Here’s a serious question for you: what makes North County special?
I ask that, as someone who wasn’t raised here, and only moved a few years ago to Carlsbad.
My previous trips to our part of the region consisted of a visit to the Carlsbad Outlets, and a few self guided brewery tours that stretched from Escondido to Oceanside.
The more I meet neighbors and talk with folks like local Uber drivers, the more I get the sense that we treasure a quality of life and community character that are exceptional, and different from other parts of the region: Great schools, safe streets, a thriving economic climate, and natural beauty. Family friendly.
Even in more urban areas, far outside the suburban enclaves we mostly live in, we embrace low density, walkability, and urbanist principles to the greatest extent possible.
We want desirable communities everywhere, because that’s where we live, work and play. They’re a reflection on all of us.
Perhaps it’s not so much a sense of exceptionalism driving us collectively — perhaps it’s about protecting our communities and keeping them the way we found them, even as they grow.
Moving from East Village, I was eager to leave the downtown craziness behind me — the non-stop ambulance sirens, the drunks and the urban blight that is harming too many of our residents, particularly our large homeless population. There are some brave, strong willed leaders making a positive impact in that community, but it will take at least a decade before East Village is where it should be.
I’m proud today to be a Carlsbad resident, because Carlsbad residents aspire to a great community, everyday. Being a friendly neighbor. Being courteous on the road and in public places. Being compassionate and responsive to the needs of others, particularly our most vulnerable members of our community. We all have a stake in the success of our community.
Here in North County, I don’t find nostalgia for where I grew up — I find a place that I reflexively declare, “that’s where I belong.” Every moment and every person I meet here confirms that belief.
There are so many people in the world, lost, looking for themselves, for something greater, for a sense of belonging. I think most of us don’t have that — we’re happy to be where we are. Even despite traffic, and a very high cost of living, there’s nowhere else we’d rather be. There’s enough keeping us here.
There’s still so much I’ve yet to experience — I haven’t been to a high school football game; I haven’t been to the Flower Fields, or to all of our beaches.
Maybe it’s not a bad thing to leave something on the table — the idea that there’s still more to enjoy, discover, and treasure. It keeps us hopeful, forward looking, and eager for the next day.
What’s your North County story?
Vince Vasquez is an economist based in Torrey Pines. He is a Carlsbad resident.