Vista, California

Coordinates: 33°11′37″N 117°14′28″W / 33.19361°N 117.24111°W / 33.19361; -117.24111
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Vista, California
View of South Santa Fe Avenue
View of South Santa Fe Avenue
Official seal of Vista, California
America's Climatic Wonderland
Location of Vista within San Diego County, California
Location of Vista within San Diego County, California
Vista city street map, California
Vista city street map, California
Vista, California is located in the United States
Vista, California
Vista, California
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 33°11′37″N 117°14′28″W / 33.19361°N 117.24111°W / 33.19361; -117.24111
CountryUnited States
CountySan Diego
IncorporatedJanuary 28, 1963[1]
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • MayorJohn Franklin[2]
 • City council[2]Corinna Contreras, Deputy Mayor
Joe Green
Katie Melendez
Daniel O'Donnell
 • City ManagerJohn Conley[3]
 • Total18.75 sq mi (48.56 km2)
 • Land18.75 sq mi (48.56 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)  0%
Elevation325 ft (99 m)
 • Total98,381
 • Rank74th in California
307th in the United States
 • Density5,200/sq mi (2,000/km2)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
92081, 92083–92085
Area codes442/760
FIPS code06-82996
GNIS feature IDs1661645, 2412161
FlowerCalifornia Lilac[6]
BirdAnna's hummingbird[6]
TreeKentia Palm[6]

Vista (/ˈvɪstə/; Spanish for "view") is a city in San Diego County, California. Vista is a medium-sized city within the San Diego-Carlsbad, CA Metropolitan Area and has a population of 101,638. Vista's sphere of influence also includes portions of unincorporated San Diego County to the north and east, with a county island in the central west.[7] Located just 7 mi (11 km) inland from the Pacific Ocean, it has a Mediterranean climate.

A flag is displayed at the Vista Civic Center. The flag design is the seal of Vista on a blue background.

Originally the lands of Rancho Buena Vista and Rancho Guajome, Vista was founded on October 9, 1882, with the establishment of a post office.[8] It was incorporated on January 28, 1963, and became a charter city on June 13, 2007.

Vista has more than 25 educational institutions for youth, and a business park home to over 800 companies. In a 2015 review, Vista was ranked as the 173rd-best place in California (out of 240) for families, based on factors such as family life, recreational opportunities, education, health, safety, and affordability.


Much of Vista was part of Rancho Agua Hedionda, a Mexican-era rancho granted to Californio politician Juan María Marrón in 1842.
The Guajome Adobe at Rancho Guajome, built 1852–1853, is the second oldest building in Vista. The oldest is the Rancho Buena Vista Adobe, built in 1845.

The Vista area was originally inhabited by the Luiseño Indians, who established a village in today's Vista called Tovalum.[9]

The prosperity of the mission-era declined by the 1830s with the independence of Mexico from Spain. The Mexican government began to grant land ownerships to a variety of people, thus beginning the Rancho era of California. Three ranchos were granted in the Vista area: Rancho Guajome, Rancho Buena Vista, and Agua Hedionda Y los Manos.[10]

In the 1850s the ranchos began to fade due to changing political conditions and the scarcity of water. A growing number of settlers came to the area after California became a state in 1850 and began to create smaller agricultural holdings. One settler in the Vista area, John A. Frazier, applied to open the first post office and after several attempts to name the city (Frazier and Buena Vista were already taken), Frazier finally chose the name "Vista". With the opening of the first post office in 1882, Vista had officially arrived.[11]

In 1870, Bernard Delpy arrived from France to build what eventually became known as "Delpy Corners" at the intersection of today's East Vista Way and Foothill Drive. His nephew, Jules Jacques Delpy, joined him in 1879 and together they planted several hundred acres of grapes. In 1886, they built the first successful winery in the country. The winery was shut down by the Prohibition era.[12]

