Ashley McLaughlin (<a href="https://www.etsy.com/shop/hardshellart">etsy.com/shop/hardshellart</a>)
A childhood friend of mine from Chicago recently admitted that she unfollowed my Facebook feed.
“In February Chicago had its coldest month on record since 1875! We froze our asses off. Looking at pictures of you frolicking on the beach while I am forced to shovel out a parking space just so I can park my car in front of my building, was infuriating,” Julie explained.
In an attempt to appease her, I tried pointing out some of San Diego’s flaws. But here’s the thing: there isn’t much to complain about.
“You can’t swim in lakes in San Diego,” I argued.
“So what, you have the Pacific Ocean. Besides, the last time I went to Lake Michigan there were dead crows on the beach,” was Julie’s retort.
“We don’t have fireflies,” I added.
“You’re listing the lack of an insect as one of your city’s biggest downfalls? Pathetic,” she spit back.
Julie’s Facebook unfollowing got me thinking — does San Diego really have any flaws? Do people living here take issue with “America’s Finest City”? Is there anything to hate about this town? I took to the streets to ask the natives. It wasn’t an easy task. Many people I approached looked at me like I had lost my mind. Roughly 75 percent of the people I interviewed couldn’t, or refused, to point out a single flaw that San Diego possesses. It was as if I was asking people to talk smack about their mothers. Most listed the many wonderful things this city has to offer — the beach, the weather, sunsets, and again the weather. Around 25 percent found room for improvement. So, if a Facebook friend deserts you out of San Diego envy, you can forward them this compilation of San Diego pet peeves.
- Kevin Colgan, 38, Navy enlisted
- La Mesa
“My biggest issue with San Diego is that you have people from all over the country here. The best way to describe it is that if you took the United States, laid it on its side, and shook it, all the pieces that fell down would end up in San Diego. Everyone is from everywhere, and I think it affects our loyalty. We have a lot of people representing different parts of the country. For instance, I am from Texas, I run around here and I’m, like, ‘Texas, Texas, Texas!’ No one around here is waving the San Diego banner. When you drive down the road, there are more L.A. stickers on the backs of people’s cars than there is San Diego anything. We don’t support much of anything solely San Diego. It’s a big route for commerce. The Navy’s here, so everyone is from everywhere else, it’s like people just want to live here and be tourists at the same time.”
- Nick Medina, 25 and Michael Gobert, 51, dancers
- San Diego
“I hate the idea that the Chargers might leave. San Diego fans don’t support the Chargers when we are losing. They only support them when we are winning. I don’t think our fans are dedicated enough,” said Nick Medina.
Michael Gobert did not agree with this assessment.
”I think the issue with the Chargers has more to do with the economy than anything else. San Diegans can’t afford to go to Chargers games. The cost of living here is high. Most of us can only afford to put a roof over our heads and barely squeeze by with anything else. Many of us are working two jobs to get by. I mean, I have three kids — how can you be supportive by buying season tickets when you gotta pay the rent here?”
Ashley McLaughlin (<a href="https://www.etsy.com/shop/hardshellart">etsy.com/shop/hardshellart</a>)
See you, pandas
- Greg Harrison, baseball coach
- Carmel Valley
“I hate the panda nonsense at the zoo. Pandas have been selected for extinction. ‘Don’t make any sudden moves around the pandas.’ ‘Don’t make any loud noises around the pandas.’ ‘If it’s too hot, the pandas won’t be out.’ ‘If it’s too cold, the pandas won’t be out.’ They have fans that spritz them with water.... Pandas apparently can’t adapt to shit, and they can only reproduce three days per year. See you, fuckers. Thanks for inhabiting the planet, but it’s time to go.”
Chargers beat bums
- Angel Flores, 57, construction worker
- Chula Vista
“My biggest pet peeve is that our local government cares more about the Chargers leaving than they do about all the homeless people I see around here every day.”
No beer on beach
- Jon Walsh, 22, UCSD student
- Mission Beach
“I love San Diego, so I don’t have much to say. But, you know, what I don’t like is that you can’t drink a beer on the beach.”
After waving smoke out of my face I pointed out to Walsh that he was currently enjoying another sort of treat on the beach. He laughed and said, “True, so, I guess not drinking beer is not that big of a deal.”
