San Diego Communities

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San Diego is both a City and a County. The county has every climate and every lifestyle and every activity anyone could want, and, fortunately, it is all dressed up in the traditional all-American good neighbor lifestyle with a little leeway for the southern Californian influence. We have 70 miles of coastline. In 1848 California was annexed to the U.S. as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo, which ended the U.S.-Mexican War. Two years later we became a state. Our climate is, simply, idyllic. Because our topography ranges from shoreline to mountains, mesas and canyons, we have a collection of varying micro-climates. However, 201 days a year the temperatures are between 70° and 90°, and exceed 90 only 4 days a year. Rainfall is low.

San Diego is the U.S. Navy’s principal home to the Pacific Fleet, although the HQ is at Pearl Harbor.

PROPERTY TAXES ARE USUALLY BETTER THAN WHERE YOU CAME FROM. Proposition 13 three decades ago set our property taxes at 1% of our purchase price with a maximum 2% increase per year (plus subsequent voter-approved additional bond issues, which we are loathe to vote).

San Diego is America’s 8th largest city (approximately the size of Connecticut) and the 4th largest county. Tourism is one of our major industries, so you will find her friendly as well as beautiful.

Beaches are an important part of our San Diego desirability. From Imperial Beach on the south end of the county to Oceanside Beach on the north end, our water temperatures range from 55 to 72, and surf reports, important to fishermen, surfers, and the population in general, are in the paper, radio and on-line. Overnight camping is not allowed on any San Diego beaches. Leashed dogs are permitted on most from 6pm to 9am, and Unleashed are welcome at Dog Beach at the north end of Ocean Beach, at River mouth in Del Mar, and at Dog Beach at the west end of Coronado Beach. Rules are posted and enforced for barbecues, alcohol, and glass.

The City of San Diego has a thriving “downtown” most visible in the photos of our skyline. But it is not a big area, easily manageable on foot and easily accessed by buses and trolley. It does not have a sense of enclosure that most cities have, despite gorgeous modern skyscrapers and classic old lower-scrapers.

There are 40+ different communities in San Diego, and even neighboring communities have their distinctive identify. None can judge from one.

San Diego has both benefitted and suffered from its southern tip location. It has evaded much of the “metropolitan political morass” of larger cities to the north and maintained a very “small town” timbre. Yet recent major corporate and biomedical companies have brought much attention and success to the area. The military influence is enormous, as she hosts the largest military installation in our country. There are a few local influences that may cap market expansion, such as limited options for airport expansion and few extant alternatives, but for the most part, San Diego has a culture of innovative and energetic collaboration which portends economic stability and reasonable growth for a long future.
San Diego Communities in alphabetical order:

Chula Vista

Clairemont – Kearny Mesa – Linda Vista – Serra Mesa


Del Mar

Downtown San Diego

El Cajon

Golden Hill



La Jolla

La Mesa

Marston Hills

Normal Heights

North Park & South Park

Pacific Beach

Point Loma

University Heights

Chula Vista

Located equidistant from Downtown San Diego and the Mexican border, Chula Vista today is one community of the thriving South Bay area that includes several communities, one of which held the title for highest per capita income in San Diego County until just recently!
Its first development starting in 1887, Chula Vista survived originally as an agricultural area and from its marine waters.  In early 1941 Rohr Aircraft re-located to Chula Vista, and orchards were never again dominant.  Factory workers and servicemen, often stationed at the harbor caused building of numerous homes and the area thrived.  Many workers and servicemen chose to remain in the area after the war. Today many tourists and locals enjoy the Living Coast Discover Center (formerly known as the Chula Vista Nature Center),  the huge entertainment amphitheater hosting major stars, and celebrating the first USOC master-planned Olympic Facility.  The San Diego Chargers have denied Chula Vista as a possible new stadium location, and Forbes Magazinecited her as “boring”, but with the phenomenal growth and liveliness of recent years, the bay front development is sure to boost her into one of SoCal’s leading destinations.

