Santee is a suburban city in San Diego County, California, with a population of 53,413 at the 2010 census. Although it is a part of the East County region, Santee is located just from the Pacific Ocean. The city is connected to the coastline by State Route 52, a six-lane freeway that runs from Interstate 5 in La Jolla to State Route 67 in El Cajon. The city is bisected by the San Diego River, a linear greenbelt that includes parks, trails and more than of natural riparian habitat.
The region was the homeland of the Kumeyaay people. These original residents established the village of Sinyeweche on the banks of the San Diego River in the present day Santee area.
The city is named after Milton Santee, the second husband of Jennie Blodgett, whose first husband was George A. Cowles, a pioneer rancher and businessperson in the San Diego County area.
Santee shares the northern part of a valley with the city of El Cajon. The city is bisected by the San Diego River, which flows east to west for approximately within the city limits. Hills form a natural barrier on its northern and western sides.
At an altitude of 1,198 feet, Rattlesnake Mountain is the highest point in Santee. Rattlesnake Mountain is home to the Sky Ranch community, and is topped with a large illuminated star during the holiday season.
According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Santee has a semi-arid climate, abbreviated "BSk" on climate maps.
At the 2010 census Santee had a population of 53,413. The population density was 3,231.6 people per square mile (1,247.7/km). The racial makeup of Santee was 44,083 (82.5%) White, 1,057 (2.0%) African American, 409 (0.8%) Native American, 2,044 (3.8%) Asian (1.8% Filipino, 0.4% Chinese, 0.5% Vietnamese, 0.3% Japanese, 0.2% Korean, 0.2% Indian, 0.5% Other), 253 (0.5%) Pacific Islander, 2,677 (5.0%) from other races, and 2,890 (5.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8,699 persons (16.3%).
The census reported that 52,447 people (98.2% of the population) lived in households, 77 (0.1%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 889 (1.7%) were institutionalized.
There were 19,306 households, of which 7,156 (37.1%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 10,304 (53.4%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 2,614 (13.5%) had a female householder with no husband present, 1,157 (6.0%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,135 (5.9%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 119 (0.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 3,986 households (20.6%) were one person and 1,534 (7.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 2.72. There were 14,075 families (72.9% of households); the average family size was 3.13.
The age distribution was 12,710 people (23.8%) under the age of 18, 5,068 people (9.5%) aged 18 to 24, 14,790 people (27.7%) aged 25 to 44, 15,105 people (28.3%) aged 45 to 64, and 5,740 people (10.7%) who were 65 or older. The median age was 37.2 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.2 males.
There were 20,048 housing units at an average density of 1,212.9 per square mile, of the occupied units 13,576 (70.3%) were owner-occupied and 5,730 (29.7%) were rented. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.5%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.0%. 36,198 people (67.8% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 16,249 people (30.4%) lived in rental housing units.
As of the census of 2000, there were 52,975 people in 18,470 households, including 14,018 families, in the city. The population density was 3,298.7 inhabitants per square mile (1,273.6/km2). There were 18,833 housing units at an average density of 1,172.7 per square mile (452.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.70% White, 1.48% African American, 0.81% Native American, 2.55% Asian, 0.41% Pacific Islander, 4.03% from other races, and 4.03% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.36% of the population.
Of the 18,470 households 40.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.7% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.1% were non-families. 18.2% of households were one person and 6.9% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.19.
The age distribution was 28.2% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 32.9% from 25 to 44, 21.6% from 45 to 64, and 8.9% 65 or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.1 males.
Estimated median household income in 2008: $71,806 (up from $53,624 in 2000)
Located on in Santee is the Las Colinas Detention Facility, which serves as the primary point of intake for women prisoners in San Diego County. It began as a juvenile facility in 1967 and was converted to an adult women's institution in 1979.
Arts and culture
A 10-week series of free concerts is organized each summer by the city's Community Services Department. The Santee Wine and Bluegrass Festival, a fund-raiser for local park and youth recreation programs, is held each fall at Town Center Community Park. Santee is also home to Off Broadway Live, a 100-seat, cabaret-style theatre, featuring the Pickwick Players.
Parks and recreation
Sportsplex USA Santee, a sports field complex, opened on June 1, 2010. Located within Town Center Community Park, it features three lighted softball fields, four batting cages, two lighted arena soccer fields (a.k.a. GTM Stores Arena), spectator seating, parking and a sports-themed restaurant offering food, beer and wine. Santee has hosted the 2012 and 2016 US Olympic Trials for the 50K racewalk on a course along Mast Blvd. below Santana High School.
In addition to being a popular spot for mountain bikers, the city hosts a popular Southern California rock climbing venue called Santee Boulders. Some common routes include "Moby Dick" and "Pride Rock" (located on the North Eastern section of the trail), as well as "Faith Hill" and "Dogpile" (located Northwest of the trail head). Santee Lakes Regional Park and Campground offers for fishing, camping, bird watching and picnicking. An unincorporated hiking area just north of Santee is popular for mountain bikers. It has entrances at Prince Valiant Drive and Princess Joann Drive and includes many trails that extend to Poway and Santee Lakes. A small pole was recently installed at Boot Rock, which is a boot-shaped rock on a slope that allows views of the entire city and neighboring communities.
Carlton Oaks Golf Course and resort offers was established in 1958.
The Town Center Community Park is located along the San Diego River. The center of the park features a sports field complex, and an aquatics center. The park's first two phases were completed in the fall of 2010. The $23.5 million facility was funded through a combination of redevelopment bonds, developer impact fees and grants.
As of 2011, the city had completed about half of a -long riverfront trail system that will eventually connect with trails in Lakeside and Mission Trails Regional Park.
As of 2020, the Santee City Council was composed of Mayor John Minto, Vice Mayor Rob McNelis, and council members Laura Koval, Ronn Hall, and Dustin Trotter.
State and federal representation
In the California State Legislature, Santee is in , and in .
In the United States House of Representatives, Santee is in .
San Diego Christian College moved to Santee from El Cajon in early 2013. The college, which offers 15 degree programs, is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The college has approximately 475 students and 28 faculty members, but hopes to expand to as many as 1,200 students.
Santee is served by two school districts: Santee School District and Grossmont Union High School District. The two high schools in Santee, West Hills High School and Santana High School, are both part of the Grossmont Union High School District. Elementary and middle schools are part of the Santee School District. Other than Sycamore Canyon (only K-6), each school campus serves kindergarten through eighth grade (K-8). The schools are divided into elementary (K-6) and middle schools (7–8), with each using different parts of the campus and having different ending times. This is different from the traditional practice of smaller elementary schools that feed students into consolidated middle schools.
Elementary and middle school campuses
There are two high schools in Santee. Both are part of the Grossmont Union High School District.
On March 5, 2001, 15-year-old Charles Andrew Williams opened fire in a boys' bathroom and a grass quad area at Santana High School. Two students died and thirteen students were wounded. He pleaded guilty to the shooting and was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.
State Route 52 was extended eastward through the city from its former terminus at State Route 125 to State Route 67 on the city's east side. The city is bisected by four main thoroughfares: Mast Boulevard and Mission Gorge Road traverse east and west, while Magnolia Avenue and Cuyamaca Street cross north and south. Santee also is the eastern terminus of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Green Line trolley route, which connects East County to Old Town and downtown San Diego. MTS also provides bus service. Gillespie Field, the oldest and largest of eight commercial aviation airports operated by San Diego County, is located on Santee's southern border with the city of El Cajon. The airport serves as a hub for local businesses.
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