OB: 7 Square Miles Surrounded by Reality
Every San Diego beach community has its own unique vibe. If you’ve lived here long enough, you know which beaches are for tourists, which ones are good for parties and pub crawls, and which beaches to visit for a quiet, relaxing day. Perhaps of all the small beach neighborhoods in San Diego, Ocean Beach is the most eclectic. OB is known for its crowds of free-spirited hippies, starving artists, and a “locals only” attitude. Residents even have a saying that OB is “seven square miles surrounded by reality”.
OB residents seem to work pretty hard at protecting their turf from outsiders on a lot of different fronts. Surfers by the pier and at Sunset Cliffs are known to get pretty territorial while they’re out in the water with “kooks” and newbies. Many in the neighborhood were upset a few years back when Starbucks opened up shop on the corner of Newport and Bacon, fearing that it would take business away from the small, locally owned coffee shops in the area. Locals can be overheard complaining about tourists taking up all the good parking. OB residents even have a term for people visiting from Arizona on summer vacation: Zonies. Signs in front of homes read, “Neighborhoods are for neighbors, not vacation rentals.” People who live in Ocean Beach adoringly call each other “OBecians”.
It’s safe to say that Ocean Beach is definitely interested in keeping its reputation as a small, local beach neighborhood. Lately, there has been a lot buzz in OB about the possibility of a Target Express store opening up on Newport Avenue. Similar to the way many residents felt when Starbucks moved in, people are fearful that a big business opening on Newport will take away from the many small mom and pop shops on the street, and also make parking all the more difficult. Newport is OB’s main drag, and in recent months the street has become home to many new microbreweries and tasting rooms. A lot residents fear that the rising amounts of bars and commercial businesses will take away from the neighborhoods small town vibes and change the feel of the community.
While Ocean Beach can be known for its hostile attitude towards outsiders, the neighborhood is also know for its strong sense of community (once you become a part of it). The small town vibe makes it easy to get to know your neighbors and make friends at local watering holes. The local craft brewery tasting rooms bring beer lovers together to enjoy a pint or two after work. Every Wednesday, residents frequent the OB Farmer’s Market to support local businesses. Every year, the Christmas parade makes living in and around OB feel magical and classic.
Perhaps the “locals only” attitude Ocean Beach is so well known for is based on the fact that residents know they live somewhere truly beautiful and unique, and they want to try to keep it that way.