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San Diego County, California

Coordinates: 33°01′N 116°46′W / 33.02°N 116.77°W / 33.02; -116.77
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San Diego County
County of San Diego
Official seal of San Diego County
Interactive map of San Diego County
Location in California
Location in California
Coordinates: 33°01′N 116°46′W / 33.02°N 116.77°W / 33.02; -116.77
Country United States
State California
FormedFebruary 18, 1850[1]
Named forSaint Didacus of Alcalá
County seatSan Diego
Largest citySan Diego
 • TypeCouncil–CEO
 • BodyBoard of Supervisors
 • ChairNora Vargas (D)
 • Vice ChairTerra Lawson-Remer (D)
 • Chair Pro TemJoel Anderson (R)
 • Board of Supervisors[3]
  • Nora Vargas (D)
  • Joel Anderson (R)
  • Terra Lawson-Remmer (D)
  • Monica Montgomery Steppe (D)
  • Jim Desmond (R)
 • Chief Administrative OfficerSarah E. Aghassi (Interim)[2]
 • Total4,260.9 sq mi (11,036 km2)
 • Land3,942 sq mi (10,210 km2)
 • Water319 sq mi (830 km2)
Highest elevation6,533 ft (1,991 m)
 • Total3,298,634
 • Density837/sq mi (323/km2)
 • Total$257.341 billion (2022)
Time zoneUTC–8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST)UTC–7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Area codes760/442 and 619/858
FIPS code06-073
Congressional districts48th, 49th, 50th, 51st, 52nd

San Diego County (/ˌsæn diˈɡ/ ), officially the County of San Diego (Spanish: Condado de San Diego), is a county in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 3,298,634,[7] making it California's second-most populous county and the fifth-most populous in the United States. Its county seat is San Diego,[8] the second-most populous city in California and the eighth-most populous city in the United States. It is the southwesternmost county in the 48 contiguous United States, and is a border county. It is also home to 18 Native American tribal reservations, the most of any county in the United States.

San Diego County comprises the San Diego–Chula Vista–Carlsbad, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area,[9] which is the 17th most populous metropolitan statistical area and the 18th most populous primary statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012.[10][11] San Diego County is also part of the San Diego–Tijuana transborder metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area shared between the United States and Mexico.

San Diego County has more than 70 miles (113 km) of coastline. This forms the most densely populated region of the county, which has a mild Mediterranean to semiarid climate and extensive chaparral vegetation, similar to the rest of the western portion of Southern California. Precipitation and temperature extremes increase to the east, with mountains that receive frost and snow in the winter.[12] These lushly forested mountains receive more rainfall than the average in Southern California, while the desert region of the county lies in a rain shadow to the east, which extends into the Desert Southwest region of North America.

There are 16 military installations of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard in San Diego County. These include Naval Base San Diego, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Naval Air Station North Island, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, and Coast Guard Air Station San Diego.

From north to south, San Diego County extends from the southern borders of Orange and Riverside Counties to the Mexico–U.S. border and the Baja California municipalities of Tijuana and Tecate. From west to east, San Diego County stretches from the Pacific Ocean to its boundary with Imperial County, which separated from it in 1907.


The area which is now San Diego County has been inhabited for more than 12,000 years by Kumeyaay (also called Diegueno and Ipai/Tipai), Payómkawichum (Luiseño), Kuupangaxwichem (Cupeño), ʔívil̃uqaletem (Cahuilla), and the Acjachemen (Juaneño) Indians and their local predecessors.[13]

In 1542, the explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who may have been born in Portugal but sailed under the flag of Castile, claimed San Diego Bay for the Spanish Empire, and he named the site San Miguel.[14] In November 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno surveyed the harbor and what are now Mission Bay and Point Loma and named the area for Saint Didacus, a Spaniard more commonly known as San Diego.[15] European settlement in what is now San Diego County began with the founding of the San Diego Presidio and Mission San Diego de Alcalá by Spanish soldiers and clerics in 1769.[16] This county was part of Alta California under the Viceroyalty of New Spain until the Mexican declaration of independence. From 1821 through 1848, this area was part of Mexico.

San Diego County became part of the United States as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, ending the Mexican–American War. This treaty designated the border to pass through a point one marine league south of the southernmost point of the port of San Diego, ensuring that the United States received all of the natural harbor of San Diego Bay.

San Diego County was one of the original counties of California, created at the time of California statehood in 1850.[17]: 221 

At the time of its establishment in 1850, San Diego County was relatively large, and included all of southernmost California south and east of Los Angeles County. It included areas of what are now Inyo and San Bernardino Counties, as well as all of what are now Riverside and Imperial Counties.[17]: 221 

During the later part of the 19th century, there were numerous changes in the boundaries of San Diego County, when various areas were separated to make up the counties mentioned above. The most recent changes were the establishments of Riverside County in 1893[17]: 207  and Imperial County in 1907.[17]: 113  Imperial County was also the last county to be established in California, and after this division, San Diego no longer extended from the Pacific Ocean to the Colorado River, and it no longer covered the entire border between California and Mexico.


Many of the cities seen from the sky as part of the San Diego-Tijuana metropolitan area.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has an area of 4,526 square miles (11,720 km2), of which 4,207 square miles (10,900 km2) is land and 319 square miles (830 km2) (7.0%) is water.[18] The county is larger in area than the combined states of Rhode Island and Delaware.[19]

San Diego County has a varied topography. On its western side is more than 70 miles (113 km) of coastline.[20] Most of San Diego between the coast and the Laguna Mountains consists of hills, mesas, and small canyons. Snow-capped (in winter) mountains rise to the east, with the Sonoran Desert farther to the east. Cleveland National Forest is spread across the central portion of the county, while the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park occupies most of the northeast.