Inhibited by the lack of water, Vista grew slowly through the early 1910s to less than 1,000 people. With the vote of the people in 1923, the Vista Irrigation District had the necessary funding to construct a new water supply from Lake Henshaw.[13] New buildings in downtown sprang up almost immediately. Agriculture began to flourish with crops such as tomatoes, celery, and citrus fruits. Some hillsides were also planted for avocados and by 1948, Vista became the "avocado capital of the world"[14]

Following World War II, agriculture declined with an influx of population and housing. The City of Vista was incorporated on January 23, 1963. The frequent housing booms of the 1970s through early 2000s greatly increased the population of Vista. Numerous apartment complexes were also built in these booms. Many light manufacturing businesses moved into the Business Park area on the south side, starting in the 1980s. In the 1990s, Wal-Mart, Target and Costco opened large stores. In 1993, Vista became involved in a national controversy when the Vista Unified School District board unsuccessfully tried to incorporate creationist, anti-evolution views into the biology curriculum.[15]

Geography and climate[edit]

Brengle Terrace Park

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.7 square miles (48 km2) of land. Vista is a hilly city. Most of the businesses are located in the flatter areas, and residences climb the hills. In undeveloped areas, the natural vegetation types includes chaparral brushland, oak-sycamore woodland, riparian (stream) woodland and oak-grass savanna. The natural vegetation is best seen in Buena Vista Park on the south side, in the San Marcos Hills, east of the city, and in undeveloped pockets on the north side (e.g. along Gopher Canyon Road and Guajome Regional Park).


Climate chart for Vista

Vista has a semi-arid climate (Köppen: BSk) bordering on a Mediterranean climate (Csa). The climate is temperate, with extremes of temperature uncommon. Coastal breezes and foggy overcast (especially in May and June) keep the late spring/early summer high temperatures below 80 °F (27 °C). on most days. In general, the western side of the city (closer to the Pacific) is cooler and more overcast with ocean fog than the eastern side. It is common in May–June for the western side of Vista to be overcast and cool, while the eastern side basks in clear skies and sunshine. July, August and September are usually warmer, as the coastal breezes lessen. High temperatures in excess of 90 °F (32 °C), rarely above 100 °F (38 °C) sometimes occur in late summer. High temperatures also accompany dry Santa Ana wind events, which can strike any month, but are most common during fall. On 90% of days, though, the moderating influence of the nearby Pacific keeps the weather pleasant and temperatures moderate. Frost is quite rare in winter, and snowfall almost unknown. Most of the annual rainfall of 13.24 inches (336 mm) falls between November and April (Mediterranean climate type). Rainfall is higher in the San Marcos Hills on the eastern edge of the city, up to 20 inches (510 mm) per year. The moderate climate has made Vista and surrounding areas a center of the plant nursery industry. Avocados and other subtropical plants thrive in the area.

Climate data for Vista, California (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1957–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 94
Mean maximum °F (°C) 82.4
Average high °F (°C) 65.6
Daily mean °F (°C) 55.7
Average low °F (°C) 45.7
Mean minimum °F (°C) 35.6
Record low °F (°C) 21
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.85
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 7.0 7.9 6.0 4.1 3.1 1.0 0.8 0.4 0.7 2.1 4.3 6.2 43.6
Source: NOAA[16][17]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[18]


The 2010 United States Census[19] reported that Vista had a population of 93,834. The population density was 5,023.7 inhabitants per square mile (1,939.7/km2). The racial makeup of Vista was 59,551 (63.5%) White, 3,137 (3.3%) Black, 1,103 (1.2%) Native American, 3,979 (4.2%) Asian, 677 (0.7%) Pacific Islander, 20,423 (21.8%) from other races, and 4,964 (5.3%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 45,380 persons (48.4%).

The Census reported that 91,789 people (97.8% of the population) lived in households, 661 (0.7%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 1,384 (1.5%) were institutionalized.

