LIVING IN THE CITY: Little Italy Exudes the Walkable Urban Lifestyle

Gregg Pohll proves you can walk, take the trolley and use public transportation to live your best life in San Diego

“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: Gregg Pohll

Location: Little Italy.

Personal deets: Born and raised in Eugene, Oregon. Moved to San Diego in September 2021 after living in Seattle for two years. I’m a customer service agent for an airline, and will soon be a flight attendant.

Gregg Pohll with friend MaryGrace Estal at Wolfie’s Carousel Bar in Little Italy.

Reason for moving downtown: I don’t have a vehicle. Gave it up in Seattle and after visiting San Diego. Realized I could both live and work here without a car. I work overnight hours at times, and need to be able to walk to the airport in a pinch.

Pets: A seven-year-old Siamese/Calico mix named Cynder.

Amusing anecdote: Helping an owner reclaim his dog that had gotten off its leash. The dog was on a beeline for the Doggie Style pet store where they generously offer treats.

Best reason to live in Little Italy: I’ve discovered the value of living in a world-class culinary neighborhood. I’ve traveled a lot and have yet to find its equivalent.

Worst aspect of living in Little Italy: My building is far more expensive than my larger apartment filled with more amenities in Seattle, and there’s a much less friendly management environment.

The trolley pulls out of the Santa Fe Depot.

Best reason to live downtown: I started living in urban environments just a few years ago—after a lifetime of rural and remote living in Oregon. I love “Happy Hour” and the ability to walk so much. Also, having the trolley close allows me to access shopping and entertainment all over the city. I also love my access to our urban airport. Quick access to/from the airport is essential to me!

Transportation breakdown: I walk 80 percent of the time. The other 20 percent is public transportation and airplanes.

Worst aspect of living downtown: Access to groceries. This is an urban problem in most large cities. At least in San Diego, MTS planners designed the trolley route with access to groceries, including Costco. Living downtown is a little scary with regard to food supply. There are so many people and so little supply. I’ve tried ordering groceries online the process has been consistently flawed with lack of inventory.

Food shopping: I take the trolley to Nobel Drive (La Jolla Village) and shop at Ralphs and Trader Joe’s. Thank God for the opening of the Blue Line to UTC! I take the Green Line to Fenton Parkway and Costco. I even bought a wagon for the Costco runs, because you can’t carry multiple purchased items from Costco. They are too big and bulky, but the value can’t be substituted!

Scooters: Never used one. On rare occasions, I’ve had to pick one up and move it out of a walkway. Overall, they are managed adequately.

The very traditional restaurant/grocery story Mona Lisa.

Dinner spot: Mona Lisa and its associated grocery outlet. I love the authentic tradition and the basic presentation of excellent Italian food.

Best Bar: Zinque. Best and strongest Happy Hour Margaritas in the city!

Coffee shop: The Starbucks at India and Hawthorne. Ironically, I don’t drink coffee. My favorite drink is a Carmel apple cider.

Must-see for guests: India Street after dark, to see Little Italy’s neighborhood of restaurants and bars.

Zinque is a good stop for a Happy Hour Margarita.

Affordability: Very expensive. This is a city where there are no housing bargains. I looked up and down the trolley route and found only a few hundred dollars difference between downtown and most areas.

Parking advice: Take the trolley whenever possible. Parking is a nightmare and I’m so relieved I don’t have to deal with it!

Scariest moment: Unfortunately, most of the worst behavior occurs on the trolley. Disagreements among riders can escalate to dangerous levels. I would like to see more active security so my friends will feel more comfortable riding the trolley by themselves.

Safety: The Northside of downtown seems very safe. In general, I have to have a good reason to go to East Village south of Broadway.

Homelessness: It largely has no effect on my life. On my way to work at 4 a.m., I pass by the usual sleeping individual on the sidewalk. They tend to disappear during business hours. SDSun


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