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    WILD AND WACKY WEATHER, BUT ALWAYS A SIGHT TO BEHOLD
    Jul 30, 2014 | 6137 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Mother Nature generated some wild and unexpected weather over the last week, churning out ear-splitting thunder, lightning flashes, heavy downpours and stiflng humidity across the beach communities and San Diego in general. The unusual summer weather patterns did, however, create beautiful palettes of color like this one from the South Beach restaurant, adjacent to the Ocean Beach Pier.         Photo by Jim Grant
    Mother Nature generated some wild and unexpected weather over the last week, churning out ear-splitting thunder, lightning flashes, heavy downpours and stiflng humidity across the beach communities and San Diego in general. The unusual summer weather patterns did, however, create beautiful palettes of color like this one from the South Beach restaurant, adjacent to the Ocean Beach Pier. Photo by Jim Grant
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    Mother Nature generated some wild and unexpected weather over the last week, churning out ear-splitting thunder, lightning flashes, heavy downpours and stiflng humidity across the beach communities and San Diego in general. The unusual summer weather patterns did, however, create beautiful palettes of color like this one from the South Beach restaurant, adjacent to the Ocean Beach Pier. Photo by Jim Grant
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    City Council OKs OB Community Plan update 9-0
    by TONY de GARATE
    Jul 30, 2014 | 389 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    The City Council unanimously approved the updated Ocean  Beach Community plan on July 29, putting tighter restrictions on exceptions for proposed bulky, out-of-scale housing developments. The plan has not been updated since 1975. Photo by Tony de Garate
    The City Council unanimously approved the updated Ocean Beach Community plan on July 29, putting tighter restrictions on exceptions for proposed bulky, out-of-scale housing developments. The plan has not been updated since 1975. Photo by Tony de Garate
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    Making the firmest possible statement in support of promoting the community’s small-scale character, the San Diego City Council on July 29 approved a long-sought document designed to guide and regulate growth in Ocean Beach for the next 20 years — and guard against exceptions that allow bulky, out-of-scale housing. The surprising 9-0 vote to approve a replacement to the outdated 1975 Ocean Beach Community Plan — the oldest planning document in the city — capped an, at times, agonizing process that began in 2002. After years of public meetings, consultant reports, studies and feedback, the only issue remaining that caused citizens to choose up sides was a staff recommendation to include tough-talking language designed to discourage variances to Ocean Beach's unusually strict land development code. What makes Ocean Beach’s code so restrictive is known as the .7 FAR rule, which limits the square footage of nearly all residential housing west of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard to 70 percent of lot size, or floor-area ratio, and further requires 25 percent of that amount to be set aside for enclosed parking. Except in Point Loma, the same zoning throughout the rest of San Diego allows 120 percent of FAR. What was expected to be a Battle Royale ended up being a no-contest. After listening to just over an hour of public testimony — more than 80 citizens asked to address the council, though most ceded their time to other speakers — councilmembers deliberated for just 15 minutes before approving the plan and its anti-variance language. In unanimously adopting the city staff’s recommendation, councilmembers rejected language more sympathetic to variance-seekers that had been proposed unanimously two months earlier by the San Diego Planning Commission. District 2 City Councilmember Ed Harris praised members of the Ocean Beach Planning Board's Update Committee, city planning staff and the City Attorney's Office that worked on the anti-variance language that the Planning Commission later rejected. “It is my firm belief that the Planning Commission got it very wrong. So we need to right that today,” Harris said. After the vote, a sea of Ocean Beach citizens wearing blue T-shirts with the message “Keep the OBcean attitude” stood and applauded lustily, savoring the occasion for nearly 30 seconds. The council was clearly influenced by the full-court-press effort of the plan proponents, who had gathered more than 3,500 signatures in favor of the anti-variance language. Proponents also did a better job of getting their side to the meeting. In terms of citizens who signed up to speak, they outnumbered opponents by a 3-to-1 ratio. Gretchen Kinney Newsom, president of the Ocean Beach Town Council, underscored the point when she listed and described the eight community groups that had gone on record in support: the Planning Board, Town Council, Ocean Beach MainStreet Association, Ocean Beach Historical Society, Friends of the OB Library, Ocean Beach Community Foundation, Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation and Ocean Beach Women's Club. “We are not a special-interest group. We are Ocean Beach,” she said. The plan won't be legally binding until approval by the California Coastal Commission at a future date. At least one opponent said delays could result from lawsuits and charged the plan denied the rights of property owners. David Stebbins owns a three-story house in the 5100 block of West Point Loma Boulevard, a block that used to be dominated by a string of one-story, concrete duplexes built in the 1950s. Stebbins was the first of three property owners in the block to use the variance process to build a new house allotting the entire .7 FAR for living space and drop the garage requirement, substituting a carport instead. Stebbins responded to criticism that the newer, three-story houses on the block obstructed ocean views and looked out of place. “(People think) somehow Ocean Beach is going to be Mission Beach. I don't want it to be like Mission Beach. But we have property rights,” he said. Stebbins referenced the community plan in Barrio Logan, which was overturned in a citywide vote after City Council approval, and suggested a similar fate awaits the Ocean Beach plan. “Whenever a community plan purports to