Imperial Beach, California – San Diego County

January 3, 2024
Imperial Beach, California - San Diego County

Imperial Beach, California

Imperial Beach: The City of Contemporary Comforts


Resident-centric strategies craft a roadmap toward a higher quality of life and civic pride

For a city to improve the lifestyles of its residents, its leaders must employ a blend of rich vision and practical action. Challenges loom, but with the right approach, opportunities for transformative progress will undoubtedly present themselves.

In literal terms, this looks like crafting policies and infrastructure around observed and inquired experiences of the residents themselves. It looks like implementing key developments in infrastructure that both enhance domestic living and attract commercial investments.

The heart of a city’s allure is determined by a leader’s ability to fuse what is practical with what is pleasant. That means addressing key aspects such as healthcare and public services but also investing largely in green spaces and cultural amenities.

Doing this not only elevates the living standards of its citizens but also creates an environment that attracts talent and fosters a vibrant community.

For the city of Imperial Beach, nestled on the southernmost seaside of San Diego County, this exists as more of an accomplished reality than a challenge to work towards.

Under the astute and recently established leadership of Mayor Paloma Aguirre, Imperial Beach has done a great job at crafting an identity as an investment-friendly hub that private investors should want to develop.

By showcasing a clear vision for sustainable and engaged living and working closely and flexibly with investors, Imperial Beach has established itself as a center for economic growth where anyone would want to raise a family.

In essence, getting to this point is a dynamic process that demands collaboration between leaders, businesses, and citizens. However challenging it may be, Imperial Beach has become a prime example of the prosperity that is possible when the right things are prioritized.

Success Based on Local Synergy

Imperial Beach, California - San Diego County

The pier entrance in Imperial Beach, California at sunset. Taken 29 June 2016.

Imperial Beach was officially incorporated in 1956 and currently has a modest residential count of just over 26,000. In addition to its charm, much of Imperial Beach’s appeal stems from it being a locational cornerstone between many other cities and organizations.

It bears a respected history as a military town and is currently the hosting city of a newly completed billion-dollar Naval Base slightly up north. Within the city’s parameters also sits the highest-trafficked heliport landing base on the West Coast, so it is likely that most of the traffic there occurs between those two locations.

That strong military presence is also a likely contributor to Imperial Beach being one of the safest coastal communities in its county. With such safety and proximity to neighboring locations, the city is well-positioned when it comes to both hosting impactful signature events and providing residents the opportunities to enjoy the amenities available to them nearby.

“We’re increasing and diversifying our amenities, our programs, and our events. We have a lot of development project interest because [that] truly is the hidden jewel of our county,” Mayor Aguirre says, commenting on the city’s advantageous geography.

For example, Imperial Beach is not fully urbanized, as its southernmost area shares its border with Playas de Tijuana, making it a part of the Tijuana River Valley. Due to this mutual connection, city residents are able to visit both the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve and the National Wildlife Refuge if they ever want to bask in rustic, natural ecosystems, go tropical bird watching, or the like.

According to Mayor Aguirre, the city’s economic, environmental, and social interdependence with its neighbors is what makes it so unique. However, that isn’t where it ends, as Imperial Beach also has many cultural niceties that attract people from all over the state.

The Eventful Epicenter of City Growth

Staying true to its name, Imperial Beach hosts an annual classic car show along the main stretch of its coastal area. The event tends to have over 200 participants and draws in hundreds of people, from families to avid car enthusiasts.

Even bigger than that is the city’s most anticipated event, the Fourth of July Fireworks Display, which consistently draws in thousands of visitors to the city pier, all hoping to snag the best view of one of the grandest displays on the coast.

In July of this year, the city also hosted its first-ever pop-up roller rink in conjunction with the annual Mayor’s Breakfast event. The event brought multiple days of music and entertainment. It was located near the locally famous Surfehenge and Spirit of Imperial Beach art sculptures that have largely influenced the city’s public art scene.

Around that same area, the city partners with the San Diego State University Wind Symphony to host an incredible annual event named the Symphony by the Sea. The event is often hosted in one of the area’s largest plazas. It entices residents to pop up chairs and blankets to enjoy a beautiful sunset of Italian arias performed by the Wind Symphony and its accompanying sopranos.

And, of course, all of these events are free to attend because, as Mayor Aguirre puts it, “It’s all about bringing fun, diverse, and culturally enriching experiences. We are a working-class community, so we want to make sure we provide as many [fun] opportunities as possible.”

A Surge in Infrastructure

The ample consideration toward the lived experience of Imperial Beaches residents has had effects that reach even further than events and entertainment, as this mindset has also been seamlessly integrated within the city’s infrastructure developments.

