Doing Business In San Diego


San Diego County is a county located on the Pacific Ocean in the far southwest of the U.S. state of California, United States along its border with Mexico. According to the 2000 Census, its population was 2,813,833, making it the third largest county by population in the state and the sixth largest in the country. The state of California estimates its population as of 2007 to be 3,098,269 people, increasing its rank to second place, ahead of Orange County.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 4,526 mi² (11,721 km²). 4,200 mi² (10,878 km²) of it is land and 326 mi² (843 km²) of it (7.20%) is water.

The City of San Diego is the county seat of San Diego County.  As of 2005, the city has a population of 1,256,951.  It is the second largest city in California and the eighth largest city in the United States.  It is the county seat of San Diego County and is the economic center of the San Diego–Carlsbad–San Marcos metropolitan area, the 17th-largest metro area in the U.S. with a population of 2.9 million as of 2006, and the 21st largest Metropolitan area in the Americas when including Tijuana.  San Diego County lies just north of the Mexican border—sharing a border with Tijuana—and lies south of Orange County.  It is home to miles of beaches, a mild Mediterranean climate and 16 military facilities hosting the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard and the United States Marine Corps.


Several areas of San Diego (in particular La Jolla and surrounding Sorrento Valley areas) are home to offices and research facilities for numerous biotechnology companies. Major biotechnology companies like Neurocrine Biosciences and Nventa Biopharmaceuticals are headquartered in San Diego, while many biotech and pharmaceutical companies, such as BD Biosciences, Biogen Idec, Merck, Pfizer, Élan, Genzyme, Celgene and Vertex, have offices or research facilities in San Diego. There are also several non-profit biotech institutes, such as the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the Scripps Research Institute and the Burnham Institute. The presence of University of California, San Diego and other research institutions helped fuel biotechnology growth. In June 2004, San Diego was ranked the top biotech cluster in the U.S. by the Milken Institute.

San Diego is home to other technology companies.  Qualcomm Incorporated was founded and is headquartered in San Diego; Qualcomm is the largest private-sector technology employer (excluding hospitals) in San Diego County.  Other companies also have research and development labs in San Diego, principally focused on cloning Qualcomm's CDMA cellular technology.  The largest software company in San Diego (acccording to the San Diego Business Journal) is security software company Websense Inc. Websense was founded and is headquartered in San Diego.  Due to San Diego's military influence, major national defense contractors, such as General Atomics and Science Applications International Corporation are headquartered in San Diego.

The economy of San Diego is influenced by its port, which includes the only major submarine and shipbuilding yards on the West Coast, as well as the largest naval fleet in the world.  The cruise ship industry, which is the second largest in California, generates an estimated $2 million annually from the purchase of food, fuel, supplies, and maintenance services.


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,223,400 people, 450,691 households, and 271,315 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,771.9 people per square mile (1,456.4/km²).  Population by race/ethnicity (Census 2000 def.) Hispanic/Latino (25.4%)*The majority of Hispanics in San Diego are born in the USA, and are of Mexican ancestry (US Census 2000 confirmed)* non-Hispanic White alone (52.3%) non-Hispanic Black (7.9%) non-Hispanic Other Race alone (0.2%) non-Hispanic Asian, Hawaiian and Pacific Islander alone (10.4%) non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native alone (0.4%) non-Hispanic Multiracial (3.3%).

San Diego also has a large gay population and gay culture. San Diego has the largest gay index in Southern California, surpassing Los Angeles.  Most of the gay community is located in Hillcrest and surrounding neighborhoods of University Heights and North Park.

There were 451,126 households out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% were non-families. 28.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.30.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.0% under the age of 18, 12.4% from 18 to 24, 34.0% from 25 to 44, 19.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 101.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.4 males.

Downtown San DiegoThe median income for a household in the city was $45,733, and the median income for a family was $53,060. Males had a median income of $36,984 versus $31,076 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,609. About 10.6% of families and 14.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.0% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over.

According to estimates on January 1, 2006 by the San Diego Association of Governments, the median household income and population have slightly increased from the year 2000. The population of San Diego is estimated to be 1,311,162, up 7.2% from 2000, and median household income is estimated to be $47,816 (when adjusted for inflation in 1999 dollars), up 5.9% from 2000.  According to the U.S. Census 2004 American Community Survey, San Diego city had the fifth largest median household income of places with a population of 250,000 or more.  The population as of January 2007 was above 1.3 million.