change ownership rights, you've got legal problems ...This is going to get tied up like Barrio Logan. And we don't want that,” he said. Debbie Applebee, who described herself as a West Point Loma Boulevard resident who wants to improve her property, said she feared the plan would lessen her ability to do so. She said she spent an hour interviewing people at Dog Beach asking what they thought of the houses on West Point Loma built through the variance process. “Overwhelmingly, they said the new homes improved the neighborhood,” she said. Deterring the ability to make improvements carried negative consequences, she said. “One person told me their family had renamed the OB community, 'Where the Debris Meets the Sea,' ” she said. But Peter Ruscitti, who chairs the Ocean Beach Planning Board, said the West Point Loma variances met opposition because the city granted them without following its own rules. “Our desire is not to prevent new homes being built. Our desire is that they be built in accordance with the code,” he said. Giovanni Ingolia, who co-chairs the Update Committee, echoed the sentiment. He said variances require unique circumstances that deny reasonable use to a property owner, and said the same circumstances on West Point Loma could apply to hundreds of other parcels. “We are concerned about the pattern of one-by-one variances,” Ingolia said. Mindy Pellisier, one of the leaders of the plan update effort since the beginning, said Ocean Beach has been resisting efforts to conform to the rest of the city and give up its zoning restrictions for more than three decades. “The .7 FAR is different from the rest of the city," she said.."Yeah, we know. This has been and continues to be our intention,” she said. "You know OB's unique. It's been planned that way ...Yes, we have small, unusual lots. They've been there for over 100 years.”
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    Hope rekindled for expansion of tiny OB Branch Library
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Jul 30, 2014 | 497 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Advocates of the tiny Ocean Beach Branch Library are beginning to find new hope for the expansion of the site after years of pushing for modernization and more meeting space for public and private functions.                                  Photo by Dave Schwab
    Advocates of the tiny Ocean Beach Branch Library are beginning to find new hope for the expansion of the site after years of pushing for modernization and more meeting space for public and private functions. Photo by Dave Schwab
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    Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The will unquestionably exists with the renewed effort to expand Ocean Beach’s tiny — but vital — library. Now a way has to be found to pay for it. Originally built in 1927, Ocean Beach’s 4,579-square-foot branch library at 4801 Santa Monica Ave., one of the city’s oldest and smallest vaults of knowledge, has no meeting space or adequate seating or collection space to serve the beach community’s growing needs. “Several years ago, before the recession, beautiful architectural plans were drawn up, and preliminary land-use agreements were explored for a proposed 15,000-square-foot library addition,” said Judy Collier, president of the Ocean Beach Friends of the Library (OBFL). Collier said nothing happened until a committee from the OBFL met recently with Mayor Kevin Faulconer to discuss the library expansion.  “Apparently, any expansion would be a public-private partnership, and we would need to secure the private funding before the public funds would be made available,” said Collier. “The Ocean Beach Friends organization is continuing to work on this project, and we hope that substantial progress will be made by the 2016 Centennial Celebration of the founding of the Ocean Beach Library.” Matt Beatty, head librarian for the Ocean Beach Branch Library, discussed his “wish list” for an expanded facility. “What we’d be looking for in a new branch is expanded electric capacity to allow the addition of air conditioning and additional public computers, an expanded separate children’s area, an enlarged  book-sale area and a meeting room for both library and public use,” said Beatty. “The current facility lacks air conditioning, any meeting rooms for the public  and has very limited electrical access.  It is also too small to offer space for more than a couple of people wanting to study.” Maureen Roeber, recent past OBFL president, said tangible progress is being made on planning for the OB library expansion. “The library  project is the top priority on the Ocean Beach public facilities financing plan that is a part of the draft Ocean Beach Community Plan coming to the City Council [July 29],” said Roeber. Another OBFL member, Laura Dennison, said that the city-owned, two-story office building next door to the library between it and the post office is part of the proposed expansion. “According to rumor, the long-term leases have not been extended and are due to expire within two years,” said Dennison. Dennison said the OB library’s expansion would not necessitate an expansion of the library’s parking lot because a recent community survey indicated “the population that goes to the library walks to it because OB is such a walkable community.” Among other things, funds need to be found to hire a new architect to do “bridging documents” necessary to update previous work done by the OB architectural firm of Hanna Gabriel Wells on the library’s possible expansion. Roeber said the OBFL has initiated community outreach on the library’s expansion. “We’re still in preliminary steps,” she said. “We’ve got a little petition drive going with more than 100 signatures asking if people want to have our library expanded.” Regarding fundraising for the planned facility, Roeber said, “Hopefully, we can find a way to do this public-private partnership.” Roeber said the OBFL would like to get the OB library expansion on the city’s capital improvements program list. The OBFL has gotten a grant from the OB Town Council for the project, as well as having received support for the project from the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation, Roeber said. “Our goal is to have a firm commitment to get the project started by the 100th anniversary of the OB branch in 2016,” Roeber said. “Not that we think it could be done by 2016, just that we would at least like to get the wheels in motion by the anniversary.”