Although the county's western third is primarily urban, the mountains and deserts in the eastern two-thirds are primarily undeveloped backcountry. Most of these backcountry areas are home to a native plant community known as chaparral. San Diego County contains more than 1,000,000 acres (4,000 km2) of chaparral, twice as much as any other California county.[21]

Periodically the area has been subject to wildfires that force thousands to evacuate. The most recent are the December 2017 Lilac Fire, the May 2014 San Diego County wildfires, the Witch Creek Fire in 2007, and the Cedar Fire in 2003. California defines a fire season in which fires are most likely to occur, usually between late July and late October (which are the driest months of the area). Signs posted in numerous spots of the county provide information on the level of threats from fires based on weather conditions.[citation needed]


Northern San Diego County is known as North County; the eastern suburbs are collectively known as East County; the rural areas located further east and extending to the Imperial County line are known as the Mountain Empire; and the southern suburbs, extending to the Mexican border, are collectively known as the South Bay or South County, including South San Diego, an exclave of the city of San Diego which has no land connection to the rest of the city.


San Diego County is bordered on the northwest by Orange County, on the north by Riverside County; on the east by Imperial County; on the south by Mexico; and on the west by the Pacific Ocean.


Cleveland National Forest

Under the Köppen climate classification system, the urban and suburban San Diego area straddles areas of Mediterranean climate (Csa) to the north and hot semi-arid climate (BSh) to the south and east.[22] As a result, it is often described as "arid Mediterranean" and "semi-arid steppe." Farther east, arid desert conditions prevail. Western San Diego's climate is characterized by warm, dry summers and mild winters with most of the annual precipitation falling between November and March. The city has mild, mostly dry weather, with an average of 201 days above 70 °F (21 °C) and low rainfall (9–13 inches (23–33 cm) annually). Summer temperatures are generally warm, with average highs of 70–78 °F (21–26 °C) and lows of 55–66 °F (13–19 °C). Temperatures exceed 90 °F (32 °C) only four days a year. Most rainfall occurs from November to April. Winter temperatures are mild, with average high temperatures of 66–70 °F (19–21 °C) and lows of 50–56 °F (10–13 °C).

The climate in the San Diego area, like much of California, often varies significantly over short geographical distances resulting in microclimates. In San Diego's case this is mainly due to the city's topography (the Bay, and the numerous hills, mountains, and canyons). Frequently, particularly during the "May gray/June gloom" period, a thick marine layer will keep the air cool and damp within a few miles of the coast, but will yield to bright cloudless sunshine approximately 5–10 miles (8.0–16.1 km) inland. This happens every year in May and June.[23] Even in the absence of June gloom, inland areas tend to experience much more significant temperature variations than coastal areas, where the ocean serves as a moderating influence. Thus, for example, downtown San Diego averages January lows of 48 °F (9 °C) and August highs of 77 °F (25 °C).[24] The city of El Cajon, just 10 miles (16 km) northeast of downtown San Diego, averages January lows of 42 °F (6 °C) and August highs of 89 °F (32 °C).[25] Julian, in the mountains, has an average January low of 29 °F (−2 °C) and August high of 85 °F (29 °C).[26] Borrego Springs, in the Colorado Desert, has an average January low of 43 °F (6 °C) and August high of 106 °F (41 °C).[27]

Rainfall along the coast averages about 10 inches (25 cm) of precipitation annually, which occurs mainly during the cooler months of December through April. Though there are few wet days per month during the rainy period, rainfall can be heavy when it does occur. However, the rainfall is greater in the higher elevations of San Diego. Some of the higher areas of San Diego, such as Palomar Mountain and the Laguna Mountains, receive 20–40 inches (51–102 cm) of rain per year, supporting lush forests similar to the Sierra Nevada and California Coast Range. The Colorado Desert portion of the county lies to the east of the mountains, which receives the least amount of precipitation; Borrego Springs, the largest population center in the desert, averages only 5 inches (13 cm), with a high evaporation rate.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 88
Mean maximum °F (°C) 78.8
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 66.4
Daily mean °F (°C) 58.4
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 50.3
Mean minimum °F (°C) 43.7
Record low °F (°C) 25
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.98
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 6.5 7.1 6.2 3.8 2.2 0.7 0.7 0.3 0.9 2.4 3.7 5.8 40.3
Average relative humidity (%) 63.1 65.7 67.3 67.0 70.6 74.0 74.6 74.1 72.7 69.4 66.3 63.7 69.0
Average dew point °F (°C) 42.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 239.3 227.4 261.0 276.2 250.5 242.4 304.7 295.0 253.3 243.4 230.1 231.3 3,054.6
Percent possible sunshine 75 74 70 71 58 57 70 71 68 69 73 74 69
Source: NOAA (sun, relative humidity, and dew point 1961–1990)[29][30][31]
  1. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the highest and lowest temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based on data at said location from 1991 to 2020.
  2. ^ Official precipitation records for San Diego were kept at the Weather Bureau Office in downtown from October 1850 to December 1859 at the Mission San Diego and from November 1871 to June 1939 and a variety of buildings at downtown, and at San Diego Int'l (Lindbergh Field) since July 1939.[28] Temperature records, however, only date from October 1874. For more information on data coverage, see ThreadEx

Adjacent counties and municipalities[edit]

Counties adjacent to San Diego County, California
Beach at Border State Park; San Diego is on the right while Tijuana is on the left.
Border fence between Tijuana (right) and San Diego's border patrol offices (left)

National protected areas[edit]

