History of Tierrasanta

Tierrasanta - one of the first master planned communities in San Diego!

Tierrasanta was originally part of the Mission San Diego de Alcalá ranch, which was active during the late 18th and 19th centuries.

1941. The U.S. military purchased the land in 1941 as Camp Elliott, a Marine Corps training facility.

1944. The Marines moved out and the land was transferred to the Navy.

1946. Deactivated in 1946.

1961. The U.S. Government sold the area that is now Tierrasanta and a portion of neighboring Mission Trails Regional Park to the City of San Diego.

1962. The Elliott Community Plan was issued to serve as a roadmap for development.

1971. Tierrasanta was founded.

1982. The current Tierrasanta community plan was issued, and included both the currently developed area and much of what is now Mission Trails Regional Park.
By 1982 approximately one-half of the private residential area had been developed, with the area called Tierrasanta Norte, in the northeastern part of town, being one of the locations still to  be developed.

1990's.  Tierrasanta has been fully built out since the early 1990s,

2000. Population reached 30,187 (ZIP code 92124).

Significant Events:

  • Because of the area's history as a military training base, some military debris including unexploded ordnance remained in the area when it was developed, in spite of multiple cleanup efforts by different branches of the services. In 1983 two 8-year-old Tierrasanta boys were killed after discovering unexploded ordnance in a canyon near their home. The Navy performed surface clearance operations in 1984 and 1985. Between 1990 and 1995 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers removed several tons of ordnance and debris under its FUDS (Formerly Used Defense Sites) program. The Corps continues to monitor the area.
  • In October 2003, Tierrasanta, among other communities in San Diego, was affected by what was known as "Firestorm 2003." This was a conglomeration of the Cedar Fire and numerous other wildfires that converged on Southern California. The residents of Tierrasanta were forced to evacuate. Nearly a dozen homes were lost to the blaze. Shortly after, in 2004, the Tierrasanta Community Emergency Response Team (T-CERT) was created for rapid local response to natural disasters. A similar scare swept through Tierrasanta in the fall of 2007, though residents were not required to evacuate.

Tierrasanta is situated like an island, not directly bordered by any other community. It is bounded on the north by the Hwy 52 Freeway and the sprawling southern fields of MCAS Miramar; on the east by the 5,800-acre Mission Trails Regional Park, which has numerous hiking and mountain biking trails; on the west by bluffs bordering the Interstate 15 corridor, and on the south by steep canyons overlooking the San Diego River and Mission Valley. Community activities focus on the Tierrasanta Recreation Center, which includes lighted sports fields, a large swimming pool, tennis courts, a gymnasium, and meeting rooms. Numerous green belts with walking paths run through the canyons of Tierrasanta. The community has tree-lined streets and a secluded "small town" atmosphere, though it is centrally located with a 20 minute drive to downtown San Diego.