In response to my story on tension over homelessness in Ocean Beach, Steve Kane, a reader who lived there until last summer, says he noticed an increase in tension over the community’s homeless population not long after an alcohol ban took effect on city beaches in early 2008.

To be sure, as both housed and homeless people in Ocean Beach told me, not all of the community’s homeless residents engage in illegal activity. But many of those who do, Kane said, are now doing so more publicly.

I really enjoyed your article about the OB homeless community. However I think you missed a little history of what really happened. I lived there for 3 years, just moved out last summer.

When the no drinking beach law passed, the homeless moved from the beaches and cliffs just south of the pier into the alleys and streets, as well as bushes. The cops started patrolling the alleys soon afterward, which I think created friction, because before they were mostly left alone. Also, the police closed their station in the pier parking lot shortly thereafter.

After that I started seeing violence –tourists getting attacked…an old lady being mugged in alley next to Rite Aid. I was even confronted once to fight, for no reason.

The area below the pier and just south of it became much more violent in particular. There were always drugs and alcohol but no violence.

In short, I think the beach booze law made the streets of OB territorial because (some homeless) are looking for safe places to drink and sleep. It also brings the residents in more contact with them in the middle of doing bad things that, before, they did on the beach and out of sight.

Have thoughts about what’s going on in Ocean Beach? Feel free to post a comment or shoot me an e-mail at


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