Clairemont, Kearny Mesa, Linda Vista, Serra Mesa

These neighborhoods, basically forged during and after World War two, are predominantly “middle America” in style, with mid-century developer housing in most cases, a broad mix of ethnic, economic, and energetic people, and proudly offering solid grounding to many people starting San Diego lives here. Clairemont was named for the wife, Claire, of one of its original developers, and sits on a mesa north of the Mission Valley and east of the coastal slope to the Pacific. Starting in 1950, Clairemont had several thousand homes within the early part of the decade and because of its separation from downtown San Diego immediately included schools, libraries, shopping and other amenities, a new concept for the times. Tecolote Canyon includes golf, tennis and swim club, streams and trails that include coyotes, wild green parrots and owls. A lot of hiking and mountain biking is enjoyed in these fingers.

Kearny Mesa, named for General Kearney of the Mexican-American War and the former Camp Kearny military base that eventually became Miramar Marine Air Station, began in 1937 with Gibbs Airfieldf, now the little airport known as Montgomery Field, serving small aircraft, usually visiting blimps that follow the local sports events, and surrounding industrial uses. The area was a huge base for gargantuan General Dynamics, and now Foodmaker (Jack in the Box), Cubic and other thriving industrial companies. Housing is scant, mostly provided in the adjoining Clairemont, Linda Vista and Serra Mesa.

Linda Vista, which new Californians quickly learn is Spanish for “pretty view”, was built in 1940-41 to house aircraft workers. In the 1980’s it accepted hundreds and thousands of Viet Nam refugees who took over the local stores and homes and quickly demonstrated incredible determination and economic prowess, from growing front yard vegetables to feed their large housed populations to taking on any income-producing work available and proving their skill and dependability. It was a lesson to all around them. In 1942 Eleanor Roosevelt dedicated the very first U.S. mall-type shopping center in Linda Vista, including a movie theatre. Today it is the proud home of the gracious and thriving University of San Diego, leader in a number of academic disciplines.
Serra Mesa is named for the ever-admired Father Junipero Serra, the Spanish friar who founded the Mission San Diego de Alcala in the 1700’s. Although some land was built earlier, most modern development followed the Korean War with Navy expansion.

These neighborhoods are melting pots and incubators for outstanding San Diegans.


One of the most renowned areas of San Diego, Coronado is home to the fabulous 1800’ Hotel Del Coronado, an epic bridge, a downtown that reflects 1950’s life in image, summer concerts in their large central park, the U.S.Navy aircraft carrier base, and a cadre of residents whose names and success resonate around the country and world. Everyone who has ever put toes in any sand will agree it has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Biking around the island is a wonderful way to see it. Only 37.2 square miles, with spectacular views of the Pacific on the West and South and the San Diego City skyline to the East, its affluent community offers excellent dining, recreation, theatre and civic events.

Founded in 1885, intended as a resort community from origination, the developers immediately founded the Coronado Beach Company, and by 1888 the “Hotel Del” was welcoming guests. Boating, baseball and other sporting clubs were fostered. Although we San Diegan’s refer to Coronado as an island, it is connected by the strand to South Bay. In addition to the bridge, there are regular ferries from Downtown San Diego, and until retired in 1939, there were John D. Spreckels’ streetcars.

At least once a year the naval base opens its doors to welcome sightseers to tour a “flat top”, and President Clinton flew Air Force 1 in several times to visit his friend Larry Lawrence, who he also designated as an ambassador.

Del Mar

An affluent beach city of approximately 4000 population in 2010 census, Del Mar is part of the greater San Diego County area, but a distinct and incorporated city operating under its own 5-person City Council and Mayor. Within the San Diego real estate community it is recognized for having the most stringent development oversight. Spanish for “by the sea, it was founded around the late 1800 by Colonel Jacob Taylor who envisioned building a seaside resort for the rich and famous. A number of qualifiers have lived there — Desi Arnaz, Jimmy Durante, Burt Bacharach – and do have homes there now – Tony Robbins, Aaron Rodgers, and others.

