Jump to content

4S Ranch, California

Coordinates: 33°1′3″N 117°6′42″W / 33.01750°N 117.11167°W / 33.01750; -117.11167
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

4S Ranch
4S Ranch from the summit of Black Mountain
4S Ranch from the summit of Black Mountain
4S Ranch is located in California
4S Ranch
4S Ranch
Location within the state of California
4S Ranch is located in the United States
4S Ranch
4S Ranch
4S Ranch (the United States)
Coordinates: 33°1′3″N 117°6′42″W / 33.01750°N 117.11167°W / 33.01750; -117.11167
Country United States
State California
County San Diego
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
Area code858

4S Ranch is a locale of San Diego County, California. It is located about 25 miles (40 km) north of downtown San Diego and 13 miles (21 km) east of the Pacific Ocean in the North County Inland area of San Diego. To the east of 4S Ranch is the San Diego community of Rancho Bernardo. To the west is the Santa Fe Valley, which includes Rancho Santa Fe. Lake Hodges forms the northern border of the community while Black Mountain Ranch, which includes Del Sur and Santaluz, and Rancho Peñasquitos are both situated to the south. The ZIP Code is 92127,[citation needed] and the community is inside area code 858.[citation needed]

Portion of table of contents of 1918 San Diego County Brand Book showing the livestock brand registered to W. J. Stowe (misspelled Stone here). Courtesy of History Office, San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation.
Aerial photo of Del Norte High School
4S Ranch sign
Ralphs in the 4S Commons shopping center
Heritage Park in 4S Ranch
Boys and Girls Club in 4S Ranch


The first recorded owner of Rancho San Bernardo, as the area in which 4S Ranch is currently located and originally part of four separate sitios or square leagues, was acquired by an English sea captain named Joseph Snook "Captain Snook" (who later became a Mexican citizen and changed his name to Jose Francisco Snook) in 1842 and 1845 through land grants from the Mexican Governor of California.[1] After his death, Snook's heirs sold the property to James McCoy for $4,020.[2]

Between 1847 and the turn of the century, the site of 4S Ranch was used extensively for the grazing of both sheep and longhorn cattle. By 1915 4S Ranch had been obtained by the San Dieguito Mutual Water Company, a subsidiary of Santa Fe Railroad. The railroad erroneously believed that eucalyptus trees would make excellent railroad ties and planted thousands of them. This was unsuccessful.

The San Diego Union of August 3, 1918 reported that W. J. Stowe of Los Angeles bought 3,000 acres of the ranch of the Eucalyptus Culture Company.  On October 1, 1918, Stowe registered his 4S brand with San Diego County.  The brand he chose represented the four Stowe family members living on the ranch.[3]

4S Ranch was sold numerous times before being purchased by Albert E. Smith. In 1928, Albert Smith built the Spanish mission style house on a ridge overlooking Lake Hodges. This house remains today. Soon after, the property was acquired by William A. Clark, founder of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. After Clark died in 1938, his widow sold 4S Ranch to Albert G. Ralphs of the Ralphs family, owners of the southern California grocery chain. 4S Ranch was primarily used by the Ralphs family for recreational and farming purposes until crop yields fell. Grass fires in 1944 and 1981 burned large portions of the original eucalyptus and citrus groves.[4]

In the early 1980s, the Ralphs family agreed to develop the southern portion of their property (what is now the 4S Ranch master planned community by Newland Communities) and retain the northern 1,200 acres (4.9 km2) as a family retreat which had been operated as a working ranch for 50 years. In the 1980s the third generation of the Ralphs family was granted stewardship of 4S Ranch. Albert's grandson and granddaughter Bob Ralphs and Linda Ralphs spearheaded the family's efforts to develop the property since 1979. They received approval in 1984 from the county to develop 634 acres (257 ha) of the property, with the rest set aside for development at least until after 1992. A portion of 4S Ranch was within a Williamson Act Agricultural Preserve until the contract expired at the end of 1992. The development plans began in general for a $100-million first phase of development at 4S Ranch business park component that totaled 180 acres (73 ha), enough for about 3 million square feet of research and light-industrial space.[5]

Development began in 1987 that was primarily a business park. Housing development began in the early 2000s and was completed in 2014. At least 4,700 homes spread over 2,900 acres make up the community.[6] Of the remaining 1,184 acres owned by the Ralphs family in the most northerly area of 4S Ranch, approximately 90 percent is designated natural open space with a potential 11 single family homes to be built on large estates accessible via Ralphs Ranch Road.[4]


