All photos by Torrey Bailey unless otherwise noted
Until recently, Point Loma was largely recognized for its coastal topography, Naval grounds and central role in the golden state’s colonization. Historically, the tip of Point Loma’s jutting peninsula is where the first European settler, Juan Cabrillo, landed in California in 1542. His arrival was honored with the Cabrillo National Monument, which exhibits critter-brimming tide pools and the landmark Old Point Loma Lighthouse. But a little over nine years ago—when Liberty Station began transplanting arts, makers and craft beers into the former Naval Training Center—the neighborhood was rebranded as a cultural hub. Small-time businesses have since flocked, contrasting the big-name fast food joints and strip clubs that have lined the northernmost Midway region for decades. Rosecrans Street is the main drag, spanning the majority of Point Loma, and is the oldest commercial thoroughfare in the state, according to city community development plans. While the area continues to change almost as much as the name of the Sports Arena, coastal preservation, top-notch seafood and all those adult stores are staying.
The collision of Rosecrans Street, Sports Arena Boulevard and Camino Del Rio West is an overwhelming gateway into the peninsula. With traffic roaring and the smell of In-N-Out wafting, it’s a corporate contrast to Point Loma’s overgrown, southern landscape.
Andrea Compton - Superintendent Cabrillo National Monument
“When people move into coastal California, before they move up to their cliff or beachside house, the first thing they do is bulldoze everything, plant their palm trees and build their swimming pool, so these habitats are really rare and unusual,” says Andrea Compton, superintendent of Cabrillo National Monument. Her office’s floor-to-ceiling window looks almost like a straight drop into the ocean and, throughout the workday, she likes to catch a peek at the ships sailing past. Compton spends most of her time balancing human impact and natural preservation, whether that’s planning for climate change, widening trails or creating educational programs. “Our world is constantly changing so it’s about learning how to understand that and manage it accordingly. A lot of what the National Park Service does is telling stories about the natural world, the cultural world, the history and making sure we have the most accurate information to rely on.” Beginning as a half acre in 1913, the site’s history traces back through World War I and II, which is noticeable by the war bunkers. “The whole reason the park is here is because of the community. It was the citizens of San Diego that would come out on Sundays for wagon rides and look at this view… and said this is a really special spot for everybody.”
— Torrey Bailey
Photo by Jamie Ballard
Heidi Rising - General manager, Point Loma Patient Consumer Co-Operative
There are many laurels Point Loma Patient Consumer Co-Operative (3452 Hancock St.) could rest on: It’s the first LEED-certified marijuana dispensary in the U.S. (thanks to solar panels and a clean air system), about 400 patients pass through the doors each day, and Snoop Dogg has been known to stop by. But General Manager Heidi Rising is most proud of the team of technicians and other staff who keep the co-op running. “Everyone here is super friendly,” she said. “We’re like a family here, we struggle together, and we build together. I feel very blessed in regards to how well everyone gets along.” For Rising, a Nebraska native, it’s hard not to have a sunny disposition in Point Loma. “The vibe here is wonderful. You have the music, the art, the beach and the sun, and I have a wonderful job I really enjoy going to,” she said. One of her favorite parts of the job is showing some love during Patient Appreciation Days, where vendors set up wares and samples for patients to peruse while they enjoy live music from the likes of reggae artists Don Carlos and Pato Banton. Rising said that the co-op’s focus on patient education sets it apart. When she’s not managing the team, you might find her at nearby Sunset Cliffs. “It’s my favorite, favorite place that I’ve ever been to.”
