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Escondido sees a bright and creative future

Escondido, which means "hidden" in Spanish, officially became a city in 1888, and two years later the farming community had only 541 residents, according to the Escondido History Center. Now it is the fourth most populous city in San Diego County, with more than 147,000 people.

Escondido is comprised of four Zip codes and home prices vary with the neighborhood. In 2011 median price for single-family home was $406,500 in Escondido's western 92029 Zip code. In Escondido's eastern Zip 92027, a single-family home was $265,000. In the northern Zip 92026, the median was $301,250. In the southern Zip 92025, the median was $295,000.

Located in the low hills of northern San Diego County, Escondido is looking toward a bright future. There's the new 11-story Palomar Pomerado Medical Center in southwest Escondido that's scheduled to open in 2012, for one thing.

Escondido's Grand Avenue
LEFT: Grand Avenue was awash in classic cars on Friday nights in summer during Cruisin' Grand, a cultural event that brings business to local shops and restaurants .RIGHT: A band performed in Grape Day Park in downtown Escondido during one of many community events held there. Photo by Ron Ham.

If the City Council approves, Marriott will soon begin construction of a 196-room hotel next to the California Center for the Arts, in hopes of bringing new life to downtown.Then there's the 9,000-seat baseball park that the city may build for a minor league team affiliated with the Padres. The $50 million project on city property southeast of Interstate 15 and state Route 78 could spur redevelopment in the area.

California Center for the Arts, Escondido blip
The California Center for the Arts.

Many events and activities are also held in the concert hall, theater, conference center, visual arts museum, children's museum and studios at The California Center for the Arts. The annual performance season is filled with world-class artists from around the globe. From classical to comedic, there is a variety of musical and dramatic experiences for all.

Talk with Wendy Wilson, whose great-grandparents moved to Escondido in the 1880s, and she'll tell you something else positive. The local arts community is thriving, she said, and that's also a good thing for the city's future. "Artists are a resource, like any other industry, and it's important to nurture them at all levels of development," she said, from commercial artists and interior designers to painters and film makers.
"Escondido is like the fertile soil for artists," said Wilson, who is executive director of the Escondido Arts Partnership's Municipal Gallery.

House in Escondido blip
The median price for single-family homes in North County Inland was $360,000 in 2011 according to DataQuick..

Though the long valley amid rocky hills has been known for its avocado and citrus orchards, the main employers in the diverse local economy nowadays are the retail, construction and health care industries, says the city's Web site. Sales tax revenue has provided up to 40 percent of the city's operating budget, and a lot of that money comes through the Westfield North County shopping mall and Escondido Auto Park.

Commuting elsewhere for jobs can be a hassle, because the freeways are often congested during rush hours. That problem has been eased a bit by commuter lanes on I-15 and the Sprinter passenger rail line along SR 78.

Sprinter blip
The Sprinter light rail line operates from Escondido to Oceanside with stops along the way including Cal State University, San Marcos.

It's just a few minutes drive to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, about a half-hour to the mountains, the ocean and Temecula, and just a little farther to the desert. That said, there's plenty to do without leaving town, from fishing at Dixon Reservoir and hiking at Daley Ranch to walking the Old Escondido Historic District and checking out downtown's classic car displays on Friday nights during summer.


map link to Escondido, CA


Escondido neighborhood profile blip

Lake Hodges Dam overflows to a snappy banjo tune