There were 29,317 households, out of which 12,139 (41.4%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 15,024 (51.2%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 4,030 (13.7%) had a female householder with no husband present, 2,065 (7.0%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 2,143 (7.3%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 236 (0.8%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 5,784 households (19.7%) were made up of individuals, and 1,963 (6.7%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.13. There were 21,119 families (72.0% of all households); the average family size was 3.55.

The population was spread out, with 25,074 people (26.7%) under the age of 18, 11,738 people (12.5%) aged 18 to 24, 27,659 people (29.5%) aged 25 to 44, 20,690 people (22.0%) aged 45 to 64, and 8,673 people (9.2%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31.1 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.9 males.

There were 30,986 housing units at an average density of 1,658.9 per square mile (640.5/km2), of which 15,194 (51.8%) were owner-occupied, and 14,123 (48.2%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.9%. 44,897 people (47.8% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 46,892 people (50.0%) lived in rental housing units.


As of the census[20] of 2000, there were 89,857 people, 28,877 households, and 20,791 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,810.0 inhabitants per square mile (1,857.2/km2). There were 29,814 housing units at an average density of 1,595.9 per square mile (616.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 64.3% White, 4.2% African American, 1.0% Native American, 3.7% Asian, 0.7% Pacific Islander, 21.3% from other races, and 4.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino residents of any race were 38.9% of the population.

There were 28,877 households, out of which 40.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.7% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.0% were non-families. 20.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.03 and the average family size was 3.48. The FBI crime index for 2005 was 32.9 for every 1000 residents.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 29.7% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 32.7% from 25 to 44, 16.2% from 45 to 64, and 10.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $42,594, and the median income for a family was $45,649. Males had a median income of $32,936 versus $25,812 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,027. About 10.0% of families and 14.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.0% of those under age 18 and 6.1% of those age 65 or over.

Current estimates[edit]

According to estimates by the San Diego Association of Governments, the median household income of Vista in 2011 was $59,414 (not adjusted for inflation). When adjusted for inflation (2010 dollars; comparable to Census data above), the median household income was $57,665.[21]


Top employers[edit]

According to the city's 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[22] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Vista Unified School District 2,344
2 Watkins Manufacturing Company 781
3 Zodiac Pool Systems, Inc. 497
4 DJ Orthopedics (DJO Global) 400
5 Costco 316
6 J+D Laboratories, Inc. 300
7 Walmart 293
8 Applied Membranes, Inc. 280
9 Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors 261
10 US Foods 250


Vista's Civic Center is the seat of government for the City of Vista
Vista Civic Center. The flag of Vista is visible in the background (blue flag, center).

City government[edit]

Vista, a charter city, is governed by a mayor, John B. Franklin, and a city council, consisting of Corrina Contreras (Deputy Mayor), Joe Green, Katie Melendez and Daniel O'Donnell.[2]

Public safety[edit]

Law enforcement is provided by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department through a contract with the City of Vista, approved by the City Council. Fire suppression, fire prevention and EMS is provided by the Vista Fire Department.

State and federal representation[edit]

In the California State Legislature, Vista is in the 38th Senate District, represented by Democrat Catherine Blakespear, and in the 74th Assembly District, represented by Republican Laurie Davies.[23]

In the United States House of Representatives, Vista is in California's 49th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D+4[24][circular reference] and is represented by Democrat Mike Levin.[25] According to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, on November 1, 2016, the City of Vista had more registered Democrats than Republicans. Out of a total of 40,837 registered voters, 13,859 were Democrats, and 13,507 were Republicans.[26]


