Sunset Cliffs – the Forgotten Boulevard

by on May 4, 2021 · 28 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Judi Curry

From the 1300 block of Sunset Cliffs southbound, some of the most beautiful terrain of San Diego can be viewed.  This particular area brings people from all phases of life to view the Cliffs, the waves, the birds, the homes, etc. and they do this on a very regular basis.

However, as a resident of the Cliffs area, it is getting out of hand. The traffic, the trash, the drinking has sky-rocked to the point that residents sometimes cannot get out of their driveways because of congestion on the road; rescue vehicles cannot traverse the road safely; pedestrians think they are invincible and cross in the middle of the street even though there is oncoming – and outgoing – traffic.

The signal that was placed at the corner of Sunset Cliffs and Pt. Loma Avenue only adds to the problem.  Lines of cars are supposed to stop at that signal to let oncoming cars through.  But that is not how it is working because the lines are so long southbound just before sunset and the reverse is true when the sunset is over and people are leaving the area.

Even if it worked the way it should it would still be the cause of long lines; ill-tempers; rolling stops, etc. because by the time people leave this area many of them have had a drink too many while watching the sun set; or some have toked too muck weed while waiting for the sun to go down, and since those rules have been broken, a few more aren’t going to make a difference, unless, of course, someone really gets hurt.

Let me give you a real example of a two hour episode that took place on Friday evening, from approximately 7:15pm to 9:15pm:

Firstly, the traffic coming into the area was over-whelming.  The line at Pt. Loma and Sunset Cliffs extended almost to Santa Cruz Avenue.  The food truck – does he have a license? is setting up his wares.  He is here every night parked on the Cliffs selling food to the sight-seeing people – who, by the way, leave their trash wherever they can find a place on the road to leave it.

At 7:15pm, you hear the first sounds of the sirens.  Someone has gone over the cliff at the 1200 block of Sunset Cliffs.  By the time the rescue is complete, seven rescue vehicles are trying to get to the person in need, and watching them maneuver Sunset Cliffs is like being at Bumper Car rally.  Once they are in place they have to use a crane to pick the diver out of the water and bring him to safety.

Hundreds of people are standing on the Cliffs – both east and west sides – watching the rescue. Cars are double- even triple parked along the road.  And then! BANG! There is a traffic collision and there are more sirens on their way to take care of the people that got hit by the cars.

And then – more sirens going south on Sunset Cliffs because an arsonist has set a home on fire on Sunset Cliffs and Hill Street.  Fortunately there were some hero’s in that scenario, because as they were leaving the area after viewing the sunset they happened to see what the arsonist was doing and stepped up to the plate.  They saved the house and any resident that was in it. True heroes. And it is just 9:00pm! And the night is still going strong.

But this isn’t about the heroic measures that family took.  No, rather this is about the crowds that converge on Sunset Cliffs Blvd. every single night.  This is about the lack of police coverage during the sunset viewing hours.  This is about the lack of signage telling people that they can’t park here overnight.  In fact, there is signage in La Jolla, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach about stopped parking after 10:00pm, but there is nothing on Sunset Cliffs.  (I called Jen Campbell’s office about this months ago. I got back a form letter telling she was looking into it.  Nada! It’s worse than it was before and we are weeks away from summer!)

What is it going to take to have some police action in this area?  Every now and then I see on the crime report a ticket issued for having an open bottle in evidence; every now and then I see a sexual abuse case that took place after hours on the Cliffs;  once in awhile I see a comment about drugs for sale on the Cliffs.  But this is not a “once in a while” episode.  This is an everyday, every night episode.  Do we have to wait until there is a huge tragedy for the police and City Council and Mayor to realize that this is an accident ripe for picking if something is not done about it?

How many rescues will there be before it dawns on those that govern that something needs to be done?  Right now the average of rescues is at least one a week.  Sometimes more.  What will happen when the rescue vehicles cannot get through because of traffic?  What in the world is the City Council – and Jen Campbell – waiting for?  It’s coming – something needs to thwart that danger before it is too late.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Judi Curry May 4, 2021 at 7:37 am

A correction: there is not a signal at the corner of Pt.Loma Ave and Sunset Cliffs. It is a stop sign .


Larry May 4, 2021 at 9:01 am

The situation will only get much worse as summer nears and the police presence becomes even less because the vocal minority do not want the police. Police are retiring in masses and funding diverted. They want counselors and school nurses to be the first responders. Your beautiful cliffs are fast becoming history. And safety is also.


