As you follow State Route 52 East, you drive over the large mountain range and you are instantly surrounded by beautiful green brush. On occasion you can see a deer or someone hiking one of the many trails in Mission Trails Regional Park. As you start your descent down the hill, you see a city on the horizon and mountain ranges that surround the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, and Santee, as well as the unincorporated communities of Alpine, Lakeside, Rancho San Diego, and Spring Valley– this is beautiful East County.

Download the East County EDC’s Demographics Study of the East County subregion, cities, and communities.



El Cajon is the largest city in East County, with an established history and tradition. It serves a diverse population with many ethnicities. With its mild weather, the City offers many family oriented events year round, including America on Main Street, Mother Goose parade, weekly Classic Car Shows, 4th of July fireworks, and concerts on the Prescott Promenade. El Cajon as a community is served by four recreation centers, a multi-purpose community center, and 17 parks. They foster popular and diverse athletic and cultural activities. El Cajon is East County’s largest industrial hub with easy freeway access and close proximity to Gillespie Field airport.

La Mesa is known as the Jewel of the Hills with tree-lined neighborhoods, walkable streets and a quaint downtown village. It is the gateway to East County via three freeways and five trolley stations, and is in close proximity to educational institutions and a regional medical center. La Mesa’s near-perfect climate, its wealth of community assets i.e. 14 parks, a range of housing, and multiple trade areas, make it a highly desirable community in which to live, work and conduct business.

Lemon Grove is centrally located, 10 miles east of downtown San Diego, 18 miles from the Mexican border crossing, and 9 miles from manufacturing hubs in East San Diego County. The City offers retail, industrial, and heavy commercial zones adjacent to major highways. Lemon Grove boasts a motto of “Best Climate on Earth.” It also strives to be the best business climate on earth. It has a culture of finding innovative solutions to problems, streamlining permitting processes, and providing one-on-one support through approval processes.

Santee combines development opportunities with high-profile demographics and high quality of life. With a 5-mile market area threshold of over 270,000 people, 136 national chains, direct access to three freeways and regional trolley access, Santee is a mecca for young professionals and families offering award-winning schools, stable local economy, low crime rate, competitive home prices, and family-based neighborhoods. San Diego Christian College relocated to Santee in 2014, and Santee Lakes and Sportsplex USA draw over a million visitors annually.


Alpine is the picturesque gateway to the Mountain Empire communities of Descanso, Guatay, Pine Valley, Lake Morena and Campo in scenic East San Diego County. Just off Interstate 8, the town has shops, restaurants, biking, and hiking that attracts many visitors. Alpine’s family oriented entertainment includes the Lions, Tigers & Bears rescue sanctuary’s “Wild in the Country,” the Victorian Tea in the historic pioneer Town Hall, and the Annual Christmas Parade of Lights with its Snow Festival.

Lakeside is where the feeling of an American small town still exists and where its western legacy is embraced. Lakeside is home to working ranches and agricultural businesses, with hiking and equestrian riding trails. Lakeside School District has top-rated schools in San Diego County, offering an immersion program in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Lakeside offers a variety of dining and entertainment experiences as well as community sponsored family events, such as Western Day Parade, Rodeos, and the Spirit of Christmas on Maine. Lakeside is one of the few communities that has industrial lots currently being developed and a few still undeveloped. These lots have easy freeway access and are a short distance to Gillespie Field.

Rancho San Diego is one of the newest communities in East County. Home to multiple golf courses, Cuyamaca College and its Water Conservation Garden. This community boasts of its high educational attainment.

Spring Valley is a community of rolling hills and countryside. It is 481 feet above sea level and a 20-minute commute to downtown via Hwy 94. Spring Valley is the county’s largest unincorporated community, yet offers a “small town flavor” to each of its residents, in a mild climate influenced by ocean currents and abundant sunshine. Summer temperatures average 89 degrees and winter 61 degrees.