Over 13,000 residents call this small beach community their home. The Pacific Ocean is to the west; the City of Encinitas to the north, and the City of Del Mar to the south. The unincorporated village of Rancho Santa Fe is located on the east side.
Until 1923, the main area known as Solana Beach was originally called Lockwood Mesa. The area first settled by the George H. Jones family in 1886. When Lake Hodges Dam was built in 1917-18, the area encompassing Solana Beach began to develop rapidly. The creation of the 12,000-acre (49 km2) Santa Fe Irrigation District in 1918 ensured that the area from Rancho Santa Fe through Solana Beach would prosper and expand. The coastline from Solana Beach to Oceanside began to boom in the early 1920s. In 1922 Colonel Ed Fletcher, an early community leader and developer, purchased 140 acres (0.57 km2) at $20 per acre from farmer George H. Jones to develop the town of Solana Beach, with the help of his brother-in-law Eugene Batchelder. To provide access to the beach for the development, hydraulic water pressure was used to erode away tons of earth and create the Fletcher Cove entry and beach. This took one man three months with a fire hose, using water that was coming over the spillway at Lake Hodges Dam. The beach was opened with great fanfare including horse races on the beach on July 4, 1925.
The community grew slowly, but steadily throughout the rest of the century, with particular booms occurring in the decade after World War II and a real estate boom in the last quarter of the 20th century. In 1986 the community officially incorporated as the city of Solana Beach.
While still a relatively tranquil coastal town, the city received national news in 2003 upon becoming the first city in the Continental United States to enact a smoking ban on its public beaches, a trend which has continued as many other coastal Californian towns have followed suit in banning smoking on their beaches. Solana Beach was the last coastal community in North San Diego County to ban alcohol on the beach, doing so for at least a year in an action unanimously approved by the City Council.
Solana Beach entered the national spotlight on April 25, 2008 when retired veterinarian and 38-year resident Dr. David Martin suffered a fatal injury from an extremely rare great white shark bite while swimming with a group approximately 150 yards (140 m) off shore near Solana Beach's Fletcher Cove. The group of swimmers reportedly began their swim at Tide Beach Park to the north. Surfers in the area of Fletcher Cover noted harbor seals in the water and a wounded seal on the beach at Fletcher Cove just before the attack, the latter being a typical sign of sharks feeding in the area. Recent increases in the seal population along the Southern California coast - and the seals' tendency to swim in close proximity to human swimmers - is suspected to be contributing factors in the attack.
The neighborhood of Eden Gardens (also known as La Colonia), one of the oldest residential areas of Solana Beach, was a community formed in the 1920s by Mexican farmers who were hired by the owners of large ranches in Rancho Santa Fe. These farmers wanted their families nearby, hence the formation of La Colonia (the colony). The name Eden Gardens came later from a land developer who thought it would be a good marketing tool. Many residents still refer to the area as La Colonia. Famous residents include Chicano rapper Lil Rob and comedian Rene Sandoval who were born and raised in the community.
As of the census of 2000, there were 12,979 people, 5,754 households, and 3,279 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,419.6/km² (3,678.7/mi²). There were 6,456 housing units at an average density of 706.1/km² (1,829.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 87.01% White, 0.50% African American, 0.42% Native American, 3.46% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 5.59% from other races, and 2.89% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 14.81% of the population.
There were 5,754 households out of which 20.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.3% were married couples living together, 6.8% had a female head of household, and 43.0% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.83.
In the city the population was spread out with 17.9% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 30.9% from 25 to 44, 27.4% from 45 to 64, and 17.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 97.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $71,774, and the median income for a family was $96,652. Males had a median income of $72,028 versus $41,186 for females. The per capita income for the city was $48,547. About 3.4% of families and 6.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.5% of those under age 18 and 5.2% of those age 65 or over.
According to estimates by the San Diego Association of Governments, the median household income of Solana Beach in 2005 was $101,122 (not adjusted for inflation). When adjusted for inflation (1999 dollars; comparable to Census data above), the median household income was $82,114.
In the state legislature, Solana Beach is located in the 38th Senate District, represented by Republican Mark Wyland, and in the 74th Assembly District, represented by Republican Martin Garrick. Federally, Solana Beach is located in California's 50th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +5 and is represented by Republican Brian Bilbray.
Solana Beach is a General Law City operated by a Council/Manager form of government. The City Council serves as a legislative body and consists of five Council members, one of whom is chosen to act as Mayor for a one-year term on a rotating basis. Council members are leaders and policy makers elected as representatives to concentrate on policy issues that are responsive to the needs of the citizens.
Solana Beach is served by the Solana Beach School District and the San Dieguito Union High School District.