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San Marcos

San MarcosSan Marcos is located in the lovely foothills of northern San Diego County. This thriving town has some unique dining and shopping opportunities within its retail centers along with miles of trails in the local hills. Just a 35min drive to Downtown San Diego and just a short trip wet to the beautiful sandy beaches.

San Marcos is also home to California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) and Palomar College, which provides education in San Diego North. Parks and community service is another addition giving more than 17 parks, and providing rich recreational and cultural programs for children, teens, adults, and seniors. Community theatre, music, and fine art organizations are also available in San Marcos.

Having an excellent transportation network, highway 78, I-15 and I-5, gives this town a fast growing population of 84,391 and growing. Local access to parks and lakes, trails and culture programs enhance the quality of life that residents enjoy in San Marcos.

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San Marcos

Mission Statement

The mission of the City of San Marcos is to improve the quality of life of those who live, work or visit San Marcos by providing a safe family atmosphere that is rich and diverse in cultural and natural resources and promotes economic and educational opportunities.

Vision Statement

We the people of San Marcos imagine a vibrant community, rich in its ethnic and cultural diversity, working cooperatively to build a center for commerce, economic development and job growth built upon a broad foundation of high- quality educational institutions. We imagine an ecologically balanced, well- planned community that promotes the interest of all its citizens young and old, rich and poor, newcomers and old timers. We imagine a community that values its quality of life, which is preserved by its citizen-oriented government committed to opportunity, while preserving the community’s small-town suburban atmosphere and maintaining a safe and secure environment.

Core Values

The City of San Marcos employees, in striving to provide community service through responsive government, adopt the following Core Values:

  • Provide a safe community with a high quality of life.
  • Deliver consistent and responsive service.
  • Ensure ethical, professional conduct by City employees.
  • Provide quality service to residents.
  • Provide for housing opportunities to all income groups.
  • Strive to be proactive, innovative and solution orientation.
  • Plan and build for the future.
  • Be business friendly but citizen-oriented government.
  • Protect the financial health of the City and promote the economic viability of the City and region.
  • Protect the environment.
  • Offer open, inclusive government.
  • Operate the City as an efficient business entity.


According to historical legends, the San Luis Rey Mission flocks were robbed by a small band of Indians in the late 1700s. Fleeing the Spanish troops, the Indians escaped to the hills. While pursuing the Indians, the Spaniards came upon a fertile valley in 1797 which was named Los Vallecitos de San Marcos (Little Valleys of Saint Mark) to honor the day of discovery: April 25th, or “St. Mark’s Day.” On April 22, 1840, Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado granted Los Vallecitos de San Marcos to his relative, Jose Mario Alvarado. In 1846, Indians killed Jose Alvarado and the land was left to his wife. She then sold the land to Lorenzo Soto. In the late 1850s, Soto sold part of his land to Cave Couts. Soon his family was raising livestock. Although Cave Couts owned the land, Major Gustavus French Merriam from Topeka, Kansas made the first permanent settlement. Merriam homesteaded 160 acres in the north Twin Oaks Valley and began wine and honey production.

After Major Merriam’s settlement, German and Dutch immigrants began moving into the area in the early 1880s. In 1883, a few miles south of the settlement, John H. Barham founded the first town in the area, aptly naming it Barham. By 1884, the Town of Barham had a post office, blacksmith, feed store and a weekly newspaper. In 1887, the San Marcos Land Company bought almost all of the San Marcos land formerly owned by the Couts family and promptly divided the land into tracts. Soon the beautiful hills began attracting home- seekers.

The original town of San Marcos was at the intersection of what is now Grand Avenue and Rancho Santa Fe Road. In 1887, the Santa Fe Railroad announced that it was going to lay tracks through the valley, but to the disappointment of the citizens, the tracks were laid one mile away from the center of the town. By 1896, San Marcos was a community with its own stores, post office, blacksmith and railroad depot. In 1903, the town appeared to be going downhill so the people of San Marcos picked up and moved along the railroad tracks to what now are Mission Road and Pico Avenue. In 1905, the town had every convenience, including rural mail delivery and telephone service. The first school in the area, which had started in Barham in 1880, was moved in 1889 to San Marcos. Later that same year, the Richland School was built, being the second school in San Marcos. The main business in San Marcos in the 1800s and early 1900s was farming. Then in the mid-1900s, dairies and poultry production became a big part of the business in the town. In 1907, the most popular building was built in San Marcos — the general store.

