N. San Diego County: A Sunny Enclave with Major Minority Clout

Article excerpt

The North San Diego County Branch of the NAACP is located in Oceanside, Calif., 35 miles north of San Diego. Oceanside is a workingclass beachfront community. Its education system is a good one, rivaled only by the area's excellent climate.

The city of Oceanside is ethnically diverse, with 6.3 percent of its population African American, 30 percent Latino and 5 percent Asian. There are more Samoans in Oceanside than any place other than the island of Samoa. Terry Johnson, the city's mayor, is African American, as is its fire chief, Robert Osby.

Many Marines from nearby Camp Pendleton remain in the city after leaving the military. To them, and others, North San Diego County is Paradise Found.

Rob Howard, 40, president of the North San Diego County NAACP Branch, is cautious about the characterization. "When people begin to believe that California is paradise, I point out that any time there is paradise, it's built on someone's back," he says. "It's the NAACP's job to see that paradise's benefits are shared equitably."

The branch (which Howard says has 300 members, up from 50 since 2000) has done just that for more than 37 years.

Charlesetta Allen was elected the branch's first president in 1965. Believed to be the first Black woman to live in Oceanside, Allen's initial efforts were improving the streets and sewer system in the city's minority community. Even in paradise there was racial separation in housing. Obtaining affordable housing in the area is still challenging, irrespective of race. Purchase prices for condominiums in Oceanside start at about $250,000. …