The Vista Unified School District serves Vista and parts of Oceanside and several Unincorporated communities, with eighteen elementary schools, six middle schools, and seven high schools, including Rancho Buena Vista High School, Vista High School and Mission Vista High School. Guajome Park Academy is a charter school with joint elementary, middle, and high schools that receives part of its funding from the Vista Unified School District. Alta Vista Continuation High School is another option for teens who cannot attend regular school. There are 12 private schools serving over 2,500 students, including Tri-City Christian School, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School and Calvary Christian School. Vista Adult School was established in 1977 by the Vista Unified School District. Vista Adult School is a provider of adult education services in the City of Vista and its surrounding communities. Vista Adult School offers adult education courses for adults in the areas of: high school diploma, GED, HISET, adult basic education, ESL, parenting classes, community education courses, and career technical education courses (CTE). Vista Adult School also offers a robust selection of short-term medical training courses such as: Medical Terminology, Healthcare Essentials, Medical Assistant, Pharmacy Technician, Phlebotomy, and Medical Billing and Coding. Vista Adult School is a member of the Education to Career Network of North San Diego County (ETCN). Vista Adult School/Vista Unified School District serve as the fiscal agent for Education to Career Network. ETCN is one of 71 Consortiums in the State of California.

Vista was mentioned in The Los Angeles Times when a group of social conservatives associated with the Christian right were elected to the Vista Unified School District's school board and tried to implement creationism into the curriculum in the early 1990s.[27]

Biola University has a branch campus in Vista.[28] Brightwood College (formerly known as Kaplan College) had a campus in Vista until the college's sudden closure in 2018.[29]


Vista is home to two city-owned theaters: the recently updated Moonlight Amphitheatre and the Avo Playhouse. The Moonlight is an open-air theater that specializes in musical productions, performing several Broadway-caliber, musical productions during the course of the summer. A winter season concert venue called ClubM hosts shows where the performance and audience areas are on the Moonlight stage, sheltered from the elements. The Avo Playhouse located in Historic Downtown Vista is rented year round for private performances.

Several popular downtown events include the North County St. Patrick's Day Parade & Festival, the Vista Strawberry Festival, the Vista Rod Run (over 25 years running) and the annual Winterfest & Christmas Parade.

Vista houses one movie theater, currently a Cinepolis theater (as of 2015), but which opened as a Krikorian Cinema in fall 2003.

Two of the best-known parks in the city are Brengle Terrace Park and Guajome County Park. Brengle Terrace Park houses the Moonlight Amphitheatre, Alta Vista Gardens (a city-owned botanical garden), two softball fields, a senior center, a playground, and the city community center, where the main offices of the city's day camps are held. Guajome County Park has 557 acres (2.25 km2) of land, which is shared between Vista and nearby Oceanside. It features a small lake, willow and oak woodlands, campsites, horse trails, and the Rancho Guajome Adobe, a National Historic Landmark. Buena Vista Park on the south side of Vista is a natural park where users can hike on trails through native chaparral and oak woodland.

The Rancho Guajome Adobe and Rancho Buena Vista Adobe are two historic rancho buildings in Vista, built in the mid-nineteenth century, both available for tours and special occasions.

The city's Parks and Recreation Department runs the Wave Waterpark, a small but well-equipped waterpark in the downtown area open from mid-spring to early fall, and the brand new Vista Community Sports Park. Another attraction is the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum, an open-air museum demonstrating agricultural equipment from the 19th and early 20th centuries. A Boomers family fun park is also located in Vista.

Vista is home to a Japanese-American Cultural Center and Buddhist Temple, a mosque, and over 75 other churches and temples of various denominations.


Radio stations[edit]

AM 1000 KCEO

TV stations[edit]

  • KHAX-LD channel 17 is a translator of KBNT-LP channel 17 in San Diego.


Daily newspaper service is provided by the regional San Diego Union-Tribune.


The automobile is the primary means of transportation within the city of Vista, however bus service is provided by the North County Transit District (NCTD) BREEZE. NCTD has an east–west lightweight commuter train called the Sprinter with a stop in downtown Vista and another further east on Civic Center Drive near Highway 78.

Major roads and highways[edit]

Mass transit[edit]

The North County Transit District operates a bus system and a light rail system, Sprinter, with stations at Vista Transit Center and Civic Center Drive within city limits and also the Buena Creek Road in eastern Vista sphere of influence. The Sprinter provides service, west to Oceanside and east to San Marcos and Escondido.[31] From the Sprinter station in Oceanside, commuters can connect to Amtrak trains, or to the Coaster commuter trains to downtown San Diego, or to the Metrolink commuter trains to the Los Angeles area.


