San Diego is very, very provencial. It has decided to become sophisticated and urban, Republican style, by trying to "purchase" and develop it through capital development. As a result, it's soul (Old Town / Hillcrest) retains some authenticity, but the rest of it seems inauthentic, much like an amusement park.
I grew up there. I was born in 1952. I have lived in the Netherlands, Japan,
traveled to over 50 countries the hard way, and have lived bay side in the SF Bay Area for many years. My impression of San Diego comes from several trips back there since my youth.
It also seems to have any aura of corruption and absurd conservative, reactionary politics, through mouth pieces such as Daryl Issa, and Roger Hedgecock. It is actually what I would expect from a Mexican border town with a large defense contracting sector and two military bases. Really, what could one expect ?