According to estimates by the San Diego Association of Governments, in the year 2030, San Diego will have a larger population, a larger median household income, and a substantially different ethnic population. The city will have a median household income (when adjusted for inflation in 1999 dollars) of $59,300, up 29% from 2000, and will have a population of 1,656,257, up 35% from 2000. Several large ethnic groups will substantially increase their population, such as the Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population that will increase 339% from 5,311 people in 2000 to 23,342 in 2030, the Hispanic population that will increase 133% from 258,165 in 2000 to 601,906 in 2030, and the Asian population that will increase 73% from 164,895 in 2000 to 285,723 in 2030. Despite the 35% population increase from 2000 to 2030, the population of non-Hispanic white people will decrease 8% from 603,892 in 2000 to 553,682 in 2030 and the population of black people will decrease 9% from 92,830 in 2000 to 84,626 in 2030.


Many popular museums, such as the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Museum of Man, and the Museum of Photographic Arts are located Balboa Park. The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is located in an ocean front building in La Jolla and has a branch located at the Santa Fe Depot downtown. The Colombia district downtown is home to historic ship exhibits as well as the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum featuring the USS Midway aircraft carrier.

San Diego has a growing art scene. "Kettner Nights" at the Art and Design District in Little Italy has art and design exhibitions throughout many retail design stores and galleries on selected Friday nights. "Ray at Night" at North Park host a variety of small scale art galleries on the second Saturday evening of each month. La Jolla and nearby Solana Beach also have a variety of art galleries.

The San Diego Symphony at Symphony Towers performs on a regular basis and is directed by Jahja Ling. The San Diego Opera at Civic Center Plaza was ranked by Opera America as one of the top 10 opera companies in the United States. Old Globe Theatre at Balboa Park produces about 15 plays and musicals annually. The La Jolla Playhouse at UCSD is directed by Christopher Ashley. The Joan B. Kroc Theatre at Kroc Center's Performing Arts Centeris is a 600-seat state-of-the-art theatre that hosts music, dance and theatre performances. The San Diego Repertory Theatre at the Lyceum Theatres in Horton Plaza produces a variety of plays and musicals. Serving the northeastern part of San Diego is the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, a 400-seat performing arts theater.

Tourism has affected the city's culture, as San Diego houses many tourist attractions, such as SeaWorld San Diego, Belmont amusement park, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, and nearby Legoland. San Diego's Spanish influence can be seen in the many historic sites across the city, such as the Spanish missions and Balboa Park. Cuisine in San Diego is diverse, and there is an abundance of wood fired California-style pizzas, and Mexican and East Asian cuisine. Annual events in San Diego include Comic-Con, San Diego/Del Mar Fair, and Street Scene Music Festival.


San Diego was once a Republican stronghold, and a strong ally for former president Richard Nixon, supporting both his runs at the presidency. However, in recent years, San Diego has become a moderate leaning Democratic city with an influx of immigrants from Latin America and Asia, and a shift in employment away from jobs in the military, toward telecommunications and biotech. Currently, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 7 to 6. Despite the edge in voter registration for Democrats, the current mayor, Jerry Sanders, is a Republican, and San Diego has not elected a Democratic mayor since 1988. However, Democrats hold a 5-3 majority in the city council, including the current Council President, Scott Peters, a moderate Democrat who often sides with the mayor. Fifty-five percent of the city of San Diego voted for Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, though the county as a whole voted for Republican George W. Bush.

Real Estate

San Diego has experienced dramatic growth of real estate prices in the last decade, to the extent that the current situation is sometimes described as a "housing affordability crisis". Median house prices more than tripled between 1998 and 2007. According to the California Association of Realtors,[15] in May 2007, a median house in San Diego cost $612,370. Growth of real estate prices has not been accompanied by comparable growth of household incomes: housing affordability index (percentage of households that can afford to buy a median-priced house) fell below 20% in early 2000's and remains very low. San Diego metropolitan area has second worst median multiple (ratio of median house price to median household income) of all metropolitan areas in the United States. As a consequence, San Diego has been experiencing negative net migration since 2004, with significant numbers of people moving to Baja California and Riverside county, with many residents commuting daily from Tijuana, Temecula, and Murrieta, to their jobs in San Diego. Others are leaving the state altogether and moving to more affordable regions.



