Lysundra “Sunny” Lee brings new light to Discover PB
Lysundra “Sunny” Lee, the former executive director of Old Town in San Diego, is now in charge of promoting all things Pacific Beach.
Lee is the new executive director of Discover PB, the community’s business improvement district, replacing Sara Berns, who served 13 years in the position and left the organization in December.
Since taking on her new role, Lee has been integrating herself into the community.
“It’s not a new job for me, it’s just a new community,” Lee said in a phone interview.
So far in her discussions and meetings with Pacific Beach leaders and residents she’s talked about priorities, concerns and projects — of which there are plenty.
“People want cleaner streets, more mobility, they want to clean up the boardwalk and help the community,” she said.
Lee originally hails from Phoenix, but she’s called San Diego her home for the past seven years. She developed her interest in helping local businesses as a hobby in Phoenix.
“All of these new businesses started emerging and I took it upon myself to create a Facebook page and an Instagram to get people to patronize those businesses,” Lee said. “What I didn’t know was that that was a job.
“And so, when I came (to San Diego), I started volunteering with the East Village Association. They took me on board as their program manager. And then more recently, I was in Old Town as their executive director and now here I am in PB.”
Lee’s experience in the Old Town business improvement district is part of what made her such a desirable candidate for executive director at Discover PB, said board President Tim Prüsener.
“Sunny also had experience with a parking district and we are about to launch the pilot program for paid parking,” Prüsener said. “Besides that, she ran a business improvement district before. She knows regulations. She knows how things work, which makes it a lot easier for us.”
Aside from her professional experience, Lee’s communication style made her stand out, Prüsener said.
“She’s a great communicator,” he said. “She knows what she’s doing. It seems to be very easy to work with her. She’s really on top of things. She educates herself on all the different processes and about the community in Pacific Beach. She’s really involved so far.”
Lee said the community of PB is what excites her the most about her new position. Being part of different communities in San Diego has given her insight into the differences and similarities between them.
“It’s been fun navigating from downtown, which is this innovative, emerging community, to Old Town, which is your tried-and-true tourist destination with all the rich history of our city,” she said. “And then now into PB, which is a place that houses the biggest attraction to our city. The beach is right there. I want to take examples from all of our coastal communities and try to build the best PB within the culture of that community.”
Of course, heading up a business improvement district in the midst of a pandemic is not an easy job. Lee recognizes the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has created within the community, but is also using this time to make personal connections.
“In a normal situation, I would probably hit the ground running, picking up all the events that they normally do and just operate as usual, but we can’t do that right now,” she said. “And so I think it’s really created this window where I can take the time to meet with board members individually and community members individually and it’s giving me this opportunity to seek that info that I need.
“In the midst of the negativity of the pandemic, that has been a positive thing coming into this position.”
When she’s not at Discover PB, Lee can be found outdoors in her spare time — usually on wheels. She and her husband often bike from their home in Normal Heights to the beach.
“It’s a long ride, but it’s very fun,” she said.
But that’s not all.
“My pandemic hobby has been roller skating,” she added. “I’m learning how to jam skate, which is the dance style ... and then skating all over San Diego. You can skate in Liberty Station, you can skate the boardwalk, you can skate Balboa Park. There’s lots of places to hang out.”
When asked to describe her perfect day in PB, Lee said she’d spend it by the beach, obviously, and then go on a hunt for her favorite snack.
“I really enjoy grabbing brunch, either at World Famous or one of those places right on the boardwalk. Sometimes stop by Woody’s for a coffee or a quick bite. Hang out on the beach, do my skate. Then just meander around and look at the shops, you know. And then typically in the afternoon, I go looking for pizza. If it’s a beach day and I’m out in the water, yeah, pizza is always on my afternoon snack list,” she said.
For more information about Lee and Discover PB, visit pacificbeach.org.