You might have to drive a little north to get any good conversation on ID. ID took forever to be discussed in Atlanta where I am from. It’s still a little gloomy there and if it were not for GATECH and Big design I think it would have never happend.
San Diego is about the same i am afraid. Maybe it takes a design school to start the evolution of a city? Just speculating.
I think it takes a convergence of a few people who really care, and who are willing to consistently put time into it without much thanks. I know Carl Alviani and the crew that sets up the happy hours here in Portland put more time into it than it looks like on the surface. A few design shop owners, who’s livelihood depends on people understanding good design, also help as they are usually willing to sponsor stuff. If you have a DWR in town, they have a budget to put on local events in their showrooms, connect with them as well. A design school certainly helps as well.
ID takes root where there’s work (ie. manufacturing), not where there’s design schools or IDSA chapters.
San Diego is primarily a biotech (Genentech), software (Qualcomm, Intuit), and military town (Viasat, Northrop Grumman, Spawar, SAIC, BAE.)
But there are excellent and unique manufacturing opportunities. Primarily sport/lifestyle brands (Taylor Made, Calloway K2, Spy, Electra, Reef), mobile (Nokia, Kyocera, Qualcomm), medical (Cardinal Health, Respironics), automotive (Mercedes, Nissan, and startups like Aptera.)