Ocean Beach is an oceanfront community some 7 miles northwest of downtown San Diego. It is bordered by Mission Bay and Mission beach to the north, Sunset Cliffs to the south and Point Loma Heights to the east. To the west are the open waters of the vast blue Pacific Ocean.
The Ocean Beach planning area comprises about 742 acres, or 1 square mile, and is mostly made up of low to medium density housing. Residential areas in Ocean Beach are divided into three distinct zones: North Ocean Beach, South Ocean Beach, and The Hill. Commercial areas are comprised mostly of small locally-run businesses and are concentrated across Newport Avenue, Point Loma Avenue and Voltaire Street.
Ocean Beach has a long and storied history going back to the late 19th century when real estate developers Frank Higgins and Billy Carson built hotels, laid out streets and held promotional events on the beach to entice buyers for lots. Initially called Mussel Beach due to the prevalence of mussels in the area, the Higgins and Carson renamed their beachfront holdings to the more marketable Ocean Beach.
Although not an instant success (the town was hard hit by the 1890 real estate bust), Ocean Beach went through a series of boom and bust cycles until the 1950’s, when new housing developments lead to a population boom. In the 60’s and 70’s Ocean Beach became a mecca for hippies and new age devotees, giving the community a laid back, mellow vibe that endures to this day.
Ocean Beach falls within the 92107 Zip code. Because of its closeness to the ocean house prices in Ocean Beach are generally higher than the San Diego average, but lower when compared to other beachfront communities. As of July 2016 the median value in Ocean Beach was $674,000 for single family homes and $546,000 for condos.
Ocean Beach is part of the San Diego Unified School District and contains two schools in its planning area: Ocean Beach Elementary, a K-4 public school and Warren-Walker, a K-8 private school. The Ocean Beach Planning Board handles city planning and development, while the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association promotes and supports local businesses. Other community organizations include the Ocean Beach Town Council, the Ocean Beach Historical Society the local chapter of the Kiwanis Club. Parks and recreational facilities include Dusty Rhodes Park, the Ocean Beach Recreation Center and Robb Field, a 60-acre sports complex with facilities for baseball, tennis, soccer, handball, basketball, athletics and a skateboard park.
Despite the fact Ocean Beach is built on prime oceanfront real estate, it still retains a quaint small town charm missing in San Diego’s larger, more commercialized, beachfront communities. Some say Ocean Beach’s fiercely independent nature that makes it immune to large-scale commercial exploitation is a legacy of the hippies and new-agers that settled there in the 60’s and 70’s.
The small-town ethos of Ocean Beach is best exemplified by its commercial areas, which are dominated by independently run mom-and-pop stores. The community in Ocean Beach actively opposes the opening of chain stores - and will occasionally come out in organized protest against any plans to do so.
Local Festivals and Events
Like any other beachfront community, OBecians (how Ocean Beach residents refer to themselves, pronounced O-bee-shuns) like a good party. Here are some notable annual outdoor events in Ocean Beach:
- The Ocean Beach Street Fair and Chili Cookoff, which celebrates food, music and good times. Held every June.
- The Ocean Beach Kite Festival, held in March.
- A weekly farmers market held every Wednesday at 4900 Newport Avenue, featuring organic locally-grown produce, flowers, arts and handicrafts.
- The Ocean Beach Christmas Parade in December
- The Ocean Beach Canine Carnival, a parade for kids and their four legged friends, held on the Sunday before Halloween.
- 4th of July Fireworks