It's no secret San Diego has the best weather. Each month we ask one of our favorite San Diegans:
What else makes this city great?
Live: Point Loma
Work: Point Loma. My commute is 7 steps and 2 skips in a northerly direction from my front door.
How Long: 18 years
Where did you grow up?
Born and raised in beautiful Escondido. Only lived in one house, with one address and one phone number until college.
Why did you move closer to the city?
I have always loved cities. Studying architecture in Berkeley and Florence, Italy completely sealed the deal. When Kara, my wife, and I graduated from college we headed for the Big City, renting a bootlegged loft at 13th & F where our son John-Paul was born. An incredible opportunity came up to purchase our first home, a 5,800 square foot, dilapidated warehouse on the reincarnation block at 10th & K, where our oldest daughter, Madeira, was born. My dad had just retired as an elementary school teacher, and he has an awesome set of tools so we put them to work with copious amounts of elbow grease, rehabbing the circa 1921 motor pool brick building into a spacious loft for our family, plus two rentals.
We felt like pioneers since there were no families with young children living downtown (at least voluntarily) at the time. We had a swing hanging from the 22-foot tall ceilings, played rousing games of indoor Wiffle ball, and saved up for our big annual splurge, a 14-foot tall, Noble Fir Christmas tree. We installed kid carriers on the backs of our bikes and rode all over downtown. Our children felt like landed gentry. They learned to swim in the swanky tropical paradise called the Marriott pooland joined the elite of downtown’s homeless at the Nordstrom café promptly at 7 pm, where we enjoyed severely discounted “day old” pastries and 50 cent coffee on the outdoor terrace, soaking in the impressive display of city lights and views down to Mexico.
We stayed downtown until about halfway through the construction of Petco Park, which was literally 60 feet away across the street. All the city services that ran through the footprint of the ballpark needed to be relocated. This work took place when demand was at its lowest to minimize disruptions to local businesses – from midnight to 5 am. We learned that in the still quiet of the night, city workers only drive in reverse. Kara was pregnant with our third child, Juliet, and after a couple months of sleepless nights listening to the constant chiming of the backup alarms on city vehicles we decided it was time to consider another neighborhood. Kara teaches at Point Loma Nazarene University, so that is the direction we headed and have been there ever since. The experience downtown was magical. When we go downtown, it has been so utterly transformed that it is hard to recollect how our old stomping grounds looked back in the ’90s. Absolutely amazing.
Besides the weather, why do you continue to call San Diego home?
There is a pile of reasons our family continues to call San Diego home, but here are my top 5:
1. I am one of five siblings and Kara is one of four, many who also live in San Diego. Along with both sets of parents and +/- 13 nieces and nephews, the gravitational pull of a large extended family we love and enjoy is simply too strong to abandon.
2. San Diego is an extraordinary landscape. The topography is interrupted by numerous canyons that break up the urban grid to introduce these irregular little fingers of nature throughout the city. Our house backs up to one of these canyons, where see skunks, raccoons, opossums, flocks of wild parrots and, on rare occasion, foxes and coyotes.
3. As an architect, the city is relatively new. We don’t have the heavy and oppressive historical baggage of older, more established cities like Chicago, San Francisco or New York that dictate patterns, style and solutions. There is a culture of casualness, experimentation and freedom that professionally is incredibly inspirational.
4. I love the fact that San Diego is a huge small town, and I never apologize for this condition. The place is knowable, which is an opportunity, not a fatal flaw. Attend a Padres game and you will run into several people you know. Meet someone new and toss out a few potential mutual acquaintances and there is bound to be a hit. This sense of community is what makes a place home and is the reason I will be buried in this city I love so much.