- Savannah Learner, 19, unemployed
- City Heights
“My biggest issue with San Diego is the people. People here annoy me. They are shallow and they are ignorant. I like people in Ocean Beach, though. O.B. is chill. I always say, if I were ever to become homeless, I would live here.
"I am from City Heights. I went to a really preppy high school and people’s belief that they were better than other people annoyed me. People in San Diego just don’t take the time to get to know you. They just judge right away by the cover. I have met people that aren’t from here and they are super chill and nonjudgmental.”
- Jack Sabourin, 23, musician
- Del Mar
“My least favorite thing about San Diego is some of the ritzier places. Some of the people can be a little pretentious. They look down on you if you are not part of their inner circle if you aren’t driving a Mercedes or BMW, or if your kids aren’t wearing, like, Tommy Hilfiger clothes. Aside from that, I’d say everything is pretty much perfect here.”
- Jamie Hill, age undisclosed, occupation undisclosed
- Neighborhood undisclosed
“I hate non–San Diegans. That’s it, interview over!”
- Cesar Avile, 23, Mesa College student
- El Cajon
“My biggest pet peeve is that they only fix the roads in the richer parts of town. The roads in poorer parts of town are so messed up. I mean, you drive into El Cajon and all the roads are terrible. Why can’t they just fix them? We pay taxes for that. Where does all that money go? It goes to the people that have money to make their neighborhoods look good. All our neighborhoods in San Diego could look good. It’s very classist.”
- Francisco Castillo, 20, juice-shop employee
- Sherman Heights
San Diego's "short" buildings
“My issue with San Diego is our downtown. I really like the downtown San Diego area but I feel like it hasn’t reached its full potential. We should have taller buildings. We don’t have a skyline, it’s kind of boring. I feel like taller buildings would make San Diego feel like more of a city.
"We could use more activities and events downtown, too. We need more music and performances for younger people.”
All cluttered up
- Carvonna Jefferson, 26, Mesa College student, ex-Navy
- San Diego
“There’re a couple of things I hate about San Diego. I hate that there are no seasons here. It is always sunny but not sunny enough. You still have to wear a sweater.
"I hate the driving here, too. Nobody in California can drive. Everyone is all cluttered up and the speed limit only goes to 65. It’s so slow! And the roads are really, really, raggedy. Not only that, but the parking is terrible. All the houses are really, really, close together. Everywhere you go you have to park on the side of the road and walk to get to your destination.”
Esther De Jesus and Miriam Sanchez
Santee is the worst
- Miriam Sanchez, 20, student
- Spring Valley
“Santee is the worst thing about San Diego. It’s awkward. I know people that live there and I visit and hang out there sometime. I hear really racist comments there, terrible things. I am appalled at some of the racist stuff people say. It’s very uncomfortable.”
- Esther Rios, 20, waitress
- Pacific beach
“I hate that people take San Diego for granted. We live in a beautiful city. The weather here is unmatched. It is always nice out. Even when it’s cold it’s nothing like New York, where the temperature is like subzero. San Diego always stays at a happy medium. We are so spoiled. People will say, ‘I can’t stand the cold’ and it’s, like, 50 degrees out. I know a girl from Arizona that comes to the beach every single day because she loves San Diego so much. I’m from here and I come down to the beach maybe once a month, if that. I just think we need to appreciate where we live more.”
To drive... in the rain
- Alex Roller, 34, production manager for the San Diego Youth Symphony
- North Park
“People don’t know how to drive here in the rain. Everything just comes to a dead stop. Also, the Zonies! They drive so slowly!”
- Laura Schreiner, 27, organizer for the San Diego Organizing Project
- district three
“I take issue with the infrastructure problem in San Diego. Certain San Diego neighborhoods — they tend to be the low socio-economically disadvantaged communities — don’t have the same level of infrastructure as other neighborhoods. They don’t have sidewalks, they don’t have paved alleys, they don’t have the same number of parks that other places have. I mean, street paving is one thing, but when you don’t even have street lights to allow walkable, livable, safe communities...if you don’t have lights, you have more crime.
"The City of San Diego now finally has an infrastructure committee, but we are dealing with a five-billion-dollar potential backlog on infrastructure projects that have not been completed. How is the city going to make sure that the areas that need the most, the ones that have been neglected for decades, actually get up to a standard level of service?
