University City, San Diego, California
The campus of theÂ University of California, San Diego, from which the area derives its name, is to the west of the center of the neighborhood. Many of the professors teaching at UCSD live in the U.C. neighborhood.
There are two distinct parts of University City divided by Rose Canyon, featuring the Rose Canyon Open Space preserve, and railroad tracks passing through it. South of Rose Canyon lies the older part of University City, built in the 1960s and historically referred to as University Square, centered on Governor Drive.Â It is a mostly residential neighborhood along Governor Drive with many single family homes. Just southwest of the Governor Drive exit from I-805 is a commercially zoned area containing office parks with low-rise buildings. South UC was developed primarily in the 1960s and 70s.
The newer part of University City lies north of Rose Canyon; it is usually referred to as University Towne Centre (UTC). The entire area has also been nicknamed the “Golden Triangle” by commercial developers.
The topography of University City includes mesas and canyons such as Rose Canyon, San Clemente Canyon, and finger canyons that provide much of the open space. The canyons provide wildlife habitats with about 100 bird species migrating through the area plus natural views and opportunities for hiking, biking, and birding. The canyons are fire-managed and thus present small wildfire risks. In addition, motorists drive around the canyons, with I-5, Genessee Ave, and the I-805 being about 1 mile apart from each other.
University City’s Neighbors Include:
- to the south:Â Clairemont
- to the west:Â La Jolla
- to the east: Miramar andÂ Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
- to the north:Â Sorrento ValleyÂ and Sorrento Mesa
The wildlife in Rose Canyon has over 99 species of birds including theÂ California Gnatcatcher, which is considered endangered and is listed federally as a threatened species.
UTC is primarily condo and apartment complexes with a cluster of hotels and high rise office buildings with mostly financial services as tenants.
Besides containing three local shopping centers, there is also a large regional shopping mall referred to as UTC. ThisÂ University Towne CenterÂ shopping mallÂ is located near the center of University City. It is anchored byÂ Sears,Â NordstromÂ andÂ Macy’s. UTC also has some parks, an elementary school, and police and fire stations. The north-eastern mesas of University City started to be developed for industrial and corporate use in 1991, and are home to several biotech, computer and financial companies. The northern part of University City also contains two major hospitals, Scripps Memorial and UCSD’s Thornton Hospital, with surrounding medical office buildings. North UC was developed primarily in the 1980s and 90s, and rapid growth and development continue.
Housing prices had increased up to the mid 2000s along with the rest of San Diego, and there had been a strong drive to convert apartments to condos.
There is also a demographic divide between UTC (North) and South UC. Residents of South UC tend to be homeowners with a large population of retired persons, partly due to a retirement community (Town Park Villas) east and south of Genesee. UTC which consists primarily of condominiums and townhouses, tends to be younger – young professionals, college graduates and university students. Also, more of the population of North UC rent rather than own their homes. There are several UCSD-owned off-campus housing projects for graduate students.
The Rail Authority has mentioned University City as a possible location for aÂ California High-Speed RailÂ station.
The only connection between UTC and South UC (not including the bordering 8-lane freeways Interstate 5 and Interstate 805) is the four-lane Genesee Avenue. The City of San Diego also wants to extend Regents Road by building a bridge over Rose CanyonÂ This plan has been strongly opposed by a local group calling itself Friends of Rose Canyon.Â The argument has been going on for years.
Regents Road bridge
During the original planning of University City, Regents Road was planned to be connected by a bridge running through Rose Canyon. With so much construction going on at the same time, Regents road was put on hold and was not connected from Governor Dr to Nobel Dr. 40 years later, the canyon is now surrounded by residential neighborhoods.
Some residents want the bridge constructed due to the time it takes for emergency vehicles to be transported between southern and northern University City. The fire department claimed that: “A bridge or the widening of Genesee Avenue would shorten response time for emergency vehicles in the neighborhood. It has one of the slowest response times in the city.” Along with emergency centers nearby, Rose canyon provides the perfect environment for wildfires in UC. An emergency such as that would require evacuation, which for the citizens of UC would only leave one escape route, Genesee, already one of the busiest streets in the city.
Other residents want to cancel the construction of the bridge due to the disruption to wildlife and the community. The proposed bridge would be across Rose Canyon.
On March 10, 1989, a pipe bomb attached to the minivan of a woman exploded while she was driving near the University Towne Center mall.Â She was the wife ofÂ Will C. Rogers III, the captain of theÂ USS VincennesÂ who gave the order to shoot downÂ Iran Air Flight 655. She escaped the blast. Initially, it was suspected to be a terrorist retaliation for the downing of the airliner, but the investigation shifted away from this hypothesis.Â At this time, the bombing is still unsolved.
On August 1, 2003, arson, alleged to beÂ eco-terrorism, destroyed a housing complex under construction at the east side of UTC.Â Many residents awoke to find popcorn-shaped ashes littering their backyards and streets.
Intuit‘s consumer tax group was located here until August 2007, when they relocated elsewhere in the city of San Diego.
On December 8, 2008 at approximately 11 AM (PST) a militaryÂ F/A-18Â bound for theÂ nearby military baseÂ crashed into several homesdestroying them on the southeast corner of Cather Avenue and Huggins Street. The pilot ejected and was not injured. There were at least four civilians killed on the ground by the impact and fire that followed.
There are fiveÂ publicÂ schools in University City:
- Marie Curie Elementary School
- John D. Spreckels Elementary School
- Doyle Elementary School
- Standley Middle school
- University City High School (San Diego)
- San Diego Public Library
- North University Community Library
- University Community Library
SeveralÂ golf coursesÂ are recognized as children-friendly, unique in the area:
- The University City Golf Course has 9 holes, with a par 27. Most holes are about 100Â yards (91Â m) long or less, except the 6th, which is 140Â yards (130Â m).
Some parks and recreation centers are also available:
- Standley Recreation Center and Park
- Doyle Recreation Center and Park
- La Jolla Colony Park
- Rose Canyon Open Space Park