A quaint (“correct” word in this town) village runs along its primary road, after it climbs up the long coastal road from Torrey Pines Beach (home of “clothing optional” Black’s Beach) at the north end of La Jolla and tracks along the high bluffs. Shops and galleries, real estate companies and gathering places from coffee to fine dining dominate the scene. At the north end of the village, the road again dips down and runs at almost sand level, with very expensive homes on the beach to the west side of the street, for example that owned by the editor of Architectural Digest, and expensive homes on the east. Distinctive architecture is a signature of this town, although east of the I-5 main north-south California highway recent development has opened up broad swaths of new communities with fine tract housing, excellent schools and pricey shopping.

Del Mar’s symbol is the torrey pine, the rarest pine in the U.S., which inhabits the area and for which the N. La Jolla Golf Course is named. Torrey Pines Golf Course, home to multiple champion Phil Mickelson, is recognized as one of the most exclusive and challenging courses in the country. Del Mar also hosts the Del Mar Track “Where the Surf Meets the Turf” and Bing Crosby used to gather his cohorts for wagering and fun. Torrey Pines High School in Del Mar is ranked among the top 100 in the nation. The Fairgrounds adjacent to the Racetrack holds the annual County Fair and fabulous Del Mar Antiques Show, as well as regular musical and other events.
Del Mar homes generally sell in a very wide range of prices, reflecting view, architecture, condition, and provenance, but averages prices run $590 – $875/sf and in the 2014 sales ran from $650,000 to $16,000,000.

Downtown San Diego

Until sometime in the 80’s, when Mayor Pete Wilson and developer Ernie Hahn, supported by a number of other visionaries, decided to move the Navy “liberty” and tattoo- parlor harbor corner of our city into an area suitable form better economic production, Downtown had grown only slightly from her original mud and dirt trapper and wild west origins. Even though big business had arrived earlier, it arrived with men like C. Arnholt Smith, a high-school drop-out multi-millionnaire who brought the Padres into the National League, was an advisor and major contributor to President Richard M. Nixon, and majority owner of the U.S. National Bank, and became a convicted embezzler. His house in Mission Hills is said to have money hidden in the walls, but no owner to date has discovered it. Before its “civilization”, Downtown always had a flavor of the “old West.”
Today with over 28,000 residents, Downtown is the cultural, financial and business core of San Diego County.

It has very defined neighborhoods: The Columbia District on the west side, the Core District (central downtown), Cortez Hill on the upper and northeast area, the East Village still revitalizing and growing since the construction of Petco Park for the Padres, the Gaslamp Quarter styled to reminisce about our early western days, Little Italy which has grown from its virtual origins to its named community, the Marina District and Seaport Village on the south-west corner, and the Horton District anchored by Horton Plaza and adjacent buildings.

Now a vibrant cultural and social scene, Downtown also houses the National League Padres, the Midway aircraft carrier museum ship, the eight ship San Diego Maritime museum, and the ever-growing Convention Center. Tourists coming for meetings find it easy to walk to fun venues and excellent shopping and dining, and a trolley runs from the South Bay through Downtown up to the “Q” (Qualcomm Stadium) and out to East County. Every year the Big Bay Balloon Parade for the Holiday Bowl, the Parade of Lights with holiday-decorated boats on the Bay and the enormous San Diego Street Scene music festival crowd the streets.

Ej Cajon

Wikipedia reports that El Cajon was named for its big box situation among the mountains that make its valley boxed in. But a casual look suggests that this Community is a natural merger of the coastal and occasionally sophisticated westerly areas of San Diego with the cowboy and desert environs on the east. It is more relaxed, casual and yet very alive.

Because of the distance from the ocean and uplifting breezes in the basin setting, it is generally warmer than central San Diego in the summer and cooler in the winter. In the late 1800’s when gold was discovered in Julian (now known for its pies!), traffic from San Diego dictated development of El Cajon for travel accommodations by a gentleman named Knox, and it became known as Knox Corners until incorporation in 1912 as El Cajon. Taylor Guitars and Gillespie Field small plane airport are primary tourist sites.

El Cajon has spawned several well-known major league baseball players, such as Kurt Bevacqua, Brian Giles, Dave Dravecky, and Barry Zito, as well as 6-time Nascar champion Jimmy Johnson and Olympic diving gold medalist Greg Louganis. The Olaf Wieghorst museum and Western Heritage Center, and Air Group One San Diego, a commemorative and teaching World War II and flight training site, are two of El Cajon’s most popular attractions.

