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City Threatens Crackdown On Weekly Drum Circles In Ocean Beach

Temporary fencing blocks off a park in Ocean Beach in an effort to enforce so...

Photo by Andi Dukleth

Above: Temporary fencing blocks off a park in Ocean Beach in an effort to enforce social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, San Diego, August 11, 2020.

The City of San Diego is about to crack down on large gatherings of people at Ocean Beach. OB residents and businesses have been complaining for weeks that people aren’t wearing masks and they’re not physically distancing.

At an afternoon news conference where bystanders heckled her, City Councilmember Jennifer Campbell did not mince words. OB is in her district.

Listen to this story by John Carroll.

“Right now, people who come here with no masks, with no distancing, are being irresponsible and they could get sick, deathly sick, and die," said Campbell, who is a physician.

The issue surrounds Wednesday night drum circles which have been a fixture of OB for the last couple of years.

RELATED: Ocean Beach Residents Feel ‘Disrespected’ By Crowds Flouting COVID-19 Rules

But now in the midst of a pandemic, they’ve turned into possible super spreader events with very little mask wearing and practically no physical distancing.

On Tuesday morning, city workers put up an orange plastic fence around the Veterans Park area where the drum circles happen, but by Tuesday afternoon, it had been torn down. Campbell was furious.

“So I’m telling everybody not to congregate here. Behave or you’re going to be in big trouble,” Campbell said.

Campbell said if people continue to violate the County’s health orders, they should be arrested and charged. But before it comes to that, city officials said they’ll try a softer approach.

“We’re gonna stand here for several hours tomorrow and educate people that this is not acceptable,” said Joel Day, San Diego's COVID Response & Recovery Senior Adviser.

But it’s not just the blatant violations of health regulations that have locals upset. OB’s Town Council President says community members are left with a gross aftermath every week.

“Picking up mountains of trash that happens here on Wednesdays and other days,” Mike Winkie said.

Winkie said a last resort option would be to close the park. But that would deprive the entire community of a beautiful resource, all because some folks refuse to follow the rules.

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John Carroll
General Assignment Reporter & Anchor

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI'm a general assignment reporter and Saturday morning radio anchor for KPBS. I love coming up with story ideas that aren't being covered elsewhere, but I'm also ready to cover the breaking news of the day. In addition, I bring you the local news headlines on Saturday mornings during NPR's Weekend Edition.

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