About Imperial Beach California Imperial Beach is a city in San Diego County, California, United States. The population was 26,992 at the 2000 census.
Every year the city holds the annual Sand Castles event, which draws about 400,000 people over three days.
Imperial Beach is located at 32°34′42″N, 117°7′2″W (32.578255, -117.117111).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.7 km² (4.5 mi²). 11.1 km² (4.3 mi²) of it is land and 0.6 km² (0.2 mi²) of it (5.53%) is water.
The city occupies the extreme southwest corner of the continental United States: bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west and Mexico on the south.
Known as a biker town for its rough atmosphere and seedy beachfront area throughout the 70s, Imperial Beach has undergone a significant makeover in the last ten years and the city has done much to become more visitor-friendly, commercially viable and overall more aesthetically pleasing. However, the city is still a low-key beach community. For years the city was controlled by pro-growth elected officials, but over the years environmentalists and other activists helped elect a group of smart-growth and no-growth elected officials. The City of Imperial Beach is now implementing an ambitious community redevelopment plan to improve the badly developed commercial corridor along Palm Avenue and Seacoast Drive.
Imperial Beach was the location of fierce environmental battles in the 1970s and 1980s over plans to develop the Tijuana Estuary and build a breakwater to control beach erosion. Former Mayor Brian Bilbray, who later became a U.S. Congressman, lost both battles and the Tijuana Estuary is now a National Estuarine Research Reserve and State Park. The cessation of plans to build the breakwater was officially the first major victory of the then fledgling Surfrider Foundation, now an international organization with 45,000-members. While the International Boundary and Water Commission wastewater plant completed in 1999 has greatly improved water quality during dry weather, the biggest obstacle to the renewal of Imperial Beach is the continued pollution of the Tijuana River and beach closures just south of the city during wet weather.
Surfing is popular in Imperial Beach with activities concentrated north and south of the Imperial Beach Pier and in front of the Tijuana Estuary at the famed Boca Rio beachbreak. The Tijuana Sloughs, a fabled big-wave surf spot is now almost unrideable due to raw toxic sewage that flows into the break from the Tijuana River. WiLDCOAST, a coastal conservation organization based in Imperial Beach, launched a grassroots "Clean Water Now" campaign to support a comprehensive plan to clean up the Tijuana River and reduce beach closures along the U.S.-Mexico border.
References in popular culture Kem Nunn's novel, Tijuana Straits, provides insight into the culture of the border and surfing in Imperial Beach and the Tijuana River Valley, and the environmental problems that impact both the poorest and wealthiest residents of Tijuana, Imperial Beach and Coronado.
The HBO television series John from Cincinnati was about a dysfunctional surfing family in Imperial Beach set against the backdrop of the U.S.-Mexico border. The series (from famed Deadwood and NYPD Blue Executive Producer David Milch, writer Kem Nunn, and Emmy award-winning director Mark Tinker) was filmed at a va
From subdivision in the 1880's though the end of World War II, Imperial Beach grew in population. Various organizations were formed for socializing and for the betterment of the communities. The Midway Civic Group, PTA, Palm City Women's Club, Palm City District Chamber of commerce, Imperial Beach Business Men's Group were some of the early ones. A Coordinating Council was formed of the heads of all the clubs and civic groups. All control and regulation of the area was by the County Board of supervisors. It was through our representative on the board that we were able to procure various items needed for the community. David Bird was our elected representative for many years. The civic organizations were able to make a number of improvements in the area by working with Mr. Bird. The Palm City Chamber of Commerce had been organized for several years and the sentiment at the beach was that it did not adequately represent the interests of the beach. The Imperial Beach Civic Group was formed in 1945 to resolve that problem. They set out in earnest to take care of their most pressing problems. Namely, the formation of a Fire Protection District and acquiring a fire truck. They also set about naming streets. A volunteer fire department and auxiliary were started that evolved into what was perhaps the finest civic organization that Imperial Beach ever had. Early Imperial Beach resident and civic leader Paul Smith was very instrumental during this period. in 1949, a sanitary district was formed, which was vital to the growth.
It was also a necessary precursor to securing county funds for development and attracting private developers. Among these builders was Clem E. (Pinky) Norcross, who with his parents Andrew and Mary Norcross, his brother-in-law and sister, Mr. and Mrs. John Frier, built the Miracle Shopping Center on the South side of Palm Avenue, between 9th Street and Delaware Avenue. It was considered the first of its type in the County of San Diego. In 1956 surveys were made and petitions circulated proposing incorporation which included the Nestor area. This proposal initiated endless and often heated debate. Nestor objected strongly, so the boundaries were redrawn. Petitions were passed around again and on June 5, 1956 Imperial Beach voted to become its own independent city. The act of incorporation was recorded in the California State Secretary's office on July 18th, 1956. This became the official birthday of Imperial Beach which became the tenth city in San Diego County and the 327th city in California. Cecil H. Gunthrop was the first mayor, Miles Bowler vice-mayor and Paul N. Sexton, a reporter for the Imperial Beach News, was appointed as acting City Clerk. Gordon Grant, the Chula Vista finance officer was employed as a consultant to help set up the accounting system for the new city. A planning commission was appointed, composed of Dr. E. Morris Hayes as chairman, Paul Smith, Clarence Kempff Jr., Jane McLaughlin and Ernest H. Lashles. Mr. Al Carnesciali was the first city manager. other early employees were Fred Wagner of National City as engineering consultant and Mrs. Lois Link as Secretary's. In January 1957, Harold Reama was retained as chief of Police and agreed to serve at $88.00 per month because she was drawing Social Security benefits. The first Imperial Beach patrolman the new police department was Alfred George Ramos who became city clerk in 1966. The city budget for its first year provided a total revenue of $102,864 which included expenses of $52,984 and a surplus of $49,980.
Many milestones have occurred during the city's history. The volunteer fire department gave way slowly to a fully paid department. In 1999, the Imperial Beach Police Department gave way to a contract with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department during a period when the city almost went bankrupt. An extremely popular fishing pier was built In the early 60's after a bond issue was passed by the voters. The pier was destroyed by storms earlier in the early 80's, and was completely rebuilt by December 1988.
Growth and redevelopment are key issues for the city's future, as they are in other areas of the country. Imperial Beach can't expand on any side with the possible exception of annexation on the east side, up to the freeway, an action city consultants have recommended against taking. The city can go "up,' but building height and density and related quality of life issues are of critical interest to many. The city has identified several possible redevelopment zones including the Palm Avenue/SR-75, Seacoast Drive, Old Palm Avenue and 13th Street/Imperial Beach Avenue areas. Beautification projects such as the landscaping and the installation of public art along the Palm Avenue median and the development of Portwood Pier Plaza, a multi-use oceanfront park and retail center along Seacoast Drive, are some of the first notable changes within these areas. Further changes are in the pipeline with the planned redevelopment of the Seacoast Inn, an older three-story hotel at 800 Seacoast Drive. The existing structure will be demolished to make way for a new four-story, 78-room hotel on the same location.
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