Hmmmm May 4, 2021 at 2:09 pm

Hmmmm, are you upset that your property values have gone through the roof because people want to be in that area? I bet not…..


Judi Curry May 4, 2021 at 2:13 pm

Property values has nothing to do with thi8s. I haven’t thought about it because that is not the problem. You missed the entire point and tried to turn it around into something it is not.


nostalgic May 4, 2021 at 2:11 pm

Thank you, Judi. Wanted to add to your story, the morning crowd… you know, the people who live in their cars and vans, and open the back doors to their well-outfitted vehicles, and socialize with other ocean-front dwellers. An ordinary tourist who comes later (like after 9:00 am) will wind up parking outside your front door. All spaces taken!


Judi Curry May 4, 2021 at 4:53 pm

This isn’t allowed in PB, MB and/or LaJolla. Why is it allowed here?


Gravitas May 4, 2021 at 3:27 pm

Well done. Well written. So many houses along the Cliffside seem to be AirBnBs…..not complaining about the mess. Good for you writing about it.


Judi Curry May 4, 2021 at 4:54 pm

Thank you. Can’t help but worry about the spread of disease when you see all the used condoms; the empty bottles and cans; the garbage that is littering this beautiful area.


dale eggers May 4, 2021 at 3:52 pm

I totally agree with you. You and I have lived here a long time and happen to be neighbors. I am totally appalled about the negative transformation of the Cliffs: the trash, the traffic, the racing cars, the gunning motors, the congestion, and just general disrespect of many of the visitors.
I also agree about that terrible intersection at Pt. Loma Ave. and Sunset Cliffs Blvd. Who’s “smart idea” was it to put stop signs there? What was wrong with the pedestrian alert light there previously? A traffic light would be far preferable to the current 4-way stop. It backs up the already heavy Sunset Cliffs traffic for no reason.
Yes, we need more police presence for a start. I believe we need more neighborhood action if we are ever to have even a semblance of quality of life return to our area. Yes, people should be able to share the enjoyment, but it needs to be enjoyed in a respectful manner. Are there any ideas or suggestions? I’m not sure I know where to start


Judi Curry May 4, 2021 at 4:57 pm

Hi Dale. I totally agree with you. I have written to Jen Campbell’s office; I have written to the mayor’s office. I even wrote to the Police Department. I received back form letters, and a “promise” from one of Campbell’s workers, but nothing has been done and I am not too hopeful that anything will be done. As I write this the siren’s are blaring down the street – I suppose it is another rescue. Yet I am willing to bet that there are no police anywhere in that vicinity – YET. Oh, they will be there soon, but will they issue tickets to the double parkers? Will they check the health certificate of the person with the food truck? Doubtful. It might take a catastrophe to have anything ever done.


dale eggers May 4, 2021 at 3:57 pm

I am correcting my syntax. It should read “Whose “smart idea” was it to put stop signs there?”


Jay May 8, 2021 at 10:16 am

I agree about the crowds, trash and overnight parking but respectfully disagree about the 4 way stop at Sunset Cliffs and Pt Loma. As a long time resident who enjoys walking, that is the only safe place to cross the street as a pedestrian most times of the day, but especially at rush hours and before/after sunset. The flashing lights for the crosswalk did little to deter many drivers who cruised through the intersection while lights were flashing. The stop signs have done a better job for pedestrians. I actually go out of my way to cross there because it is safer than crossing elsewhere where there are no crosswalks.


Robert Briggs May 5, 2021 at 10:57 am

Ms. Curry,
This is the best rant I have seen published in the rag in a long time! 100% true word for word. I live next to a not sure what it is home, it’s not an air bnb, 3 bedrooms, two bedrooms have 2 sets of bunkbeds in each bedroom (total 8 people), other bedroom has at least 2 people in it, they have a half dozen cars between them all, mountains of trash, endless vistors, non of them seem to work, partying every day, what a mess, no luck with the landlord, the city, the tenants, I am ready to move and leave OB in my rearview mirror.
Bob Briggs


nostalgic May 6, 2021 at 8:27 am

Some tenants in San Diego run informal equivalents of Airbnb. If you have $100 cash, you can stay there one (or two) nights. For $500, a week. This helps the homeless in San Diego take showers and do laundry without the restrictions of homeless shelters. Not saying this is the case you describe, but it is a booming part of under-the-radar economy.


