San Diego Community News Group

Hotelier and entrepreneur Elvin Lai was recently named Pacific Beach Honorary Mayor by Pacific Beach Town Council for 2021, succeeding back-to-back winner and elementary school teacher Cathie Jolley.

Lai is the owner-operator of the independently owned Ocean Park Inn boutique hotel at 710 Grand Ave. The hotel was founded by his family four generations ago.

As the beach community’s 61st honorary mayor, Lai is continuing a time-honored tradition.

“I am extremely honored and humbled to be named PBTC Honorary Mayor for 2021, and be part of that legacy, be a catalyst of change for the better,” said Lai. “I strive to better our community so that all of Pacific Beach can thrive as one harmonious ecosystem.

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided,” noted Lai, quoting author J.K. Rowling. “We need to come together and get it done. We have a lot of strength here in PB. I really hope people see that and act on it. We have so much power here in PB to be the change that we want to see, if we’re willing to do the work.”

“The Pacific Beach Town Council has long supported the ‘shop local’ theme, so it seemed a natural idea to have a local business person be the 2021 Honorary Mayor,” said Marcella Bothwell of PBTC about Lai’s selection.

“Elvin, however, also has volunteered in the PB community most importantly working diligently on the Clean and Safe Program by Discover PB. Elvin has a natural easy demeanor, but also knows how to get things done in the City, which I think will help the PB community move forward after the pandemic lock downs are finished.”

Since 1958 the Pacific Beach Town Council has selected an honorary mayor each year who has demonstrated community spirit while implementing change for the greater good.

On Jan. 20, Lai officially was named PB’s Honorary Mayor. His community involvement, and implementation of Pacific Beach’s Clean and Safe Program were two initiatives that led to his being honored.

The Clean and Safe Program provided traditional cleaning and security to enhance existing City services, furnishing the tools and personnel to benefit the entire community, especially its transient population. The program employed the homeless to collect and remove tons of trash and litter from PB streets. 

Lai is also an active member of San Diego’s hospitality industry. He was recently appointed as 2021 board chair for the San Diego Convention Center Association.

Additionally, Lai has played a lead part in defining COVID-19 guidelines for hotels to adhere to for a safe reopening. He is actively serving on the San Diego Foundation COVID Relief Fund executive committee assisting out-of-work employees.

Looking ahead Lai said of priorities: “We need to kick-start and restart our economy. Clean and Safe, one of the programs I co-founded, helped with the hiring and lifting up of people, giving them jobs and safe places to stay. We need to provide new common and community spaces. We should all be self-starters, be the change that we want to see in PB.”

Concluded Lai: “What needs to happen is we need consumer confidence, faith and trust to come back before tourism will come back. The Wall Street Journal has said most of the economy has already come back. The last mile is the tourism and hospitality industry, restaurants and hotels. That will be the last part of the economy to come back, and that (resurgence) is going to be very dependent on consumer confidence.”

PB Honorary Mayors since 2000

2021 – Elvin Lai

2019-20 – Cathie Jolley

2018 – Bill Marsh

2017 – Alan Harris

2016 – Joe Wilding

2015 – Lou Cumming

2014 – Jennifer Tandy

2013 – Marcella Teran

2012 – John Westwood

2011 – Mark Johnston

2010 – Todd Brown

2009 – John Logan

2008 – Don Mullen

2007 – Susan Roth

2006 – Karl Jaedtke

2005 – Lynda Tickey

2004 – Carol Blomstrom

2003 – Harrell Hurt

2002 – Mary Cook

2001 – Walt Wade

2000 – Otto Emme