In the city of Vista, gas and electric service is provided by San Diego Gas & Electric, while water is provided by the Vista Irrigation District. Sewerage is provided by the City of Vista.[32]


The city of Vista is located within the Tri-City Hospital District, which provides emergency care and hospitalization, while ambulance service is provided by the Vista Fire Department.[33] The Vista Community Clinic provides general health care to those who face economic, social or cultural barriers.[34]

Government facilities[edit]

North County Regional Center

Located in Vista is the North County Regional Center, a San Diego County facility shared by the Superior Court, Sheriff, Vista Detention Facility jail, Probation, District Attorney, Revenue and Recovery, and the County Board of Supervisors. The North County Superior Court is a full service branch court.[35]

Notable people[edit]



  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date". California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Archived from the original (Word) on October 17, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Elected Officials". City of Vista. Retrieved January 5, 2023.
  3. ^ "City Manager". City of Vista, California. Retrieved January 5, 2023.
  4. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  5. ^ "Vista". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c "About Vista". City of Vista, California. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  7. ^ San Diego GIS. "City of Vista" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 22, 2014.
  8. ^ Cavalier, Lois. Images of America: Vista. Arcadia Publishing, 2008, p. 20.
  9. ^ "American Indian Studies Program Provides Powerful Testimonial – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)". Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  10. ^ Doyle, Harrison and Ruth. A History of Vista, Hillside Press, 1983. pgs. 4–5.
  11. ^ Doyle, A History of Vista, p. 36
  12. ^ Doyle, A History of Vista, p. 28
  13. ^ Doyle, A History of Vista, p. 38
  14. ^ Doyle, A History of Vista, p. 39
  15. ^ Granberry, Michael. "School Board's Creationist Trend Causes Stir in Vista, L.A. Times, May 20, 1993.
  16. ^ "Vista – NWS San Diego NOAA Online Weather Data". NOAA. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  17. ^ "U.S. Climate Normals Quick Access – Station: Vista, CA". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Archived from the original on August 10, 2023. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  18. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  19. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA – Vista city". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  20. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  21. ^ "SANDAG Data Surfer | Your go-to data warehouse for the San Diego region".
  22. ^ "City of Vista CAFR". Archived from the original on April 30, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  23. ^ "California Redistricting Commission". State of California. Retrieved January 5, 2023.
  24. ^ "Cook Partisan Voting Index". The Cook Political Report. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  25. ^ "California's 49th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC.
  26. ^ Report of Registration - State Reporting Districts. "San Diego County" (PDF).
  27. ^ CAROL MASCIOLA (November 16, 1992). "Judgment Day Approaches for Vista Schools Education: A new Christian right majority tries to reassure the community it will do a good job. But some fear there may be controversial changesZedition=San Diego County". Los Angeles Times. p. 1.
  28. ^ "Biola University Dedicates New San Diego Campus". The Christian Post. September 25, 2005. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
  29. ^ "School Closure Information for Brightwood College (Vista) – Office of Student Assistance and Relief". Retrieved August 4, 2020.
  30. ^ City of Vista. General Plan 2030. Figure CE-2
  31. ^ "NCTD Sprinter light rail schedule". Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  32. ^ "City and Residential Services". Retrieved January 19, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  33. ^ "Paramedic EMS". Archived from the original on May 5, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  34. ^ "Vista Community Clinic". Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  35. ^ "Superior Court of San Diego, information". Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  36. ^ "Red Killefer, Ex-Vistan, Succumbs". The Vista Press. September 8, 1958. p. 3.
  37. ^ Doyle,A History of Vista,p.222
  38. ^ Dwight Daniels (June 22, 2000). "Belated recognition Asian-Americans get top honor -- Vista man waited 56 years". San Diego Union Tribune.
  39. ^ Anon., "In Memory of Allan Holdsworth",, Apr 16, 2017.

External links[edit]