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Looking ahead: Point Loma and OB leaders share their goals and hopes for 2021

2021 illustration
(stock.adobe.com)

Now that the tumultuous 2020 is behind us, community leaders in Point Loma and Ocean Beach are looking to what’s in store for 2021.

The Point Loma-OB Monthly asked Mark Winkie, president of the Ocean Beach Town Council; Andrea Schlageter, chairwoman of the Ocean Beach Planning Board; Denny Knox, executive director of the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association, the management organization for the OB business improvement district; Mike McCurdy, chairman of the Point Loma Association; and Jennifer Campbell, San Diego City Council member representing District 2, which includes Ocean Beach and Point Loma, to reflect on the year that was and reveal their hopes for the year ahead. Their responses are below.

Representatives of the Point Loma Cluster Schools Foundation, which includes nine schools in Point Loma and Ocean Beach that are part of the San Diego Unified School District, declined to participate.

Ocean Beach

Mark Winkie, president of the Ocean Beach Town Council
(Courtesy)

Mark Winkie, president, Ocean Beach Town Council

Q. What were the biggest challenges that Ocean Beach faced in 2020?
A. COVID-19. It has really taken a toll on small businesses in our community and made it very difficult for them to stay afloat. For the Ocean Beach Town Council, it hampered our ability to do what we do best — put on events, raise money and bring the community together.

Q. What are the biggest issues Ocean Beach will face in 2021 and why?
A. I am very hopeful for Ocean Beach in 2021. COVID will still impact the businesses and our community events in the short term, but we now have the hope of a vaccine and things improving dramatically. We are a tight-knit community and I believe the impact COVID has had on our ability to engage with each other will only make the things we do in the future that much more special.

Q. What goals do you hope to accomplish for Ocean Beach in 2021?
A. From the OB Town Council’s perspective, we will work closely with Mayor Todd Gloria, as well as city and county officials, to address the fundamental issues that diminish the quality of life in our town. We’re hopeful that working with the new administration we’ll be able to focus on homelessness, unregulated vending, trash, STRs [short-term rentals] and many other concerns that we hear over and over again from the residents of Ocean Beach. And, of course, our hope is to put on all of the events we normally do that define who we are as a community.

Q. What does the future of Ocean Beach look like to you?
A. The essence of Ocean Beach is our collective positive energy. Even through this pandemic we managed to create a virtual pancake breakfast, put on the Restaurant Walk, raise a beautiful holiday tree, host a holiday auction and create a reverse parade enjoyed by so many. Most importantly, we distributed over 150 deliveries of food and toys to the needy in our community. Given the energy and the character of our residents, I cannot help but be extremely optimistic for the future of Ocean Beach.

Andrea Schlageter, chairwoman of the Ocean Beach Planning Board
(Courtesy)

Andrea Schlageter, chairwoman, Ocean Beach Planning Board

Q. What were the biggest challenges that Ocean Beach faced in 2020?
A. The biggest challenge OB faced in 2020 was being ignored by the city [of San Diego]. There were specific policy proposals on the table that would have solved a lot of pain people face daily, and we were told those could wait.

Q. What are the biggest issues Ocean Beach will face in 2021 and why?
A. The biggest issues that OB faces in 2021 are the same as last year. I am just focusing on moving the needle forward anywhere someone at the city or county is willing to help us with.

Q. What goals do you hope to accomplish for Ocean Beach in 2021?
A. After 2020, I am trying to keep my hopes realistic. Breaking ground on the Bermuda Avenue stairs would be a huge win for 2021.

Q. What does the future of Ocean Beach look like to you?
A. Despite all of this, I think the future of Ocean Beach looks bright! The one thing our community has proven during the ongoing pandemic is how strong that community is. I can’t say enough about the leadership of both the OB Town Council and the OB MainStreet Association. They have been helping residents and businesses really get through this. Despite most of our traditional summertime festivities being called off, both of those organizations were able to spread a lot of holiday cheer. The strength of our community now forecasts a strong future.

Denny Knox, executive director of the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association
(Courtesy)

Denny Knox, executive director, Ocean Beach MainStreet Association

Q. What were the biggest challenges that Ocean Beach faced in 2020?
A. The complete [COVID-19-related] shutdown in March that went on and on. No business can be totally prepared for that circumstance. On the community end of things, the absence of rules and consequences for illegal behavior by some of our more transient population has caused a lot of despair and wonderment. How could things go so wrong? Small businesses (brick and mortar) are being hammered to operate safely and legally when and if they are allowed to be open, while there are those individuals at the foot of Newport Avenue who seem to have been exempt from those same requirements.

Q. What are the biggest issues Ocean Beach will face in 2021 and why?
A. For businesses, catching up on their bills, especially if they are behind in their rent while planning for the future. With the various forms of financial help coming again in a few weeks or so, we will see what our small businesses will be able to apply for and whether that will be enough to get them through the current lockdown. Secondly, all the people sleeping on our sidewalks and yards — there needs to be a comprehensive approach to this problem.

