A wave of development may be transforming Imperial Beach.
The 27,000-person coastal city closest to the border has often been overlooked because of concerns over crime and pollution. It was often considered not only the most affordable coastal town in San Diego, but one of the more affordable places in the county overall.
But a big hotel project opened in 2013 has brought new investment.
There are several major developments either slated to start construction soon or are awaiting final approval. The development surge is being touted for increasing the local housing supply and adding new commercial amenities for Imperial Beach residents, and for boosting local tourism, too.
“People have always overlooked Imperial Beach as being dirty,” said Jed Bratt, a real estate agent living in Imperial Beach. “In late 2013, Pier South opened and from that point on, Imperial Beach took an incredible turn. Small businesses got facelifts and began to expand. It’s just really starting to take off.”
Many of the projects were started years ago, but with the end of the state’s tax-funded redevelopment program, which helped cities rebuild rundown areas, they were put on hold indefinitely.
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This article does a serious injustice to investigative journalism and to the people of Imperial Beach. Given the nationwide gentrification trend, I would think that Maya would dig a little deeper than limiting her interview subjects to two real estate developers with obvious financial conflicts of interest in the framing of this story, and one city worker. This "facelift" of IB mostly benefits wealthy tourists--and at the cost of our neighbors who are being displaced by the skyrocketing rent prices, in a city that doesn't have rent control and has historically had a politically disempowered populace. Articles like this only serve to reinforce the divide between ordinary people and our access to political power.
For some actual perspective from IB locals on how the rent hikes are affecting them, I'd recommend the Reader's article: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2016/jan/14/stringers-cheap-rents-fleeting-imperial-beach/