North County (San Diego area)
|— Region of the San Diego Metro Area —|
|County||San Diego County|
North County is a region in the northern area of San Diego County, California. It is the second most populous region in the county after San Diego, with an estimated population of 826,985. North County is well known for its affluence, especially in Encinitas, Carlsbad, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, and Solana Beach where house prices range on average above one million dollars. 
Beach culture is very prominent in the area, and many of the region's beaches and lagoons are protected areas to help ensure the environment remains pristine.
The name dates to at least the 1970s, when many of the communities in the area were yet to become incorporated cities and local community decisions were made 40 miles away at the county seat. The North County section of San Diego County has historically been the most expensive region of San Diego, with such affluent neighborhoods as Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Carlsbad, Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Encinitas, Olivenhain, Rancho Santa Fe, and Solana Beach.
In modern times North County continues to grow as a highly influential region of Greater San Diego. The top twenty-five employers in San Diego County are closer to the North County city of Carlsbad than San Diego proper.
Both coastal and inland North County maintain two types of topography. In North County Coastal the land is generally flat with low rolling hills. The beaches are sandy with occasional tidepools and rocky reefs popping out of the surf. In some cases the coast is dominated by bluff type geography, where the land meeting the ocean sharply drops into the sea with a short beach. In some cases, such as in Encinitas, a whole city can be bisected by a coastal foothill ridge. Mountains soon become imminent as one travels further inland, displaying the rocky peaks of North County Inland. Such peaks included Twin Peaks in Poway, Mount Woodson in Ramona, and Iron Mountain in unincorporated territory between the two cities.
Rivers and creeks flowing west from the mountains farther inland predominantly end up draining into the regions four main lagoons. Throughout their course the way they form many lakes and reservoirs supporting and array of native species.
Definitions vary, but almost always include the communities and cities along Interstate 5 north of Carmel Valley Road and Interstate 15 north of Lake Hodges. For both geographic and political reasons, opinions differ as to whether to include the northern communities within the city limits of San Diego (such as La Jolla, Rancho Bernardo, or Scripps Ranch), or close in communities and cities such as Solana Beach, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Aviara, Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Rancho Santa Fe, 4S Ranch etc.
North County is commonly divided into coastal and inland regions, with coastal cities being Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, Encinitas, Del Mar, and Solana Beach, and inland cities being Escondido, Fallbrook, San Marcos, Poway, Valley Center, Ramona, Rancho Bernardo, and San Diego Country Estates.
The region has strong ties to its coast. Its notable efforts are popular for preserving many marine environments including lagoons and tidal wetlands, many being last few on the South Coast. Unlike developments in many Orange County coastal cities, the lagoons and large areas of coast have not been so heavily developed. Major lagoons and inlets lining the coast from north to south include: Oceanside Harbor, Buena Vista Lagoon, Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Batiquitos Lagoon and San Elijo Lagoon.
Flora and fauna
These lagoons provide valuable wetland habitat for many bird, reptile, fish, and plant species. The waters off the coast are also very rich in species diversity; supporting large kelp forests and rocky reefs.
Fish species included the tidewater goby, topsmelt, striped mullet, surfperch and Pacific staghorn sculpin. Leopard sharks forage near the lagoons and pups frequent the shallow rocky reefs off the coast.
Bird species included the Great Blue Heron, Snowy Plover, Clapper Rail and Least tern. The lagoons support various species of shorebirds, wading birds, waterfowl, raptors and diving birds. The number of bird species in the San Dieguito Wetlands have tripled due to restoration projects by Del Mar.
North County contains forty golf courses, including Torrey Pines, which hosted the 2008 U.S. Open. North County is also known for its beaches, which stretch about thirty miles from Del Mar to San Onofre. These beaches experience a large tourist influx from June to November. Symbolic of North County's surf culture are the various statues proliferating the region including the Cardiff Kook in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. As surf culture is an integral part of North County, so is equestrian culture. Numerous equestrian centers, including the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Rancho Camino Equestrian Center, and San Diego Country Estates International Equestrian Center, are found in the region from Del Mar to San Diego Country Estates.
Fairs and Shopping
The Del Mar Fair is home to one of the most famous racetracks in the world and is the site of the annual San Diego County Fair. Shopping malls include the North County Fair in Escondido and Plaza Camino Real in Carlsbad. Famous beaches include Moonlight Beach in Encinitas and the Oceanside Pier.
In the Media
A notable fictional character from North County is Dave Rickards' "Aunt Edna", frequently featured on the popular Dave, Shelly, and Chainsaw radio program, which airs in the San Diego area.
North County is considered wealthier and more socially conservative than other parts of the metropolitan area such as South Bay. It is the second largest region of the San Diego metropolitan area. There are 325,995 people residing in the San Diego city region of North County alone.
In North County 49.1% of the populous is male and 51.9% of the populous female. White collar jobs beat out blue-collar jobs at a ratio of 3:1. In North County more people have Bachelor's of Arts degrees than associate's degrees at a ratio of 2:1. More people are married than single 2:1.
Populations listed are from the 2010 United States' Census
- Oceanside - 167,086
- Escondido - 143,911
- Carlsbad - 105,328
- Vista - 93,834
- San Marcos - 83,781
- Encinitas - 59,518
- Poway - 47,811
- Solana Beach - 12,867
- Del Mar - 4,161
Populations listed are from the 2010 U.S. Census
Primary and secondary
School districts in the region include the:
- Bonsall Union School District
- Cardiff School District
- Carlsbad Unified School District
- Encinitas Union School District
- Escondido Union School District
- Escondido Union High School District
- Oceanside Unified School District
- Poway Unified School District
- Ramona Unified School District
- San Dieguito Union High School District
- San Pasqual Union School District
- San Marcos Unified School District
- Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District
- Vista Unified School District
School districts overlap city boundaries and depending on the zip codes of the cities and their proximity to respective schools and school districts, school districts will serve parts of different cities.
Colleges and universities
North County is home to several colleges, both traditional four year universities and community colleges. These included California State University, San Marcos (CSUSM) offering undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate programs; and the community colleges Palomar College and MiraCosta College.
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Most of North County is located within County Supervisorial District 5, and is represented on the county's Board of Supervisors by Bill Horn. The remainder of North County is in Districts 2 and 3, represented by Dianne Jacob and Pam Slater-Price, respectively.
- "San Diego Real Estate Market Reports". Highland Realty. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
- California Pacific Airlines. "San Diego North Means Business". Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- North County Times: Coastal and Inland cities
- "Batiquitos Lagoon". Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- "DEL MAR:Restoring the wetlands". North County Times. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
- San Diego's North County
- "North County Beaches". Schneck Enterprises. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
- "North County Demographics". Point2.
- "CSUSM: CSU San Marcos Academics". California State University San Marcos. Retrieved June 12, 2011.