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Oceanside, California


by McCormack's Guides - 2005

COASTAL-INLAND city, famous for its connection to the Marine Corps but also known as a bedroom community. Most of the new housing has gone in and up – striking views – well in from the Pacific. Oceanside also attracts tourists. Population 173,307.

Located just south of Camp Pendleton, the large Marine base, Oceanside for most of its history was a Marine whoop-de-rah. Much different town now. Suburban. Third-most populous city in the county. About 25 percent of the city’s homes and apartments built in 1970s, and about one half between 1980 and 2000. Thus, about 75 percent of all housing is less than 35 years old. A lot of the new and still building. Some retirement housing south of Highway 78.

School rankings low, middle and high. Most children attend schools in the Oceanside District, which in 2000 passed a $125 million bond. The money is being used to upgrade 24 schools and build schools. Some kids attend school in Carlsbad and Vista school districts. About a dozen private schools, most of them small. Mira Costa Community College runs two campuses, the main one and an adult school that offers English classes and basic skills. Community colleges provide classes and activities at cheap prices and facilities (gyms, libraries, playing fields) of use to residents. The college and US San Diego run a learning center. Oceanside High recently opened a science-technology building.

Eight homicides in 2003, five in 2002, four in 2001, three in 2000. Four previous years 7, 8, 9, 10, 23, 15, 18, 16, 13, 11. In 2003 traffic stop, police officer slain; suspect arrested. Many parts of the city are suburban safe and compared to what it was 20 or 30 years ago, Oceanside is greatly improved.

Oceanside, residentially, can be divided roughly into three zones.

First, the beach and old downtown. Apartments, condos, homes, mobile homes. A few new, many old, almost all well-kept. Marina on north end. Hotels. Shops. Stores. Train station. Coffee shops. Motels. Restaurants. A resort neighborhood but many live here as well. Many homes have been remodeled or fixed up. Beach homes and condos command higher prices. With an eye to presenting a better image and making more money, many businesses have spruced up their appearances. But the Pacific Coast Highway, the main north-south road, retains much of its 1950s strip look. Movie houses have been closed or made into stores. One used for plays and musicals. More parking and upscale shopping on way, including, possibly, a Whole Foods Market.

Moving east, the next zone, some homes get older, some streets a little worn but a mix. Many nice sections. Homes built in 1950s and 1960s.

Going a little further east and to the last zone, the grid lines on the street systems of yesteryear twirl into suburban curls and almost suddenly the homes built in large tracts surrounded by open land, blossom into the very new. Much of Oceanside is flatlands or mesas, and the town has built both up and down. Many of the tract homes are spacious and well-appointed: walk-in closets, two-story, four bedrooms, three bathrooms, three-car garages. Many have great views of the Pacific. Some subdivisions are gated.

Big city, about size of San Francisco. Newer tracts are miles inland but the Pacific cools that land. One neighborhood jumps south of the east-west freeway, Highway 78. State in 2004 counted 62,730 housing units – 32,738 single-family detached, 8,221 single attached, 18,350 multiples, 3,421 mobile homes. Owner-occupied units outnumber rentals 62 percent to 38. Many families; those under 18 years make up 28 percent of town. Good chunk of retirees.

About 35 miles from downtown San Diego, a long commute. Oceanside is so far north that many residents commute to Orange and Los Angeles counties. Metrolink runs commuter trains to Orange and Los Angeles counties and downtown San Diego, with stops along the way. Under construction: passenger rail service rail service to Escondido. Wide arterials carry traffic to freeway access points. Short ride to Highway 78 to Escondido and Interstate 15.

Camp Pendleton is home to 33,000 Marines and 3,000 Navy personnel and employs about 4,000 civilians. It pumps over $2 billion annually into local economy. Children attend schools in their communities or at the four schools on base. About 2,000 acres of Oceanside have been zoned for light industry, about 1,000 for commercial. Biogen Idec in 2005 will open a manufacturing destination. Small airport in city; operations cut back but still complaints about noise. Many disagreements over developing waterfront. Shore promenade to be built, piece by piece.

