Del Mar, California

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Del Mar, California
City of Del Mar
The Del Mar racetrack
Official seal of Del Mar, California
Location of Del Mar in San Diego County, California
Location of Del Mar in San Diego County, California
Del Mar, California is located in the United States
Del Mar, California
Del Mar, California
Location in the contiguous United States
Coordinates: 32°57′18″N 117°15′50″W / 32.95500°N 117.26389°W / 32.95500; -117.26389Coordinates: 32°57′18″N 117°15′50″W / 32.95500°N 117.26389°W / 32.95500; -117.26389
Country United States
State California
CountySan Diego
IncorporatedJuly 15, 1959[1]
 • BodyCity council
 • MayorDwight Worden.[2]
 • City1.77 sq mi (4.59 km2)
 • Land1.72 sq mi (4.45 km2)
 • Water0.06 sq mi (0.14 km2)  3.94%
Elevation112 ft (34 m)
 • City3,954
 • Density2,302.85/sq mi (889.19/km2)
 • Metro
SD-TJ: 5,105,768
Time zoneUTC-8 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)858
FIPS code06-18506
GNIS feature ID1656480

Del Mar (Spanish pronunciation: [del ˈmaɾ]; Spanish for "Of the Sea") is a beach town in San Diego County, California, located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Established in 1885 as a seaside resort, the city incorporated in 1959. The Del Mar Horse Races are hosted on the Del Mar racetrack every summer.

In 1885, Colonel Jacob Taylor purchased 338 acres (1.37 km2) from Enoch Talbert, with visions of building a seaside resort for the rich and famous.[6] The United States Navy operated a Naval Auxiliary Air Facility for blimps at Del Mar during World War II.[7] The population was 3,954 at the 2020 census, down from 4,161 at the 2010 census.[5]

The town has a wealthy population along the coast and the bluffs above the ocean. However, these properties are very vulnerable to climate change caused sea level rise and subsequent coastal erosion. Already transportation infrastructure has been under threat. The city has a Climate change adaptation plan that notably doesn't have any managed retreat strategy even though it was recommended by the state California Coastal Commission in 2019.[8][9]


Del Mar was first settled in the early 1880s by Theodore M. Loop, a railroad official, and his wife Ella. Ella gave the site its name, inspired by Bayard Taylor's poem "The Fight of Paso del Mar".[10] In 1885, Del Mar was officially founded after another settler, "Colonel" Jacob Taylor, purchased the land from homesteader Enoch Talbert.[11]


Del Mar is one of only two locations where the Torrey Pine tree naturally occurs. The Torrey Pine is the rarest pine in the United States; only two populations of this endangered species exist, in Del Mar and on Santa Rosa Island.[12] The Soledad Valley at the south of Del Mar severs two colony segments.

At the southern edge of Del Mar is the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. To the north is the San Dieguito Lagoon and the San Dieguito River, which empties into the Pacific Ocean at Del Mar. The bluffs along Del Mar's south beach are subject to collapse.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.8 square miles (4.7 km2), of which 1.7 square miles (4.4 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (3.94%) is water.


Del Mar's climate is considered mediterranean-subtropical with warm, dry summers and mild, humid winters. Temperatures exceed 85 °F (29 °C) only on a few occasions throughout the year and rarely drop below 41 °F (5 °C). The average yearly temperature in Del Mar is approximately 65 °F (18 °C).


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[20]


The 2010 United States Census[21] reported that Del Mar had a population of 4,161. The population density was 2,341.9 people per square mile (904.2 per km2). The racial makeup of Del Mar was 3,912 (94.0%) White, 10 (0.2%) African American, eight (0.2%) Native American, 118 (2.8%) Asian, three (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 25 (0.6%) from other races, and 85 (2.0%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 175 people (4.2%).

There were 2,064 households, with 340 (16.5%) having children under the age of 18, and 927 (44.9%) with opposite-sex married couples living together, 114 (5.5%) had a female householder with no husband present, 57 (2.8%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 124 (6.0%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 19 (0.9%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. There were 707 households (34.3%) comprising one individual, and 209 (10.1%) comprising one individual 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.02. There were 1,098 families (53.2% of all households); the average family size was 2.57.

