20223 Elfin Forest Road
Elfin Forest, CA, 92029
The area's beauty - year round stream and shade trees, as mentioned earlier, led Dr. Harvey Urban, Jack Donnelley,
and George Dew to buy twenty acres at the junction of what is now Harmony Grove and Elfin Forest Roads in 1959. They
built a house and a dam to create a lake and began adding spaces for trailers, campers, and mobile homes. Additional
land (for a total of 97 acres) was purchased and a grocery store was opened.
It was referred to as the Elfin Forest Vacation Ranch. They provided boating, fishing, movies, and square dancing. When Dr. Urban opened those acres up to public camping, the campground and the valley around it became popularly known as Elfin Forest. The campground no longer exists. The trailer park was closed in 1999 to make way for the development of the Cielo Del Norte residential project. Subsequently, this property was removed from the Cielo project and sold to a private individual who has placed a conservation easement on the property to ensure that the land will be preserved as open space in perpetuity.
Until 1977, our community was sparsely developed. In addition to Questhaven Retreat, Harmony Grove Spiritualist
Association, and the Elfin Forest Vacation Ranch, there were a few older homes in the surrounding hills. Many new
homes were built between 1977 to 1980.
Inflation caused interest rates to rise and home building slowed until late
1984. From 1985 to 1992 there was a boom in building in the area. It is estimated that the population of the area
grew to 450 homes, with 15 to 20 homes being added each year.
From 1992 to 1995 the economic slowdown in San Diego caused building to almost cease. 1996 saw a pickup in the economy with some new building. The population according to the last census stands at 1,000 in 1996 with a projected population of 2,156 in the year 2015. (Ref: SANDAG) As the area has developed, so has its community spirit.
A volunteer fire department was formed in 1972, and became a fully funded volunteer department in 1982 (voter approval of 89 percent). The department has been held in high regard by other fire departments and fire districts in the County of San Diego. We now have a highly visible station on Elfin Forest Road, a dedicated staff of fire fighters and medics, trucks and gear which not only serve our area, but assist on fires as far north as Yosemite.
In 1975, before Elfin Forest was large enough to be heard, the County approved placing a landfill on Questhaven Road. In 1983, the County proposed placing a trash-to-energy plant on that landfill. The residents of Elfin Forest waged a very long battle to stop construction of that plant. After years of hearings, litigation and many setbacks both politically and financially, the project was stopped. The front end of the plant, however was built in 1993 as a recycling plant, but it was closed down in less than 18 months as being financially unworkable. The landfill was permanently closed in the spring of 1997. The County ended up selling the entire solid waste system to the private sector and the recycling plant is for sale – any takers?
As San Diego County continues to develop, the remaining "open space" in Elfin Forest and Harmony Grove is increasingly threatened and scarce.