Golden Hill

Golden Hill is an “original” area of San Diego that runs along the south side of Balboa Park until it reaches the Martin Luther King Freeway, then continues east a little bit. One of the two first refuges from the wagon wheel and dust streets of Downtown, it was the site of San Diego’s first Mayor’s Mansion and now shows some of the best historic architecture in the City with many homes and buildings pre-dating the 1900’s.

Golden Hill has always been a mix. Artists, musicians, and others who cannot or choose not to afford the pricier surrounds, it has vibrancy and color and activity. There are Black Box Recording Studios, The Habitat Recording Studios, Los Reyes Mexican Food, Influx Cafe, Turf Supper Club (where you cook your own food on a big barbecue in the middle of the room!), Krakatoa & Pizzeria Luigi (which was featured on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives). They also have o two outdoor concerts a year, the Golden Hill Block Party and Kate Sessions Fest.

Both are free, all-ages events, organized by local artists and musicians, featuring local bands.


Hillcrest is the definition of diversity. It offers an eclectic blend of youth and older people who share the streets and energy of one of the trendiest of San Diego’s neighborhoods. Its residents are a marvelously integrated combination of affluent professionals, entrepreneurs, gays, medical students, young artists and increasingly, retiring active adults seeking pedestrian convenience and mainstream living. There is an almost 24-hour whirl of the best places to eat and shop, if style is your mantra. Bordering the more elegant Bankers Hill (sometimes considered a part of Hillcrest), the more traditional Mission Hills, the more blue-collar but also fashionable North Park, and edging along like-minded University Heights, Hillcrest is a thriving urban community of condominiums, markets, video stores and fast goods, hip shops, coffee and ice cream shops, and many meet and visit venues. It is where dining ranges from 4-star to Big Macs, where celebrities from the big city of stars up north come to dine and play, where one of the most expensive home furnishing stores in the county juxtaposes with Whole Foods and Healthy Back, where Ace Hardware is the most fun and creative place to shop for gifts. It’s annual Hillcrest Fair in August is huge, for its variety and aliveness, and its political or cultural activities are always the place to be. A thorough mix of commercial, condominiums, houses and apartments, benefitting from strong business and community associations, the real estate is a thriving investment here.

As a neighborhood, Hillcrest has a sense of place that is hard to capture in any words or photographs. Hillcrest first developed as a streetcar suburb, an outlying urban region dependent on the invention of reliable and efficient public transportation to carry residents downtown for jobs and shopping. Houses were built, local businesses established, and eventually buses replaced the streetcar lines.
The neighborhoods lowest point began in the mid-1960s when Mission Valley was developed and introduced the Emil generation. Revitalization started in the 1970’s, however, and got a big boost in 1984 with the formation of the Hillcrest Business Improvement District, now managed by the HBIA. Many older buildings have been beautifully restored while new development is largely built upon a mixed-use, medium-density growth plan. The community formed the Hillcrest Town Council in 2007 to give residents a voice.

The geographic location, on top of a sunny coastal terrace, serves as the foundation for the neighborhood and its peoples. The small mesa on which Hillcrest sits creates a delightful and efficient compact setting. Streets are mostly laid out in a flat grid system easy for pedestrians to navigate. Multiple canyons slice through the neighborhood offering treasured and undeveloped green space as well as a sanctuary for native flora and fauna, even while her central location offers convenient access to and from all areas of metro San Diego.

The diversity of its people forms an important keystone of our village. Hillcrest proudly shows it colors in the rainbow of the homosexual community. The city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens first came out of the closet here. And although the region still serves as the center of the San Diego LGBT community, people of all genders and sexual orientations comfortably, irrelevantly mix while dining, shopping, working and living in the lively neighborhood that’s now filled with over a hundred years of history.


