East County, San Diego

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East County
View of El Capitan from Santee's Sky Ranch .jpg
Santee, one of the four cities in East County
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East County cities (red) and census-designated places (pink)
CountySan Diego County

East County is a region of San Diego County, California, east of San Diego.



East County does not have an official geographic definition, although East County boundaries are unofficially drawn by the County of San Diego for its second district. [1] It commonly includes El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Santee, as well as suburban and rural unincorporated communities such as Lakeside, Spring Valley, Jamul, and Alpine. Many sources also include vast swaths of the backcountry of San Diego County also known as the Mountain Empire, including communities along Interstate 8 such as Pine Valley and Descanso, and communities along the rural section of California State Route 94 such as Potrero, Boulevard, and Jacumba. [2] Other sources consider communities within the entire eastern two-thirds of the county to be East County, thereby encompassing places like Ramona, Julian, and Borrego Springs, [3] [4] The Ramona area—Ramona, San Diego Country Estates and Barona Mesa—is often considered part of inland North County due to its association with Rancho Bernardo, Escondido and other North County Inland communities. [5]

The populace of East County primarily dwells in the interior valleys east of San Diego proper while some development encroaches on the coastal foothills.

A broader definition of East County exists that includes the Cuyamaca Mountains and the Laguna Mountains, as well as the desert area of Anza-Borrego State Park. [6] Yet, this definition, when used by SANDAG, excludes the East Suburban centers. [7]

Prominent geologic formations include El Cajon Mountain, a large, dome-shaped mountain overlooking Santee and Lakeside, as well as Iron Mountain and Mount Woodson that overlook Poway.


East County is the fourth most populous region in the San Diego metropolitan area, though its population is close to that of South Bay.

Populated places

Populations listed are from the 2020 census:

Incorporated cities

Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

Former communities


Primary and secondary schools

East County is served by Santee School District, Grossmont Union High School District, Cajon Valley Union School District, Lakeside Union School District, Lemon Grove School District, Poway Unified School District.

Higher education

Grossmont College, located in El Cajon, and Cuyamaca College, located in Rancho San Diego, are two community colleges in the East County region. San Diego Christian College is located in Santee. Berean Bible College is located in Poway.


Important landmarks in East County included El Capitan, Mt. Helix, Santee Lakes, Sweetwater Reservoir, Poway's Tony Gwynn Statue, Lake Poway, and Lake Cuyamaca.

See also

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  1. See, e.g., District 2 Boundaries
  2. See, e.g., East County Magazine neighborhoods, . Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  3. See, e.g., Mellin, Maribeth, and Onstott, Jane. Insider's Guide to San Diego. 5th ed. Morris Book Publishing. 2010. p. 8
  4. See also Vaughn, Jacqueline, and Cortner, Hanna J. Funding Fire: A Losing Proposition? The California Journal of Politics and Policy. Vol. 2, Issue 1. 2010. p.10.
  5. North County Times: Coastal and Inland cities
  6. Mellin, Maribeth, and Onstott, Jane. Insider's Guide to San Diego. 5th ed. Morris Book Publishing. 2010. p. 8
  7. "MSA: East Suburban" . Retrieved April 10, 2011.