4S Ranch is underlain by Jurassic Santiago Peak Volcanics, Tertiary Stadium conglomerate, and slope wash alluvium. The land of 4S Ranch before development consisted of a variety of landforms ranging from nearly flat-lying mesas and gently rolling hills to rugged, steeply-sloping hillside terrain. Elevations range from about 300 to 1,150 feet (91 to 351 m) above mean sea level. 1,600 acres (650 ha) of open space exceeded the mitigation requirement by 1,100 acres, and the loss of 3.8 acres of wetland habitat is mitigated by the creation of 9 acres of high quality wetland habitat.[7]


The 4S Ranch retail area surrounds the intersection of Dove Canyon and Camino del Norte and is composed of three main sections: the 4S Ranch Village Center, 4S Commons Town Center and the 4S Health Center. The 4S Ranch Village Center includes the area's only gas station, veterinary care, restaurants, salons, and a Starbucks.[8] 4S Commons Town Center has two grocery stores, restaurants, shopping and services, such as dry cleaning and shipping. The 4S Health Center is home to a variety of medical specialties including family medicine, oncology, pediatric dentistry, women's health, oral surgery, and facial plastic surgery.[9]


Route 880 (4S Ranch Express) debuted on March 30, 2009, providing service to Sorrento Valley/UTC During peak commute times via MTS.[10][11] The premium express service is a commuter service with limited stops by premium coach buses with service to Sorrento Valley and University Town Center transit center.[12] In 2014, Route 880 and all bus service to the 4S Ranch area had been cancelled. Service to Sorrento Valley has been replaced by Route 270 out of the Rancho Bernardo transit center.[13] The station is a 30-minute walk or a 15-minute bike ride.

Camino del Norte and Rancho Bernardo Road provide the primary access for the community, and lead east to Interstate 15. Other major roads providing access to 4S Ranch are Camino del Sur and Carmel Valley Road, which both lead to the south and west and lead to California State Route 56 and Interstate 5, respectively.

Community events[edit]

  • Fall Festival includes merchants with food, rides and games
  • Annual Easter Egg Hunt
  • Thank You Run/Walk 5K/10K Thanksgiving Day
  • Summer Movie Nights
  • 4S Ranch Fourth of July Carnival and Street Faire Activities
  • 4S Ranch Fourth of July Fireworks Fireworks at Del Norte High School
  • 4S Ranch Pumpkin Festival
  • Concerts in the Park

Parks and recreation[edit]

There are several county parks[14] including

  • 4S Ranch Sports Park
  • Heritage Park
  • 4S Ranch Community Park
  • Patriot Park
  • Pioneer Park
  • Liberty Park
  • Homestead Park


4S Ranch is served by numerous schools within the Poway Unified School District that opened beginning in 2004 when Stone Ranch Elementary opened and culminated with the opening of Design 39 Campus in August 2014.

High schools[edit]

Middle schools[edit]

Elementary schools[edit]

K-8 schools[edit]

Private schools[edit]

Law enforcement and fire protection[edit]

4S Ranch is served by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, with a substation located at 10282 Rancho Bernardo Road.[6] Fire services are provided by the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Department, with a station located at 16930 Four Gee Road.[15]

Community organizations[edit]

Youth sports[edit]

Religious services[edit]

Charitable organizations[edit]


The 4S Ranch branch of the San Diego County Library opened to the public on April 26, 2007. The 4S Ranch Library is located in 4S Commons Center and serves as a community hub, focused on their large population of children and teens. The 4S Ranch branch is 7,214 square feet and has a fluctuating collection size of around 28,000 items.


  1. ^ San Diego Historical Society article about Joseph Snook
  2. ^ "Snook's Nook takes name from early landowner - The San Diego Union-Tribune". Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  3. ^ "August 2023". San Diego History Seeker. August 14, 2023. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  4. ^ a b "4S Ranch Specific Plan - San Diego County Plan" (PDF).
  5. ^ Kraul, Chris (December 15, 1989). "Defense Firm Will Build on 60-Acre Site: Aerospace: General Dynamics, the county's biggest industrial employer, is not saying what its plans are for the property west of Rancho Bernardo". LA Times. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Richardson, Todd. "4S Ranch Substation". San Diego County Sheriff's Department. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  7. ^ "San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting minutes November 4, 1998". Archived from the original on October 31, 2007. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
  8. ^ "4S Ranch Village expanding; Vision office, cleaners signed up". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  9. ^ "4S Ranch Health Center". Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  10. ^ "New Express Route 880 Will Take 4S Ranch Residents to Work in Comfort". Metropolitan Transit System. March 9, 2009. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  11. ^ MTS route schedule September 4, 2011
  12. ^ "New bus route will serve 4S Ranch commuters". March 25, 2009. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  13. ^ "August 31, 2014 Service Changes". Metropolitan Transit System. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  14. ^ "4S Community Parks". Archived from the original on 5 May 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Rancho Santa Fe Fire Department - Locations". Retrieved October 13, 2017.

External links[edit]