DEL MAR MESA HISTORY
(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) 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 Knecktel, Nieman (aka Neimann and
Niemann), Barnhardt, Rimbach, Mecklenseck, Davies and Ginter. With several
exceptions, the location of dwellings associated with these families has not been
The Knecktel, 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 Knecktels 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.
DEL MAR MESA SPECIFIC 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
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.