Located at the heart of metropolitan San Diego is City Heights, a neighborhood of some 91,000 people (2011 census) covering some 5.8 square miles. City Heights’ borders are formed by 54th Street in the east, Interstate 805 in the west, Martin Luther King Freeway in the south and Mission Valley in the north. The community’s main commercial arteries are Fairmount Ave. and University Ave.
City Heights got its start in the 1880s when property developers Abraham Klauber and Samuel Steiner bought unincorporated land in the area with the intention of creating a residential settlement. The development was successful in attracting buyers and the population boomed. Eventually, the area was incorporated as the City of East San Diego in 1912 before being annexed into the city of San Diego in 1923. Boundary Street, today located beyond east City Height’s was the historical boundary between San Diego proper and the former City of East San Diego.
While City Heights was a major commercial center for much of its history, it began to stagnate and decline in the 1960s and beyond. Redevelopment efforts started in the 1990s and 2000s have done much to restore the community to its former glory – today City Heights is a model of San Diego’s “Smart Growth” planning policies.
City Heights is not only San Diego’s most diverse neighborhoods, but might very well be one of the most racially diverse residential communities in the entire country. The area is home to a large vibrant mix of South Asian, North African, Hispanic and South East Asian communities. Businesses and commercial outlets in City Heights tend to be smaller and more spread out over certain neighborhoods – often serving and owned by members of local immigrant communities.
Since many businesses are spread out throughout the community, City Heights is a pedestrian-friendly community – everything you need is typically within walking distance from your front door. Cyclists and other two-wheeled vehicles are a common sight in many City Heights neighborhoods. Residents can also take advantage of the many convenient mass transportation available services available in the busy University Avenue transit corridor. Parts of City Heights are covered by the San Diego Trolley Orange Line.
One big reason for City Height’s popularity among immigrant communities and newcomers to San Diego is the lower than average house prices in the area. Real estate development in City Heights is a mix of multi-residential units and single-family homes. Non-residential developments intend to cluster around the main commercial thoroughfares of Fairmount Avenue, El Cajon Boulevard, University Avenue and Euclid Avenue.