Hit by the gentrification bulldozer…
Master shaper and big-wave notable Gary Linden has whittled boards in his Oceanside, CA, shop for forty -three years.
Now he’s forced to move.
The block is being systematically bought out to build high-end condos.
Many will be displaced.
It’s said If you don’t like gentrification in your city, leave.
Oceanside had long been immune to major development and is one of the last places along US coastlines with relatively inexpensive housing for its citizens who work ten-hour days hanging drywall, shoveling gravel or working in shaping bays. There are some parts that aren’t as shiny as its neighboring cities, making Oceanside a bit raw, but affordable and unmolested from corporate hands.
But the town’s city council approved a plan which includes mixed-use structures complete with six and seven-story condos and hotels perched above gyms, coffee bars, and restaurants. They’re investing in cleaning sidewalks, painting over graffiti and hiring additional security for safety to increase tourism and entice new business development.
Gumaro Escarcega, program manager at the downtown business association, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that their plan is expected to bring more jobs and tax revenue to the city.
“Downtown Oceanside is becoming a destination for new investment opportunities. It’s attracting people from San Diego to Los Angeles.”
The plan also calls for the construction of multiple big-box stores, bars, a wave pool,and attention to the arts, an Oceanside centerpiece.
Unfortunately, the city council is thinking Bob Ross when the town is more Goya.
The transformation is something many residents do not recognize nor welcome.
Walking around town, you can see hats and tees (courtesy of Real Surf Shop) reading “Localization not Gentrification.”
But Escarcega said, “Most of our downtown residents and neighboring communities are talking positive about downtown Oceanside growth.”
And the eternally upbeat Jason Mraz says that “Oceanside’s the new Brooklyn of San Diego.”
Sounds cool, if not disorienting.
But let’s hear from Mr. Linden who, like Mraz, is also eternally upbeat but happens to be getting kicked out of his lifelong place of business.
Here’s Gary’s take:
“Gentrification is a joke! I have been robbed twice in the last four years. When Oceanside was considered a rough place to be the locals protected each other and nothing ever happened. Now there are so many transient people it is impossible to control!
“This building has a huge surf history and before I moved in it was the Plastic Fantastic surfboard factory. You could walk out the back door, check the waves, and cross the tracks to the surf.
“Cleveland Street has been the best place to make surfboards that I have ever been in and I have shaped all over the World. Close to the beach so you can surf on your break time and the onshore breeze keeps the factory cool and aerated. The residents on the street were always really mellow and stoked to see what I was up to building my boards. There was a really homey vibe.
“Oceanside has for so long been kind of a secret jewel in between San Diego and LA. The waves are super-consistent and the crowds were always thin. It was the last major beach town to face the developers’ greed! There was a strong sense of community amongst the residents who faced with the constant portrayal of living in an unsafe place. We took care of each other.
“I am not really sure exactly how it will all play out as in so many ways this place can never be recreated, It was just such a special time and place. I will still be surfing and making boards in Oceanside and hoping some great opportunity presents itself!
“I hope everyone appreciates the fact that life takes its turns and you never know what the future has in store. Keep positive and expect the best. I am sure this will all turn out great!”
Eternally upbeat, for sure.
And you can always help him out by checking out his balsa boards or new agave guns; Gary even finds and cuts his own lumber!
As perfect as they are unique.
As some of these special boards run up to five gees, it’s ironic the only people who can afford to grab one are the same who will be living in the new condos covering of the footprint of his old shop.
You are not finding these boards in New Brooklyn.