LIVING IN THE CITY: Julie Coker is Ms. Hospitality

The San Diego Tourism Authority's CEO is sold on downtown living

“Living In the City” is the San Diego Sun‘s feature Q&A with downtown San Diego residents. It’s a way to get to know the city by meeting the people who live here. This is an ongoing series.

Name: Julie Coker.

Location: Luma Apartments in Little Italy.

Personal deets: Born in Wilmington, Delaware. Moved to San Diego from Philadelphia in June 2020, and have been living downtown since then.

Work deets: I moved to San Diego for my current role as President and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority. Previously served in same role for the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Julie Coker’s golden doodle, Piper.

Getting back to business: I arrived in San Diego during COVID and we were working from home. Now, we’re back in the office Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday. We work from home Monday and Friday. On those days, I get up and walk my dog around the block twice, pick up my smoothie from Choice Juicery and start the day.

Pet: Piper is my 2-year-old golden doodle. He loves to sit on two legs and beg you to rub his belly.

Scariest moment: I dropped Piper’s leash and he took off running. He ran into the street. A car stopped just in time. The guy opened his door…and Piper jumped in! The guy pulled over to give Piper back to me. I was so grateful.

In the heart of Little Italy.

Best aspect of location: Little Italy is right in the heart of everything.

Worst aspect: Housing prices all over the city have increased dramatically over the past 18 months.

Best reason to live downtown: It gives me the opportunity to meet new and interesting people. You can go out by yourself, as a couple or with a group of friends and have a great time. There are tons of great restaurants at varying price points. Many of the apartments and condos in downtown have fantastic amenities: concierge staff, state-of-the-art-gyms, roof-top pools, underground parking and–most importantly–dog parks!

Worst part of living downtown: None. It’s all about what you make it.

Barbusa in Little Italy.

Go-to bar: Kettner Exchange.

Dinner spot(s): Barbusa is a family-owned restaurant and their pasta is made in-house. The flavors are amazing and their waitstaff is very knowledgeable. At Cloak and Petal, I love all their sushi rolls. It’s a great people watching place and their Ketel One Cosmopolitan is perfect for a summer evening.

Coffee shop: Christine’s Coffee & Company on B street between Sixth and Seventh avenues. She has a great peppermint tea that I love.

Lunch Place: I’m a fan of Queenstown Public House. I get their Lil Bitties (two beef sliders on the best brioche bun ever).

Queenstown in Little Italy.

Cost of living: It’s all relative. Coming from the East Coast, I’d say San Diego and California, in general, are higher in cost.

Homelessness: It’s a crisis all over this country. San Diego isn’t unique when it comes to our most vulnerable population. To walk by someone who is sleeping on the street and has no food to eat or the ability to take a shower is heart breaking. As a city and county we have to do better to help people move off the street and into treatment programs, affordable housing and other alternatives that give them a better qualify of life. It’s everybody’s job to care about our most vulnerable population. We all have a role to play.

Safety: San Diego is like any major, vibrant city. It has its share of good and bad people. As in any big city, you should be aware of your surroundings.

San Diego’s Big Bay Boom fireworks display. (Getty Images)

Favorite event: I love the Fourth of July. The city is alive and everyone has a great time. The Big Bay Boom fireworks show is fun and attracts people of all ages.

Funny moment: I was walking along Waterfront Park and a group of young kids playing kick ball asked me to join them. Before I knew it I was playing and having a great time. I will say: I crushed those kids!

Currently streaming: The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem on Netflix.

Parting advice: Walk your neighborhood, explore the great restaurants and spend money in your neighborhood. Most importantly, be nice to our out-of-town visitors–so they return again and again.



This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top