There are seven official wilderness areas in San Diego County that are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Four of these are integral parts of Cleveland National Forest, whereas three are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Some of these extend into neighboring counties (as indicated below):

State parks and protected areas[edit]


There are 236 mountain summits and peaks in San Diego County[37] including:

Bays and lagoons[edit]



Environmental risks[edit]

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

More than 1,700 tons of radioactive waste are stored at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station,[38] which sits in an area where there is a record of past tsunamis.[39][40]


In the 1847 census of San Diego County ordered by Richard Barnes Mason, it found that 2,287 people lived in the county, to include Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and African Americans.[41] Since at least 2014, San Diego County is the fifth most populous county in the United States.[42] In 2000, only about 3% of San Diego County residents left the county for work while 40,000 people commuted into the metropolitan area.[43]

Ethnic origins in San Diego County
Historical population
2023 (est.)3,269,973[44]−0.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[45]
1790–1960[46] 1900–1990[47]
1990–2000[48] 2010[49] 2020[50]

2020 census[edit]

San Diego County, California – Racial and ethnic composition
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos may be of any race.
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2000[51] Pop 2010[49] Pop 2020[50] % 2000 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 1,548,833 1,500,047 1,422,205 55.04% 48.46% 43.11%
Black or African American alone (NH) 154,487 146,600 145,014 5.49% 4.74% 4.40%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 15,253 14,098 12,841 0.54% 0.46% 0.39%
Asian alone (NH) 245,297 328,058 400,589 8.72% 10.60% 12.14%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 12,164 13,504 12,991 0.43% 0.44% 0.39%
Other race alone (NH) 5,822 6,715 18,125 0.21% 0.22% 0.55%
Mixed race or Multiracial (NH) 81,012 94,943 167,240 2.88% 3.07% 5.07%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 750,965 991,348 1,119,629 26.69% 32.03% 33.94%
Total 2,813,833 3,095,313 3,298,634 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%


Racial and Ethnic Composition since 1960[edit]

Income (2011)
Per capita income[53] $30,955
Median household income[54] $63,857
Median family income[55] $74,633


The 2010 United States Census reported that San Diego County had a population of 3,095,313. The racial makeup of San Diego County was 1,981,442 (64.0%) White, 158,213 (5.1%) African American, 26,340 (0.9%) Native American, 336,091 (10.9%) Asian (4.7% Filipino, 1.6% Vietnamese, 1.4% Chinese, 3.2% Other Asian), 15,337 (0.5%) Pacific Islander, 419,465 (13.6%) from other races, and 158,425 (5.0%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 991,348 people (32.0%).[56] Including those of mixed race, the total number of residents with Asian ancestry was 407,984.[57]

As of 2009, the racial makeup of the county was 79.4% White American, 5.6% Black or African American, 1% Native American, 10.4% Asian, 0.5% Pacific Islander, 10.3% from other races, and 3.6% from two or more races. 31.3% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

67.0% spoke only English at home; 21.9% spoke Spanish, 3.1% Tagalog and 1.2% Vietnamese.

Other demographic data[edit]

As of 2018 Census Bureau estimates, there were 3,343,364 people, 1,067,846 households, and 663,449 families residing in the county. The population density was 670 inhabitants per square mile (260/km2). There were 1,142,245 housing units at an average density of 248 per square mile (96/km2).

In 2000 there were 994,677 households, out of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.7% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.3% were non-families. 24.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.29.

As of 2000, 25.7% of the population was under the age of 18, 11.30% was from 18 to 24, 32.0% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 11.2% was 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 101.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.7 males.

In 2012, it was estimated that there were 198,000 unauthorized immigrants; the origin of the plurality of them is Mexico.[58]

In 2018, the median household income was $70,824; most people spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs.[59] In August of that year, the median home price was $583,000; this is lower than the median home price in Los Angeles, and Orange counties.[60]


According to the 2000 Census, the median income for a household in the county was $47,067, and the median income for a family was $53,438. Males had a median income of $36,952 versus $30,356 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,926. About 8.9% of families and 12.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.5% of those under age 18 and 6.8% of those age 65 or over.

Much of the county's high-income residents are concentrated in the northern part of the city of San Diego. The San Diego metropolitan area has two places with both a population of over 50,000 and a per capita income of over $40,000: Carlsbad and Encinitas.

The county's largest continuous high-income urban area is a triangle from a first point on the northern edge of Carlsbad, a second point southeast of Escondido, and a third point on the southern edge of La Jolla. It contains all or most of the cities of Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, and Poway in addition to a substantial portion of northern San Diego.[61]


According to a Point-In-Time count taken for the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless, there were 8,576 homeless individuals on January 6, 2018, a 6% decrease from 2017. 3,586 were sheltered, and 4,990 were not. 4,912 (75.3%) were in the city of San Diego. North County Inland had 1,153 (13.4%), North County Coastal with 822 homeless (9.6%), 602 (7%) were found in South County, and 1,087 (12.7%) in East County.[62]


According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, 68% of adults in the county were Christian, of whom 32% were Catholic. 27% were religiously unaffiliated, and 5% adhered to a non-Christian faith.[63] According to the University of Southern California, in 2010, the largest faith in the county was Catholicism, followed by Nondenominational Christians, and Mormons.[64]

In 2014, the county had 978 religious organizations, the seventh most out of all US counties.[65]

Immigration data[edit]

In 2014 according to Pew Research Center, there are about 170,000 undocumented immigrants living in the region.[66] San Diego has been a destination for trafficked minors from Mexico and the Philippines.[67] In 2018, the United States Border Patrol caught an average of over a hundred individuals crossing the border illegally each day.[68]