Judi Curry May 5, 2021 at 1:13 pm

Thanks, Bob. I think that those of us living in the area, for no matter how long or short, are concerned about what is happening to the Cliffs. It won’t be long and they won’t be there, no because of the erosion, but because of the people. Don’t leave yet! There may be an answer. Judi


Terrie Leigh Relf May 5, 2021 at 10:27 pm

Thank you for this, Judi!
I so admire and respect the fact that you’re putting “all this” out there. I am also concerned (keeping in mind that I don’t drive and have never had a license and that my children do drive), that as pedestrians, we have to be hyper-vigilant. Here’s to us all focusing on creating a positive neighborhood and being there for our neighbors – and considerate visitors. It is a sad state of affairs about some people’s ethics and so forth . . . While I believe that more police monitoring/action would be beneficial, as would community involvement (open to suggestions), it points to so much that disturbs me to no end.

I’ve lived here for about fifteen years and am not planning to move anytime soon. That said, I have heard an increasing amount of people share that they don’t want to leave, but may have to do so.



Douglas Blackwood May 7, 2021 at 12:40 am

Like most desirable places: social media wrecks the vibe. For 40 years I surfed the Cliffs from Osprey to spots South , enjoying many sunsets from the water, or the cliffs. When my girls were little, we would take them for walks out there. I hardly go out there now: its very sad!


Chris May 7, 2021 at 5:32 pm

Judy, as always you are spot on.

I think we need to form a neighborhood association, comprised of homeowners, renters, business owners and other interested parties such as surfers, bikers & nature lovers.
There’s power in numbers so maybe we can get the attention of our city government.


Toby May 9, 2021 at 7:00 am

I couldn’t agree more.



Mary May 10, 2021 at 8:38 pm

Hi, I agree and have talked frequently with my local friends that this has become a problem within the last 5 years and also blame social media for destroying the vibe. Although I think this is a great op ed, we should all write Campbell’s office, and participating in a neighborhood watch might help, but maybe elevating the problem to the local news stations and show the safety issues, used condoms and the general disrespect for our city and Park. ( Sunset Cliffs is considered a Park, unlike, La Jolla, MB and PB). Then maybe Campbell and the mayor offices would feel more pressure to do something.


obpeg May 11, 2021 at 9:50 am

As we have seen throughout 2020 the police will only enforce the laws they want to enforce. If police don’t see it as a problem they willingly ignore the situation.


Frank Gormlie May 12, 2021 at 12:32 pm
Moses roses May 14, 2021 at 4:01 am

The local residents have to get together like in a community group to police their streets. No hate no violence. Just protecting the community and the people. We have to get together and run these people who don’t care out. Strength In numbers. If we don’t show them that we care,they won’t stop to think before they do something they’re not supposed to. I’m at santa Cruz beach almost daily. I protect the local wildlife and quality of life for all people, residents and visitors. If I see someone doing something they are not supposed to, I call them out. If I hve to I will shame them publicly. I’ve had altercations and run ins with locals, residents, homeless, and also visitors that this k they can get away withleaving trash poop or whatever….point is, all these words mean nothing if the people aren’t going to stand up and protect the health and safety of mother nature. People mistake me for homeless, they have called cops on me, I am honest and true. I will always right and protect this place. It’s worth it. I wish love and happiness to all. Thank u.


nostalgic May 15, 2021 at 8:36 am

What is a mobile home? It is a car with a back seat. The sleeping bag and pillow go in the back seat, possessions in the front passenger seat. The trunk pops open for the table and chairs. To see some nice examples, try the Sunset Cliffs parking areas. Often parked facing the street, trunk open. These lots are closed 2-4 am. They are often full by 7:00 am. The people know the rules. But …. when does many become too many? This is a question with no official answer.


Debbi June 28, 2021 at 9:10 am

Things just keep getting worse in this town..

Mayor, Councilwoman its time to do your job and get things under control!


Peter from South O June 28, 2021 at 11:33 am

Our Council members can’t even negotiate a land sale properly and you think they can solve the gun problem?


Debbi June 28, 2021 at 12:48 pm

I agree with you Peter.

This park should close at dusk. That will help with all the craziness going on in the area since no park ranger is present.


Geoff Page June 28, 2021 at 3:50 pm

How would you close this park? During the ridiculously long construction at the park, the parking lot where this occurred was closed. But, the park is easily accessible from multiple locations and has been busy all that time. There is no practical way to close this park.

This is not a common occurrence at the Cliffs, but the increase in violence is happening everywhere ever since the orange-headed creature entered the White House. There is no reason why we should be immune to it. Until social media discovers some other place that is cool, like many places in La Jolla would be, these things will happen. Meanwhile, some serious gun control would maybe help some.


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