Much of the history of San Diego County housing has been one of master-plans, including Rancho Bernardo, Scripps Ranch, Carmel Valley, Tierrasanta, 4S Ranch, Mira Mesa and Rancho Peñasquitos.
Master-plans are typically undeveloped areas that are transformed into new communities that include a mix of residential, commercial and places to work. The area is built out in phases and are designed with the hope that residents can live and work in the area.
Real estate consultant Gary London said from the 1970s to 1990s the bulk of new housing came in the form of master-plan communities — mainly up the Interstate 15 and Interstate 5 corridors.
He said a lot of the talk these days is about building dense developments that can accommodate a lot of people, but that is only a recent shift in thinking.
“The way most San Diegans still find themselves housed today are new master-plan communities,” London said, “where to accommodate our growth we built out instead of up.”
He said the difference now is San Diego County is running out of land and voters don’t like new housing projects. A recent example was the proposed Lilac Hills Ranch project that would have included more than 1,700 homes in what is mostly farmland in Valley Center. The plan was soundly defeated by voters in November.
The first big master-plan community in San Diego County outside of downtown was Rancho Bernardo, now the northernmost residential community in the city of San Diego.
The community went from mainly rugged ranchland to 2,000 people in about a year, said the Rancho Bernardo Historical Society. According to the most-recent San Diego Association of Governments data, there was an estimated 50,268 people living there in 2016.