San Diego County and Imperial County are part of the Southern Border Region, one of nine such regions. As a regional economy, the Southern Border Region is the smallest but most economically diverse region in the state. However, the two counties maintain weak relations and have little in common aside from their common border.[69] The region has a high cost of living.[70] This includes the highest cost of water in the United States.[71] As of 2018, San Diego County is within the top ten highest cost of rent in the United States;[72] this has led to people moving out of the county.[73]


San Diego County's agriculture industry was worth $1.85 billion in 2013,[74] and is one of the top five egg producing counties in the United States.[75] In 2013, San Diego County also had the most small farms of any county in the United States, and had the 19th largest agricultural economy of any county in the United States.[76] According to the San Diego Farm Bureau, San Diego County is the United States' leading producer of avocados and nursery crops.[77] Until the early 20th century, San Diego County had a thriving wine industry; however the 1916 Charles Hatfield flood was the beginning of the end of the industry which included the destruction of the Daneri winery in Otay Valley.[78] As of October 2016, there are roughly one hundred vineyards and wineries in San Diego County.[79]

By the 2019–2020 statistical survey, California Department of Food & Agriculture (cdfa) found that the nursery trade dominated the county's agriculture by dollar value.[80] Second place went to avocado production.[80]


The county has been called "the Craft Beer Capital of America".[81] Brewing has been one of the fastest-growing business sectors with local breweries ranking among the 50 largest craft brewers in the United States and breweries that are consistently rated among the top breweries in the world.


Commercial operations to grow, test, or sell cannabis are not allowed in the unincorporated areas of the county. Companies must be licensed by the local agency to operate and each city or county may authorize none or only some of these activities. Local governments may not prohibit adults, who are in compliance with state laws, from growing, using, or transporting marijuana for personal use.[82]


Horton Plaza, before its closure for redevelopment in 2020

Tourism plays a large part in the economics of the San Diego metropolitan area. Tourists are drawn to the region for a well rounded experience, everything from shopping to surfing as well as its mild climate. Its numerous tourist destinations include Westfield UTC, Seaport Village, Westfield Mission Valley and Fashion Valley Mall for shopping. SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland California as amusement parks. Golf courses such as Torrey Pines Golf Course and Balboa Park Golf Course. Museums such as the Museum of Us, San Diego Museum of Art, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, San Diego Natural History Museum, USS Midway Museum, and the San Diego Air and Space Museum. Historical places such as the Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park and Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Wildlife refuges, zoos, and aquariums such as the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, San Diego Zoo's Safari Park, San Diego Zoo and San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park. Outdoor destinations include the Peninsular Ranges for hiking, biking, mountainboarding and trail riding. Surfing locations include Swami's, Stone Steps Beach, Torrey Pines State Beach, Cardiff State Beach, San Onofre State Beach and the southern portion of Black's Beach.

The region is host to the second largest cruise ship industry in California which generates an estimated $2 million annually from purchases of food, fuel, supplies, and maintenance services.[83] In 2008 the Port of San Diego hosted 252 ship calls and more than 800,000 passengers.[84]


The culture of San Diego is influenced heavily by American and Mexican cultures due to its position as a border town, its large Hispanic population, and its history as part of Spanish America and Mexico. The area's longtime association with the U.S. military also contributes to its culture. Present-day culture includes many historical and tourist attractions, a thriving musical and theatrical scene, numerous notable special events, a varied cuisine, and a reputation as one of America's premier centers of craft brewing.

Sites of interest[edit]


Petco Park in downtown San Diego, home of the San Diego Padres

Sports in San Diego includes major professional league teams, other highest-level professional league teams, minor league teams, and college athletics. The San Diego Padres compete in Major League Baseball (MLB). San Diego FC begins play in Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2025. The San Diego State Aztecs compete in NCAA Division I (FBS). The Farmers Insurance Open, a professional golf tournament on the PGA Tour, is played annually at Torrey Pines Golf Course.

Professional teams[edit]

The following teams compete at their sport's highest level of domestic competition.

  • Bold indicates major professional league team.
  • Italic indicates club or semi-pro team competing in its sport's highest level league, where the sport has no fully-professional domestic competition.
Club League Sport Home venue Since[a] Attendance[b] Titles
San Diego Padres MLB Baseball Petco Park 1936[c]; 1969 40,915 (2023)[85]
San Diego FC MLS Soccer (men's) Snapdragon Stadium 2025[86]
San Diego Wave FC NWSL Soccer (women's) Snapdragon Stadium 2022 20,718 (2023)[87]
San Diego Seals NLL Box lacrosse Pechanga Arena 2018 4,667 (2024)
San Diego Mojo PVF Volleyball (women's) Viejas Arena 2024 3,134 (2024)
San Diego Legion MLR Rugby Snapdragon Stadium 2018 3,043 (2019)
San Diego Strike Force IFL Indoor football Pechanga Arena 2019[d] 1,930 (2023)[88]
San Diego Sockers MASL Indoor soccer Frontwave Arena 1978;[e] 2009 1,732 (2023–24)[89] 16[f]
California Redwoods PLL Field lacrosse Torero Stadium 2024[g]
San Diego Wild NVA Volleyball (men's) varies 2023
San Diego Growlers UFA Ultimate (men's) Mission Bay High School 2015
San Diego Super Bloom WUL Ultimate (women's) Kearny High School 2022
San Diego Lions USAFL Australian football varies 1997 2[h]
San Diego Yacht Club America's Cup[i] Sailing San Diego Bay 1886 3[j]

Minor league teams[edit]

The following teams compete below their sport's highest level of domestic competition.

