“As president, my role and responsibilities will be to creatively think of new ways to earn revenue for Pacific Beach and reinvest revenue into beautifying Pacific Beach,” said Lai, CEO/president of Ocean Park Inn Hotel at 710 Grand Ave.
Lai said another of his functions as BID president will be to find new and improved ways to promote Pacific Beach as “a destination for shopping, tourism, amazing restaurants, to live, to raise your family, to retire.”
Born in San Diego and raised in Poway, Lai attended the University of San Diego, majoring in biology. Noting he’s “always been a part of the Pacific Beach community,” Lai said he has lived and worked in the community for the past decade.
Working at the same hotel built by his great-grandfather in 1967, Lai, after the tragic loss of his father, decided to re-route his life’s plan, from becoming a doctor to becoming a hotelier.
“You will often find beachgoers wandering in from the boardwalk to admire the spectacular and colorful reef tank in the lobby,” Lai said. “Pacific Beach has and will always be the roots of my history; thus the improvement and beautification of Pacific Beach is near and dear to my heart.”
Lai sits on a variety of boards, including the San Diego Tourism Authority, San Diego Hotel and Motel Association and the California Hotel and Lodging Association.
Pacific Beach merchant Eve Anderson, owner of Eve’s Garden Design, noted Lai’s ascendancy to president of Discover PB is a first for the organization.
“This is the first time a hotel owner/manager — or anyone in the tourist industry — has become president,” she said, adding she’s convinced Discover PB will be “heading in new directions with Elvin leading.”
“He’s assessing things now and changes won’t begin until January,” Anderson said, characterizing Lai as “an energetic, savvy and knowledgeable guy well liked by the board.”
Noting there’s a “whole new set of people moving into PB, including families and young professionals,” Anderson said she believes “PB is growing up and the party atmosphere is no longer the prime focus. And that means Discover PB can finally include all businesses in its events and in its role in the community, not just an approach that appeals to one demographic.”
Asked if he felt being a hotelier gives him a fresh outlook on leading Discover PB, Lai said, “Absolutely. Being a small-business owner who happens to be in the tourism industry lends me a unique perspective to the group to help cultivate new ideas. Being very active in San Diego politics and actively enhancing San Diego as a destination through my other board involvements, I will work to sustain tourism, which is the third-largest industry and job creator in San Diego County.”
Lai added it is his goal to maintain a strong relationship with “whoever is mayor next in hopes of highlighting PB in the hotel and small business industry.”
“My focus is to bring more business to Pacific Beach, continue to give PB a facelift, clean up our beaches, continue to increase community involvement and increase communication to reach a broader audience,” he said.
Discover PB executive director Sara Berns said Discover PB’s board of directors will once again have an all-day planning meeting in January to discuss overall goals and programs for 2014.
“This last year our goals were focused on promoting great successful events that helped shape our image of a positive, active business community while raising sustainable funds for the organization to continue our sidewalk cleaning program and bike-friendly business district program,” Berns said.
Berns said some projects the BID hopes to consider doing next year are “working closely with city and community groups to improve the bike and walkability of our business district, continue our efforts in promoting Pacific Beach as a key shopping, dining and entertainment destination within the city of San Diego, and improving communication with our membership to provide effective resources.”