Carlsbad City and Neighborhood Profile
by McCormack's Guides - 2005

PRETTY COASTAL city that extends well inland. A favorite address with middle-aged professionals and families. Population 92,995.

Golfers' heaven, not only because it has three courses, but because many golf research and manufacturer's firms have set up in Carlsbad. In the distant future, another municipal golf course. Legoland theme park mixes fun with education and with the beaches, golf, and lively downtown make Carlsbad a minor tourist destination. The city has about 28 hotels with 3,300 rooms.

Academics rankings generally among the tops in the state, many schools scoring in 80th and 90th percentiles. Indicates strong home support for education. New high school, Passed school bond in 1997.

Carlsbad rises from ocean to hills. Many homes with views. Flowers galore make for colorful springs. Airport in middle, around which cluster businesses and light industries. One of the biggest suburban cities in the county, about 80 percent the size of San Francisco. Plenty of room to add people and is doing just that. In the 1990s, Carlsbad increased its population by 24 percent and is still building, especially in its eastern hills and mesas.

Pioneering speculator dug well and found mineral waters that were believed to be health restoring. Named after Karlsbad, Germany, a spa town. The town has done a nice job of fixing up old Carlsbad and beach promenade.

Overall crime rate low. Four homicides in 2003, one in 2002, two in 2001, one in 2000, zero in 1999, two in 1998 and 1997, three in 1996, 1995 and 1994, five in 1993; for preceding years: two, six, four, three and three.

Carlsbad started 1970 with about 4,500 housing units - homes, apartments, mobile homes - about half of them erected in the 1960s. The 1970s saw the town take off: 8,200 housing units, mostly single homes. In the 1980s, developers added about 12,000 units, and in the 1990s, about 8,300. Fortunately, Carlsbad incorporated as a city in 1952 and this gave the local people control over planning before the town's boom years. The state in 2004 counted 39,269 housing units, of which 21,361 were single detached, 5,763 single attached, 10,854 multiples and 1,291 mobile homes. Owner-occupied homes outnumber rentals 67 percent to 33. Median age of residents is 39. Those under age 18 make up 23 percent of the population, those over 65 years, 14 percent. Rounded town, spread evenly across the age groups.

Carlsbad is essentially a city of four neighborhoods.

To the northwest, on the Pacific, is the old town, greatly expanded to the east by new subdivisions. Carlsbad, through re-development, overhauled this section, preserving what could be saved, including the train depot, several hotels and a Victorian restaurant, later renovated. On summer nights, the promenade is filled with strollers. At the nightclubs, jazz and other bands do their stuff. Restaurants. Shops. Sidewalk dining and cafes. A state park rungs along much of the shoreline; good access to beaches. Water, water everywhere. Buena Vista Lagoon on the north side of the downtown, Agua Hedionda Lagoon on the south.

In and about the downtown you will find the oldest homes in Carlsbad, mixed in with new. Some units are quite small, a few are rundown but for the most part, the homes and apartments complexes are well-kept. Streets are wide and laid out on a grid, the old style. Seniors housing.

Staying on the northern side but moving east of Interstate 5, the second neighborhood enters. It starts off with 1950s and 1960s housing and as you move east becomes newer and newer, especially east of El Camino Real. At this point, the terrain rises into hills with homes and apartments built over the last 25 years. This housing is aimed at the middle to upper-middle income but where the lot is choice and the views are sweeping, you will sometimes find large "executive" homes.

Carlsbad faces two directions, west toward the Pacific and east toward the valleys and mountains. Built over hills and mesas, the city has many view lots.

Driving the neighborhood, one of our reporters came across an elderly couple out for a walk. The woman carried a plastic bag. Every time they came across a piece of litter, the guy stooped over, picked it up and put it into the bag. OK, this doesn't sound like a big deal but this is why towns like Carlsbad hold and increase their value. The residents mow the lawns, plant the roses and lilies of the Nile, and do the painting and yes, pick up the streets. and get active in the schools, and so on. The little things add up to a big thing, and enjoyable community.

Regional shopping plaza at the north end of El Camino Real (movies, Sears, Macys, Pennys, Robinsons-May, Mervyns). Carlsbad also has a Costco and a Borders Books. Wal-Mart and discount warehouse stores in Oceanside. Trader Joe's in Encinitas.

For the third neighborhood, return to the ocean and drive south of the downtown and Agua Hediondo Lagoon and a power station. Single homes and apartments have been erected here but almost nothing on the beach (a park).

Moving east of the freeway, the apartments and condos continue, many of the well appointed and aimed upmarket. The median strip is landscaped, the grass is green, green, even at the height of summer. Poinsettia Park serves up playing fields and trails.

As you move inland, the land rises into hills and mesas with, in many instances, mesmerizing views of the Pacific and Batiguitos Lagoon. Alicante Road-El Fuerte Street offers one of the prettiest vistas in the county. In this section, you will find the Aviara Golf Course (with a Four Seasons Resort) and La Costa Country Club (two 18-hole golf courses). Big bucks. Big houses (on small lots). Lovely homes, custom designs. But if you drive a few blocks more modest homes show themselves, along with duplexes and condos (along Alga Road). If the street descends into a valley, the homes may be nice but not opulent. If the market cried for modest homes when the street was built, then developers often built to market demand. But there's a lot of money here. Down near the freeway, tiny shops have opened.

