Welcome to the community of Carmel Valley.
The City of San Diego has been called a “City of Villages,” and Carmel Valley is one of those villages.
Carmel Valley is a master planned community that began with the institutional name “North City West.” When originally proposed, the residents of Del Mar were concerned about the impact of this new development. Lawsuits were filed to prevent this urbanization (see July 1, 1982 Reference). Originally only occupying a small area, Carmel Valley has grown by leaps and bounds. With the development of Torrey Hills, Pacific Highlands Ranch and other adjacent areas (which I will include in “Carmel Valley,” even though they are not part of the original planning area), the community now fills the entire 92130 zip code.
The Carmel Valley name comes from the community's location—in a wide valley immediately to the north of Carmel Mountain, which is a minor feature at the intersection of I-5 and SR-56. Carmel Mountain, in turn, was named for a group of Carmelite Nuns who lived in the area. There is, in fact, a Carmel Valley Fault, which I assume runs through or near the valley.
Carmel Valley is often grouped into the area known as “North County,” where North County consists of areas like Carlsbad, Encinitas, Escondido, Oceanside, Poway, San Marcos, Solana Beach and Vista. In reality, due to its ties with the City of San Diego, Carmel Valley has more in common with its southern neighbors: Sorrento Valley and La Jolla.
The community of Carmel Valley has a bit of an identity problem. We are Carmel Valley, at the foot of Carmel Mountain. However, there is a community of Carmel Mountain (or Carmel Mountain Ranch) on the I-15 corridor, near Rancho Peñasquitos. And there's another Carmel Valley in California, adjacent to the City of Carmel (on the Monterey penninsula, in northern California), which adds to the confusion. If you have a sharp eye, you'll occasionally see pictures of the northern California community where the author meant otherwise.
The area, positioned roughly half-way up the San Diego County coastline, is convenient to almost everything. Located adjacent to the beaches at Del Mar and Torrey Pines (and Torrey Pines Reserve), with UCSD and its surrounding biotech and communications industries only minutes away. To the immediate south lie Sorrento Valley and La Jolla's Golden Triangle, which are large employment centers complete with a shopping mall and many fine restaurants. A quick twenty minute drive south brings you to the airport, downtown San Diego, Balboa Park, the Zoo, Mission Bay, Sea World and more. To the north are developing centers around La Costa and Palomar Airport, as well as the Flower Fields and Legoland. In the next few years, the completion of SR-56 will connect the community with the eastern suburbs of San Diego—Poway, Rancho Bernardo, Escondido and more. This area provides access to more jobs, more shopping, and cultural spots such as the California Center for Performing Arts and the Wild Animal Park.
In addition to all this, Carmel Valley will be at the start of the San Dieguito River Park, which will wind from the Pacific Ocean at the Del Mar Fairgrounds to the mountains near Julian.
The weather here is great, as long as you don't like much change. I always tell people that we have two seasons: shorts and long pants. If you expect it to be hot here because we're so far south, or expect it to be dry here because we're in the desert, you'd only be partly right. A warm summer day might be in the 80s, with a cold winter day in the 50s. Of course, it almost always gets cool at night (so, bring a sweater!), and we get lots of fog and clouds. The weather is really controlled by the nearby Pacific Ocean, which moderates the temperature and keeps the humidity up (humidity tends to be 70% to 90%). We don't get much rain (10 inches per year on average).