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    Anchovy armada in OB fueling feast for sea life, sea birds
    by JORGE VALCARCEL
    Jul 30, 2014 | 745 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Dolphins and pelicans take part in a free-for-all as the anchovy population explodes around the Ocean Beach Pier. Scripps Institute of Oceanography scientists said this is something they have not seen in years. Scientists know that anchovy and sardine populations have a cyclical nature tied to changes in water temperature. 
Courtesy photo by Jorge Valcarcel
    Dolphins and pelicans take part in a free-for-all as the anchovy population explodes around the Ocean Beach Pier. Scripps Institute of Oceanography scientists said this is something they have not seen in years. Scientists know that anchovy and sardine populations have a cyclical nature tied to changes in water temperature. Courtesy photo by Jorge Valcarcel
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    A massive school of anchovies swarms around the Ocean Beach area.                                                                        Courtesy photos by Jorge Valcarcel
    A massive school of anchovies swarms around the Ocean Beach area. Courtesy photos by Jorge Valcarcel
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    Fisherman at the Ocean Beach Pier are hunting not only the armada of anchovies but also the larger predators who seek them out for food.
    Fisherman at the Ocean Beach Pier are hunting not only the armada of anchovies but also the larger predators who seek them out for food.
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    If you have been out to the Ocean Beach Pier lately, you have probably seen the large numbers of pelicans, terns, dolphins and sea lions feasting. These predators are reaping the benefits of large schools of anchovies that have taken up residence along the shores in recent weeks. The first large school of anchovies was sighted in early July off Scripps Pier in La Jolla. The video that Scripps made of this anchovy “aggregation” went viral (www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvxIdkhsoqU ), with more than 4 million hits and counting. Scripps scientists estimated the school had more than a billion fish in it. A week later, the large schools appeared off Ocean Beach and Sunset Cliffs, easily spotted from shore by the presence of large numbers of diving birds and dolphins. David Checkley, Scripps Institute of Oceanography biological oceanographer, said this is something they have not seen in years. He and his colleagues are hesitant to point to a definitive explanation. They do have a number of clues, however. Scientists know that anchovy and sardine populations do have a cyclical nature that is tied to changes in water temperature. What scientists call the “pacific decadal oscillation” (PDO) is a type of long-term El Nino that causes ocean temperature changes over decades, as opposed to El Niño/La Niña’s short-term effects. As the ocean temperature decreases, the anchovy population increases and the sardine population decreases. As the ocean temperature rises over decades, the opposite happens. PDO seems to have a cycle that takes about 50 to 75 years to complete. Checkley points to the P.D.O. as a possible causation for the increase in anchovy schools. He also notes that because anchovies prefer cooler water, they do sometimes aggregate near shore after winds have blown up colder water from the deep, a process known as “upwelling.” This could also figure into it. These huge conglomerations of fish are often referred to as “bait balls” by fisherman, and word is out that the fishing is firing. It is hard to find a spot along the pier with everyone from Imperial Beach to Los Angeles trying to catch a little piece of the action.  Most people are not after the actual anchovies but the larger fish that feed on the anchovies. These anchovies, known as the northern anchovy (Engraulis mordax), do not grow much more than 25 centimeters, but the fish that eat them grow much larger. Large numbers of predatory bonita and mackerel are being caught off the Ocean Beach Pier. For a few lucky fishermen, there are some elusive yellowtail, dorado, and barracuda to be caught. Some fishermen, however, are content to simply catch the small anchovy, claiming that fried and eaten whole, it is a delicacy. This anchovy is the same that you might eat on your pizza. But Scripps scientists point out that the anchovy supply comes not from the Pacific but from huge anchovy fisheries off the West Coast of Africa. Scientists say we might see this phenomenon again for many more years to come. Then again, we might not. The mysteries of the sea are just that — mysteries. If you want to appreciate one of these enigmas firsthand, head out to the beach and look for all the birds the point to the spot where billions of small anchovies are struggling to stay alive in our wild and beautiful backyard — the Pacific Ocean — Jorge Valcarcel is a local freelance journalist who contributes to the San Diego Community Newspaper Group.