With the automobile being the primary means of transportation for over 80 percent of its residents,[27] San Diego is served by an extensive network of freeways and highways. This includes Interstates 5, which runs south to Tijuana and runs north to the Canadian border through Orange County, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Portland, and Seattle; I-8, which runs east to Imperial County and Arizona; I-15, which runs north to the Canadian border through Riverside County and Salt Lake City; and I-805, which splits from I-5 at Sorrento Valley and rejoins I-5 near the Mexican border. Notable state highways are CA-94, which connects downtown with I-805, I-15 and east county; CA-163, which connects downtown with the northeast part of the city, intersects I-805 and merges with I-15 at Miramar; CA-52, which connects La Jolla with east county through Santee and CA-125; CA-56, which connects I-5 with I-15 through Carmel Valley and Rancho Peñasquitos; and CA-75 (San Diego-Coronado Bridge), which spans San Diego Bay.

Several regional transportation projects have been undertaken in recent years to deal with congestion on San Diego freeways. This includes expansion of Interstates 5 and 805 around "The Merge," a rush-hour spot where the two freeways meet. Also, an expansion of Interstate 15 through the North County is underway with the addition of high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) "managed lanes". A tollway (The South Bay Expressway) connecting CA-54 and Otay Mesa, near the Mexican border, is also under construction and is expected to open in 2007. According to a 2007 assessment, only 37 percent of streets in San Diego are in acceptable driving condition and Mayor Jerry Sanders' proposed budget falls 84.6 million short of bringing the city's streets to an acceptable level.

Public Transportation

Less than three percent of San Diego residents use mass transit. San Diego is served by the trolley, bus, Coaster, and Amtrak. The trolley (system map) primarily serves downtown and surrounding urban communities, Mission Valley, east county and coastal south bay. A planned Mid-Coast line will operate from Old Town to University City along the 5 Freeway. There are also plans for a Silver Line to expand trolley service downtown.

The Amtrak and Coaster trains currently run along the coastline and connect San Diego with Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura via MetroLink. There are three Amtrak stations in San Diego, in Sorrento Valley, Old Town, and Union Station (downtown).

The bus is available along almost all major routes, however a large number of bus stops are concentrated in central San Diego. Typical wait times vary from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the location and route. Trolleys arrive every 7 to 30 minutes (depending on time of day and which trolley line is used). Ferries are also available every half hour crossing San Diego Bay to Coronado.


San Diego International Airport, also known as Lindbergh International Airport or Lindbergh Field, is the primary commercial airport serving San Diego. It is the busiest single-runway airport in the nation, serving over 17 million passengers every year, and is located on San Diego Bay three miles from downtown. It has scheduled services all over the USA, Mexico, Hawaii, and Canada and serves as a focus city for Southwest Airlines. Other airports include Brown Field Municipal Airport (Brown Field) and Montgomery Field (Montgomery Field). Tijuana International Airport can be used to make connections within Mexico and Japan.

There is currently debate regarding the placement of a new international airport. While the San Diego Airport Authority is pushing for the current site of the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, the military says it has no intention of giving up that site. A vote on the issue took place on November 7, 2006 against Proposition A, in which voters rejected the proposal to move the airport to Miramar.[31] The military has rejected the proposals for a dual-use airport because the area around Miramar has already been set aside as safety corridors for military aircraft accidents. A shared commercial/military airport would force military aircraft to fly outside of those safety corridors.

Sea Ports

The Port of San Diego manages the maritime operations of San Diego harbor. Cruise ships arrive and depart from San Diego's cruise ship terminal at the foot of Broadway downtown. Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Celebrity Cruises have home port cruise ships in San Diego during the Winter season. Popular cruise destinations include Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska and the Caribbean via the Panama Canal. An additional cruise terminal at Embarcadero Circle is set to open in 2010. San Diego's port also manages a significant cargo operation which includes imports from South America, vehicle imports from Germany, Italy and Japan, and other trade operations.

San Diego is home to General Dynamics' National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), the largest shipyard on the West Coast of the United States. It is capable of building and repairing large ocean-going vessels. The yard constructs commercial cargo ships and auxiliary vessels for the U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command, which it has served since 1960.


San Diego County has varied topography. On its western side is seventy miles of coastline. Snow-capped mountains rise to the northeast, with the Sonoran Desert to the far east. The Cleveland National Forest is in the northeast portion of the county.  North San Diego County is known locally as "North County", including the northern suburbs and some northern neighborhhods of the City of San Diego.  The eastern suburbs are collectively known as "East County," though they are in fact closer to the center of the county. The southern suburbs and southern detached portion of the City of San Diego, extending to the Mexican border, is collectively referred to as "South Bay."

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San Diego Fire Victims

Headline News
City Websites
San Diego Business Journal
City of San Diego Services
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