The Coast News Group
Community Northbound

Northbound: A year of thanks

As we collectively recover from Thanksgiving dinner food comas and Black Friday hysteria, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on why I’m thankful to live in North County.

I spent my childhood in the San Francisco Bay Area, and attended UC San Diego for my undergraduate degree.

I made a valiant attempt at law school in San Francisco in 2003, but ended up withdrawing after my first year to pursue a career in public policy research.

After a few years as a policy analyst at a small think-tank in the Financial District, I had a growing sense that SF was a bad match for my dreams of home ownership, raising a family and dabbling in civic issues.

In 2007, I took the chance at a new research job at a start-up think tank in La Jolla. Without hesitating, I quickly packed up my belongings and headed south.

I’ll never forget the day I arrived.

Driving down Interstate 5, approaching downtown San Diego near sunset, the sky was a backdrop painted in brilliant streaks of purple, amber, and pinks, with the towering cityscape in the foreground.

I was thrilled to discover a place I never truly knew — UCSD students don’t travel much past the UTC area, especially those without a car.

I wanted to truly embrace what it meant to be a San Diegan — I quickly adopted the local sports teams, took surfing lessons, and learned about the magical wonder of hoppy San Diego style IPAs.

I’ve felt blessed, and watched over by God my entire life, but I wanted to lay roots somewhere. To own land. A single family house somewhere. To stake a claim somewhere I’d one day call home.

I searched everywhere. First I looked in the Navajo/Del Cerro area, then 4S Ranch and Rancho Penasquitos. I fretted about highway noise, the lack of public transit options, and affordability.

The housing crisis put my plans on hold for a few years, but I never stopped looking.

My quest was more than just a home purchase — it was about fitting in, finding a sense of belonging, of purpose. To find happiness, and to live in a waking dream.

Carlsbad is that place for me. Not knowing much about Carlsbad, I took a day trip to check out the city a couple years ago. I was instantly hooked. It was so different from my childhood home, and my life as a downtown renter, but I knew I found something special that wouldn’t be in my reach forever.

To be able to take the Coaster every morning to work, and watch the sunset over the ocean on the commute back.

To see happy, thriving young people safely walking down sidewalks and working at local stores and restaurants.

To own a plot of land that gives as much back to me as it demands I put in for maintenance and landscaping.

To know my city is run well by leaders and public employees who take pride in their work and excel at what they do.

To know that one day I’ll have children here, and they’ll have a quality education and a bright future, no matter what they choose to do with their own lives.

I am thankful.

Vince Vasquez is a think-tank analyst based in Torrey Pines. He is a Carlsbad resident.