PEOPLE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD: Meet La Jolla Shores volunteer and businesswoman Angie Preisendorfer

Editor’s Note: La Jolla Light’s “People in Your Neighborhood” series shines a spotlight on locals we all wish we knew more about! Light staff is out on the town talking to familiar faces to bring you their stories. If you know someone you’d like us to profile, send the lead via e-mail to or call us at (858) 875-5950.

La Jolla Shores Association correspondence secretary and La Jolla Business Association president Angie Preisendorfer has lived in and around La Jolla Shores her entire life. Her deep family ties to San Diego have anchored her near the ocean, and her marriage to surfboard builder Rusty Preisendorfer, from whom she’s now separated, has welded her into the surf community.

Where are you from?

I was born in Escondido and grew up in Clairemont. My mother was born on Kendall Street in Pacific Beach; she went through La Jolla High and met my dad at the gas station that was next to Su Casa. My grandfather was a laborer for Ellen Browning Scripps at Children’s Pool in 1930. I’ve a real fondness for the Children’s Pool because that was our family beach; grandpa built it.

Did you go to Children’s Pool as a child?

All the time. We went to The Cove, too. Every summer I got dropped off in the morning with my best friend, and then walked to Jeff’s Burgers and back to The Cove to get picked up. That was our summer. I took my kids there, too, before the seals were there.

When did you move to La Jolla?

I met Rusty at the beach at age 16. My girlfriends and I went to The Shores because that’s where the Clairemont surf boys went. Rusty invited me to his birthday party and that’s how that started. He was 25 at the time. We were together five years, and then we got married and started a business.

We couldn’t afford La Jolla, the surfboard itself is not a super profitable entity. (The money) is in the clothing sales and we didn’t get into the clothing until later. We bought our first house in Clairemont and lived there for a few years, and we got our clothing thing started, we moved to The Shores. But before we got married, we had an apartment at The Shores.

Then I opened La Jolla Surf Systems in 1980, and managed that for five years. I went to Nordstrom and worked there for a few years, buying swimwear ... and then we opened our own stores. The one in Del Mar has been there for three years, and in La Jolla, for 26 years.

What’s it like to have a business with your husband?

He was a workaholic, so that was one way I got to see him (laughs). And I could take the babies to work, so it worked out.

How many children you have?

I have two; my son, Clint, 31, and my daughter, Avalon, 29. Her name was a song we played at our wedding. They’re really great kids. I’m also a grandmother, I have a one-year-old grandson.

How has La Jolla changed through the years?

It’s more crowded — and it’s always been crowded! I used to party at the beach and now you can’t party at the beach, and I greatly agree with that law. It’s also very transient these days. There are a lot of vacation rentals and second homes, and that creates a different atmosphere with your neighbors.

I’ve also watched UC San Diego grow, grow, grow, and that affects everything because it’s not only the students, it’s the stuff and all the suppliers involved, which creates a lot of traffic. It used to be people trickled onto the beach all day, and then at 3:30 p.m. all decided they needed to go home at the same time (laughs). That’s when most of our traffic happened. Now, you’ve got the students, teachers and businesses up at UCSD trying to skip the I-5, so we get a double blast.

When did you start volunteering for the community?

I started volunteering with my children’s athletics; first with La Jolla Youth and then with the girls’ softball league that no longer exists. I was really involved with the schools, La Jolla Country Day and La Jolla High. I also helped Jon Sundt, another La Jolla Shores’ guy and my son’s godfather, set up the non-profit organization Natural High. It’s for middle-school kids to help them find their natural high in life, before they become jaded high-schoolers.

I got into the Shores Association and Shores Business Association because the City tore up our street. All these businesses, there’s over 120, and they’re all moms and pops. The only corporation is Piatti. We didn’t have a voice, so we got together — which is hard because everyone is busy, especially this time of year — and we’re trying to make La Jolla Shores have a more community feel because we’re not part of The Village.

We had to pull ourselves together to get grant money for new trash cans, street cleaning, steam cleaning and things like that. It’s moving forward, but it’s a struggle, and because it’s volunteer, it’s always the same people.

Why do you think that is?

Even in the PTA, it’s the same people doing things. It’s because people think, ‘Oh, they’ll do it.’ Now I’m being called to join all these boards. St. Germaine (which I joined because it’s kind of a low-key volunteer thing) does great stuff for kids in need, and some members have told me, ‘You should be vice-president!’ I think people want to be involved, but they don’t want to put in any time.

How much time a week do you give to volunteering?

Probably, between going to City Council meetings and things, 20 hours a week. I don’t work day-to-day in the business, but I’m involved in that, too. It’s a lot.

What do you do for fun?

Stand up Paddle Boarding. I love my girlfriends; we have a great time. We do hikes all over the City and we go dancing. I love live music. I love it! I’m really sad that we lost the La Jolla Concerts by the Sea on Sundays. It was such a nice community event and it’s sad that it’s gone. I paint with watercolors. I started about five years ago. I did a little bit when I was in college. I started to sell some of them, so that’s exciting.

Do you surf?

I don’t surf. People find that hard to believe because I’ve been working in the surf industry since 1984, and I understand the surf culture. Surf is not a sport, it’s all-encompassing. You check the surf every day.

On my first date with Rusty, he took me surfing, and I almost drowned (laughs). I just can’t paddle into the wave, I don’t have the upper body strength. He pushed me into a wave and I got up and rode a wave, but I couldn’t do it by myself. I’ve surfed in places where it’s not crowded because I could take people out. I have no control (laughs). When I was a teenager coming to the beach, we were there to see the boys. And now, girls are coming to surf with their friends. They’re much more athletic than we were.

What’s your relationship with Rusty these days?

We’re on good terms; we care about each other, we care about our children, and we’re neighbors and business partners. It’s just a different relationship.

How do you run a business in a seasonal area?

You have to prepare. It’s very interesting. It’s pretty quiet down here in the winter. The sun brings the people. In the winter, the tourists are gone. We need the locals back, and they are pretty bruised from all the construction that has gone on.

For my particular business, the whole market has changed in retail because of online shopping and Amazon … our factory has had to change business models, too, because people call and they want to know what you have in stock. Surfboards are expensive to build. You can’t just build an inventory and wait for somebody to click a box online.

When did you purchase your house?

In 1994, we purchased the house next door. It was a big lot, it had 13 UCSD students living in it. The neighbors were thrilled because our purchase got rid of all the students and parties.

We moved in, remodeled, and then the little cottage in front of us went up for sale. We thought, someone’s going to buy that house and tear it down, which everybody does in La Jolla Shores, so we bit the bullet and bought it.

We had it as a rental, and 20 years later, I moved into it.

What’s something people don’t know about you?

I have a pool table from a biker bar in Bakersfield, and I like to play pool in dive bars — that’s something not many people know!

What’s your wish for the future?

I want to live long and be healthy, see my grandchildren grow up, and be able to stay in this community. I love this community. I’m passionate about it. It’s a real blessing to see the ocean and go to the beach every day.