Otay Mesa, San Diego

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Otay Mesa, San Diego
Otay Mesa
Otay Mesa, San Diego is located in Southern San Diego
Otay Mesa, San Diego
Otay Mesa, San Diego
Location within Southern San Diego
Coordinates: 32°33′30″N 116°56′33″W / 32.5583913°N 116.9425228°W / 32.5583913; -116.9425228
Country United States of America
State California
County San Diego
City San Diego

Otay Mesa (/ˈt ˈmsə/ OH-ty MAY-sə) is a community in the southern section of the city of San Diego, just north of the U.S.–Mexico border.

It is bordered by the Otay River Valley and the city of Chula Vista on the north; Interstate 805 and the neighborhoods of Ocean View Hills and San Ysidro on the west; unincorporated San Diego County on the north and east including East Otay Mesa and the San Ysidro Mountains; and the Otay Centenario borough of Tijuana, Mexico on the south.

Major thoroughfares include Otay Mesa Road/California State Route 905, Otay Valley Road/Heritage Road, Siempre Viva Road, and California State Route 125. Otay Mesa is the second-least walkable neighborhood of San Diego.[1]


Otay is derived from the Kumeyaay language. Although its meaning is disputed,[2] possible derivations include "otai", meaning "brushy"; "Tou-ti" meaning "big mountain";[2] or "etaay" meaning "big".[3] Mesa is the Spanish word for plateau, table or tableland.

Aviation pioneer John J. Montgomery made the first controlled flights in the western hemisphere using a series of gliders from the west rim of Otay Mesa in 1883/1884.[4][5]

The area which now includes Otay Mesa was annexed from San Diego County along with other portions of South San Diego in 1957.[6] Additional annexation of almost four thousand acres was approved in 1985.[7]

Since 2010, seven cross-border tunnels have been found linking Warehouses in Otay Mesa with entry points within Mexico.[8]

Border crossings[edit]

The Otay Mesa Port of Entry is one of two border crossings within the city of San Diego, the other being the San Ysidro Port of Entry six miles to the west. Trucks are generally instructed to use the border crossing in Otay Mesa instead of the San Ysidro one. Otay Mesa also houses an immigration detention center.[9]

Two miles east of the Otay Mesa border crossing in the unincorporated area of East Otay Mesa, the new Otay Mesa East Port of Entry is planned to be in service as early as 2023.

The Cross Border Xpress (CBX) is a terminal serving and a pedestrian bridge crossing to the main terminal of Tijuana International Airport.[10][11] This crossing has a 45,000-square-foot (4,200 m2) facility in Otay Mesa.[12] It was established by Otay-Tijuana Ventures LLC and had a cost of $78 million and opened in 2015.[13] CBX makes Tijuana Airport the world's first geographically binational airport,[14] because unlike the binational airports serving the Swiss cities of Basel (entirely on French territory) and Geneva (entirely on Swiss territory),[15] the CBX terminal is physically located in the United States but serves an airport whose main terminal and runways are in Mexico.


SR 11 (Future)
SR 125 (Future Connection to SR 905; Currently ends at Otay Mesa Rd.)
SR 905 (Future I-905)

Other landmarks and facilities[edit]

Located 1.5 miles north of the Mexico-United States Border, is the 603 megawatt Otay Mesa Energy Center, which came online in 2009.[16] This power plant will be joined with the Pio Pico Energy Center peaker, which will generate an additional 300 megawatts.[17]

Pacific Gateway Park is located between Otay Mesa Road and the international border.[citation needed]

Five major law-enforcement facilities are located in an unincorporated area in the Otay Mesa region:[18]


Public schools in and near Otay Mesa include:

  • Finney Elementary School
  • Juarez Lincon Elementary School
  • Los Altos Elementary School
  • Howard Pence Elementary School
  • Silverwing Elementary School
  • San Ysidro Elementary School
  • Montgomery Middle School
  • Montgomery High School
  • San Ysidro High School

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Otay Mesa neighborhood in San Diego". Walk Score.
  2. ^ a b Fetzer, Leland (10 July 2018). "San Diego County Place Names, A to Z". Sunbelt Publications, Inc. – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Gudde, Erwin. California Place Names, 4th ed. University of California Press, 1998. https://books.google.com/books?id=Kqwt5RlMVBoC&pg=PA273&dq=otay+otai&hl=en&ei=z19xTZGhEY-osAPLx-XQCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=otay%20otai&f=false p.273
  4. ^ Stein, Lou, San Diego County Place-Names, pages 88-89, Rand Editions-Tofua Press, 1975
  5. ^ Harwood, Craig S. and Fogel, Gary B. Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West, University of Oklahoma Press, 2012
  6. ^ "Otay Mesa Nestor". Development Services Department, Planning Division. City of San Diego. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  7. ^ Michael A. Fairley (27 February 1985). "Annexation of Otay Mesa Land Approved". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  8. ^ Whitcomb, Dan (4 April 2014). "Two drug tunnels, with rail systems, found at U.S.-Mexico border". Reuters. Los Angeles. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  9. ^ Elliot Spagat (26 May 2010). "Health official tours San Diego immigration jail". San Diego Union Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  10. ^ Garrick, David (2019-09-23). "Building boom is transforming Otay Mesa into an economic engine". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  11. ^ Dibble, Sandra (2015-12-09). "New Tijuana airport bridge opens". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2017-01-18.
  12. ^ Dibble, Sandra (2012-11-28). "Tijuana's airport preparing for cross-border bridge". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2017-01-18. "The company operating the A.L. Rodríguez International Airport is a key player in a plan for a privately owned terminal in Otay Mesa that would allow ticketed, toll-paying airline passengers to cross between San Diego and Tijuana."
  13. ^ Dibble, Sandra (2010-08-04). "Cross-border bridge gets federal permit". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2017-01-18.
  14. ^ Dwyer, Colin; Wagner, Laura (December 9, 2015). "Above The Border, New Walkway Spans The Gap Between U.S. And Mexico". National Public Radio (NPR). Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Map of Geneva Airport in relation to the Geneva area, Geneva Airport website" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-08-04. Retrieved 2018-07-10.
  16. ^ "Otay Mesa Power Plant Licensing Case". California Energy Commission. State of California. 3 October 2009. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  17. ^ City News Service (12 September 2012). "California Energy Commission Approves 300-Megawatt Natural Gas Power Plant". KPBS. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  18. ^ "The Center for Land Use Interpretation". clui.org.

External links[edit]