San Marcos initially started to grow rapidly in 1956 when the first water from the Colorado River arrived. After the arrival of water, several small businesses started and the population increased to 2,500. In 1950, the first dirt was turned for the construction of Highway 78. San Marcos’ first high school was completed in June 1961. The city became incorporated on January 28, 1963. Through the 1960s, the City grew by a few thousand new residents, but in the 1970s San Marcos was flourishing as the third fastest-growing city in the state with a population of 17,479 by 1980. During the 1980s, San Marcos almost doubled its population to 33,800. Growth has continued to boom in San Marcos, and the present population of the City is at 82,743.

Along with more people came the need for more education. San Marcos took this realization seriously and the City now has nine elementary schools, an English-learner Academy, two middle schools, and two high schools. The second high school (Mission Hills High) opened in August 2004. Higher education has become a benchmark for the City of San Marcos as the home for the popular Palomar Community College, California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), and hosting several technical schools featuring higher education in the computer and medical fields.

Population and industry continue to grow. Careful planning by the City and its residents is bringing a bigger and better San Marcos to life, destined to be recognized and recorded by future historians.

Visitors Overview

Located in the beautiful foothills of northern San Diego County is San Marcos.

From miles of trails in the local hills, to unique dining and shopping opportu- nities in its retail centers, San Marcos has all the ingredients that make visiting enjoyable.

Just a 35-minute drive south takes you to downtown San Diego, while a short jaunt west across north county takes you to the majestic shores of the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Home to Palomar College and California State University San Marcos, the City has also become the heart of education in San Diego North.

A dedication to parks and community services is another priority for the City of San Marcos. In addition to its rich recreational and cultural programs for children, teens, adults and seniors, the City will be constructing and opening an additional five new parks between now and 2010 – bringing the total number of parks in San Marcos to 17.

Quality centers like Creekside Marketplace, Nordahl Center, Grand Plaza and Old California Restaurant Rowhave all become popular shopping and dining destinations, and plans for thoughtful future developments like the San Marcos Downtown Creek District, Palomar Station and University Village will quickly put San Marcos on the map as a regional shopping, dining and entertainment destination.

Community theatre, music and fine arts organizations are also alive and well in San Marcos. The City’s own “Theatre West” group presents outstanding community theatre production, while the California Center for the Arts in Escondido and the Performing Arts Center at Palomar College both bring entertainment of high acclaim to the local area.

Economic Overview

San Marcos is one of the leading cities in the percentage change in population from 2000 to 2007, with an increase in 45 percent. According to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), San Marcos will continue to be one of the fastest growing cities in San Diego County over the next 20 years.

Five key factors are spurring the continued growth in San Marcos:

  1. The City benefits from its transportation hub location in North County – it is bisected by SR 78 between Interstates 5 and 15. Other regional arteries are: San Marcos Blvd/Palomar Airport Road, Rancho Santa Fe Road and Twin Oaks Valley/San Elijo Road.
  2. The educational institutions are second to none. California State University at San Marcos (CSUSM) is currently serving 9,200 students with enrollment increasing annually. Palomar College has an enrollment in excess of 30,000 full and part-time students. The San Marcos Unified School District is educating over 17,200 students.
  3. San Marcos is 72 percent built out with developable acreage still remaining for future development and/or redevelopment.
  4. The Sprinter light rail commuter system has three stops in San Marcos (Palomar College, Civic Center, CSUSM) and one stop (Nordahl Road) just over the city line in Escondido. These are already attracting new development.
  5. Land prices are still lower compared to other North San Diego County cities.

San Marcos has designated three Redevelopment Project Areas that encompass approximately 80 percent of its available land, making the vast majority of the City eligible for redevelopment..

