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San Diego police buy acoustic weapons but don't use them

1930s car showroom on Kettner – not a place for homeless

The quasi-weapon Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), “emits a focused and directional beam of sound,” per SDPD’s report.
The quasi-weapon Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), “emits a focused and directional beam of sound,” per SDPD’s report.

Sniper’s watch

Two costly crowd control tools bought by local cops from a controversial San Diego-based high-tech security firm saw zero use last year, per the Annual Military Equipment Report for 2023, recently released by the San Diego Police Department. “Compact, lightweight, and designed for applications ranging from fixed security installations to mid-sized vehicles and vessels, the LRAD 500X-RE easily mounts and transports to provide law enforcement, homeland security, and defense personnel unparalleled long-range communication and safe, scalable non-kinetic escalation of force,” says a description of one of the devices posted on the website of its maker, Genasys Inc., formerly known as LRAD, Inc.

Otherwise known as a Long Range Acoustic Device, the quasi-weapon “emits a focused and directional beam of sound,” per SDPD’s report. “The sound levels of this device are controllable and range from a mild public address type speaker sound level, for giving directions, to a high intensity, high pitch sound designed to deter or move subjects from an area.” The city paid almost $87,000 for two of the devices using 2008 grant funds, according to new report. 

“The American Civil Liberties Union calls LRADs ‘acoustic weapons’ and recommends not using them until concerns about their potential to cause hearing loss are addressed,” notes a June 19, 2020 account by Austin TV station KXAN when that city’s police department was proposing to substitute LRADS for “the use of beanbag rounds and tear gas against protesters.” 

Expert Robert Auld told the station that “‘all LRAD models can reach at least 130 decibels.’ For perspective, Auld says a normal conversation between two people reaches 60 to 70 decibels, a heavy metal concert can reach 120 decibels, and the threshold for pain in the ears is 130 decibels. When you’re getting up to 120, 130 decibels, exposure of just a couple minutes could cause hearing damage, Auld said. ‘Being next to a jet engine is 140 decibels, that could damage your hearing within seconds,’ he added.” 

Bill Gore apparently liked the sound of acoustic crowd control.

Wrote Don Bauder in an October 8, 2009 report regarding Genasys, then called American Technology Corp: “The company admits that the perception that LRAD is unsafe may hurt sales. San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore has placed an LRAD device at local town hall meetings. Two candidates opposing him in the upcoming election, Jay LaSuer and Jim Duffy, denounced the dangers of the device.” Why San Diego cops still own two is not addressed by the report. Also during 2023, San Diego cops deployed 125 .308 Semi-Automatic and 125 .308 Bolt-Action rifle-wielding snipers to an array of public events, including “baseball games, concerts, marathons, golf tournaments, large conventions, etc.” as part of the department’s Sniper Over Watch program, which also covers selected SWAT actions.

Mid-century Todd

A February 8, 2017 report to the San Diego Historical Resources board by the city planning department identified the site of Todd Gloria’s latest proposed homeless mega-center as a “potential historic resource” of the 1960s, casting another political shadow over the project and likely raising the cost of the San Diego Democrat’s long-troubled quest to handle leagues of unhoused flooding city streets. “The building at 3564 Kettner Boulevard is one of several automobile showrooms that were constructed during this decade. Automobile-related businesses such as service stations and garages were also attracted to the Pacific Highway area,” says the report’s account of historic and architectural landmarks of the 1960s, featuring a photo of the structure. “This can be attributed to the car culture that blossomed after World War II as well as the development of two freeways in the area, Interstate 5 and 8.” 

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Todd Gloria, enemy of history?

The ostensible historical and architectural merits of Gloria’s homeless site pick might slow or derail the pitch he has vowed to make for funding from other governmental agencies, which often adhere to stricter preservation rules than city hall. Historical records of the era show that the stylish building currently on the site coveted by Gloria for his homeless hub once housed the showrooms of Nelson-Thomas, a prominent San Diego retailer headed by Richard A. Nelson, who as national president of Goodwill Industries of America in the 1950s gave speeches about the Golden Rule and rubbed shoulders with U.S. Republican president Dwight Eisenhower.