Born in the early 1900’s, as an alternative “fine home” area to the damper and cooler coastal communities, Kensington quickly became the “New Jersey” to the bustle of Downtown neighborhoods. About 10 minutes from Downtown but sheltered in a quieter, greener setting, she welcomes the genteel, traditional and artistic in particular. Real Estate promoter from Los Angeles, William Douglas, handled early sales of lots and convinced the San Diego Electric Railway company to extend the Adams Avenue line to Kensington for the opening in November, 1910.

Three years later the original owners, Abbie Hitchcock and Mary Gleason, sold to a consortium of former executives from the Santa Fe Railway Company, under the head of G. Aubrey Davidson, who expanded the area and the entire collect became “Kensington”. The name derives, it is said, from the early developers’ Anglophile belief it sounded substantial. But the sisters were from a Massachusetts town where it was traditional to use English place names.

The only park is the fenced area around the Kensington branch library at Adams and Marlborough, but residents love the safe and popular playground for their little ones. Memorial Day brings out the “Norman Rockwell” in the community. They don their best red, white and blue, decorate their children, bicycles and dogs, and parade down Marlborough Street to the “center” of the village. There are 4th of July block parties, concerts performed in private homes, a Halloween where everyone feels safe and participates, and everyone’s favorite, just strolling, shopping or coffeeing where all your neighbors are friendly and happy to see you.

Kensington is predominantly Spanish-Mediterranean in architectural character, many of the home built by architects Cliff May, Richard Requa, and the like. A resident wrote on Yelp: One of my neighbors is in her late eighties and has lived in the same house for more than 60 years and personally knows (or at least it seems like it) every single dog in the entire neighborhood. I love that I can walk my kids to the local library and park and bump into friends and neighbors each day. The library sponsors great events like baby-sign language classes, and story-time for the kids, not to mention adult author lectures. The mini-park is very toddler friendly and the nice fencing makes it easy to keep an eye on the kids.

When I get hungry, I can walk to Clem’s for a lovely hand-made deli sandwich, or I can go up-scale and have divine French cuisine at Bleu Boheme. There’s no need to leave the neighborhood, whether you crave burgers at Burger Lounge, or just a glass of wine with a cheese board at Kensington Vine, it’s all here! All your needs can be met within walking distance, from groceries at VONS to clothing at NYLA’s and jewelry at Peevey’s. And what other neighborhood has a pet-store that delivers to your front door for free! We love Kensington Pet Supply! When our dog got attacked by a rottweiler, we whisked her off to Kensington Veterinary Hospital, again, within walking distance

(although we drove at lightning speed of course!)”

La Jolla

Possibly the most cited area of San Diego, La Jolla emerged from the 1950’s, where its bump into the ocean topography had welcomed summer homes and cottages on its beaches for decades, as a community destined to put “posh” beyond the city center homes and take advantage of its geographic assets. In its early spring to celebrity, famous names from Los Angeles cruised down to “get away” from Hollywood or after stopping at Bing Crosby’s Del Mar racetrack. Cliff Robertson, Gregory Peck, Rachel Welch, were early names of note, and owning primary or secondary residences today are Dick Enberg, Doug Flutie, Phil Mickelson, the late Ted Geisel “Dr. Seuss”, Raymond Chandler, Deepak Chopra, Jonas Salk, Warren Buffet and the long time residents and benefactors, the Scripps family.

Celebrity is important in this land of “who are you,” and integral to every business, school and shop. However, although this town communicates in many languages as a priority attraction of people from other nations, it also offers the typical warmth and welcome of small town San Diego. You can find a smile without working too hard. Schools are excellent, shops and restaurants are distinctive and delicious, if not inexpensive, and the industry of knowledge pervades. Jonas Salk chose La Jolla for his world-effected Salk Institute, hospitals, colleges, private schools, and artists, as well as the nationally renowned/Tony-awarded La Jolla Playhouse expand on the intention to keep knowledge and learning a part of every day life here.

Homes range from the original California ranches that bloomed with the mid-century developments to internationally recognized grand homes and statement condominiums. Sales prices of single family detached homes in the second half of 2014 ranged from $699,000 to $9,000,000, or $343/sf to $1657/sf. The climate is a little damper than central San Diego, an effect of the town’s projection into the ocean. Beaches are decorated with surfboards, seals and sunblock lotion, and the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club offers an understated respite to sand-seekers and racket-bearers alike with excellent dining and hotel services. The population in 2010 was 31,746, and is located approximately 12-15 miles from Downtown San Diego.

