Meet OB MainStreet Association chief Denny Knox

Celebrating 40 years, the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association (OBMA) is a non-profit 501(c) 6. Its mission is to promote and support local business and economic vitality in the Ocean Beach community. The OBMA manages both the Ocean Beach Business Improvement District (BID) and the Maintenance Assessment District (MAD). Denny Knox serves as its executive director in communion with a 14-member elected board.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in New York — in the old Greenwich/Long Island area. At age 45, after watching his associates die of heart-attacks, my dad decided he had enough of the stress of the advertising business in New York City, so he retired and sold his ownership in the company and moved out West, debating whether to settle in La Jolla or Scottsdale.

To my 13-year-old culture shock, my parents chose Scottsdale! After high school, I wanted to go away to college in Santa Barbara, but after my mom and I visited the campus, she decided it was too party-oriented, so I ended up at Cal Western, which is now Point Loma Nazarene. I majored in English Literature, however, in retrospect, I should have majored in Business. Women just didn't do that back then.

What do you do for a living?

Before helping to establish the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association (OBMA) with five others in 1978, my husband and I owned and ran Cabrillo Art Center of OB, a custom-framing business.

Are you married? Got kids?

My husband Michael and I have two children, Amy and A.J.; and two grandchildren, Evan and Rylee.

Give us a brief history of your involvement with Ocean Beach governance.

In the late 1970s, it was depressing in Ocean Beach, as far as business goes. The merchants wanted to see the sidewalks cleaner and the trash picked up more frequently — after all, we are a beach town with a boardwalk and a fishing pier! Also at that time, OB had a negative relationship with the San Diego Police Department. They didn't believe us when we said we had safety issues ... So a group of us started OBMA and in a year, we were up and running with 55 members.

Now, we have 525 members who pay dues and participate on our various committees to promote economic development. We sponsor several signature community events throughout the year, the Ocean Beach Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off Festival in June, OB Oktoberfest, and we run the successful OB Farmers Market every Wednesday along Newport Avenue.

What is your top priority for OB improvement?

Maintenance and upkeep! We get a lot of traffic here because we have a lot of draws — the pier, restaurants, breweries, coffee shops ... there's a lot of wear-and-tear on our infrastructure. Our maintenance district is just three blocks on Newport, which we manage, but the rest of the town needs some TLC, too.

I also wish we had more funds to keep our private security officers on the job for more hours!

If you could wave a magic wand and make a wish for OB come true, that wish would be:

An OB Photo Day! Wouldn't it be great to have all our residents gathered on the pier and the beach for a giant community picture people could order that day!

What is your favorite thing about OB?

I really find it satisfying to go out to dinner and bump into four or five people that I know. It gives me a sense of belonging, like having an extended family. I also like, as many others have expressed to me, that in OB, you are not overpowered by tall buildings — you feel in scale with your community.

What do you want people to know about the OBMA?

People should know that we have a fantastic board of directors who care about OB and want the best possible outcome for this community. Our members don't have hidden agendas, they work through our committees to address promotions, public safety, finance, design and marketing, etc. to do what's best for OB business.

If anyone has a concern they'd like us to address, just e-mail or call our office and we'll see what we can do to help!

Do you have a favorite spot for relaxing in OB?

I have lots of favorite restaurants, but my pick for relaxing is my home.

How would you spend a $5,000 gift to OB — no strings attached?

I would finish the project to replace the old fencing gone bad around every palm tree on Newport Avenue.

The OBMA board of directors meets at noon, second Thursdays in the offices at 1868 Bacon St. Learn more at oceanbeachsandiego.com

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