Nelson-Thomas was noted for selling what are today known as mid-century modern office furnishings, many of which have become collectibles. “Mid-century modern architecture is not simply anything that was designed and built in the middle of the 20th century, but in fact an architectural style with a defined set of principles and influences,” reported Architectural Digest in January of last year. 

“Mid-century modern architecture is a style created by architects in the middle decades of the 20th century. Influenced by the optimism of the post-World War II boom and by the exploration of a range of materials, including steel, concrete, and newly available insulated glass, the mainstays of mid-century modern architecture remain appealing to this day. Though the architects we associate with the style varied in their preferences and creative decisions, there is undeniably a spirit of creativity that unites their creations.” 

Designer Leo Marmol told the publication: “The style became extremely fashionable in its time. It was something that the media could really kind of sink their teeth into and show these alluring and sexy photographs, and seduce the viewer into this fantasy of modern living.” Many of San Diego’s mid-century buildings have of late been under threat. 

The Drew Ford Roundhouse of Values at 8970 La Mesa Boulevard was demolished in 2018, though Fort Oak, a trendy Mission Hills bistro, preserved elements of the vintage car lot that once occupied the site. “Housed in a 1940’s Ford dealership, the exterior of the restaurant, while a recreation of the original building, looks just like the historic space, colors and all,” notes the website VenueReport.com. “Once inside, you’re greeted with a high contrast, modern interior, notably different from the vintage exterior.”

Bay gets slick

Environmental damage from flooding during late January’s massive rainstorm was not insubstantial, per a report by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “On January 22, 2024, an unusually intense rainstorm caused a flash flood to overtop the banks of Chollas Creek in the area around the Gonzalez Crane Service property at 3284 Newton Street,” according to an April 10 Technical Advisory Committee report. “The flood caused the release of used motor oil to be released from containers stored at the site. 

The oil-contaminated flood water went into the storm drains and into Chollas Creek. “Patriot Environmental deployed sorbent boom to prevent the further spread of oil at the release. The United States Navy cleaned the downstream portion of Chollas Creek, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency cleaned the property where the release occurred. There were no additional impacts to the environment and wildlife.” — Matt Potter (@sdmattpotter

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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The quasi-weapon Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), “emits a focused and directional beam of sound,” per SDPD’s report.
The quasi-weapon Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), “emits a focused and directional beam of sound,” per SDPD’s report.

Sniper’s watch

Two costly crowd control tools bought by local cops from a controversial San Diego-based high-tech security firm saw zero use last year, per the Annual Military Equipment Report for 2023, recently released by the San Diego Police Department. “Compact, lightweight, and designed for applications ranging from fixed security installations to mid-sized vehicles and vessels, the LRAD 500X-RE easily mounts and transports to provide law enforcement, homeland security, and defense personnel unparalleled long-range communication and safe, scalable non-kinetic escalation of force,” says a description of one of the devices posted on the website of its maker, Genasys Inc., formerly known as LRAD, Inc.

Otherwise known as a Long Range Acoustic Device, the quasi-weapon “emits a focused and directional beam of sound,” per SDPD’s report. “The sound levels of this device are controllable and range from a mild public address type speaker sound level, for giving directions, to a high intensity, high pitch sound designed to deter or move subjects from an area.” The city paid almost $87,000 for two of the devices using 2008 grant funds, according to new report. 

“The American Civil Liberties Union calls LRADs ‘acoustic weapons’ and recommends not using them until concerns about their potential to cause hearing loss are addressed,” notes a June 19, 2020 account by Austin TV station KXAN when that city’s police department was proposing to substitute LRADS for “the use of beanbag rounds and tear gas against protesters.” 

Expert Robert Auld told the station that “‘all LRAD models can reach at least 130 decibels.’ For perspective, Auld says a normal conversation between two people reaches 60 to 70 decibels, a heavy metal concert can reach 120 decibels, and the threshold for pain in the ears is 130 decibels. When you’re getting up to 120, 130 decibels, exposure of just a couple minutes could cause hearing damage, Auld said. ‘Being next to a jet engine is 140 decibels, that could damage your hearing within seconds,’ he added.” 

Bill Gore apparently liked the sound of acoustic crowd control.