The population comprised 564 people (13.6%) under the age of 18, 205 people (4.9%) aged 18 to 24, 1,071 people (25.7%) aged 25 to 44, 1,455 people (35.0%) aged 45 to 64, and 866 people (20.8%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48.6 years. For every 100 females, there were 102.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.1 males.

There were 2,596 housing units at an average density of 1,461.1 per square mile (564.1 per km2), of which 1,113 (53.9%) were owner-occupied, and 951 (46.1%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.6%; the rental vacancy rate was 7.9%. Of the population, 2,398 people (57.6% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 1,763 people (42.4%) lived in rental housing units.


The 2000 census,[22] reported 4,389 people, 2,178 households, and 1,083 families residing in the city, with an average family size of 2.61. The age distribution was reported as 13.6% under the age of 18, 5.4% from 18 to 24, 33.1% from 25 to 44, 33.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females, there were 105.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.0 males. The median income for a household in the city was $120,001, and the median income for a family was $130,270. Males had a median income of $81,250 versus $70,069 for females. The per capita income for the city was $92,425. About 7.8% of families and 8.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.6% of those under age 18 and 8.5% of those age 65 or over.

Current estimates[edit]

According to the San Diego Association of Governments, the estimated population of Del Mar as of January 1, 2018, was 4,322, with 2.08 persons per household and a median household income of $129,880 (not adjusted for inflation). When adjusted for inflation (2010 dollars; comparable to Census data above), the median household income was $115,179.


The City of Del Mar is governed by a city council of five elected representatives. Each year a new mayor is chosen from among the councilmembers.[23] In 2020, councilmember and UCSD Professor Terry Gaasterland was selected as mayor.[24]

In the California State Legislature, Del Mar is in the 39th Senate District, represented by Democrat Toni Atkins, and in the 78th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Chris Ward.[25]

In the United States House of Representatives, Del Mar is in California's 49th congressional district, represented by Democrat Mike Levin.[26]


Del Mar is served by the Del Mar Union School District, which includes eight K–8 schools. High school education is provided by the San Dieguito Union High School District.


The North County Transit District operates their BREEZE bus service. The historic Del Mar station once served passengers on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Surf Line and the Amtrak San Diegan intercity service between the early 1900s until its closure in 1995, due to the opening of the new Solana Beach station two miles north. That station provides Coaster commuter rail and Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner service. This trainline is the second busiest passenger rail corridor in the United States.[27]

Environmental issues[edit]

Climate change[edit]

Much of the population is on the coast and nearby bluff which are vulnerable to sea level rise caused by climate change.[28] In 2019, the city refused to develop a managed retreat strategy for moving infrastructure and population centers from the water.[8][28] This decision was made against the recommendation of the California Coastal Commission.[28][9] Instead the city is planning on using other climate change adaptation strategies, such as seawalls and beach nourishment.[28][8][9]

The railroad tracks were built adjacent to coastal bluffs some 40 feet (12 m) above the beach. San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is conducting a $3 million study on relocating the rail line farther inland through the city.[29] On August 16, 2020, the California Coastal Commission emphasized the need to move the railroad tracks inland due to the persistent coastal erosion which eats away at the bluff each year. The accelerating rate of sea level rise due to global warming adds urgency to the issue.[27][30] A tunnel under Del Mar which would cost more than $3 billion is being considered.[30]


Powerhouse Park, Del Mar

Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In 1966, winners of a KHJ radio station contest rode with members of The Monkees band on a train from Del Mar, which had been renamed 'Clarksville' for the day by the town's mayor.[39]
  • Del Mar is the first surfing location mentioned in the 1963 Beach Boys song "Surfin' U.S.A."
  • Tip on a Dead Crab (Viking Press 1984), William Murray's first mystery in the Shifty Lou Anderson series, is set at Del Mar's racetrack.[40]


