Community Meeting in OB Addresses Arson, Other Crime

Community groups in Ocean Beach and Point Loma gathered Tuesday to host a town hall focused on a recent string of arson and vandalism.

The goal of the meeting was to try and stop the trend of recent crime, which several of the meeting's attendees said doesn't seem to be slowing down.

Police responded to several incidents of arson and vandalism in the Ocean Beach neighborhood, including people setting fire to debris and even cars.

Between Dec. 7 of 2017 and Jan. 7 of 2018, eight separate arson incidents were reported in the community, according to the Ocean Beach Town Hall.

Giovanni Ingolia with the Ocean Beach Town Council Board of Directors said the majority of the arson incidents happened in alleys and were started with mattresses, charcoal grills and propane tanks. 

One homeowner suffered more than $100,000 worth of property damage caused by a vehicle fire, according to Ingolia.

Leaders at the meeting were urging residents to report alley debris on the city's Get It Done app or clean it up themselves if possible.

OB resident Craig Klein called the meeting "constructive" and said there were a lot of pieces of valuable advice handed out, but also added that the neighborhood can do a better job of helping itself.

"Common sense, which seems to be missing a lot these days," Klein said. "If you don't want trash in your alley to be an ignition source for an arson fire, then clean up your alley."

Klein said going forward, the community has to take pride in the neighborhood and watch out for one another.

San Diego Police Department personnel were in attendance giving an update on their investigation into the incidents.

Meeting leaders from the OB Town Council, OB Planning Board, OB Main St. Association, OB Historical Society and several other community groups offered advice for neighborhood residents on how they can keep their property and community safe.

Several parents in attendance also voiced their frustration with recent crime nearing Ocean Beach Elementary School and library.

A few parents launched a GoFundMe page to raise money to hire a security guard to survey the areas after dark.

Ingolia said the large turnout at the meeting is a demonstration of how everyone in the neighborhood gets involved and also called it a sign of how great a community Ocean Beach is.

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