Q. What goals do you hope to accomplish for Ocean Beach in 2021?
A. We hope that the City Council and mayor will work with us to pass a reasonable and fair sidewalk vending ordinance. We’ve been lacking one for two years and the City Council/mayor could never find the strength to pass the legislation we all worked so hard to create. I really hope we can get this done soon.

Q. What does the future of Ocean Beach look like to you?
A. I’m an optimist most of the time, although this [past] year has tested me. Ocean Beach has an awesome group of residents and small-business owners who work together really well. I know we will come out of this stronger and more determined than ever. Small businesses will no doubt pivot quickly to respond to changes in shopping habits. I think these smaller businesses will operate more efficiently ... to help them reduce wasteful practices.

Point Loma

Mike McCurdy, chairman of the Point Loma Association
(Courtesy)

Mike McCurdy, chairman, Point Loma Association

Q. What were the biggest challenges that Point Loma faced in 2020?
A. As an organization dedicated to protecting and improving quality of life on the peninsula, the unforeseen pandemic was the biggest challenge of 2020. It threatened and affected our community, our volunteers and our small-business members. Our large-scale project — the Anchor Lights in the village area — was slowed some through the permit process, and our Mean Green Team — which maintains landscaping, erases graffiti and collects trash at about 20 public sites — stood down for a time. We also had to cancel our PLA Community Conversation with elected officials discussing local issues, as well as cancel our annual event, the fall dinner party/fundraiser. In addition to our work, we genuinely enjoy socializing with our fellow Point Lomans!

On the positive side, through our weekly emailed newsletter to 1,500 subscribers, our association was able to disseminate vital local health information and community news and encourage patronizing local businesses. We are thankful that members and friends have continued to support the Point Loma Association through dues and generous donations.

Q. What are the biggest issues Point Loma will face in 2021 and why?
A. A big issue will continue to be how to keep local businesses alive. A review and revision of appropriate operating procedures and direct financial assistance seem to be the only hope.

Q. What goals do you hope to accomplish for Point Loma in 2021?
A. Our organization is blessed with enthusiastic peninsula residents who will find ways to fulfill our mission of augmenting public resources with volunteer creativity. Over the past 60 years we have seen senior members welcome and support new generations of caring neighbors, and that will continue. The PLA will continue to support our community with our Mean Green Team’s landscaping efforts, along with advancing our largest project, the Anchor Lights over Rosecrans [Street] from Cañon [Street] to Talbot [Street]. If all goes well, this will become a reality in 2021.

Q. What does the future of Point Loma look like to you?
A. In general, the future of the Point Loma peninsula looks bright. So many of our residents have been able to continue working remotely, most have access to excellent medical care as well as affiliations with religious and support organizations that form the fabric of our community.

Point Loma and Ocean Beach

Jennifer Campbell, San Diego City Council member
(File)

Jennifer Campbell, San Diego City Council member, District 2

Q. What were the biggest challenges that Point Loma and Ocean Beach faced in 2020?
A. Both Point Loma and Ocean Beach have faced several challenges from the pandemic — economic hardship, small-business losses, increased littering due to the lack of indoor dining and the continued spread of COVID-19. Additional challenges Point Loma, and especially Ocean Beach, have faced this [past] year is the need for an enforceable vending ordinance, fighting the unsheltered epidemic here and helping those in need get off the street, continued quality-of-life crimes like theft and more.

Q. What are the biggest issues Point Loma and Ocean Beach will face in 2021 and why?
A. Many of the ongoing issues that these two communities have faced in 2020 will continue into 2021, stemming from the economic and health devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The need to continue to support our small businesses will remain one of my top priorities. While a lot of Point Loma and Ocean Beach’s vitality will be restored once a vaccine has been distributed to the general population, issues from 2020 will continue to reverberate. Finally, like every other community in San Diego, both Point Loma and Ocean Beach will have to deal with the looming budget shortfall that the city faces and the fight to maintain core services that every resident needs.

Q. What goals do you hope to accomplish for Point Loma and Ocean Beach in 2021?
A. We have a lot to accomplish in Point Loma and Ocean Beach in 2021. From big projects like the expansion of the Ocean Beach Library, upgrading the lifeguard station, adding park rangers and increasing coastal access points up and down the peninsula, there’s much to do. We must impose regulations on sidewalk vending while striking a fair balance for vendors and brick-and-mortar businesses. Our outreach to unsheltered San Diegans has to continue to help get people off the streets. Additionally, we have to do more when it comes to servicing and deploying more trash cans to keep our beautiful beaches and open space clean. Finally, we must increase our emergency response abilities from the Wooded Area to Ocean Beach.

Q. What does the future of Point Loma and Ocean Beach look like to you?
A. The future of Point Loma and Ocean Beach is bright. I look forward to increasing the quality of life, decreasing homelessness and making it easier to get around the peninsula on a bike or on your feet. This is a special place, whether you’ve lived there for 50 days or 50 years, and over the coming years I will work tirelessly to make sure that it stays that way.


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