The fourth neighborhood clusters about the airport. Rare for a suburban city, Carlsbad has an unusually large number of local jobs, about 41,000. Many of them can be found in businesses around the airport. Many of them can be found in businesses built around the airport. Many are the type cities crave, high-tech and research. Cities love local jobs because it means sorter commutes for many residents, a stronger tax base, and a social mix that in subtle ways benevolently influences town life. Businesses often "adopt" schools or put up money for programs. They bring the outside world into conversation and community life.

Carlsbad is famous for its flowers, commercially grown. In the spring, the buttercups, gladioli and other flowers delight the eye. And pleased by the attention (and visitors, about 150,000), the town is brightening winter with a feast of poinsettias. Every year, about 7,000 students are taken to the flower fields and given a demonstration on how flowers grow.

If you're lucky enough to hole a local job, the commute's a cinch. If you work in downtown San Diego, 30-35 miles to the south, and drive ... our sympathies. Rail service to downtown San Diego and to points north. Called the Coaster. Two stations in town.

Check out plane noise. Although small, the Carlsbad airport has 255,000 takeoffs and landings annually. Some people find the noise irritating between 10pm and 6am but apparently some pilots land anyhow, or stray off course as they approach airport, which is built on a mesa. Commute service to Los Angeles International and to Phoenix. Helicopter noise off coast.

Amusements plentiful - about 20 parks, 8 playgrounds, 21 public tennis courts, 5 recreation halls, 2 gyms, public swimming pool. Usual sports: soccer, baseball, football, etc. And the unusual: lawn bowling, annual triathlon. Children's museum. Boys and Girls Club. Oktoberfest. Fish hatchery releases about 100,000 sea bass into Southern California waters. Library opened in 1999 in La Costa neighborhood. Main library in downtown was renovated; famed for its genealogy collection. Skate park. Tow "Village Fairs" every year, each draws about 80,000 visitors. Some homeowners associations field pools and rec centers.

Outdoor kind of town. If the weather is good, and most times it is, you will on the weekends, mornings and evenings find hundreds jogging, walking or biking the coastal trails and in the evening catching the sunset. annual foot race draws 10,000.

A second swim complex to open in 2006. It will include three pools, a slide, tot play yards and a "lazy river" - float around a slow current. Even though city budgets get hammered by the stat's financial crisis, carlsbad might do OK because it has a hotel tax that raises, in some years, about $9 million.

In or near Carlsbad are about 10 golf courses. Driving range. Several tournaments draw the top pros in golf. About 30 firms manufacture golf equipment and clothing. One duffer calls Carlsbad the "Silicon Valley of Golf."

Most children attend the schools of the Carlsbad Unified School District. Students on the south side attend schools in the Encinitas Elementary District and move up to schools in the Encinitas Elementary District and move up to schools of the San Dieguito district. Call school district to find out your local school. More schools are opening as population increases. All but a few schools serving the town are scoring in the top 10 percent. La Costa Canyon High School, located on the south side, opened in 1996. It includes library, performing arts center, two-story gym. Views of hills. La Costa Canyon High is part of the San Dieguito Union High School District. Carlsbad High is located in the Carlsbad district.

Voters in 1997 approved a $27 million bond for the Carlsbad School District to renovate and modernize facilities. About $9 million of the money was spent on adding classrooms nd gym space to Carlsbad High School. Aviara Oaks Middle School was opened in 1998, Pacific Rim Elementary in 1999. Jefferson Elementary was rebuilt and equipped with computers. magnolia Elementary added a multimedia center and a library.

Besides public schools, Carlsbad has six private schools, one of them an Army-Navy academy. Also has a gem (precious stones) school with a large library open to the public. Chamber of commerce (760) 931-8400. Updates:

  • Legoland hopes to attract about 2 million visitors annually. Most exhibits are aimed
    at kids age 2 to 12.
  • If you want to coach basketball or if your kid wants to play, you have to watch a video on sportsmanship - an effort to get the adults to behave.
  • Another middle school to open in 2005 in northeast side of town.
  • Ambitious. Within the next five years, Carlsbad hopes to add four parks and a golf course.
  • Motorcross-drag raceway closed in 2004 and moved to Mt. Palomar.
  • Don't feed the ducks. Carlsbad trying to protect wildlife in lagoons.

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.


Where else would you find a seaside community that is small enough to have village charm yet large enough to be a world-class business environment? A community with near-perfect weather and two world-class resorts. A city that supports economic development yet sets aside 40 percent of its land for open space. A community that has attracted an international theme park and has become the golf capital of the world. A community served by two freeways, a commuter train, good bus service and the busiest single-runway airport in the nation. A great place to live, with miles of beaches, a wide variety of housing options, terrific shopping, a world-class public library and good schools.

Where else but Carlsbad, California?

Fortune Magazine rated Carlsbad as one of the nation’s five best places to retire. "An affordable Southern California dream lifestyle is still available in about one place: Carlsbad," the magazine boasted in August, 1997. Fortune pointed out that our community has ample open space, a low crime rate, a near-perfect climate, smog-free ocean breezes, and is not in an earthquake fault zone.

Carlsbad’s population has grown considerably as more and more people become acquainted with the area. In fact, the population has increased five-fold since 1960, but the city’s award-winning Growth Management Plan ensures that the city retains its small-town charm.

Despite Fortune calling us a retirement haven, Carlsbad has a relatively young population, with a median age of 37.7, and 78 percent of residents under age 55.

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