— Jamie Ballard
Terry Sizemore - General manager, Point Loma Seafoods
Point Loma Seafoods (2805 Emerson St.) has been family owned and operated for more than 50 years. Terry Sizemore, the general manager and grandson of the founders, blithely preserves the dynasty and its reputation of having “the freshest thing in town.” Sizemore believes the restaurant/seafood market has become a sort of trademark in Point Loma. The shop’s integral role in the community stems from an adherence to its original concept: to sell fresh fish for a reasonable price. “One of the things that has always stuck in my mind, both from my parents and grandparents raising us, is that excellence is always what’s requested and required in anything we do,” Sizemore says. Two remodels and more than a half a century later, these values remain central to the business. For Sizemore, among the most important are quality and kinship. Point Loma Seafoods has developed ties to the community not only through the families who constitute their clientele, but also through the generations of fishermen who sell them their products and the close-knit group of employees who work there. “We like to run the business as a family business as opposed to a corporation. People have first names and last names and families, and we like to be involved in all of that.”
Photo by Jessica Bradford
So many holy treasures at the swap meet
ONE MAN'S TRASH IS ANOTHER MAN'S TRASH
When I was 14, my family drove from Utah to San Diego. It wasn’t the first time we had vacationed here, but it was the first time since becoming a shitty adolescent. Back then, I would’ve rather died than interact with my family, and I spent most of the time hibernating in my Discman.
That is, until we went to Kobey’s Swap Meet (3500 Sports Arena Blvd.). It was the only thing that could muster more than eye-rolling annoyance from a teenage boy. The grit, the dirt, the stuff—I loved it all.
Not much has changed at Kobey’s in the 18 years since that vacation. It’s still a haven for hoarders, peddlers and aficionados of junk culture. Legit business booths line the entrance, but the real treasures can be found deeper, near the back, where people seem to unload their garages unto blankets. You wouldn’t believe how many rusted, deadly tools you can buy from these sellers.
How many murders were these involved in? I caught myself thinking on more than one occasion. I’m not buying anything used in more than three murders.
Instead, I bought a pair of nice sunglasses for $6. I know 14-year-old me is super disappointed by such a sensible purchase.
ON A SCALE OF ONE TO DRUNK
Where to drink on a scale of relaxed (1) to raucous
Living in San Diego at any time in the last 50 years means you’ve probably made at least one trip to the Sports Arena—or Valley View Casino Center, as it’s now called. Maybe you caught a San Diego Sockers or San Diego Gulls game, or maybe you saw a concert—be it Kiss or Katy Perry—from one of its 16,000 seats. And if you were born before the ‘70s, you might have even seen the kind of legendary career-making show that people talk about 40 years later. On May 24, 1969, Jimi Hendrix played at the San Diego Sports Arena, delivering a performance electric enough that it was released by Reprise as San Diego ‘69 in 1991. Anti-war protesters and gate-crashers were gathered outside, which Hendrix used as fuel for one of his most fiery performances, according to a Los Angeles Times article. On September 11, 1974, David Bowie brought his Diamond Dogs tour to the Sports Arena. The show was known for its elaborate sets with more than 20,000 moving parts, including catwalks, streetlamps and a glass “asylum” in which he sang “Big Brother.” And on December 29, 1993, Nirvana played their last show in San Diego here, just two years after an in-store performance at Off the Record in Hillcrest.
GIVE ME LIBERTY
A lot has been made of last year’s opening of the Liberty Public Market and for good reason, but the Liberty Station area and NTC venues have grown into quite the arts district over the past decade, with affordable rents for first-time gallerists and museums with diverse programming. Here are some of my favorites that readers should consider checking out on the area’s Friday Night Liberty art walks (every first Friday):
The New Americans Museum (2825 Dewey Road #102): In this time of strife and uncertainty, this quaint spot is dedicated to exhibitions that celebrate diversity and the immigrant experience.
San Diego Comic Art Gallery (2765 Truxtun Road) and Comickaze (2750 Historic Decatur Road): Nestled in the IDW Publishing offices, the Comic Art Gallery has some cool exhibitions dedicated to the craft while Comickaze has regular appearances and signings by artists and writers.
Malashock Dance (2650 Truxtun Road #202): The acclaimed choreographer has regular showcases at the neighboring White Box Live Arts performance space.
Women’s Museum of California (2730 Historic Decatur Road #103): Excellent local showcases with feminist themes, as well as an impressive collection of historic memorabilia from the fight for equality.