“A big focus at City Hall has been making sure that we make our community more walkable and bikeable,” Mayor Aguirre begins. “So, what does that look like? It looks like widening sidewalks, increased lighting, and increased tree coverage.”

The city has focused a lot of its efforts on improving sidewalk and street quality and, most recently, even planted a few thousand trees. However, even those changes are supplemental to the larger projects they have planned.

Those projects include multi-million dollar improvement projects for some of the city’s main streets and corridors. Namely, Imperial Beach Boulevard, Palm Avenue, Ninth Avenue, and Thirteenth Avenue are all scheduled to be completely revamped and resurfaced with new crosswalks, traffic lights, and other calming measures, as well as a big emphasis on bike lanes.

Relaxing traffic flow is, of course, a big component of this, but this also overlaps with the longer-term Bayshore Bikeway Resiliency Project.

The project bears a heavy focus on revitalizing Imperial Beach’s section of the bike path that stretches around the entire San Diego Bay with updated features like benches, restroom facilities, vegetation, and drinking fountains.

Fortunately, as an added benefit, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department will be completely revamping its parks with new picnic tables, grills, and two new disability-inclusive playgrounds for families to enjoy.

It also goes with saying that with the support of EDCO, Imperial Beach’s trash collection service that has helped it earn high praise in public sanitation from County Commissioners, these spaces are sure to stay in pristine condition.

Imperial Beach, California - San Diego CountyThe Vital Cycle of Investments

What’s great to note about these improvements is that they fall right in the middle of past commercial investments that gave the city the economic capacity to make them but also trigger yet another wave of investments that are scheduled to come after them.

“Imperial Beach has really undergone an economic mini-boom in the last 10 years. It really stemmed from our premier hotel, Pier South Resort,” Mayor Aguirre explains, referring to the fact that the resort’s presence attracted several key businesses that successfully enticed more visitors to the area and created new jobs for residents.

A key name is the Cohn Family Restaurant Group, which took advantage of Imperial Beaches’ wonderful geography to offer residents a unique fine dining experience on the sand with cool ocean views, patio space, firepits, and heating lamps.

Brigantine Seafood & Oyster Bar is another nearby name that has also become synonymous with upscale dining. However, on the more modestly priced side of things, Mike Hess Brewing Company, Novo Brazil Brewing, and Pizza Port also support the residential ecosystem as sensational local dining options.

For the more economically minded visitors, hotels like the Hampton Inn are also present to provide a wider range of options.

The city has experienced an inhale-exhale rhythm of abundance and investment that truly breathes life into the entire region, and according to Mayor Aguirre, that cycle is due for another repetition.

“I think word is out that there’s a lot of investment opportunities in Imperial Beach,” she says. There are two massive projects currently underway. One involves a three-story building set to host investors opening casual and luxury eateries, as well as a large event space at the top level.

The other involves a mixed-use development owned by developer Mark Kassab, who will be constructing a multi-level residential unit that also hosts several fine Mediterranean dining options within the same building space.

With all of this considered, the kind of city Imperial Beach has become is crystal clear. Mayor Aguirre and her team at City Hall have fostered a culture of pride and fun among residents, as well as one of opportunity and rewards among prospective investors.

When a brilliant leader takes responsibility for their city, it becomes a powerful center for positive change, influencing everything from civic engagement to economic prospects.

A job well done!

Click The Cover To View Or Download The Brochure


The City of Imperial Beach, California

What: A thriving coastal city focused on resident-centric strategies, cultural events, and strategic infrastructure improvements and investments.

Where: Southernmost Seaside of San Diego County, California.




WSP has proudly supported Imperial Beach’s stormwater program for over a decade.  Our innovative, forward-looking approach provides accurate and reliable data for informed management decisions, documents that are approved by the regulators and accessible to the public, direct access to the leading experts in the industry, and streamlined project delivery

California American Water –

California American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), provides high-quality and reliable water and wastewater services to approximately 700,000 people in California.  American Water is the largest regulated water and wastewater utility company in the United States. With a history dating back to 1886, We Keep Life Flowing® by providing safe, clean, reliable, and affordable drinking water and wastewater services to more than 14 million people across 14 regulated jurisdictions and 18 military installations.

Wyyerd Fiber –

Wyyerd Fiber is excited to expand to Imperial Beach!  We’re the fast and reliable Internet provider that people love. Currently servicing Chula Vista and National City, CA learn more at Check out our reviews on Google or Yelp to see what our customers say.

True North Compliance Services, Inc. –

Novo Brazil Brewing Co –


November 2023 Issue of Business View Civil and Municipal

December 2023

You may also like