10 Reasons to Live in San Marcos

  1. Strong Local and Regional Economy San Marcos enjoys a low unemployment rate and is one of the fastest growing cities in San Diego County. Its low crime rate and strong commitment to promote economic development also add to the community’s value.
  2. Excellent Transportation Network Located along the SPRINTER commuter rail line with excellent bus service, San Marcos has a solid transportation network. The City is located along Highway 78 and has six interchanges along that route, with easy access to Interstates 5 and 15. Several airports are also close by, including Carlsbad/Palomar Airport (six miles), San Diego Airport (35 miles) and Orange County Airport (60 miles).
  3. Availability of Land for Development Approximately 72 percent of the City is built-out.
  4. Central North County Location San Marcos has an excellent urban (rural) interface setting with small town informality plus easy access to San Diego and southern Riverside and Orange County markets via Interstates 5 and 15.
  5. Exceptional Educational Opportunities San Marcos is quickly becoming known as the educational hub of San Diego North with its award-winning school district, Palomar Community College and California State University San Marcos. Easy commutes are also available to other nearby colleges/universities as well as several employee skills training opportunities.
  6. Diversified Housing Market Home to award-winning San Elijo Hills and other master planned communities, San Marcos is the leader in providing quality housing with a wide range of prices and designs.
  7. Quality Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Programs A master parks and trails program, exceptional community recreation programs, City/school district cooperative programs, access to lakes, beaches and cultural programs enhance the quality of life that residents enjoy in San Marcos.
  8. Hospitable Climate It’s hard to beat the mild, year-round climate that San Marcos enjoys. An average of nine to 11 inches of rain falls annually and average summer temperature hover around 72 degrees.
  9. Environmental Awareness San Marcos takes environmental awareness to heart, and is working hard to preserve the San Marcos Creek, ridgelines and sensitive habitat. It actively participates in state, federal and regional conservation programs as well as progressive local air and water quality programs.
  10. Quality Medical Care Local and regional hospitals and clinics, community outreach programs, expanding private and community hospital facilities ensure that residents have quick and quality access to medical care

Utilities & Services

Cox Communications (866) 939-3173 /

EDCO Recycling & Waste Collection (760) 744-2700 /

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) (800) 411-7343 /

Time Warner Cable (858) 695-3220 /

Vallecitos Water District (760) 744-0460 /

North County Transit District (760) 966-6500 /

San Marcos Library

2 Civic Center Drive / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 891-3000 Monday-Thursday, 9:30 am to 8 pm Friday and Saturday, 9:30 am to 5 pm Sunday, 1 to 5 pm


San Marcos Unified School District

255 Pico Ave., Suite 250 / San Marcos, CA 92069 Phone (760) 752-1299 / Fax (760) 471-4928

Elementary Schools

Alvin Dunn 3697 La Mirada Drive / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 290-2000

Discovery 730 Applewilde Drive / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 290-2077

Knob Hill 1825 Knob Hill Road / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 290-2080

Paloma 660 Camino Magnifico / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 290-2199

Richland 910 E. Borden Road / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 290-2400

San Elijo School 1600 School House Way / San Marcos, CA 92078 / (760) 290-2800

San Marcos Academy 300 W. San Marcos Blvd. / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 290-2430

Twin Oaks 1 Cassou Road / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 290-2588

Middle Schools

San Elijo School 1600 School House Way / San Marcos, CA 92078 / (760) 290-2800

San Marcos 650 W. Mission Road / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 290-2500

Woodland Park 1270 Rock Springs Road / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 290-2455

High Schools

Foothills 158 Cassou Road / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 290-2544

Mission Hills 1 Mission Hills Court / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 290-2700

San Marcos 1615 W. San Marcos Blvd. / San Marcos, CA 92078 / (760) 290-2200

Twin Oaks 158 Cassou Road / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 290-2555

Colleges & Universities

California State University San Marcos 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd. / San Marcos, CA 92096 / (760) 750-4011

Coleman College 1284 W. San Marcos Blvd. / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 747-3990

Chapman University (Business) San Diego Campus 7460 Mission Valley Road / San Diego, CA 92108 / (619) 296-8660

MAAC Project 800 W. Los Vallecitos Blvd. / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 471-4210

National University (Business) 2022 University Drive / Vista, CA 92083 / (760) 945-6100

Maric College of Medical Careers 2030 University Dr. / Vista, CA 92083 / (760) 630-1555

Palomar Community College 1140 W. Mission Road / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 744-1150

California School of Dog Grooming 655 S. Rancho Santa Fe Rd. / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 471-0787

Palomar Institute of Cosmetology 355 Via Vera Cruz / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (760) 744-7900

University of Phoenix 277 Rancheros Drive, Suite 200 / San Marcos, CA 92069 / (800) 473-4346