Wrote Don Bauder in an October 8, 2009 report regarding Genasys, then called American Technology Corp: “The company admits that the perception that LRAD is unsafe may hurt sales. San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore has placed an LRAD device at local town hall meetings. Two candidates opposing him in the upcoming election, Jay LaSuer and Jim Duffy, denounced the dangers of the device.” Why San Diego cops still own two is not addressed by the report. Also during 2023, San Diego cops deployed 125 .308 Semi-Automatic and 125 .308 Bolt-Action rifle-wielding snipers to an array of public events, including “baseball games, concerts, marathons, golf tournaments, large conventions, etc.” as part of the department’s Sniper Over Watch program, which also covers selected SWAT actions.

Mid-century Todd

A February 8, 2017 report to the San Diego Historical Resources board by the city planning department identified the site of Todd Gloria’s latest proposed homeless mega-center as a “potential historic resource” of the 1960s, casting another political shadow over the project and likely raising the cost of the San Diego Democrat’s long-troubled quest to handle leagues of unhoused flooding city streets. “The building at 3564 Kettner Boulevard is one of several automobile showrooms that were constructed during this decade. Automobile-related businesses such as service stations and garages were also attracted to the Pacific Highway area,” says the report’s account of historic and architectural landmarks of the 1960s, featuring a photo of the structure. “This can be attributed to the car culture that blossomed after World War II as well as the development of two freeways in the area, Interstate 5 and 8.” 

Sponsored
Sponsored
Todd Gloria, enemy of history?

The ostensible historical and architectural merits of Gloria’s homeless site pick might slow or derail the pitch he has vowed to make for funding from other governmental agencies, which often adhere to stricter preservation rules than city hall. Historical records of the era show that the stylish building currently on the site coveted by Gloria for his homeless hub once housed the showrooms of Nelson-Thomas, a prominent San Diego retailer headed by Richard A. Nelson, who as national president of Goodwill Industries of America in the 1950s gave speeches about the Golden Rule and rubbed shoulders with U.S. Republican president Dwight Eisenhower.

Nelson-Thomas was noted for selling what are today known as mid-century modern office furnishings, many of which have become collectibles. “Mid-century modern architecture is not simply anything that was designed and built in the middle of the 20th century, but in fact an architectural style with a defined set of principles and influences,” reported Architectural Digest in January of last year. 

“Mid-century modern architecture is a style created by architects in the middle decades of the 20th century. Influenced by the optimism of the post-World War II boom and by the exploration of a range of materials, including steel, concrete, and newly available insulated glass, the mainstays of mid-century modern architecture remain appealing to this day. Though the architects we associate with the style varied in their preferences and creative decisions, there is undeniably a spirit of creativity that unites their creations.” 

Designer Leo Marmol told the publication: “The style became extremely fashionable in its time. It was something that the media could really kind of sink their teeth into and show these alluring and sexy photographs, and seduce the viewer into this fantasy of modern living.” Many of San Diego’s mid-century buildings have of late been under threat. 

The Drew Ford Roundhouse of Values at 8970 La Mesa Boulevard was demolished in 2018, though Fort Oak, a trendy Mission Hills bistro, preserved elements of the vintage car lot that once occupied the site. “Housed in a 1940’s Ford dealership, the exterior of the restaurant, while a recreation of the original building, looks just like the historic space, colors and all,” notes the website VenueReport.com. “Once inside, you’re greeted with a high contrast, modern interior, notably different from the vintage exterior.”

Bay gets slick

Environmental damage from flooding during late January’s massive rainstorm was not insubstantial, per a report by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “On January 22, 2024, an unusually intense rainstorm caused a flash flood to overtop the banks of Chollas Creek in the area around the Gonzalez Crane Service property at 3284 Newton Street,” according to an April 10 Technical Advisory Committee report. “The flood caused the release of used motor oil to be released from containers stored at the site. 

The oil-contaminated flood water went into the storm drains and into Chollas Creek. “Patriot Environmental deployed sorbent boom to prevent the further spread of oil at the release. The United States Navy cleaned the downstream portion of Chollas Creek, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency cleaned the property where the release occurred. There were no additional impacts to the environment and wildlife.” — Matt Potter (@sdmattpotter

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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