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All That's Missing Not Always Missed


There is bungee jumping and hot-air ballooning, but just try to find local slalom skiing or white-water river rafting.

Like any other large region, North County is a melange of things present and things absent. Some of what's here is positive while some of it is not; pros and cons can also be found in what North County doesn't have.

For instance, it doesn't have a major earthquake fault line running through it, but it is sandwiched between the Rose Canyon Fault off the coast and the Elsinore Fault inland near the Salton Sea. (Through no fault of its own, North County sustained $500,000 in damage July 13, 1986, from a 5.3-magnitude earthquake centered in the Pacific 28 miles southwest of Oceanside. At the time, it was the largest quake to hit the county or its offshore areas since scientists began monitoring seismic events here in 1932.)

For all the things North County doesn't have, an alternative can be found. Here are some of North County's "haves" and "have-nots."

Escondido City Hall It doesn't have a center city, but it does have nine city halls. North County includes two cities with populations greater than 100,000, and several unincorporated communities such as Bonsall, Valley Center and Ramona, and portions of the city of San Diego. Yet, while the region is larger than many cities in the country, it is not governed by a common political body and it has no central hub.

There is cable access in North County, but not everyone has access to cable. Some homes, primarily those in low-density rural areas, have trouble getting a cable hookup because the laying of the cable itself is so expensive. It's virtually impossible to get cable-and its CNN, MTV, A&E and ESPN-unless neighbors get together to pay for the project.

Even if you aren't able to watch cable, you might be able to get on the air. Cable companies have designated public access channels that are open to individuals. You usually have to live in the cable company's service area, and the material you want to air must meet broadcast guidelines.

It has populations that blossom in some areas and wane in others. According to the most recent U.S. Census, which came out in 1990, San Marcos' population boomed 123% in the previous 10 years, jumping to 38,974 residents, while Del Mar's population decreased 3.1% in the same period, dipping to less than 5,000. The biggest city is coastal Oceanside, with 128,398 people, while the inland city of Escondido trails closely with 108,635, the census reported.

Upscale homes in Poway Oceanside trailers for homeless It has the haves and the have-nots. The 1990 U.S. Census found the average income for North County families living along the coast was $42,281 while families living inland made $38,963. The census also found that the number of homeless people "visible on the streets" was 3,183 along the coast and 771 inland.

There are more single people on North County's coast than there are inland. According to the census, 27.8% of the people on the coast over the age of 15 have never been married, compared to 22.8% in inland areas. There are 55.8% married people along the coast versus 59.8% inland. At the time of the census, 9.1% of North County's coastal population was divorced and 8.9% of the inland population was divorced.

County jail in Vista North County does not have a federal prison, but there is a county jail. The Vista detention facility has a court-rated maximum capacity of 886 male inmates. There is no detention facility for women in the area, so North County's female felons are taken to the Las Colinas jail in Santee.

There is no upscale Neiman Marcus, but there is a Loehmann's in Oceanside. Who needs a tea room and individual dressing rooms when they can get a $100 silk blouse for $30? Loehmann's is a nationwide discount women's clothing outlet that offers designer labels at bare-bone prices in a no-frills atmosphere. Unlike Neiman's, where a store clerk will hold your $2,000, off-the-shoulder, sequined turquoise gown, a Loehmann's shopper has to protect her intended purchases by tying them together in what is commonly known as a "Loehmann's knot."

Marines at Pendleton Hangar at Miramar The Marines and the Navy have landed, but the Air Force and the Army are conspicuously absent from North County's home front. The Marines have been firmly entrenched at Camp Pendleton for 50 years (currently 36,000 strong) and the Navy has made its presence felt in Miramar for 40 years (currently 15,000 strong). Many think of Camp Pendleton, with its 125,000 acres (196 square miles), as the last bastion of open space in Southern California, a buffer between San Diego and Los Angeles. And few people in North County (and elsewhere) can look upon Miramar Naval Air Station without remembering it as Fighter Town, USA, in the Tom Cruise movie "Top Gun" and, more recently, as being connected to the Tailhook scandal.

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