About 20 parks, two swim centers, miles of beaches. Surfing, fishing, two golf courses, senior’s center, several community-recreation centers. Dog runs. Annual triathlon. Volleyball. Bowling. Skateboard park. Movies. Usual kiddie activities: baseball, basketball, gymnastics, tennis, kid and adult dance classes. Fitness classes. On Saturdays, kids and parents jam soccer fields. Several shopping centers. Wal-Mart. Trader Joe’s. Mix of restaurants, delis, coffee shops. Whale fest. Migrating whales can be seen from shore. Summer concerts. Surfing museum. Art museum. Mission Christmas Fair. Christmas Parade of Lights. Harbor Days Fair. Spanish mission, San Luis Rey, nicely restored. Chamber of commerce (760) 722-1534.

This information reprinted with the permission or McCormack's Guides Inc
For San Diego McCormick's Guides, contact me or click here for Guides of other areas.


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Oceanside Historical Timeline
Provided by the Oceanside Historical Society

  • 1798 Mission San Luis Rey Founded
  • 1815 Present day church building completed
  • 1834 Secularization of Mission property
  • 1860s Mission San Luis Rey falls into ruins
  • 1870s Township of San Luis Rey - early pioneer families move into valley
  • 1882 Railroad construction begins from Riverside to San Diego
  • 1883 Andrew Jackson Myers applies for Homestead Grant on what is now downtown Oceanside
  • 1886 First church built, the Congregational Church on First (Seagaze) and Ditmar
  • 1887 Bank of Oceanside is built along with the South Pacific Hotel
  • 1888 City of Oceanside incorporates July 3, 1888
  • First pier is built on the end of Couts street, now Wisconsin
  • First train depot is built
  • 1891 First pier destroyed by storm
  • 1894 Second pier built at the end of Third Street, now Pier View Way.
  • 1896 South Pacific Hotel burns down
  • 1903 Third pier built, using railroad steel as pilings
  • 1904 El San Luis Rey Hotel built
  • Oceanside Electric built below the bluff, provides electricity to downtown Oceanside
    and houses the Plunge
  • Dr. Robert S. Reid moves his family to Oceanside, longtime doctor who delivered
    most babies in North County for over three decades
  • Oceanside Library is established
  • 1906 Oceanside High School established
  • 1908 Great fleet passes through Oceanside
  • 1909 First graduating class of Oceanside High School
  • 1911 Rosicrucian Fellowship headquartered in Oceanside
  • 1913 Racing on beach from Oceanside to Del Mar
  • 1916 Flood hits San Diego County
  • 1917 First annual Bean Day
  • Hill Street is paved by Highway Commission
  • 1918 Influenza outbreak affects San Diego County, quarantine called
  • 1919 Prohibition begins, traffic from LA to TJ
  • 1924 Palomar Theater Opens
  • 1925 Old bank building torn down, new Bank of Oceanside built
  • 1927 4th pier built
  • 1928 Bank of Italy built
  • Strand paved
  • 1929 First Fire Station built, designed by Irving J. Gill
  • 1930 The Cottage Hospital opened on Second Street (Mission Ave) by Lillian Henman.
  • 1931 The Americanization School is built by Irving J. Gill
  • 1933 Oceanside Hospital is opened by Golda Lester Zahniser at 615 North Freeman Street
  • 1934 New City Hall built by Irving J. Gill
  • 1938 New Oceanside Hospital is built at Fourth (Civic Center Drive) and Summit
  • 1942 Navy takes over Rancho Santa Margarita, Camp Joseph H. Pendleton
  • 1946 War ends, troops return
  • Old Depot torn down, new Train Depot dedicated in December
  • 1947 5th pier built
  • 1950s South Oceanside neighborhoods built and development goes eastward
  • 1953 New Highway 101 opening
  • 1961 Tri City Hospital opened
  • 1963 Oceanside Small Craft Harbor
  • 1964 Cornerstone laid for new Junior College, to become Mira Costa College
  • 1966 Colonial Inn (formerly El San Luis Rey Hotel) torn down
  • 1969 Vietnam War protests
  • 1970s Heritage Park opened
  • 1987 6th Pier Opens, dedicated September 9th
  • Train Depot torn down, switching yards moved to Camp Pendleton
  • 1988 Centennial Celebration
  • 1990 New Oceanside Civic Center built by Charles W. Moore & Urban Innovations Group

Copyright © 2003
Oceanside Historical Society
P.O. Box 125, Oceanside CA 92049

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