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(Excerpted from the Del Mar Mesa Specific Plan approved by San Diego City Council in 1997. For full text)

The Del Mar Mesa Specific Plan was approved in 1997, in concert with the MHPA (Multiple Species Habitat Plan) for the mesa and surrounds.


Historical sites within Del Mar Mesa represent components of a farming

settlement in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Visual reminders of the former

agricultural settlement include remnants of eucalyptus groves and scatters of

surface artifacts. Although farmsteads were widely spaced throughout this area,

the early settlers shared community interests based on social and economic

endeavors. Carmel Valley provided the main avenue of travel and transportation

to Del Mar, which was the nearest community. With completion of a railway

passing through Del Mar in the early 1880s, the local farmers were provided with

a means of transporting goods to a broader market than that offered by sea


The 1884 United States Geological Survey (USGS) map reveals that much of the

land adjacent to and within Del Mar Mesa was owned by members of the

McGonigle family. Buildings and features associated with the McGonigles

include a house, cabin, fence, field and county road. Evidence of additional

settlement by 1891 is provided by school records available for the years 1891

through 1910. Certain family names that appear consistently in the Soledad

District records during the early years are Knechtel brothers (Anton & Frank),

Nieman (aka Neimann and Niemann), Barnhardt, Rimbach, Mecklenseck,

Davies and Ginter. Anton Knechtel's grave can be found in the hills in this area

even today.  With severalexceptions, the location of dwellings associated with

these families has not been determined.


The Knechtel, Mecklenseck and Neimann families proved to be long-term

residents of the area. All were associated with farming activities in Shaw Valley

and on Del Mar Mesa. Three generations of Knechtels have farmed Carmel

Valley and Shaw Valley and several members of the family continue to live in the

area. The Mecklensecks farmed land in Shaw Valley and on the mesa. As with

other farmers in the area, they practiced dry farming and in later years had an egg

business which remained in operation until 1984. The Neimanns built their home

on Del Mar Mesa in 1895. They were among the first in this area to plant orchards

on their farmstead. A 1928 aerial photograph depicts the orchards to the north and

northwest of a complex of buildings. The Neimann home remains intact as a

component of the Carmel Valley Ranch.

In the 1950s, there appears to have been a brief endeavor to establish communal

living on Del Mar Mesa. Also, during the 1950s, the City of San Diego developed

a program, in concert with landowners, to build dams to reduce flooding in

Carmel Valley. Many of the dams have since been destroyed. In the 1960s and

1970s, the general area attracted a number of horse farms which are now well



On October 1, 1992, the City Council adopted the Framework Plan for the

North City Future Urbanizing Area as an amendment to the General Plan. Because of

the increase in densities, approval by the voters was necessary.


The Framework Plan is the overall policy document for Del Mar Mesa while the specific plan

is intended to provide further detail regarding implementation of this plan.



The Framework Plan envisioned low-density residential development for Del Mar Mesa,

with densities ranging from 0.8 dwelling units/gross acre in the northwest quadrant of the

subarea to 0.2 dwelling unit/gross acre in the southwest quadrant (see Figure 4). A small local

mixed-use center was also shown which included multifamily development. The eastern half

of the Del Mar Mesa was designated as open space. A total of 840 dwelling units

(550 single-family and 290 multifamily) were shown for Subarea V in the Framework Plan.

In March 1994, the City Council approved the placement of a phase shift vote for areas in the

Future Urbanizing Area, including Del Mar Mesa, on the June 1994 general election ballot.

This phase shift measure was rejected by the voters.


In response, City staff, Del Mar Mesa property owners and citizen groups met in the fall of 1994

to explore alternatives that would allow economically feasible development and maximize the

retention of an interconnected open space system without the need for a phase shift prior

to implementation.

As a result of the failure of the ballot measure, and property owner input, City staff recognized

that comprehensive planning in the NCFUA faced a highly uncertain future, and proposed,

therefore, the specific planning process as an alternative to subarea plan preparation.

Ultimately, the City Council directed City staff to assume the lead in the preparation of a specific plan.

The Del Mar Mesa Specific Plan was originally adopted in 1997 and amended in 2000.


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