Bill and Claudia Allen are Pacific Beach’s new honorary mayors

Bill and Claudia Allen, the 2022 Pacific Beach Honorary Mayors.
Bill and Claudia Allen, the 2022 Pacific Beach Honorary Mayors, outside a guest cottage at their family’s Crystal Pier Hotel and Cottages.
(B.J. Coleman)

The Allen family has owned Crystal Pier Hotel and Cottages since 1961


The salty ocean air is invigorating, and the client-guests are loyal at the Crystal Pier Hotel and Cottages.

So it is no wonder that the Pacific Beach Town Council recently named owners Bill and Claudia Allen as the 2022 Pacific Beach Honorary Mayors.

For the record:

6:24 p.m. June 3, 2022Corrected the portion about ownership/leasing boundaries.

“Crystal Pier is iconic in PB,” Bill said. “And we are in the middle of many community events here at the pier. I think that’s why we were chosen.”

“And Bill likes to talk. He’s a great representative for PB,” Claudia added.

Both indicated they were honored to be asked.

“In the late 1990s, Sunset magazine named this hotel for being the second most romantic cottages,” Claudia said while giving a brief history of the hotel. “A travel writer for the Los Angeles Times wrote about the hotel, which was so exciting. That was a turning point, quite a time.

“We’ve been mentioned in Elle magazine, and Diane Keaton and Drew Barrymore say they love staying here. We get a lot of word of mouth referrals,” she added.

Some families have been returning to the hotel and cottages annually for up to 60 years, Bill said.

“Our staff is everything,” he said. “Our guests praise the staff members.”

Bill Allen’s father traded a ranch for ownership of the hotel in 1961. Bill said he started working there in the late ‘70s.

Restorations started in 1992. Claudia, as a professional interior designer, took lead roles focusing on safety and aesthetics. She said Cottage 12 was the first original cottage she renovated during 1995 and 1996.

Bill and Claudia said they sometimes stay overnight at the Crystal Pier Hotel. They review how the facility is serving guests and enjoy the ocean’s quiet.

Their primary residence is in La Jolla.

What have the Allens noticed about changes around their west PB neighborhood?

They said there are more people around the boardwalk and pier now, and the local police officers are understaffed. They added that the major complaint about the boardwalk is noise; but also said their pier is fine and secure overnight.

What has changed in PB, in their assessment?

They mentioned homelessness and mentally ill persons needing interventions, and the need for the community to become more proactive rather than reactive in this regard. Another concern they mentioned was skateboards and motorized scooters possibly decreasing general safety along and near the boardwalk.

They applauded local lifeguards for frequently announcing that beach visitors should take home whatever trash they bring to the beach.

“When beachgoers are being clean and safe, everybody thrives,” Claudia said.

Bill noted that rip currents can be well seen when viewing from Crystal Pier.

Moreover, the couple praised Pacific Beach as having the “best residents” and having a praiseworthy town council that is “so hopeful.”

Bill and Claudia said they believe the beach alcohol ban has encouraged more families to come to PB’s beaches. Furthermore, they see positive changes, with new businesses elevating the level of services, and hotels within their industry being upscaled — with networking throughout the PB lodging industry about room pricing and hotel security.

According to Bill, the hotel’s privately-owned area goes from the street to the mean high tide line. The City of San Diego owns the rest of the pier going out to the west. The Crystal Pier Hotel and Cottages leases the area that goes from the high tide line to the west.

Unlike other venues, the Crystal Pier lodging facilities were able to continue limited operations during the COVID lockdowns because of the non-contact residence facilities (restricted to families otherwise cohabiting) and the capability for contactless drive-in access without inside lobby registration.

What is the couple looking forward to?

“We are looking forward to a safe and normal summer,” they agreed. “We want to see a wholesome and respectful summer season. We want our guests to be very happy and comfortable, as they stay in PB.”

As to expected events past and future?

Fireworks were last fired off and displayed beyond Crystal Pier at the 1999 New Year’s Eve millennial celebration.

“That was an incredible night,” Bill said.

Plans are afoot for a centennial celebration at the Crystal Pier in 2027. The Pacific Beach Historical Society is expected to be supporting that 100th anniversary in multiple ways. Stay tuned.

The Allens’ term as Pacific Beach Honorary Mayors will end in February 2023.