La Mesa

“Named the most walkable city in San Diego County, thanks in large part to its upgraded intersections and pedestrian-friendly downtown village, La Mesa is both walkable and rustic. Just up the hill in hip Mountain Helix, sidewalks disappear altogether in favor of winding hillsides dotted with boulders, trickling creeks, and ranch-style homes that stretch out over acres with views out to Coronado.

Even with antique shops, unique boutiques, and the neighboring behemoth Grossmont Center, La Mesa still feels quiet, like a peaceful suburban haven enjoying just a splash of urban culture.” …SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE March 2014

The population was 57,065 at the 2010 census for this green and hilly community originally founded in 1869. Approximately 12 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, La Mesa has several districts, the most premium possibly being the Mount Helix area, crowned by a cross visible from many other areas of San Diego. From Mount Helix the coastline is visible, as are more San Diego mountains to the east and north.

Marston Hills

Tucked on the north east perimeter of Balboa Park, where the green on the map becomes fingers, is the graceful 1920’s boom project of the community’s namesake.

Located off Richmond Street a half mile south of University Avenue, core of Hillcrest, AND in a second cluster off Vermont also south of Hillcrest, Marston Hills has historically been graced by other (than founder Marston) famous residents from basketball star Bill Walton to the restauranteurs David and Leslie Cohn, and others who appreciate the sense of serenity yet proximate to upper tier goods and services. Bordering the park, this neighborhood also abuts the Roosevelt Junior High School and Boys and Girls Scout Camps, and you can sometimes hear the sounds of the nearby San Diego Zoo. Long canyon trails meander into the larger Park, and waving eucalyptus sing of breezes and make white noise of the prettiest stretch of Highway 163. Laced by canyons and stately eucalyptus and palms, this community is strolling distance to the lights and action of urban Hillcrest yet offers the serenity of the city’s Balboa Park oasis. Abutting San Diegoís famed Balboa Park, it is within a mile of the zoo, museums, famous Old Globe Theatre, art village, and many spectacular museums. Imagine listening to lions and peacocks from your living room.

Normal Heights

Normal Heights, home of antiques stores, smart little dining places, Spanish and Craftsman homes from early San Diego, canyons and a rim view of Mission Valley and west to the bay, east to the Mountains, is quite normal, although the name relates not to her character but to the teacher’s (Normal) school in the next community in early San Diego. Constrained to rabbits and a few homes until the electric trolley brought her into “suburbia” in the 1915’s, Normal Heights quickly developed a library, local businesses and other “NormalHeightsSmall” by supports like sidewalks and paved streets. She preceded the fancier Kensington, which was built predominantly in the 20’s and 30’s for owners of “fine” homes who wanted to enjoy a climate a little warmer than the coast. In 1985 a huge fire ripped up the walls from the valley below and burned many homes along the rim. The community fought to retain its historical architectural character, but a few modern great homes did replace earlier more modest versions. Her modern life is known not only for her Antiques Row, but for the September free music festival and the September Adams Avenue Unplugged music festival, and a 3rd street fair focusing on Art in April.

