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Stumbling Upon Lincoln Acres

Lincoln Acres is a small, obscure neighborhood. In my story yesterday, I described it as a peculiar blip amid a largely industrial landscape in National City, where residents are suspicious of conformity and where goats take walks on leashes.

Though it’s completely surrounded by National City, it remains relatively out of the way, and I was lucky to find it.

One recent Friday night, my colleague, voiceofsandiego.org freelancer Randy Dotinga, was chauffeuring a car full of VOSD reporters, looking for a parking spot near my apartment. We’d planned a night of civilized conversation, nothing more.

Being sufficiently late in the evening, we thought, there would be no danger in parking in the lot of a local business, which had closed for the night. We were wrong. Within a half hour, Mr. Dotinga’s car had been towed away.

I, being the one who may or may not have suggested the spot, offered to drive him to pick up his car the next day.

The next morning we drove down to the tow yard, whose address we had in hand. Coming off Interstate 805 in National City, we made a right turn into Lincoln Acres. Several right turns later, we found the tow yard at the end of Van Ness Avenue, smack dab in the core of the residential neighborhood. There was something different about this neighborhood, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

“There has to be a story here. What is it like to live on a dead-end street with a tow yard at the end of it?”

So I went back the following weekend, and knocked on doors. Residents told me the hum and clatter and sputtering of tow trucks and ice cream trucks and shopping carts had just become part of their daily lives. They shrugged it off, mostly.

I’m fascinated by borders (also edges, boundaries, peripheries, convergences and margins in all their manifestations) so I was excited to learn that I had stumbled upon one of those spots in San Diego County where multiple entities met. Here it happened to be National City with San Diego with unincorporated area.

Most of tiny Lincoln Acres itself is in unincorporated San Diego County. Its largest parcel is the cemetery. Livestock pock the landscape, and its tiny civic buildings like the library, post office, and fire authority give it a decidedly small-town feel — a “Pleasantville,” as one woman told me. Over the years, residents told me, parcels along the edges have been slowly nipped away.

Do you live in or know of a similar place where two or three edges meet? Where the lines that mark our boundaries are crisp or blurred? What makes them the worth writing about or just watching?

Get creative and send me your thoughts at adrian.florido@voiceofsandiego.org.

ADRIAN FLORIDO
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