Club League Sport Home venue Since[k] Attendance[l]
San Diego Gulls AHL Ice hockey Pechanga Arena 1966;[m] 2015[n] 7,249 (2023-24)[90]
San Diego Clippers G League Basketball Frontwave Arena 2024[91]
San Diego Surf Riders MiLC Cricket Canyonside Park 2021

College teams[edit]

Club University League Primary conference Enrollment
San Diego State Aztecs San Diego State University NCAA Division I (FBS) Mountain West Conference 35,723[92] (2022)
San Diego Toreros University of San Diego NCAA Division I (FCS) West Coast Conference 8,815[93] (2022)
UC San Diego Tritons University of California, San Diego NCAA Division I Big West Conference 42,968[94] (2022)
Cal State San Marcos Cougars California State University, San Marcos NCAA Division II California Collegiate Athletic Association 14,311[95] (2022)
Point Loma Sea Lions Point Loma Nazarene University NCAA Division II Pacific West Conference 3,179[96] (2021)

Annual events[edit]

Torrey Pines Golf Course, home of the Farmers Insurance Open
Event League Sport Venue Since
Farmers Insurance Open PGA Tour Golf Torrey Pines Golf Course 1952
Holiday Bowl NCAA Division I (FBS) Football Snapdragon Stadium 1978
Rady Children's Invitational NCAA Division I Basketball LionTree Arena 2023
San Diego Open Women's Tennis Association Tennis Barnes Tennis Centre 1984
San Diego Bayfair Cup H1 Unlimited Hydroplane racing Mission Bay 1964
Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon Rock 'n' Roll Running Series Running San Diego 1998


San Diego County Administration Center

The Government of San Diego County is defined and authorized under the California Constitution, California law, and the Charter of the County of San Diego.[97] Much of the Government of California is in practice the responsibility of county governments such as the Government of San Diego County. The County government provides countywide services such as elections and voter registration, law enforcement, jails, vital records, property records, tax collection, public health, and social services. In addition the County serves as the local government for all unincorporated areas.[98] Some chartered cities such as San Diego and Chula Vista provide municipal services such as police, public safety, libraries, parks and recreation, and zoning. Other cities such as Del Mar and Vista arrange to have the County provide some or all of these services on a contract basis.

The county government is composed of the elected five-member Board of Supervisors, several other elected offices and officers

Office Official Party
Clerk Jordan Marks Republican
District Attorney Summer Stephan Independent
Sheriff Kelly Martinez Democratic
Treasurer Dan McAllister Republican

and numerous county departments and entities under the supervision of the Chief Administrative Officer such as the Probation Department. In addition, several entities of the government of California have jurisdiction conterminous with San Diego County, such as the San Diego Superior Court.

Under its foundational Charter, the five-member elected San Diego County Board of Supervisors is the county legislature. The board operates in a legislative, executive, and quasi-judicial capacity. As a legislative authority, it can pass ordinances for the unincorporated areas (ordinances that affect the whole county, like posting of restaurant ratings, must be ratified by the individual city). As an executive body, it can tell the county departments what to do, and how to do it. As a quasi-judicial body, the Board is the final venue of appeal in the local planning process.

As of June 2023, the members of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors are:[99]

District Supervisor Party
1 Nora Vargas (Chair) Democrat
2 Joel Anderson (Chair Pro Tem) Republican
3 Terra Lawson-Remer (Vice Chair) Democrat
4 Monica Montgomery-Steppe Democrat
5 Jim Desmond Republican

For several decades, ending in 2013, all five supervisors were Republican, white, graduates of San Diego State University, and had been in office since 1995 or earlier. The Board was criticized for this homogeneity, which was made possible because supervisors draw their own district lines and are not subject to term limits.[100] (In 2010 voters put term limits in place, but they only apply going forward, so that each incumbent supervisor can serve an additional two terms before being termed out.[101]) That pattern was broken in 2013 when Slater-Price retired; she was replaced by Democrat Dave Roberts, who won election to the seat in November 2012 and was inaugurated in January 2013.[102]

The San Diego County Code is the codified law of San Diego County in the form of ordinances passed by the Board of Supervisors. The Administrative Code establishes the powers and duties of all officers and the procedures and rules of operation of all departments.

The county motto is "The noblest motive is the public good." County government offices are housed in the historic County Administration Center Building, constructed in 1935–1938 with funding from the Works Progress Administration.[103]


San Diego County registered voters (2019)[104]
Total population[105] 3,338,330
  Registered voters[106] 1,747,383 52.3%
    Democratic 623,925 35.7%
    Republican 475,149 27.2%
    Democratic–Republican spread +148,776 +8.5%
    No party preference 552,538 31.6%
    American Independent 55,800 3.2%
    Libertarian 16,355 0.9%
    Other 11,474 0.7%
    Green 6,887 0.4%
    Peace and Freedom 5,255 0.3%


With its prominent armed forces presence, San Diego County, historically, has been a Republican stronghold. The Republican presidential nominee carried the county in every presidential election from 1948 through 2004, except in 1992, when Bill Clinton won a plurality. In 2008, Barack Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win a majority of votes in San Diego County since World War II; upon his reelection in 2012, he again won a majority of the county votes. In 2020, San Diego County voted in favor of the Democratic presidential candidate (former Vice President Joe Biden) by a margin of 22.8%, the county's largest margin for a Democratic candidate since 1936.

