup of coffee, knife, and blowtorch.
  • On January 22 Isaac Darby found man in his driveway next to a cup of coffee, knife, and blowtorch.
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Nicole Ueno, a native of Sunset Cliffs, sent out the call last month for community members to step up to cover eight different neighborhood watch zones across Ocean Beach and Point Loma. Within a week, over 650 people had signed on to join the Ocean Beach Neighborhood Watch.

Neighborhood watch covers eight zones in Ocean Beach and Point Loma.

On January 31, more than 40 locals gathered to discuss how best to deal with issues plaguing the eclectic beach community from aggressive panhandling and illegal camps to trespassing, vandalism, and arson.

"It's been a hard winter for crime in Ocean Beach, and many residents feel fed up with some of the repeated crimes we are seeing," said Ueno.

Recycling center behind Stump's Market on Voltaire.

In December, a man exposing himself across from an elementary school sparked outrage. Recent arsons and strangers opening up front doors uninvited have locals on edge.

On January 31, more than 40 locals gathered to discuss loitering and allied problems.

On the morning of the meeting, one local found her car with a smashed-out window, slashed tire, and "slut," "Jesus" and a swastika keyed all over her car. Last week, a local man found a vagrant camping out in his driveway, napping beside a cup of joe, a knife, and a blowtorch.

On the morning of the meeting, one local found her car with a smashed out window, slashed tire, and "slut," "Jesus" and a swastika keyed all over her car

Ueno hopes the community can work together to curb crime and move toward safer neighborhoods. "Everyone is bringing different talents and interests to the table, and there has been a wonderful sense of collaboration among the members. I hope we can keep our eyes on the street and look out for each other, but also come together to brainstorm solutions and use our voice to influence relevant laws and policies."

At the meeting, Officer David Surwilo discussed what makes up a successful neighborhood watch program. Crucial are centralizing information, reporting crimes, and making sure the group doesn't go vigilante.

Short-term vacation rentals and AirBnB were pointed to as things that have changed the dynamic of neighborhoods and increased crime.

The long wait times when calling non-emergency lines was brought up. Surwilo said to press star to skip the intro message and that new hires and other measures are in the works to address dispatch issues. (An emergency operator told me in late-2017 that the same people are answering emergency and non-emergency calls.)

The recycling center behind Stump's Market on Voltaire was brought up as a place where troublemakers congregate. Getting the recycling center moved away from residences is a hot topic in Point Loma currently. Always a hot topic is the issue of campers and van dwellers parking illegally in front of homes.

Margaret Virissimo is Ueno's counterpoint in neighboring Point Loma. "A hill separates our towns, we are not a separate city and being a [Point Loma/Ocean Beach] native it made me think I have got to get more involved and change this perception that we are two separate towns. I hope by joining forces with Nicole from OB we can go back to our communities and bring double awareness, new ideas and updates to our communities. I sit on the Peninsula Community Planning Board so I hope to bring some city knowledge to these neighborhood meetings."

Ueno plans to work closely with Virissimo and Surwilo to create a successful neighborhood watch program that can serve as a model for other neighboring communities and to become as Virissimo put it Peninsula-strong.

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Comments

petezanko Feb. 4, 2018 @ 6 a.m.

This sort of stuff has been happening in nearly every neighborhood in the city, not just the self-appointed "eclectic" ones. So, obviously, I feel their pain over there. Unfortunately, most of our local journalists are not attending these meetings but instead hanging out with and promoting the agendas of the handful of nincompoops who are out to enable junkies to dominate our neighborhoods.

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Julie Stalmer Feb. 4, 2018 @ 2:07 p.m.

Not true. I've talked to people in many different neighborhoods about this (and attended many meetings). While it's not isolated for sure, any one story has to focus only on one or two neighborhoods. This story was focused on the community taking action.

If you have a story you want covered, please contact myself or another SDR reporter to look into it.

Thanks, Julie

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petezanko Feb. 5, 2018 @ 5:42 p.m.

Ms. Stalmer,

In this case, I wasn't talking about you or your reporting, so let's not make it personal. I'm talking more about the U-T or Voice of San Diego or CityBeat (though the last has improved). This story is both about that community taking action and what has happened that has led them to take action. The examples there can be found in many, many other places around the city but, unfortunately, there are only so many reporters available and for stringer rates, only so many neighborhoods can get covered. The fact that Ocean Beach and Point Loma could get more than 40 people in the room to discuss it is certainly newsworthy -- I'm less enamored with the Neighborhood Watch numbers because A) All us neighbors are really ever supposed to do is call the police, not actually engage the junkies, and B) Signing up is one thing, actually acting is another. Still, good to see this side of things reported, rather than focusing on, say, the 10 or so flakes who staged their little protest in El Cajon, or the unidentified person who nearly got killed by the garbage collection crew. If anything, Ms. Stalmer, I'm just regretting there aren't more stories similar to this from all over town.

But I will make no effort to stop my eyes from rolling every time I read an extraneous adjectival phrase-* referring to Ocean Beach, in this case "eclectic." It's just another area under siege from addicts, just like Logan or North Park or Banker's Hill. Those places have "vibes," too.

*- "pretentiously self-aware" excepted. :)

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Julie Stalmer Feb. 6, 2018 @ 12:23 p.m.

Yes, Ocean Beach gets covered a lot. I think, perhaps, because they are so good at coming together like a small town is more able to do.

It's tough to form a viable neighborhood watch. Getting one together isn't easy in most neighborhoods. Keeping it going once things get better even harder. Just calling the police isn't enough. The police can't be everywhere and if it's only a few people calling all the time, it's not taken seriously after a while. The more eyes, the better. The more eyes reporting, even better.

For full disclosure I was born in OB and I've always found it eclectic. But you are probably right, I should have kept that to myself.

Thanks for your feedback.

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