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    Pros, cons cited after OK of minimum-wage hike
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Jul 23, 2014 | 12550 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Will raising the city’s minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by Jan. 1, 2017 make San Diego more affordable for those with lower incomes, or will it ultimately harm workers by costing them a chance at jobs? That’s the question to be answered after a measure was adopted July 15 by San Diego City Council, which plans to boost the city’s minimum wage to $9.75 in 2015, $10.50 in 2016 and to $11.50 in 2017.
    Will raising the city’s minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by Jan. 1, 2017 make San Diego more affordable for those with lower incomes, or will it ultimately harm workers by costing them a chance at jobs? That’s the question to be answered after a measure was adopted July 15 by San Diego City Council, which plans to boost the city’s minimum wage to $9.75 in 2015, $10.50 in 2016 and to $11.50 in 2017.
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    Will raising the city’s minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by Jan. 1, 2017 make San Diego more affordable for those with lower incomes, or will it ultimately harm workers by costing them a chance at jobs? That’s the question to be answered after a measure was adopted July 15 by San Diego City Council, which plans to boost the city’s minimum wage to $9.75 in 2015, $10.50 in 2016 and to $11.50 in 2017. The new ordinance would also require employers to provide five paid sick days a year. Council has voted to direct staff to begin conferring with the city's labor unions as to the methods under which the wage will be raised. City Council President Todd Gloria, who spearheaded the push for the minimum-wage increase, characterized it as “a reasonable compromise.” Gloria had originally proposed that the wage be $13.09 an hour. Gloria warned possible opponents of the wage hike that “there may be better ways that they can spend their time and money than opposing a pay increase to their employees … or by telling everyone you want your employees to work while they are sick.'' The vote on the minimum-wage hike went along party lines, 6-3, with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans voting against. Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, led by recent past Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders, have opposed the wage increase. “I feel the deal we reached on minimum wage was a fair compromise,” concluded District 2 Councilman Ed Harris. “I’ve seen the research and data that points to the positive impacts of raising the minimum wage and providing earned sick leave. “By paying a livable wage, we can help avoid paying higher social service costs, and by providing earned sick leave, we support higher employee productivity in the long term. “I don’t know how people living in San Diego can make ends meet on $1,560 a month,” continued Harris, noting, that “That’s what a full-time minimum-wage earner makes at the current rate of $9 an hour.” $9 an hour, the state's minimum wage law, went into effect July 1. Supporters of the new minimum wage argue the pay increase helps the impoverished without hurting the local economy. Detractors counter that a higher minimum wage puts employers at a competitive disadvantage, causing them to hire fewer employees, thus hurting the segment of the population that the city is attempting to help.
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    News
    Shooting victim, a PLHS alum, continues stunning recovery
    During our first waking hour every day, most of us routinely do what Will Barton is still relearning. Barton, a 2010 Point Loma High alum, was shot three times at close range with a 45-caliber hand...
    Jul 30, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend
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    Sports
    Point Loma Nazarene now a contender in the NCAA
    The day has arrived for Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) to proudly declare itself an active member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). PLNU cleared the final step of the N...
    Jul 30, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend
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    Opinion
    PLHS stadium lighting, PA system funds better spent on other needs
    We have been big supporters of Point Loma High School through the years. We both attended PLHS in the 1950s, as did our four children in the ’70s and three of our grandchildren in the ’90s.   We ha...
    Jun 04, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend
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    Arts & Entertainment
    Ringling Bros. Circus returns with ‘LEGENDS’ extravaganza
    Circus officials say children of all ages will believe in the unbelievable with the all-new Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey spectacular “LEGENDS,” coming to the Valley View Casino Center (former...
    Jul 30, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend
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    Business
    Hodad’s in OB savors success of 45 years — and counting
    Hodad’s and its fabled hamburger is as original and unconventional as its owner/operator, Michael “Bossman” Hardin. “Part of our success is that people see how genuine it is,” said Hardin, who has ...
    Jul 30, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend
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    Obituaries
    Virginia Fournier, 99, longtime OB resident and volunteer
    Virginia (Ginger) Fournier, a longtime Ocean Beach resident, passed peacefully on June 14 in Washington State after living with her daughter Suzie (Fournier) Long and husband Jay for three years. V...
    Jul 17, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend
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