About Carlsbad

City of Carlsbad


Carlsbad occupies approximately 39 square miles of rolling hills, beaches and bluffs along the northern coast of San Diego County. The city is located about 30 miles north of San Diego and about 90 miles south of Los Angeles. In addition to the Pacific Ocean coastline along its western boundary, the com-munities surrounding Carlsbad include the city of Oceanside to the north, the city of Encinitas to the south, and the cities of Vista and San Marcos and unincorporated areas of San Diego County to the east. Along Carlsbad’s northern edge, urban development abuts Highway 78, with the highway and Buena Vista Lagoon acting as a boundary between Carlsbad and Oceanside. Similarly, Batiquitos Lagoon along the city’s southern edge defines the boundary between Carlsbad and Encinitas. To the east, city boundaries are less distinctive, as a mix of hillsides and urban development are located adjacent to the cities of Vista and San Marcos and unincorporated lands.

From the city’s incorporation in 1952 and for many years thereafter, Carlsbad existed as a “quaint village-by-the-sea.” In 1952, the city consisted of about 7.5 square miles centered on the Village. Over time a series of annexations gradually expanded the city’s land area south and east to its current size of 39 square miles. The Village, once the geographic center of the community, and what would be considered the city’s “downtown”, is now at the city’s northwest corner, almost a 10-mile drive from the city’s southeastern edge.

As a relatively young city, much of Carlsbad’s early economic growth can be traced back to the city’s proactive planning efforts to attract and develop Plaza Camino Real and Car Country Carlsbad in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Both have served as regional retail centers for North San Diego County. The city today is a major job center, home to several internationally leading companies in high-and bio-technology, action sports manufacturing, and other sectors, a regional retail destination, and the “golf capital of the world”, with numerous golf courses and resorts as well as major golf-equipment manufacturers.

Given Carlsbad’s rapid economic growth and development in the 1980s, city leaders and residents took measures in 1986 to proactively manage the city’s growth, fiscal health and levels of service by passing Proposition E, which established the City’s Growth Management Plan. The Growth Management Plan limits the total number of residential dwelling units in the city to 54,599, with dwelling unit limits established for each of the city’s four geographic quadrants, and requires performance standards for the provision of public facilities.

Parks & Recreation Department


Carlsbad currently has 13 community parks (255.5 acres), 25 special use areas (68.5 acres), and five special resource areas (more than 1,300 acres). The Table below provides a list of existing parks in the city, the quadrants in which they are located, and approximate acreages by park.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment and Comprehensive Action Plan, which was completed in Fall 2013, indicates the current trends and recreational needs identified by the Carlsbad community. The plan is based upon extensive community participation, and the table below identifies some of the anticipated future park development projects based upon input received.


To strengthen community connectivity through world class offerings and exceptional customer service.

Mission Statement

To promote community health and wellness while building a culture that embraces change and continuous improvement.

Key Goals

  • Meet the underserved needs of the community
  • Build an entrepreneurial focus that supplements city contribution
  • Train and empower staff to deliver world class offerings and exceptional customer service
  • Provide opportunities that promote health and wellness and active lifestyles
  • Develop a departmental culture that embraces change and promotes continuous improvement

Parks & Recreation Master Plan Updates

The City of Carlsbad has placed a premium on its parks and recreation system and invested planning resources including the Growth Management Plan and the Needs Assessment and Comprehensive Action Plan.

The purpose of the parks and recreation Master Plan Updates is to ensure that amenities at Poinsettia, Aviara, and Pine Avenue Community Parks are consistent with the department’s community vision established from the Needs Assessment and Comprehensive Action Plan - "To strengthen community connectivity through world class offerings and exceptional customer service."