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Kearny Mesa is a city located in the
central part of San Diego. Prior to settlement, the Kearny mesa was part
of the expansive Kumeyaay homelands. Bands of the native tribe inhabited the
general area and used much of this land for hunting and gathering. Following
the arrival of the Spanish explorers and missionaries in 1769, a vast amount of
kumeyaay land, including the area now known as Kearny Mesa, was claimed by
Spain for the
Mission San Diego de Alcalá. After declaring its independence from Spain in
1822, Mexico took control of what had become known as the Alta California
territory and began to secularize the Missions that had been established.7
Large tracts of what had previously been mission lands were
then parceled out and granted to private owners and families. Rancho Ex-Mission
San Diego was one such land grant. Although it was awarded to Santiago Arguello
by Alta California Governor Pío Pico in 1846, it was not until 1876, twenty-six
years after Mexico had ceded its interest in
California to the United States, that the land claim would be confirmed at
58,875 acres.8 Bounded on the west by the Pueblo Lands, which included the
coastal areas that would develop into downtown San Diego and La Jolla, Rancho
Ex-Mission.

Despite
the development of the military installations to the north and east, and the
Linda Vista housing project to the south, the area that would become the
community of Kearny Mesa remained relatively undeveloped for the better part of
the 1940s, with the exception of the military training and aviation uses. This
was largely due to the dominating government and military presence paired with
the lack of sufficient accessibility. It wasn’t until the latter half of the
decade that plans to develop the area now known as Kearny Mesa began to take
shape. The City believed that Kearny Mesa was the next logical area in which to
expect development and took action to boost interest in the land.

The
first move came in 1947 when the City acquired the Gibbs Airport with the hopes
of developing it into a municipal airport. The City also acquired approximately
700 acres of land adjacent to the airport and planned to subdivide the large
tract to encourage the construction of low-cost housing. 31 The City continued
to facilitate development of the area by offering to extend water and sewer
mains up to Kearny Mesa from Linda Vista to help subdividers develop low-cost
lots.32 Work moved quickly and by 1949, major water mains were being
constructed through Kearny Mesa. Despite the development of the military
installations to the north and east, and the Linda Vista housing project to the
south, the area that would become the community of Kearny Mesa remained
relatively undeveloped for the better part of the 1940s, with the exception of
the military training and aviation uses. This was largely due to the dominating
government and military presence paired with the lack of sufficient
accessibility. It wasn’t until the latter half of the decade that plans to
develop the area now known as Kearny Mesa began to take shape. The City
believed that Kearny Mesa was the next logical area in which to expect
development and took action to boost interest in the land. The first move came
in 1947 when the City acquired the Gibbs Airport with the hopes of developing
it into a municipal airport. The City also acquired approximately 700 acres of
land adjacent to the airport and planned to subdivide the large tract to
encourage the construction of low-cost housing. 31 The City continued to
facilitate development of the area by offering to extend water and sewer mains
up to Kearny Mesa from Linda Vista to help subdividers develop low-cost lots.32
Work moved quickly and by 1949, major water mains were being constructed
through Kearny Mesa.

 San Diego consisted mostly of what is now east of Interstate 805, including the communities of Kearny Mesa, Serra Mesa,
and Tierrasanta, is well as the cities of La Mesa and Lemon Grove. The
development of Alonzo Horton’s “New Town” in 1867 began a period of steady
urbanization within downtown San Diego. With this growth came an increasing
interest in creating the city’s first major rail station. The arrival of the
California Southern Railroad, which was completed in 1885, catalyzed San
Diego’s first boom period and inspired local speculators to invest in more rail
lines around the area.9 What resulted were the creation of several independent
rail lines that linked downtown San Diego east to the Ex-Mission lands.10 The
easier access inland paired with the rising population and land costs of
downtown San Diego had increased interest in the ExMission lands where land was
cheaper and more plentiful.