United States presidential election results for San Diego County, California[107]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 600,094 37.46% 964,650 60.21% 37,399 2.33%
2016 477,766 36.43% 735,476 56.07% 98,376 7.50%
2012 536,726 44.95% 626,957 52.51% 30,266 2.53%
2008 541,032 43.79% 666,581 53.95% 27,890 2.26%
2004 596,033 52.45% 526,437 46.33% 13,881 1.22%
2000 475,736 49.63% 437,666 45.66% 45,232 4.72%
1996 402,876 45.57% 389,964 44.11% 91,311 10.33%
1992 352,125 35.69% 367,397 37.24% 267,124 27.07%
1988 523,143 60.19% 333,264 38.34% 12,788 1.47%
1984 502,344 65.30% 257,029 33.41% 9,894 1.29%
1980 435,910 60.81% 195,410 27.26% 85,546 11.93%
1976 353,302 55.74% 263,654 41.60% 16,839 2.66%
1972 371,627 61.82% 206,455 34.34% 23,055 3.84%
1968 261,540 56.26% 167,669 36.07% 35,654 7.67%
1964 214,445 50.31% 211,808 49.69% 33 0.01%
1960 223,056 56.41% 171,259 43.31% 1,106 0.28%
1956 195,742 64.47% 106,716 35.15% 1,147 0.38%
1952 186,091 63.50% 105,255 35.92% 1,688 0.58%
1948 101,552 49.43% 98,217 47.80% 5,690 2.77%
1944 75,746 45.42% 89,959 53.94% 1,059 0.64%
1940 55,434 43.27% 71,188 55.57% 1,488 1.16%
1936 35,686 35.04% 64,628 63.45% 1,540 1.51%
1932 35,305 41.46% 45,622 53.58% 4,223 4.96%
1928 47,769 67.14% 22,749 31.97% 633 0.89%
1924 22,726 48.99% 2,944 6.35% 20,721 44.67%
1920 19,826 63.78% 8,478 27.27% 2,783 8.95%
1916 16,978 46.47% 16,815 46.02% 2,744 7.51%
1912 63 0.29% 9,731 44.79% 11,934 54.92%
1908 5,412 57.56% 2,393 25.45% 1,598 16.99%
1904 4,303 59.52% 1,398 19.34% 1,529 21.15%
1900 3,800 54.91% 2,678 38.69% 443 6.40%
1896 3,631 46.86% 3,908 50.44% 209 2.70%
1892 3,525 45.71% 2,334 30.26% 1,853 24.03%
1888 4,661 56.88% 3,189 38.92% 344 4.20%
1884 1,120 57.00% 800 40.71% 45 2.29%
1880 743 56.80% 546 41.74% 19 1.45%

The city of San Diego itself is more Democratic than the county average, and has largely voted Democrat in each presidential election since 1992; certain areas and cities within the county are swing areas, and have split their votes, in post-2000 elections. The county's Republican population gradually increases the further one travels away from the city center; the Republican strongholds are (more or less) concentrated throughout La Jolla, Coronado, the regions of North County and East County, the eastern backlands and remote mountain communities (including Julian). While these areas have been traditionally Republican, all maintain a considerably varied population of Liberals, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents, and others.

One unique feature of the political scene is the use of Golden Hall, a convention facility next to San Diego's City Hall, as "Election Central." The County Registrar of Voters rents the hall to distribute election results. Supporters and political observers gather to watch the results come in; supporters of the various candidates parade around the hall, carrying signs and chanting; candidates give their victory and concession speeches and host parties for campaign volunteers and donors at the site; and television stations broadcast live from the floor of the convention center.[108] The atmosphere at Election Central on the evening of election day has been compared to the voting portion of a political party national convention.[109]

On November 4, 2008, San Diego County voted 53.71% for Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution, effectively placing a ban on same-sex marriages; this proposition would restore Proposition 22, which was overturned by a ruling from the California Supreme Court. However, the City of San Diego, along with the North County coastal cities of Del Mar, Encinitas, and Solana Beach voted against Proposition 8. La Mesa was a virtual tie for Prop. 8 support, while Carlsbad supported the referendum by only a 2% margin.[110]

Federal and state representation[edit]

In the U.S. House of Representatives, San Diego County is split between five congressional districts:[111]

In the California State Assembly, San Diego County is split between seven legislative districts:[112]

In the California State Senate, San Diego County is split between four legislative districts:[113]


The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.

Cities by population and crime rates[edit]


San Diego County contains three public state universities: University of California, San Diego (UCSD); San Diego State University (SDSU); and California State University, San Marcos (CSUSM). Major private universities in the county include University of San Diego (USD), Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU), Alliant International University (AIU), and National University. It also includes three law schools, USD School of Law, California Western School of Law, and Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

Within the county there are 24 public elementary school districts, 6 high school districts, and 12 unified school districts. There are also five community college districts.[116]

Several cities in the county maintain public library systems, including the city of San Diego itself. The San Diego County Library serves all other areas of the county. In 2010 the county library had 33 branches and two bookmobiles; circulated over 10.7 million books, CDs, DVDs, and other material formats; recorded 5.7 million visits to library branches; and hosted 21,132 free programs and events. The San Diego County Library is one of the 25 busiest libraries in the nation as measured by materials circulated.[117][118]

Community College Districts[edit]

K-12 schools[edit]

School districts

K-12 unified:




USS Decatur (DDG-73)

San Diego is the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's Eleventh Naval District and is the Navy's principal location for West Coast and Pacific Ocean operations.[120] Naval Base San Diego, California is principal home to the Pacific Fleet (although the headquarters is located in Pearl Harbor). NAS North Island is located on the north side of Coronado, and is home to Headquarters for Naval Air Forces and Naval Air Force Pacific, the bulk of the Pacific Fleet's helicopter squadrons, and part of the West Coast aircraft carrier fleet.

