Staying classy as a homeless in San Diego
February 20, 2008 2:20 PM   Subscribe

Staying classy cheap in San Diego.. where should I stay overnight? And any neighborhoods to avoid?

Flying from SF down to San Diego to listen to a Robert Irwin lecture in La Jolla. Don't have any hotels/hostels booked, and I wanna minimize how much I spend.. what are some parks I can stay in overnight without being bothered by authorities? If this is actually too sketch, I'm open to staying in a hostel, but it seems like most of them only accept out-of-state, or international residents.


PS Anyone wanna climb on Friday, or Saturday? I'll bring my harness and shoes in that case.
posted by hobbes to Travel & Transportation around San Diego, CA (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you are an educator, student or hostel card carryin member, you can stay at the Ocean Beach Hostel. It's located in downtown ocean beach (not too far from la jolla, ucsd campus a bus ride away. OB is a hippy(er), laid back independent surf town in SD, not your typical city/party area. Not for everyone, but if your looking for a mellow vibe, worth a look.
posted by ShootTheMoon at 2:45 PM on February 20, 2008

Best answer: I've stayed in Hostelling International hostels before, and they've never asked if I was out of state or international. It looks like their locations in San Diego run as low as $20/night for non-members.
posted by hades at 2:45 PM on February 20, 2008

Best answer: One more thing, if your up for it, you can usually sleep out on the beach without getting hassled by anyone. Don't try this on the popular tourist beaches like Pacific beach, la jolla, etc. But you could probably get away with it around blacks beach, which is just under the ucsd campus. The stretch from La jolla shores to del mar state beach has large cliffs, and not many ways down, so if you were to hike in from either north or south side, you could prob find some beach to yourself.

I occasionally see sleepers on the beaches in Leucadia, about 10 miles north of ucsd. Again, cliffs and bushes are a plenty on the beaches there.

There are also plenty of designated camping sites on the beaches in north county. It will cost you a few bucks, but it will keep you legal. Check out San Elijo state beach for more on that.

A word of warning if you want to try sleeping on the sand, we are getting some larger swell and high tides this weekend. Might make sleeping on the beach quite dangerous if you pick a bad spot.
posted by ShootTheMoon at 2:57 PM on February 20, 2008

The major complication for what you want to do is that the art museum is located in La Jolla, which is the super-richy-rich part of town, with accommodations to match. If you end up staying in a hostel or something, you'll be a ways away and bus trasportation (there's no other option for getting to La Jolla) royally sucks in San Diego. For instance, from Ocean Beach to the museum requires you to take two buses, takes an hour and 20 minutes, costs $4, and requires you to walk about a half mile besides all that, all to go less than ten miles (reference). I could almost go faster just walking (the distance would be less). I'm not sure if that kind of thing is a huge inconvenience for you or not.

There are a couple cheap places in La Jolla--there's one on Herschel Avenue that used to be a Travelodge, but I'm not sure what it is now. I think there are also a couple more motel-ish places in Bird Rock, just south of La Jolla, but I don't know what they are, either.
posted by LionIndex at 3:23 PM on February 20, 2008

As far as actually going homeless, I can't make any suggestions from experience, but OB and La Jolla have large homeless populations. Given that La Jolla is La Jolla, I can't imagine that you'd be able to much without the authorities taking an interest, but ShootTheMoon is correct that you can try your luck camping out on the beach, and is also correct about this not really being the time of year to try doing that. Almost all of the coastline surrounding downtown La Jolla is pretty rocky with little pocket coves and beaches every once in a while, some cliffs, and a couple parks strewn about. The parks are pretty wide open and don't provide much cover. There's also a lot of undeveloped hillsides in the area, but if you're walking around residential neighborhoods looking sketchy, you'll probably attract some fuzz.
posted by LionIndex at 3:33 PM on February 20, 2008

Not a hostel, but 500 Broadway offers quite adequate rooms which were $50 a year ago (although not everybody likes it).
posted by Rash at 7:16 PM on February 20, 2008

I stayed at HI-Point Loma last month and I highly recommend it (great kitchen, right across the street from a grocery store, free pancake breakfast, helpful staff, nice rooms). Don't know anything about its location relative to La Jolla though. You don't have to be out of state, just out of county.
posted by puffin at 7:29 PM on February 20, 2008

I saw a Robert Irwin lecture at SDSU in 2002, but I lived in San Diego at the time.

