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Ocean Beach businesses give Town Council mostly positive reports on reopening

The Ocean Beach Town Council meets via Facebook Live on the Town Council Facebook page.
(Savanah Duffy)

The reopening of local businesses and other establishments as closures and restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic are eased was a major topic of discussion at the Ocean Beach Town Council’s monthly meeting.

Restaurants were given government approval in May to reopen dine-in service, and retail stores, churches, hair salons and barbershops were allowed to resume in-person services, all with virus-related safety restrictions.

Business leaders gave updates during the May 27 Town Council meeting held via Facebook Live.

Shawnn Silverman of Dirty Birds on Cable Street reported that the restaurant and sports bar’s reopening May 23 “went quite well.”

Silverman said the business was prepared with proper signage about social distancing and other requirements and followed the county’s Safe Reopening Plan, which focuses on customer and employee safety, including measures for face coverings, cleaning common areas and employee health screenings.

Silverman asked that consumers keep supporting local businesses.

“Preach patience, preach kindness, because we’re all … working really hard to open up as soon as we can to serve the community,” Silverman said. “They have to realize that we have to take so much extra time to follow all these proper protocols and guidelines.”

Kyle Jaworski, general manager at the New Zealand-inspired restaurant Raglan Public House on Bacon Street, said the community has been respectful of the new regulations and supportive of the business.

“Every day we’ve got to be making sure that we’re on top of whatever it is that we have to do, because it is really a privilege to be able to operate a restaurant at this point,” Jaworski said.

Pastor Carter Moss from Newbreak Church at Cape May Avenue and Ebers Street said the church had not yet opened for in-person Sunday gatherings.

“For us, we want to wait and see what California says and the governor says,” he said. “We want to be super safe like everybody else is, so we’re not gonna rush it.”

The church’s preschool is open for a handful of children of essential workers.

Bill Connard of the OB Playhouse & Theatre Company on Newport Avenue said, “We do not expect performers to be able to be onstage and performing in front of an audience anytime soon — until we see either a vaccine or we see something similar to a pregnancy test that has immediate results.”

For the time being, OB Playhouse has transitioned to a video studio by adding a green screen onstage and six cameras so performances can be livestreamed once performers have been tested. The recordings will be streamed online.

According to Mike DeEmedio of OB Hardware on Newport Avenue, business is going well. The shop was closed for one day in March after the state’s stay-at-home order was issued in response to the coronavirus crisis, but it has been open otherwise.

“The community’s really been supportive and we really appreciate that,” he said.

OB Hardware has adjusted with virus-related safety measures including a one-way path through the store with one entry door and one exit door, curbside pickup and a limit of five to 10 people in the shop at a time.

Councilwoman talks about short-term rentals

San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry discussed short-term vacation rentals.

“As we entered the pandemic, the county’s chief medical officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten, said short-term vacation rentals should only be used for health care workers during this time,” Bry said.

Bry said she has heard from Ocean Beach, La Jolla, Mission Beach and other coastal communities that that’s often not happening. Instead, she said, there have been reports of wild parties, lack of social distancing and no enforcement of public health guidelines.

She said she addressed a memo to Mayor Kevin Faulconer seeking stronger enforcement of the rules.

“What I’m most concerned about is we are losing valuable housing stock that is being used as visitor accommodations instead of being lived in by residents,” Bry said. She also cited a trend in the past year of apartments being used as short-term rentals.

“If all of these units were really available on the market, it would make housing more affordable to those of us who live here,” she said.

Denny Knox, executive director of the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association, said there are issues in the OB commercial district — usually on Santa Monica Avenue between Cable and Bacon streets — with transients not practicing social distancing and congregating in groups of 20 to 30 at a time. Police come daily, Knox added, but the people leave and then return.

“Weren’t we going to try to get people off the street and into some sort of facility to be evaluated for housing? That doesn’t seem to be happening to any of the population in Ocean Beach,” Knox said.

Bry said she would look into the situation. “That’s not acceptable in your neighborhood,” she said.

To contact Bry, email barbarabry@sandiego.gov.

Other news

  • Community Relations Officer David Surwilo of the San Diego Police Department’s Western Division said vehicle habitation laws are back in effect after being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Police Department will not begin enforcing the laws until an educational phase is complete to give people a chance to hear that the rules have resumed and start complying, Surwilo said.
  • Ocean Beach Elementary School Principal Marco Drapeau said the school isn’t sure what classes will look like in the fall, but “it almost definitely won’t be a standard return to school.” Details are being discussed, he said.

The next OB Town Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 24, via Facebook Live on the council’s Facebook page. Visit obtowncouncil.org for more information.


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