What’s in a Del Mar name?

By Gordon Clanton

I see that the Del Mar Heights Village shopping center has been renamed “Beachside Del Mar,” even though it is not beside the beach and not in the City of Del Mar (“by the sea”). This kind of location fudging is an old tradition in this area. The Old Del Mar Café at Flower Hill was not old and was not in Del Mar.

Since cityhood in 1959, Del Mar residents have watched the name “Del Mar” spread to the east – to Del Mar Hills and Heights in the 1960s and then across the freeway to Carmel Valley since the 1980s. In a column from that time, I joked that a new housing development called “East Del Mar Uplands” soon would be built on the western slopes of Black Mountain by the “Panzer Development Corp.” By drawing its boundaries so narrowly, tiny Del Mar ceded control of its undeveloped eastern environs.

Businesses east of I-5 love to associate themselves with Del Mar. Carmel Valley includes neighborhoods and tall commercial buildings and hotels with Del Mar in their names. Both the Del Mar Country Club and the Grand Del Mar Hotel and Resort are several miles inland.

I read recently about a development called, “The Heights at Del Mar . . . located [on] El Camino Real in the epicenter of Del Mar Heights.” In fact, this address is not in Del Mar Heights and certainly not at its center, epic or otherwise.

Some of the confusion is rooted in the oddity that more than half the people who receive mail at Del Mar 92014 do not live in the City of Del Mar. The 1959 incorporation included only the houses then connected to the Del Mar water system, so nearly all the homes built in Del Mar 92014 since that time lie outside the city limits. For voting and tax purposes most are part of San Diego. When Del Mar incorporated, the Del Mar Terrace neighborhood voted to become part of San Diego, then expanding its borders north to the Wild Animal Park.

Stranger still, the 92014 ZIP includes a part of Solana Beach just north of the Flower Hill shopping center. San Andres Drive and Sun Valley Road have Del Mar addresses.

All these anomalies are confusing to visitors, newcomers, and in-car navigation systems, but a source of amusement for locals.

Gordon Clanton teaches Sociology at San Diego State University.

He welcomes comments at