We need a system that channels money equitably and fairly. People need to believe that first before they will be willing to pay more taxes or increase revenue. We have a deficit in the budget. It keeps getting bigger and bigger and the needs are greater and greater with infrastructure. But no one is willing to vote to support a bond measure for infrastructure unless it’s in their own community. I think we need new revenue options, too, but we need to know that it will actually go to the neighborhoods that need it.”
Not conducive to art
- Nathan Olesen, 23, recent UCSD graduate, musician
- Normal Heights
“My main argument would be that San Diego, of all the major cities in the U.S., has the least art. You know, other cities, like L.A., SF, New York, they have an art culture. Policies such as the ‘no busking’ one get in the way. I have to have a permit to busk in Balboa Park, which is cool, I like it here, but if people were able to busk anywhere it would embrace the art of San Diego more. I think our lack of art culture is because the general conservative frame of mind here. It’s less about art and more about clean, functioning spaces; La Jolla is such a great example. They have so many weird regulations that are not conducive to art.”
Cheaper in Nevada
- Bob Pratl, 51, special effects technician
- Morley Field
The sunshine tax is too expensive
“I hate that San Diego is so expensive. I moved here from Las Vegas and for what I spend on rent here, I can have twice as much there. The cost of electricity is ridiculous and so is the cost of water! I was spending under $1500 for a three-bedroom, two-car garage, living room, and family room with all utilities included. I mean, I get the sunshine tax, but it’s just too much. Nevada is nice, too. We have a lot of beautiful places. You have to work a high-end job or have multiple incomes to afford living here. I don’t know if it’s worth it. I mean, right now it’s nice, but as things get more expensive — with them decommissioning San Onofre, people are going to be paying for that for years all because they made a mistake. It’s unbelievable how much cheaper it is in Nevada. I am here due to health issues. I am staying with family, but once my back is fixed I’m going back to Las Vegas. It’s just too expensive here.”
Faith and Brandon Gullen
- Faith and Brandon Guillen, 22, Navy enlisted
- San Diego
“My biggest qualm with San Diego is the continual discrimination against certain dog breeds. We have a staffie mix. Apartment complexes won’t rent to us,” says Faith Guillen. Adds Brandon, “They list the breeds you can and can’t have. It’s so sad. You know, we walk our dog around our apartment complex and breeds that aren’t restricted aren’t trained well and give her a hard time.” Interrupts Faith, “Yeah, and she’s docile.” Adds Brandon, “Pit bulls were bred as nanny dogs to watch over kids.” Faith interrupts, “The place that we live at, we aren’t supposed to have our dog, and we are under the radar. We had to go through so many hoops to find a place to live that would accept our dog. Finally, we decided that we were paying enough in rent that we would just live there even if our dog is restricted.” Pipes in Brandon, “We are moving to Hawaii soon. We are going to stay under the radar until we figure something out.”
Bad beach manners
- Maggie Hartnett, 33, museum director
- North County
“I hate people that don’t understand beach etiquette, whether it be parking at the beach, being at the beach, where your blanket goes, or the spatial awareness when you are in the water. I hate when people put their blanket right next to me when the whole beach is empty. I also hate those people that are unaware in the water. I see these people get annihilated by waves and are all fucked up, and I think, Well, guess what, you need to know the ocean, you need to pay attention while you are in the water, to what is going on! I don’t like it when people become a danger to me because they don’t know what they are doing out in the ocean. Sometimes it is really entertaining to watch these clueless people, though.”
A lack of crackin' clubs in SD
Kristina Monique Cortez
No crackin’ clubs
- Kristina-Monique Cortez, 34, and Sonia Taabor 36, make-up artists
- East County
“There is nothing I don’t like about San Diego. I am a native. For me, I wish I could carry San Diego with me everywhere I go,” says Sonia Tabbor.
Adds her friend, Kristina-Monique Cortez, “I agree. I just wish we had some nightclubs that were crackin’. I wish we had something with more of a mixology vibe.
"San Diego is going through a little bit of transition right now. I grew up here, too, and it used to be more of a town. Now it’s more urban. I like it. It would be nice to be able to go out and do something different and new. I would love to see more music and art here and more diversity.”