North Park and South Park

North Park, named one of America’s hippest neighborhoods in Forbes Magazine 2014

North Park is a neighborhood in San Diego situated at the north and east sides of Balboa Park. Developed in the early 1900’s as a “Blue Collar” development with a street car running from the Downtown, Stevens and Hartley, the first area real estate firm, North Park has now become one of the definitive neighborhoods of “hip”, although the young people moving in bring their energy and intention to a very welcoming long time older generation. History, trees and craftsmanship are cherished and visible throughout. With mixed but very determined architecture, many of her homes are featured in books on bungalows. Builder David Owen Dryden did many homes along 28th and Pershing, and it has become the Dryden Historical District between Upas and Landis. Helping to foster this interest and awareness is the North Park Historical Society, a local volunteer civic organization. The North Park Historical Society manages a website which contains many articles about historic sites, people and events; North Park walking tours; and information about committee projects and meeting information.
Forbes magazine called it “culturally diverse North Park, home to Craftsman cottages, cafes and diners, coffee shops, several microbreweries, boutiques, and the North Park Farmers Market. The North Park Theater and the Ray Street Arts District are also bastions of creativity in the area” The Los Angeles Times wrote: “North Park has all the ingredients for the cool school: It’s culturally diverse and has art galleries, boutiques, trendy bars with handcrafted cocktails and local brews, and foodie-approved eateries.”
An eclectic and diverse array of restaurants, as well as independent coffee shops, can be found along the main arteries of 30th Street and University Avenue. The area is also dotted with bars and night clubs that cater to a wide diversity of patrons. Surrounding, previously more tony and expensive neighborhoods, have witnessed a flow to the North Park area of both residents and businesses.
The North Park Farmers Market every Thursday, listed as one of the top 40 in the USA, is located in the parking lot at University and 32nd Streets. EveryDecember, North Park holds its annual holiday parade. Formerly known as the North Park Toyland Parade, it is now called the North Park Lions Club Holiday Parade.

Like other urban San Diego communities, North Park has a high rate of pedestrian activity, relative to other regions of San Diego county.

South Park

Trendy is as trendy does, and South Park has it! This historic neighborhood between North Park and Golden Hills, on the east side of Balboa Park, is alive with new cafes, taverns and just drop in coffee and casual spots. The South Park retail and restaurant community hosts quarterly Walk- abouts on Saturday evenings in March, July, October and December. Shops are open late, live music and refreshments are provided, and a free trolley carries attendees from Beech Street to Grape Street to Juniper Street. Their summer Old House Fair is one of San Diego’s most popular events featuring everyone connected with architectural homes or renovation, furnishings and décor is there.

Originally Golden Hill, outside of the dust and dirt of downtown and sitting on an elevation with views over the harbor, was one of the prime sites of our City. The first mayor’s mansion was developed there. South Park beyond to the east and north was too far. But people who could not afford the Hill bought here and in the last several years renovation, craftsmanship and history has added its cachet to this exciting and eclectic part of town.

Tree-lined, walkable and predominantly single family with bungalow courts, the area is dotted by homes with architectural provenance and historic plaques.

In the 90’s South Park took its diverse population to the forefront of small business appeal, buffered by its pedestrian ease and lack of big box or chain stores. Distinctive and personal is the key note. And the requisite attire is no long left over hippie but young individual or even executive. Not just vintage any more, but respecting the graces of yesteryear with modern aplomb.

Pacific Beach

To the natives it looks like Pacific Beach is the vacation tourist capital of San Diego. Traffic in and out is deadly in the summer, its Mission Beach/fancy section has constant celebrity traffic and action, while the mid-section boardwalk has skateboarders and mini-kinis all over with the fabulous Crystal Pier cottages over the water never vacant! The streets that run east-west are all named after precious stones like Agate, Diamond, Garnet, etc.

Another mid-century product, Pacific Beach has miles of sand, parks, resorts, neighbors Sea World, and a very casual wardrobe requirement. In the 40’s there were a U.S. Navy anti-aircraft training center and ballrooms and the still wonderful Belmont Park amusement center with roller coaster and rollerblade rentals, surfing, skating. Boats go in and out of the jetty off Mission Beach.

Its appeal is mostly casual, but backing up to La Jolla and offering the always desirable coastal scene, it has become more and more gentrified and expensive. Condos here are both to offer affordability and flexibility and freedom. Summer rentals are vast and varied and usually booked way ahead.

Again, homes are originally mid-century for the most part, prices relating directly to distance from the ocean or bay and views.

Point Loma

A 1960s era postcard showing the view from Point Loma looking out over San Diego Bay. The heart of the yachting community in San Diego, with the internationally renowned classic San Diego Yacht Club, yacht architects and builders, dry dock services, mooring and dockside clubs, Point Loma has stepped beyond her early founding as a fishing and sailing hub.