The Naval Special Warfare Center is the primary training center for SEALs, and is also located on Coronado. The area contains five major naval bases and the U.S. Marines base Camp Pendleton. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is the major West Coast base of the United States Marine Corps and serves as its prime amphibious training base.[121] It is located on the Southern California coast, bordered by Oceanside to the south, San Clemente to the north, and Fallbrook to the east.

U.S. Navy[edit]

U.S. Marine Corps[edit]

U.S. Coast Guard[edit]

U.S. Air Force[edit]


San Diego County is primarily served by media in San Diego, including TV and radio stations based in the city.


San Diego County is served by many newspapers. The major regional paper is The San Diego Union-Tribune, also known as U-T San Diego or just "The U-T" by locals, is ranked 23rd in the country (by daily circulation) as of March 2013.[122] The Union-Tribune serves both San Diego County and neighboring Imperial County. The former North County Times, based in Escondido and serving portions of Riverside County and North County, was purchased by the Union-Tribune in 2012 and closed down. For about a year after absorbing the North County Times the Union-Tribune published a North County edition,[123] but the regional edition was later abandoned.[124] The Los Angeles Times is also delivered in portions of the county. Many of the area's cities, towns and neighborhoods have their own local newspapers; the Union Tribune bought eight local weeklies in 2013 and is continuing to publish them as independent local newspapers.[124] The San Diego Daily Transcript reports business and legal news. Privately published papers like the Military Press Newspaper and the Navy Dispatch serve the military community both on and off base.

Other media[edit]

County Television Network is a public-access television cable channel, offering a "hometown blend of C-SPAN, the Lifetime, History, Travel, and Discovery channels" for the county, and funded by fees paid by cable companies.[125]


Major highways[edit]

Border crossings to Mexico[edit]


Light rail and local transit[edit]

The Port of San Diego[edit]



El Cajon[edit]


City of San Diego[edit]

Unincorporated San Diego County[edit]


North County communities. Coastal cities are in dark blue, unincorporated coastal community is in light blue. Inland cities are in dark yellow, unincorporated inland communities are in light yellow. Parts of northern San Diego city are sometimes also considered part of North County
East County communities in red. In dark red are the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, and Santee, which mark the western edge of East County. Unincorporated communities are in light red, including Alpine, Jamul, Lakeside, and Spring Valley
South Bay communities. The cities of Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and National City are in dark orange. The unincorporated community of Bonita is in light orange. San Ysidro and Otay Mesa, neighborhoods of the city of San Diego, are in pink.

As of the 2020 census, San Diego County includes 18 incorporated cities, 18 Native American Indian reservations, and 39 census-designated places (CDPs).


City Date incorporated Population
(2020 Census)
Carlsbad July 16, 1952 114,746
Chula Vista November 28, 1911 275,487
Coronado December 11, 1890 20,192
Del Mar July 15, 1959 3,954
El Cajon Nov 12, 1912 106,215
Encinitas October 1, 1986 62,007
Escondido October 8, 1888 151,038
Imperial Beach July 18, 1956 26,137
La Mesa February 16, 1912 61,121
Lemon Grove July 1, 1977 27,627
National City September 17, 1887 56,173
Oceanside July 3, 1888 174,068
Poway December 1, 1980 48,841
San Diego (county seat) March 27, 1850 1,386,932
San Marcos January 28, 1963 94,833
Santee December 1, 1980 60,037
Solana Beach July 1, 1986 12,941
Vista January 28, 1963 98,381

Census-designated places (CDPs)[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Indian reservations[edit]

San Diego County has 18 federally recognized Indian reservations, more than any other county in the United States.[126] Although they are typical in size to other Indian reservations in California (many of which are termed "Rancherías"), they are relatively small by national standards,[citation needed] and all together total 200.2 sq mi (519 km2) of area.

Population ranking[edit]

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2020 census of San Diego County.[127][128]

