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by Jonathan Snapp-Cook
Sunday, May. 20, 2001 at 7:59 PM
May 19th protest at Starbucks in Point Loma, San Diego
p5180217.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480
Today community activists gathered at Point Loma’s Starbucks to present a piece of Street Theater. Their Production was focused on the Struggle of Ocean Beach Residents to keep Starbucks out of their community. The demonstration began at 11 am this morning (5-19-01) when activists showed up ready to entertain coffee drinkers and passers-by.
The actors and actresses wore a variety of costumes. There was a mermaid representing Starbucks, a group of colorfully dressed "Obeacians," some of the corporate suits, and the grim reaper. The production chronicled Starbucks’ decision to come to Ocean Beach and the protests of the OB citizens. In the final act of the play, Obeacians prevailed over the Starbucks Mermaid and the community spirit was saved.
After the street theater came to a close, activists talked with Starbucks patrons, rallied support from passing cars, and spoke with journalists (KFMB channel 8 and SDIMC.) A small group gathered by the strip mall to talk with a Starbucks representative. The people who talked with him, mostly member of the Ocean Beach Grassroots Organization (www.obgo.org), voiced their concerns.
The concerns of the activists focused on preserving the local character of their community. One young demonstrator felt that the corporate concrete façade of Starbucks would destroy the unique flavor of Ocean Beach. A 22-year resident of Ocean Beach commented on the congested feeling that he gets in other Southern California beach communities. He associates this feeling with the concentration of corporate businesses. He thinks that once one corporation gets into OB, it will become a trend. He likened the plight of small business owners to that of the small farmers, pointing to his "Farm Aid" hat. After corporations got going in agriculture, small farmers could no longer afford to compete.
In a later conversation with the Starbuck’s spokesperson, he said that "People need to think about the reality of the situation." He elaborated that Starbuck’s operates just like any other business, going on to say that Starbucks researched its options in Ocean Beach and believes that it can make money there. He believes that a lot of the issues that the protestors raised are not based in fact. Protestors say that the rent Starbucks is paying for the space is higher than other business in the area. The spokesman said that he did not believe this was true using business logic to reason this through. He reasoned that since Starbucks is a more secure business, they should probably pay less rent. As for the protestors’ concerns, he said that Starbucks is "more than happy to address some of their concerns, but they don’t speak for the majority of the people in Ocean Beach." He based this opinion on the fact that the protestors weren’t elected officials.
The performance group will present their play again in Ocean Beach next week near the site of the proposed Starbucks, at the corner of Newport Ave and Bacon Street next Saturday (5-26-01) at 11 A.M. The public and concerned citizens are invited to participate in the upcoming demonstation of community cohesion.
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