You could try Or you could contact the Che Cafe at UC San Diego and see if they have anyone who would house you or help you find a place to stay or transportation. There might be people in the visarts or music departments at UCSD who would be willing to give you a ride, if you could figure out how to get in touch with them. A lot of them participate at Che. Just ask! Che also lists area hostels on its website.
posted by billtron at 7:32 PM on February 20, 2008

The (very nice) people at the Che Cafe will not be able to help you find a place to sleep. Try couchsurfing, as suggested; maybe there's people at UCSD who'll let you stay. Failing that, you could probably sleep somewhere on the UCSD campus, if you are sneaky. If you're not renting a car, you'll have to get to La Jolla, which is rather difficult in the face of slow/bad public transit. The Che also has directions to UCSD, if that's where you'll end up.
posted by beerbajay at 11:41 PM on February 20, 2008

Response by poster: Yeah LionIndex, I checked out, and it looks like it'll be a transfer-fest from the airport to La Jolla. The plan is to bus it out there and kinda wing the rest of the trip. Thinking of walking along the shore at night, napping where ever, then ending up at Ocean Beach the following morning.

Keep 'em coming, and I'll let you guys know how things went on Sunday/Monday.
posted by hobbes at 1:20 AM on February 21, 2008

So what happened?
posted by billtron at 7:37 PM on February 25, 2008

Best answer: Given the weather we had over the weekend, hobbes probably got wet.
posted by LionIndex at 10:10 AM on February 26, 2008

Response by poster: Ha, thanks for the interest.. I'm safe and back in SF.

For your entertainment.. planned on flying out of SFO on Thursday at 1:15pm only to have the rains and gusts delay our flight for 2 hours. By the time I got to San Diego, it was nearly 5pm, so instead of transferring about, I took a cab from San Diego airport to the Old Town Transit Center ($14.40). After that, caught the 30 bus to La Jolla, got to the MCASD, browsed around (pity it was dark already), and listened to the Irwin lecture.

(I just uploaded part of the Robert Irwin lecture if anyone's interested. Video quality is crap, but you can still make out what he's saying.)

After the lecture, walked out and headed towards the beach. Went down Coast Blvd., passed a bunch of nice houses, and got onto the beach from the Marine St. entrance. Took my time in the sand 'til I hit some giant rocks, nearly slipped on those rocks into the waves, so I backtracked back onto the streets. Walked down Neptune, checked out the lil' hut near Bonair, then continued to Camino de la Costa to La Jolla Blvd to Mission Blvd.

Crossed the bridge, found myself in Marine Village, or something like that--essentially some sort of strip mall. Anyway, pondered climbing onto the rooftop of one of these buildings when I noticed some security guards, so that was nixed. Continued down the other bridge towards Ocean Beach, passed a skate park, cut across a baseball field, and found myself on a trail by Dog Beach. Took that westward to Ocean Beach, then headed back to the commercial area to find a place to sleep. Climbed onto one rooftop near Voltaire and Cable, and nearly fell asleep before it started drizzling. Look around for a new place as the rain picked up and managed to find some back alley alcove. I also rummaged through a nearby recycling can for some cardboard and paper bags. Slept there for probably two hours before the rain started coming down hard, waking me up. The wind was also picking up, and the paper bag blankets weren't really doing the job so I took out some dental floss and tied some newspapers around my ankles to keep the wind from blowing up my pants. At around 6am it started to get light, but the rain wasn't letting up. I realized I couldn't spend the following day like this, so I called up Ocean Beach hostel and it turns out they were only 7 blocks away from me.. go figure.

Ran through the rain, had a free meal and a shower, then caught the 923 bus downtown for the rest of the Irwin exhibit. There, randomly bumped into a friend's brother (who's an amazing photographer), returned to Ocean Beach, and saw some Australian kid get knocked out later on in the night (he literally dropped).

Without turning this into a novel, the rest of my stay was warm and sunny (and classy). Nice town you guys have there.
posted by hobbes at 2:44 PM on February 27, 2008

Best answer: Oh, and from what I heard, Banana Bungalow is a bit nicer, but the people there could be snobs. Ocean Beach hostel was alright, it definitely had a quirky crowd, and was just a tinge dirty for me (coming from a guy who just spent a night on the street..). If I ever return, I'm gonna check out the HI Hostels.
posted by hobbes at 2:47 PM on February 27, 2008

Thanks for coming back to tell the (highly detailed!) story, hobbes. I was wondering how you were going to pull that off, since I would never even want to attempt that sort of thing, but I'm glad everything went sort of okay.

For what it's worth, we try to keep Ocean Beach a little dirty; otherwise it'll turn into Pacific Beach. One Pacific Beach is more than enough.

Also, that little hut is at Windansea Beach, one of the more fertile breeding grounds for California surf culture way back when. It used to be intensely territorial with locals keeping out the tourists (in the water), but supposedly isn't so much any more. I used to go there for lunch every once in a while when I worked in La Jolla.
posted by LionIndex at 5:23 PM on February 27, 2008

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