In his March/April 2020 editor’s letter, Editor-in-Chief Matt Bean unveils plans for Sunset’s new Santa Monica location—part headquarters, part lab for discovering the essence of the West

Santa Monica Rendering

Rendering by Stephen Kamifuji

Nobody used to come to the beach on vacation. At least not a century-plus ago, if the 1911 Sunset cover story “The Call of the Cool Sea Breeze” holds water. Thinly veiled tourism booster or rip-roaring yarn, the piece embeds us with “struggling” Tombstone, Arizona, attorney James Ross Jones and his family, who have cooled to the usual mountain retreats promising fresh eggs and croquet. James has come into some cash helping the copper mines, and he decides he’ll be “ding-swizzled if he doesn’t go somewhere and hook a fish that will fight.” Ding-swizzled, indeed. 

July 1911 Cover
Sunset Publishing Corp

Sunset Publishing Corp

The Jones’ gambit? Visit the beaches of Southern California one-by-one seeking recreation, good food, and a site for an eventual family bungalow. This was in the early days of piers and boardwalks, when up and down the West coast the waterfront was a recreational beacon—racetracks and railroads and the occasional diving horse, but not much to sustain a family. 

The Joneses were hooked, as it were, and the rest is all history and Snapchat. It was inevitable that the coasts would change, thanks to the inexorable pull felt then by the Joneses, who set down roots, and by many of us to this day. Sunset—which was owned by the railroads—certainly played a role in changing that part of California. And now, it’s going to change us. 

About a year ago, we began to consider developing our own little bungalow on the beach. Our question: What if we could turn Sunset into an always-on experience? What if we could find a way to connect with the people who matter most—our readers, viewers, supporters, you—every day, every week? Not in the persistent but wholly ephemeral way of Instagram, but as an actual outpost? 

You’ve joined us on Celebration Weekends in Menlo Park, in our Idea Houses, at pop-ups in Jack London Square. And now we hope you’ll join us by the beach in our Jonesian answer to those questions. 

Around late spring, Sunset Santa Monica—a multi-purpose location on a choice stretch of Main Street—will open its doors to a new era. Part workplace, part retail operation, part perma-pop-up and DIY dojo, part studio and showroom, the space gives us space to create, to collaborate, and to live the life on these pages. 

This new center of gravity anchors a dispersed foundation. Sunset remains the brand of the American West, and our staff reflects that. While [garden editor] Heather tends to her Araucana hens up in Portland, [associate home editor] Nena might be riding the Surfliner down to her home in San Diego. Meanwhile, [home editor] Sally is on an E-bike speeding up from Redondo Beach, and up in the San Francisco Bay Area, [food editors] Ellen and Maya are in search of of the next Alice Waters. And [travel editor] Kate might be soaking in a hot spring somewhere in Montana. The West writ large remains our world. 

At our new space, we’ll invite you in for office hours, fireside chats, open houses, and workshops that allow us to experience the best of life in the West together. We’ll partner with brands for limited-edition collections. We’ll offer seminars and how-to sessions; happy hours and beach clean-ups. And more. Yes, we’re keeping up with the Joneses. See you there soon.