Ocean Beach man tears down fence aimed at curbing gatherings


SAN DIEGO – City employees put a temporary orange fence around a small park in Ocean Beach Tuesday. About an hour later, an Ocean Beach resident came and tore it down.

“It’s disappointing to see what happened here this morning,” Ocean Beach Town President Mark Winkie said.

The fence was installed after weeks of complaints about Wednesday night drum circle gatherings with large groups of people violating social distancing orders and not wearing masks.

The town council wrote a letter to city and county leaders asking them to do something about the crowds.

City Councilmember Jennifer Campbell said Tuesday enough is enough.

“The county sheriff should be here arresting people,” she said. “They aren’t wearing masks, they aren’t distancing.”

FOX 5 San Diego showed you video of one well-attended drum circle at the end of July.

It drew questions about whether authorities intend to enforce the local public health restrictions on social distancing.

“They are too close together, I agree totally 100 percent,” said the daughter of Louis Haney, an Ocean Beach resident. “But a lot of people sell here.”

“When you do something like that, you take away from everybody,” her dad said.

They were talking about vendors who set up in the area near the drum circle. 

The father and daughter said the vendors are just trying to make a living and worry they may have to look elsewhere if the drum circle is closed down.

City leaders said they planned to have staff at the park who will focus on education first.

“We are going to start around 3 p.m. and try to prevent people from setting up at the park,” said Joel Day, senior advisor for COVID-19 response and recovery for the city of San Diego. “We are going to encourage them to wear a mask.”

If that doesn’t work, staff can issue cease and desist orders. And if they don’t see results, they can turn to citations with the help of the San Diego Police Department.

“I’m telling everyone who comes here, behave or you are going to be in trouble,” Councilmember Campbell said.

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