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2020 Census) Population (2010 Census)
1 San Diego City 1,386,932 1,307,402
2 Chula Vista City 275,487 243,916
3 Oceanside City 174,068 167,086
4 Escondido City 151,038 143,911
5 Carlsbad City 114,746 105,328
6 El Cajon City 106,215 99,478
7 Vista City 98,381 93,834
8 San Marcos City 94,833 83,781
9 Encinitas City 62,007 59,518
10 La Mesa City 61,121 57,065
11 Santee City 60,037 53,413
12 National City City 56,173 58,582
13 Poway City 48,841 47,811
14 La Presa CDP 35,033 34,169
15 Fallbrook CDP 32,267 30,534
16 Spring Valley CDP 30,998 28,205
17 Lemon Grove City 27,627 25,320
18 Imperial Beach City 26,137 26,324
19 Winter Gardens CDP 22,380 20,631
20 Rancho San Diego CDP 21,858 21,208
21 Ramona CDP 21,468 20,292
22 Lakeside CDP 21,152 20,648
23 Coronado City 20,192 18,912
24 Casa de Oro-Mount Helix CDP 19,576 18,762
25 Bostonia CDP 16,882 15,379
26 Alpine CDP 14,696 14,236
27 Solana Beach City 12,941 12,867
28 Bonita CDP 12,917 12,538
29 Camp Pendleton South CDP 12,468 10,616
30 San Diego Country Estates CDP 10,395 10,109
31 Valley Center CDP 10,087 9,277
32 Camp Pendleton Mainside CDP 9,683 5,200
33 Jamul CDP 6,179 6,163
34 Eucalyptus Hills CDP 5,517 5,313
35 Lake San Marcos CDP 5,328 4,437
36 Bonsall CDP 4,546 3,982
37 Hidden Meadows CDP 4,484 3,485
38 Harbison Canyon CDP 4,048 3,841
39 Del Mar City 3,954 4,161
40 Granite Hills CDP 3,267 3,035
41 Rancho Santa Fe CDP 3,156 3,117
42 Borrego Springs CDP 3,073 3,429
43 Fairbanks Ranch CDP 3,002 3,148
44 Campo CDP 2,955 2,684
45 Crest CDP 2,828 2,593
46 Harmony Grove CDP[129] 2,079 N/A
47 Rainbow CDP 1,884 1,832
48 Julian CDP 1,768 1,502
49 Pine Valley CDP 1,645 1,510
50 Pala Indian Reservation AIAN[130] 1,541 1,315
51 Descanso CDP 1,499 1,423
52 Pala CDP[131] 1,490 N/A
53 San Pasqual Reservation AIAN[132] 1,270 1,097
54 Rincon Reservation AIAN[133] 1,095 1,215
55 Barona Reservation AIAN[134] 756 640
56 Potrero CDP 648 656
57 Elfin Forest CDP[135] 600 N/A
58 Jacumba CDP 540 561
59 Viejas Reservation AIAN[136] 538 520
60 Campo Indian Reservation AIAN[137] 398 362
61 Del Dios CDP[138] 396 N/A
62 Boulevard CDP 359 315
63 Santa Ysabel Reservation AIAN[139] 263 330
64 Sycuan Reservation AIAN[140] 218 211
65 Pauma and Yuima Reservation AIAN[141] 179 206
66 La Jolla Reservation AIAN[142] 145 476
67 Manzanita Reservation AIAN[143] 101 78
68 Mesa Grande Reservation AIAN[144] 87 98
69 Mount Laguna CDP 74 57
70 La Posta Indian Reservation AIAN[145] 50 55
71 Los Coyotes Reservation AIAN[146] 15 98
72 Ewiiaapaayp Reservation AIAN[147] 5 N/A
Capitan Grande Reservation AIAN[148] 0 0
Inaja and Cosmit Reservation AIAN[149] 0 0
Jamul Indian Village AIAN[150] 0 N/A

Former cities[edit]

City Year




East San Diego 1912 1923 Merged into San Diego
Elsinore (now Lake Elsinore) 1888 1893 Riverside County formed
Imperial 1904 1907 Imperial County formed
Riverside 1883 1893 Riverside County formed
San Jacinto 1888 1893 Riverside County formed

Future and past incorporation efforts[edit]

The communities of Del Dios, Elfin Forest, Harmony Grove, and Pala were newly-designated as CDPs in the 2020 census.[151]

Some CDPs and unincorporated communities of San Diego County have explored incorporating as cities/towns in the past (California makes no legal distinction between the titles of "city" and "town", allowing communities that incorporate to chose their designation,[152] though there has never been an incorporated town in San Diego County). Alpine, Bonita, Fallbrook, Lakeside, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe and Spring Valley have each been tied to various incorporation studies, organized efforts and discussions in the past.[153][154] Some of these past efforts have culminated in ballot initiatives. Voters in Fallbrook previously rejected incorporation in 1981 and 1987.[155] Rancho Santa Fe residents also rejected incorporation in 1987.[156] Among the existing cities of San Diego County, some had multiple failed incorporation efforts before ultimately succeeding in becoming a city. Lemon Grove, for example, saw incorporation measures fail in 1955, 1958 and 1964 before a successful incorporation vote in 1977.[157] Other cities have seen incorporation success thanks to mergers of neighboring unincorporated communities. Encinitas, for example, became an incorporated city through a consolidated effort between the then-unincorporated communities of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Leucadia, Encinitas and Olivenhain in 1986.[158] Encinitas and Solana Beach in 1986 are the most recent examples of successful campaigns for incorporation within the County of San Diego.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.
  1. ^ First season in San Diego
  2. ^ Average home game attendance
  3. ^ Original founding as a Minor League Baseball (MiLB) team: San Diego Padres (PCL)
  4. ^ Team was temporarily dormant for 2021 season due to effects of COVID-19 pandemic
  5. ^ Original founding. Current team is the 3rd San Diego Sockers iteration of highest-level professional indoor soccer, revived in 2009. Previous teams: San Diego Sockers (1978–1996) and San Diego Sockers (2001–2004)
  6. ^ Sockers franchise includes titles won by its original iteration, San Diego Sockers (1978–1996), in preceding top professional indoor soccer leagues. The franchise's titles by league are as follows:
    MASL: 6 (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2021, 2022)
    MISL: 8 (1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992)
    NASL Indoor: 2 (1982, 1984)
  7. ^ Team began play in 2019 as Redwoods Lacrosse Club, a charter member of the PLL, which was a touring-only league of nomadic teams for its first five seasons. The league assigned teams to home markets beginning in 2024, with San Diego's Torero Stadium becoming the home of the Redwoods
  8. ^ 2001, 2006
  9. ^ Non-annual competition, no fixed schedule- matches held years apart on dates agreed upon between the defender and the challenger
  10. ^ 1987, 1988, 1992
  11. ^ First season in San Diego
  12. ^ Average home game attendance
  13. ^ Original founding. Current team is the 4th San Diego Gulls iteration of minor league professional ice hockey, revived in 2015. Previous teams: San Diego Gulls (1966–1974), San Diego Gulls (1990–1995) & San Diego Gulls (1995–2006)
  14. ^ Current AHL franchise was founded in 2000 as the Norfolk Admirals, later relocating to San Diego and assuming the Gulls name in 2015


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Further reading[edit]

  • Pryde, Philip R. San Diego: An Introduction to the Region (4th ed. 2004), a historical geography

External links[edit]