  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date". California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Archived from the original (Word) on November 3, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  2. ^ "Dwight Worden becomes del Mar mayor". December 15, 2021.
  3. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  4. ^ "Del Mar". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Census Data: Del Mar city". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  6. ^ "Del Mar city history". Archived from the original on October 27, 2008. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  7. ^ "U.S. Naval Activities World War II by State". Patrick Clancey. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c Diehl, Phil (October 8, 2019). "Del Mar will stand its ground against managed retreat". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  9. ^ a b c News, Anne C. Mulkern,E&E. "Coastal City Refuses to Retreat". Scientific American. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  10. ^ Bright, William (1998). 1500 California Place Names: Their Origin and Meaning. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  11. ^ Eric (August 1, 2008). "History of Del Mar". Del Mar times. Archived from the original on September 29, 2020. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  12. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2008). Torrey Pine: Pinus torreyana, Globaltwitcher, ed. Nicklas Stromberg [1] Archived May 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Riggins, Alex; Warth, Gary; Grad, Shelby (August 3, 2019). "Encinitas beach cliff collapse that killed 3 women part of larger California coast crisis". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 4, 2019. Retrieved July 20, 2020.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  14. ^ Xia, Rosanna (August 9, 2019). "A cliff collapse. Three deaths. More bluff failures expected with rising seas". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  15. ^ SMITH, Joshua Emerson (December 16, 2018). "Officials press forward with emergency plan following string of collapses at Del Mar bluffs". Del Mar Times. Retrieved September 3, 2019.
  16. ^ Diehl, Phil (July 28, 2019). "Del Mar is weak link in San Diego's coastal railroad". Del Mar Times. Retrieved September 3, 2019.
  17. ^ Smith, Joshua Emerson; Robbins, Gary (November 30, 2019). "Bluff collapses within steps of passenger train tracks in Del Mar after heavy rains". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 3, 2019. Retrieved July 20, 2020.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  18. ^ Smith, Joshua Emerson (January 28, 2020). "To prevent rail line collapse, San Diego area spends $10 million to repair Del Mar bluffs". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  19. ^ Rott, Nate (December 4, 2018). "Retreat Is Not An Option As A California Beach Town Plans For Rising Seas". New Hampshire Public Radio. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  20. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  21. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Del Mar city". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  22. ^ "American FactFinder: Del Mar city, California". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 9, 2014.[dead link]
  23. ^ "City of Del Mar website". Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  24. ^ Email (December 9, 2020). "Gaasterland becomes Del Mar mayor; new council members sworn in". Del Mar Times. Retrieved December 9, 2021.
  25. ^ "Statewide Database". Regents of the University of California. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  26. ^ "California's 49th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC.
  27. ^ a b "Shoring Up for Rising Sea Levels". Engineering News Record. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  28. ^ a b c d Diehl, Phil (October 18, 2019). "California coastal regulators blast Del Mar for rejecting 'retreat' from sea-level rise". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  29. ^ Little, Joe (September 22, 2020). "Steel Beams Installed to Reinforce Del Mar Beach Bluffs". NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  30. ^ a b Diehl, Phil (August 16, 2020). "State Coastal Commission says Del Mar train tracks need to move inland". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved August 16, 2020.
  31. ^ "New Race Track Executive Joins Del Mars Surfside Race Place ~ EquestrianMag". Archived from the original on October 23, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
  32. ^ "Staff Directory • Del Mar, CA • CivicEngage". Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  33. ^ "Peek Inside Bill and Melinda Gates' New $43 Million Southern California Mansion". April 24, 2020.
  34. ^ "William Murray, Novelist and New Yorker Writer, Dies at 78". The New York Times. March 12, 2005.
  35. ^ Robbins, Gary (December 9, 2021). "Del Mar's Ardem Patapoutian receives Nobel Prize during special ceremony in Irvine". Del Mar Times. The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on December 9, 2021.
  36. ^ "Regional Spotlight: $35 Million Home Sale Crushes Del Mar Record". RISMedia. June 2007.
  37. ^ "Fashion designer crashes car into Calif. store". Associated Press. Retrieved July 1, 2008.
  38. ^ "Garrett Stubbs - 2015 Baseball Roster - University of Southern California".
  39. ^ "The Monkees rename city!". (The Monkees Live Almanac, 1966 Promotional Tour). Monkees Live Almanac. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  40. ^ "Tip on a Dead Crab".

External links[edit]