SAN DIEGO — Large crowds have been gathering near Veterans Plaza in Ocean Beach, and the town council is calling on local law enforcement and San Diego County leaders to step up patrols.
The sight of people beating to their own drum is not uncommon in the beach town, especially on Wednesdays, when the farmers market takes place. You may even see baton twirling, fire eating, throwing flames or belly dancing.
“It’s just what it is. We’re a family of people that think of things on a different level and just come together,” said Nate, who has been spinning fire since 2009. He said he knows these gatherings should not be happening during a pandemic, but has no fear of them being shutdown.
“It’s been going on for quite a few years so I’m kind of used to it,” said Craig Stevens, an avid surfer who surfs in Ocean Beach almost every day.
Although he’s used to the large crowds, he would like to see more people following the county’s public health orders.
“If everybody were wearing a mask, I would feel a lot more comfortable. I’m in that age group that needs to worry about that — 68 — so it would make me feel more comfortable. But people have personal rights and I guess they want to exercise them,” Stevens said.
But many residents have had enough. Members of the Ocean Beach Town Council wrote a letter to city and county leaders asking them to do more.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher addressed the concern Wednesday during the county’s coronavirus briefing.
“I would like enforcement there as well. We are aware of what’s happening and we do expect to have safe compliance teams engaging with those gatherings, working with their partners in the City of San Diego to try and address the situation there that’s been ongoing,” Fletcher said.
City councilmember Jennifer Campbell says her office has also received complaints. In a Facebook post, she said she’s working closely with the community and San Diego police to better enforce the issues surrounding loud noise and people not wearing face coverings and following social distancing guidelines.
Another issue residents are having with these gatherings is all the trash that’s being left behind. They say volunteers have collected more than 6,000 gallons of trash and that’s just within the last eight weeks.