South Mission surfers are the worst
- Andrew Brown, 16, high school student
- La Mesa
“What I hate the most about San Diego are douchey surfers. Let me clarify that, douchey South Mission surfers. I surf a bunch of different spots in San Diego and don’t have problems. The surfers here are chill, except at South Mission. There are some really good surfers there and they are rude to people they think are beneath them. They are territorial. Every time I have surfed there I have had an issue or have seen the regulars give other surfers problems.
"Last Saturday there was this really good surfer out there. He’s the kind of surfer who catches waves no problem but also makes sure no one else gets the wave by swerving in front of them so they have to move. This younger kid, — he was, like 19 — didn’t move, so this surfer got off his board and punched the water really hard in front of him. He told the 19-year-old, ‘Get out of here, you don’t belong out here.’ He started swearing at him. It was annoying, so when he paddled past me, I said, ‘It’s just a wave, dude. Calm down! There are plenty more waves. There is no reason to be rude to some kid.’ He freaked out and started swearing at me and saying that he comes here every day and he has never seen me before. I told him, ‘Relax, you don’t own this beach.’ He got really mad and asked, ‘Wanna take this to shore?’ It was pretty funny. He was, like, 30 and I am 16. Another surfer was, like, ‘Dude, really? You’re going to fight a kid over this?’ He paddled off all frustrated. I saw him later on limping out of the ocean because he got hurt or something. He walked past me and my friends and said, ‘Get out of here, you fucking groms!’ South Mission surfers are the worst.”
Clean ≠ smart
- Donna Tisdale, 56, community activist
“One of my biggest issues with San Diego is the number of naive elected officials and residents that continue to think our rural communities, forests, desert lands, and productive farmland must be converted to industrial-scale wind and solar projects in order to transition to a clean-energy future. Increased energy efficiency, conservation, and point-of-use renewable energy generation with clean inverters and battery storage at new and existing facilities, and parking-lot solar shade covers that can also incorporate electric-vehicle charge stations offer a far better solution that does not require expensive and destructive new high-voltage lines through our fire-prone drought-stressed backcountry.”
Growing too fast
- Katherine Lopez, age and occupation undisclosed
- Neighborhood not given
“If I could change one thing about San Diego it would be [to have] some kind of real leadership here. Not necessarily direction — this city is too large and growing too fast in too many directions to really control where it’s going but at least if we had a leader with a vision and some ideas as to where they see San Diego in the coming years. Dick Murphy at least proposed the City of Villages idea, which I thought had some promise. Bob Filner was definitely on track to be the greatest mayor this city ever had, by virtue of his actions and decisions, and look what they did to him. So, yes, leadership, the lack of leadership would be my biggest pet peeve.”
- Mike Homan, 40, principal of Reformation Lutheran School
“I don’t like the education that students are receiving in our San Diego public schools. Far too often, the students’ education is compromised by them being locked down in a room while dogs are sniffing at lockers. Administrators are hamstrung on helping or terminating awful teachers. Teachers are helpless in creating a curriculum that works because bureaucrats have decided that Common Core is the best practice to teach children. People trumpet free education; however, when you examine the amount of tax money that is going to public education, it is not free. It is definitely one item that I don’t like about San Diego.”
Scrunch under flip-flops
“The thing I hate most about San Diego? It never snows. I’m not talking six months and three feet like the Chicago winters I grew up with. But it sure would be swell, maybe around Christmas, to once again ponder elegantly falling snow by streetlight and feel it scrunch under my flip-flops. If nothing else, wouldn’t it be a kick watching San Diego drivers — you know, the ones who spring into panic mode the second a rare sun shower sprinkles their windshield — turn the I-5 into a four-lane bumper car Ice Capades? And don’t tell me a trip to Julian will satisfy my nostalgia for precipitation in the form of hexagonal-patterned ice crystals. Last year I arrived at the La Mesa home of my Reader cohort, Matthew Lickona, to find buckets of the white stuff lining his front walk fresh from a pilgrimage up the mountain. Hell, ever since the local Vons started stocking them, I no longer make the trip to Julian for one on their world-class pies, let alone a blizzard.
And are the pies sold at Vons really Julian pies or pie ingredients sent from Julian to be assembled and baked in a supermarket oven? I’ll withhold comment for your next story, “Things People Question About San Diego.”