SAN DIEGO - The “Mayor of Ocean Beach” is expected to close his popular shoeshine business Wednesday. The city of San Diego said Willie’s Shoe Shine shack at the corner of Newport and Cable in Ocean Beach violates several city codes and must be closed.
Willie Washington has cleaned and repaired shoes in the Ocean Beach location for at least 35 years. The parking lot the shack sits on has been owned by Mallory’s New Furniture for the last 20 years. The problem is Washington never got a business license and the shack violates several city codes.
“We’re just a little bit concerned with what’s going on,” said Ocean Beach resident Michael Haas who is spearheading an effort to save Willie’s even though the 78-year-old Marine veteran doesn’t want the help.
“He really doesn’t want all of this attention,” said Haas. “He’s very humble. He never really wants to draw attention to himself. In fact, this whole situation has been a little bit uncomfortable with him.”
All day long, people stop by the shack to say 'hi' to Willie or take pictures with him.
“He’s the mayor of OB!” exclaimed Haas.
Haas has rallied enough support to move the shack and store it for free. However, they’re looking for a place to put it permanently.
“No one’s ever made a big deal about it. No one has ever given him a problem,” said Haas.
So far, the community has raised more than $2,000 to help the veteran in the meantime on a GoFundMe page.