Standing at the door to the San Diego Harbor, Point Loma is also the home of navy services, in tangent with Coronado, and the mainland. The term “Point Loma” is used to describe both the neighborhood and the peninsula. modest, many enjoying postcard views of sailboats, ships, harbor and City beyond or the calm black beyond of the Pacific Ocean. The peninsula arches up in the middle, so that some of the most spectacular views sit along the spine with dramatic vistas in both directions. A little more “east coast” than much of San Diego, meaning understated, working their own purposes without flash, taking even their philanthropy on a personal shoulder. Even when the western regions of the mainland are warm in the 7-10 days of “hot” weather we suffer, the Point breezes and ocean flow can urge a sweater over your shoulders.

Sunset Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs fishing and early sea travel, The Point is now one of the most popular beach communities in San Diego. Ocean Beach, separate from the town of Point Loma by both zip code and geography is still part of the Point Loma Peninsula, and has retained a lot of its 1960’s hippie mood. Lunching in your bikini and sandals is not surprising to the natives, and Dog Beach where off-leash canines are welcomed, also attracts guitars and surfboards. Across the hump of the peninsula the former NTC – Naval Training Center – everything is now housed in the Great Lakes – is now converted to the wildly successful residential and commercial community called “Liberty Station.” Offering everything from Trader Joe’s and Vons to real estate companies, wonderful casual and fancy dining options, galleries, dance and performing arts venues, sports and other activities, the fact that this is all set under the flight path from Lindbergh Field has dampened value or desirability not at all. People love that everything, including a quick drive to downtown or the freeways, is right there.


Talmadge is an active and social community. Cloistered between Fairmount Avenue on the West, Montezuma/Collwood on the Northeast, and El Cajon Boulevard to the South, it does not offer stores and restaurants, but they are very close in the adjoining Kensington (to which Talmadge has been related since inception) and the College District. In 2001 the residents formed a Maintenance Assessment District to make right-of-way improvements with landscaping, ornamental lighting and traffic control devices, and it has become a social center as well. They have since planted over 400 trees. Talmadge also has organizations called the Talmadge Gates Historical District and the Talmadge Community Council (TCC). The TCC is a neighborhood open forum for property owners, has bi-monthly meetings to consult with City officials and serve as a “Live Newsletter”, keeping every informed and addressing any needs and issues. As we said, active and social! It appeals to people of all generations who enjoy traditional “community” values.
The homes in Talmadge are eclectic in architectural style and include Spanish, California bungalows, Cape Cod cottages, Cliff May homes, and Normandy styles. The streets generally wind among twisting canyons and birdsong.

University Heights

San Diego where its boundaries and those of North Park may be engaged, University Heights nevertheless takes its own path. A strong community group, business district that includes some landmark

Parkhouse Eatery, Bourbon Street, Twiggs Coffee Shop and performance venue, quality boutiques and restaurants. The ostrich became its symbol in recognition of its early history including the successful site of the farm that provided feathers to many great hats in the early 1900’s.

In the 1880’s a plan was laid out to develop a branch of the University of Southern California. It was never brought to fruition, but became the site for the State Normal School, now San Diego State University several miles east. The site today is home to the San Diego Unified School District HQ, but the “University” stayed.

In 1915, influenced by the Panama–California Exposition in nearby Balboa Park , an ostrich farm and public garden spot was constructed near what is now the corner of Adams Avenue and Park Boulevard, and later a neighborhood of homes called Mission Cliff Gardens was built on the site. The gardens were a popular tourist site, and frequent Sunday stroll at the northern terminus of the Spreckles trolley line serving the area. The neighborhood still retains the original garden boundary wall of rounded stones. Built in part to exclusively serve Mission Cliff Gardens, these streetcars became a fixture of this neighborhood until their retirement in 1939.. A trolley barn in the area was used for trolley housing and repairs; the facility was converted into a warehouse for the San Diego Paper Box Company and ultimately demolished in 1980. Developers planned to build a large condominium complex at the site, but residents convinced the city to preserve the land for a park, now Old Trolley Barn Park. Residents and guests gather there daily with pets and children, and Friday nights during the summer for a free concert series.