Pacific Beach’s new honorary mayor is living the dream and loving his town

The Curry family: Julia, Brian J., Shari Simpson and Katherine.
(Courtesy of Brian J. Curry)

It has always been about the ocean and the beach for Brian J. Curry, a longtime Pacific Beach resident and now the community’s 2023 Honorary Mayor.

“At the ripe age of 19, in 1979, I drove my Vega out from a small town in central Illinois. I was looking for the California dream,” Curry said.

Working his way down from Santa Barbara, Curry said he ended up at Point Loma.

“I looked at the water and said this is it,” he recounted.

Since that fateful day, Curry has continued to appreciate and protect the coastal environment.

“I’m in San Diego because of the beach and the ocean. It’s our greatest resource, and I want to keep it safe and clean,” he said.

But Curry’s appreciation for Pacific Beach extends to more than just the sun and the waves; he’s been serving his adopted community for years.

“I love the diversity of PB,” Curry said. “We’re not all homeowners — more than half our residents are renters. There are folks like me who have lived here longterm and raised our families here, but also college students, young families who want to stay here and raise their own children, and others who visit and enjoy all that PB has to offer.”

For his efforts on behalf of the community, Curry was chosen as this year’s honorary mayor. The position is voted on annually by the Pacific Beach Town Council and was announced during its Jan. 21 board installation dinner. The organization typically picks a candidate involved locally, who has served the community and who wants to continue to do so.

Brian J. Curry with his wife, Shari Simpson, at the Jan. 21 PB Town Council installation and awards ceremony.
Brian J. Curry with his wife, Shari Simpson, at the Jan. 21 PB Town Council installation and awards ceremony where he was announced as the 2023 Pacific Beach Honorary Mayor.
(Courtesy of Brian J. Curry)

Curry’s involvement with Pacific Beach has ranged from issues as varied as trolley access to environmental concerns.

“I am fortunate enough and certainly humble enough to accept this year’s nomination as PB’s honorary mayor,” he said. “I love PB and want the best for it here. We’re very fortunate; we have a very active community, it’s voluntary, there’s motivation to get things done and we’ve accomplished a lot.”

But Curry downplayed any suggestion he might have accomplished anything major for PB, stating instead, that everything that’s been done “has always been a community effort.”

As a student and young adult, Curry became well-acquainted with several San Diego coastal towns.

Curry attended Point Loma College, now known as Point Loma Nazarene University. He’s lived in Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Bird Rock and even spent a brief six months in Scripps Ranch.

But it’s Pacific Beach that has his heart. Curry said he’s been here since 1983 and considers it his home base.

Brian J. Curry with his family participating in the annual Pacific Beach Holiday Parade.
(Courtesy of Brian J. Curry)

Like many residents, Curry first considered becoming involved with a local community group when he faced building issues concerning his home.

“In 2006-ish, I was building a garage behind my home in PB. I wanted a granny flat on top, with a game room on the ground floor. I wanted a bathroom for the game room so my two little girls wouldn’t have to come back into the house,” he said.

But the community’s planning board rejected his request for a bathroom, he said.

For 33 years, Curry was owner and partner in a San Diego-based valuation and advisory real estate business.

“I was in the residential development business for years. I decided to go back and see what I could change,” he said.

In 2011, he joined the PB Planning Group, which he later chaired for five years.

From the experience, Curry said he “learned to be a peacemaker.”

Along with his fellow board members, he said they sought to make pragmatic decisions.

He remains involved with various community organizations to this day.

After serving on the PB Planning Group, he went on to serve on the PB Town Council for a few years, where he was a director, as well as a board member of Discover PB and a founding board member of the Beach and Bay Family YMCA, which is still in limbo.

“We went through some tumultuous things. We dealt with alcohol issues, Decobikes, scooters, short-term rentals and more,” he said.

Curry retired in 2016, and sold his real estate business to Cushman & Wakefield, a global real estate firm. His wife, Shari Simpson, retired from real estate management in 2017.

San Diego City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf proclaimed March 22, 2017 to be Brian J. Curry Day, in recognition of his tremendous service and dedication for public health, safety, business development and quality of life for Pacific Beach.

“Everybody should take the day off,” Curry quipped, referring to March 22.

Never one to stay idle, in 2018, Curry and his wife purchased Fitness West, which they own and operate. Fitness West is the longest operating gym/fitness facility in the beach area; the 6,000-square-foot facility has been in operation since 1985.

“We look at it as a service for the community, helping people stay healthy and happy. We have all ages, from 14 to 90,” Curry said.

Outside of his work, Curry remains focused on goals which, in the long run, involve bringing together PB residents.

An active member of St. Brigid Parish, Curry is also a founding member of the PB Interfaith Coalition.

“We bring together folks of all faiths or even no faith; we have a monthly prayer breakfast and meeting,” he said. The coalition works to foster understanding, community and cooperation between various faith groups.

He has also focused on the PB Recreation Center and his work with artist Rob Tobin, who he praised highly for his artistic ability and skills.

Brian J. Curry, his wife Shari Simpson and artist Rob Tobin working on the refurbished surfboards for the PB Rec Center.
Brian J. Curry, his wife Shari Simpson and artist Rob Tobin working on the refurbished surfboards being covered with mosaic tile as part of the Pacific Beach Recreation Center renovation.
(Courtesy of Brian J. Curry)

The PB Community Surf Garden will feature large mosaic murals on the north and south walls of the rec center. Old surfboards will be used to form the petals of oversized flowers on the north wall; surfboards will also be used as rays for a colorful sun on the south wall.

“It’s been four years in the making, but we’re getting closer,” he said.

“The project is sponsored by the PBTC; they’ve raised the money to install and maintain the murals from community members and local businesses,” Curry said. “It’s very exciting, even though it can be frustrating waiting on the city for various approvals.”

When he’s not working at the gym or involved with local affairs, Curry and his family enjoy the outdoors and spending time together.

The couple’s two daughters, Katherine, 27, and Julia Grace, 25, were raised in Pacific Beach. Buttons — their cat — rounds out the family.

“She should be called Empress — she demands a lot from us,” he joked.

And there are issues in town, that long term demand to be addressed, Curry said, such as transportation surrounding getting to the trolly, traffic calming, continuing to get younger people involved with the town council and ongoing concerns about crime and cleanliness.

Curry noted that although the list of potential problems might seem long, there was plenty of great things happening in town, such as the Concerts on the Green series and Beachfest, to name a couple.

From his honorary mayor position, Curry said he prefers to focus on achievable goals for the future.

He stressed that although it is important to continue fighting for improvements, “it’s nice to see things happen.

“Going forward, I want to work on projects that are positive and can be accomplished,” Curry said. “We spend a lot of time trying to fight various issues, but I really like to see things happen for the positive.”

He also plans on remaining in Pacific Beach and hopefully seeing the realization of some of his many projects.

“There’s always something dynamic happening — it’s not a boring place. PB will always be our home base and we don’t plan on going anywhere,” Curry said.