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Is Coronado Part of the South Bay?

We asked the region's experts to weigh in on the debate—their answers may surprise you
View of the Coronado Bridge and San Diego's South Bay from the Glorietta Bay Park
Photo Credit: Cole Novak

“Is Coronado part of the South Bay?” read an innocent chat sent out the entire SDM staff one day.

Here we go…, I remember thinking. What followed was a flurry of animated debate.

“ABSOLUTELY NOT,” read a reply from a staff member, who lives in Chula Vista.

“Of course!” said another, who lives in Coronado. Folks from the city and North and East Counties weighed in, drawing lines according to the Coronado Bridge, the 94 freeway, and where Southeast meets National City. They evaluated the boundaries of communities like Imperial Beach, Coronado Cays, and Coronado proper. Folks from Chula Vista, in particular, were the most in opposition, likely owing to the stark cultural differences between the wealthy, mostly-white island (peninsula, actually) and the majority non-white cities east of the 5.

We reached no consensus, even among staff who live in South Bay, so I looked outward. “That’s funny to me,” texted Richard Bailey, Coronado’s mayor. “To be honest, I haven’t given it much thought, but, yes, I definitely consider us part of the South Bay.”

Photo by San Diego photography Randy Dible featuring a lone flamingo in the Coronado Cays surrounded by ducks
Photo Credit: Randy Dible

Serge Dedina, former mayor of Imperial Beach, agreed, and offered some social proof. “Traditionally, in terms of high school sports and even now with politics … there was the South Bay Metro League, and Coronado was part of it. The mayors held meetings for the South Bay, which includes San Diego, National City, Chula Vista, IB, and ‘Nado,” he said, using an affectionate nickname for the Crown City.

“The city of Coronado is often referred to as located in ‘South Bay for directional or regional purposes,” wrote Andrea McCullough, who handles communications for the city of Coronado.

A dual call to the Chamber of Commerce and Discover Coronado (the tourism board), which share an office, resulted in some discussion. Both entities said they “absolutely” consider Coronado part of South Bay, but neither organization markets the city as such officially. Additionally, Coronado used to be in the same congressional district as the rest of the South Bay cities, but since redistricting in 2022, it is now looped in with the northern coastal cities.

“We still feel the historical geographical designation,” added Rena Clancy, executive director of the Chamber, but someone else in the office piped up in the background: “Honestly, I was sure of the answer when the question was first asked. But now that we talked through it, I’m not so sure. And I was born and raised here.”

So, Coronado is part of South Bay, but it’s also its own thing. The term “South Bay” is colloquial, anyway-it’s not a government designation, but a geographic and cultural one. It’s a vibe, one that Coronado fits into… depending on who you talk to.

By Jackie Bryant

Jackie is San Diego Magazine's content strategist. Prior to that, she was its managing editor. Before her SDM career, she was a long-time freelance journalist covering cannabis, food/restaurants, travel, labor, wine, spirits, arts & culture, design, and other topics. Her work has been selected twice for Best American Travel Writing, and she has won a variety of national and local awards for her writing and reporting.

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