California 49th District
The California coast between Los Angeles and San Diego has never entirely filled up with development—and never will as long as the Marine Corps retains custody of Camp Pendleton, the giant training base just south of the Orange-San Diego County line and the Corps’s largest expeditionary training facility on the West Coast. The land along the coast and inland in northern San Diego County, usually referred to as North County, was largely empty territory a half-century ago—never fertile enough to produce a large farm community, never endowed with much manufacturing, never actively promoted as a retirement community. But North County has been growing rapidly since then. Today about 1 million people live here, and who can blame them? This is one of America’s most beautiful and comfortable environments, with ocean and mountain scenery, sunny and warm weather, no rural poverty, and low crime. Amid dry but not desert landscape, there are miles of rolling hills, with occasional sagebrush-like bushes. Mountains rise up not in ridges, but here and there at random. It has attracted thousands of new migrants—many, but by no means all, retirees.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 49th Congressional District of California occupies the northern part of San Diego County and the southwestern corner of Riverside County. It was the fastest-growing California district in the 1990s, with a population increase of 35%; it grew another 17% between 2000 and 2007. On the coast next to Camp Pendleton is Oceanside, a lower-middle-income town heavily dependent on the base. Oceanside suffered many casualties during the Iraq war. Inland is Vista, a higher-income community that calls itself the “climatic wonderland of the United States,” with day after day of blue skies, sunshine, and average high temperatures that range from 68 degrees in January to 82 degrees in July. About 35% of the district’s population is in these two areas. About 25% is in small communities in North County, including a small portion of San Diego. Another 40% is in Riverside County in an area with many evangelical Christians and mega-churches.
The district also takes in Temecula, an increasingly congested area with more than 100,000 people, mostly commuters attracted by low-priced homes and a family-oriented lifestyle. The city was hit badly by the recession, with an estimated 15% of its homes in foreclosure in 2008. To the north are the older communities of Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake and Perris. Politically, this is a heavily Republican area, which rarely elects Democrats to any office. It voted 63% for Republican President George W. Bush in 2004 and 53% for GOP nominee John McCain in 2008.