The 10 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods In San Diego
San Diego is one of the most desirable destinations in the country and the world for travelers and residents alike. In fact, around 35 million people visit San Diego a year. Located on the Pacific Ocean and adjacent to the U.S. border with Mexico, San Diego has stunning beaches and nearly perfect year-round weather. It’s also a Navy town. The United States Navy is the city’s top employer.
According to reported statistics from the FBI, the most dangerous neighborhoods in San Diego include East Village, Horton Plaza, Marina, Little Italy, and Kearney Mesa. Other areas you will want to avoid include Cortez Hill, Midtown District, and Columbia as these areas have the worst consistent rankings when it comes to overall crime, including serious violent crimes.
Below, we cover the 10 most dangerous neighborhoods in San Diego, based on crime statistics, including property and violent crime. We also talk about some of the financial facts for these neighborhoods, like median household income, to give a feel for life in these communities.
1. East Village
- Population: 13,053
- Violent Crime (per 100k): 3,678
- Property Crime (per 100k): 9,015
- Total Reported Crimes: 12,693
East Village is the largest neighborhood in downtown San Diego. East Village is to the east of the Gaslamp Quarter and southeast of the Core District. The East Village spans around 130 blocks downtown.
While East Village has a relatively high crime rate, it’s also a location for a lot of development. East Village is home to Petco Park, which is where the San Diego Padres Major League Baseball team plays, and the Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge.
The violent crime in East Village is 853% higher than the national average, and total crime is 449% higher. That means you have a 1 in 8 chance of being a victim of a crime in East Village. One of the potential benefits of living in East Village is that the cost of living is 9% lower than the San Diego average.
In 2020, the FBI reported 3,617 violent crimes and 10,061 property crimes. These numbers consisted of everything from rape and murder to incidents such as burglary and less severe property theft.
2. Horton Plaza
- Population: 660
- Violent Crime (per 100k): 2437
- Property Crime (per 100k): 4899
- Total Reported Crimes: 12,693
Horton Plaza is an area of San Diego that’s home to Horton Plaza Park. Horton Plaza Park is an outdoor entertainment venue and event space. The neighborhood is located downtown. The cost of living in the Horton Plaza area of San Diego is 7% lower than the city average. Real estate prices are 9% lower, and rental prices are 37% lower.
At the same time, Horton Plaza is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in San Diego, based on crime data. Violent crime is 542% higher than the national average in Horton Plaza, and total crime is 195% higher. Your chances of being a crime victim in Horton Plaza are 1 in 14.
FBI stats show that the total amount of reported crimes was 12,693 for the 2020 calendar year. These crimes include everything from murder and rape to stolen property.
Property crime was double the amount of violent crime in 2020 for the Horton Plaza neighborhood. Violent crimes were reported as 2,437, and there were 4,899 property-related incidents reported.
- Population: 4435
- Violent Crime Rate (per 100k): 2,412
- Property Crime Rate (per 100k): 8,089
- Total Reported Crimes: 10,501
Marina is another downtown San Diego neighborhood set on the San Diego Bay. Marina is bordered by the Columbia District to the north and the Gaslamp Quarter to the east. What was once a warehouse area now has a number of condos, apartments, and high-rise buildings. This neighborhood is home to Seaport Village and the San Diego Convention Center as well.
Violent crime in Marina is 525% higher than the national average, with total crime 358% higher. Compared to San Diego, crime in Marina is 556% higher. Your chances of being a crime victim are 1 in 9. Marina is also an expensive neighborhood, with a median home value of $527,340 and a median rent price of $1,525.
There were 10,501 crimes total reported for 2020 in the Marina neighborhood. This total reflects both violent and property crimes alike.
However, there were far more property crimes than violent crimes that were reported. Violent crime had 2,412 reported incidents, while property crime towered in at 8,089 per capita.
4. Little Italy
- Population: 3,171
- Violent crime rate (per 100k): 1,493
- Property crime rate (per 100k): 6,866
- Total Reported Crimes: 8,359
Little Italy is home to the tuna fishing industry of San Diego and also many wineries, boutique hotels, and shops. It’s also where you’ll find scenic Amici Park. Some of the city’s most notable restaurants are located in the Little Italy neighborhood, and people flock to the BallastPoint craft beer tasting room and shop.
While Little Italy has a lot of appealing venues and things to offer, it does have a high crime rate. In Little Italy, there is 306% more crime than in San Diego as a whole. Violent crime is 287% higher than the national average. Your chances of being a victim of a crime in Little Italy are estimated to be 1 in 11.
The FBI has reported that there were a total of 8,359 reported crimes in the Little Italy neighborhood in 2020. These crimes included murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft, and auto theft.
There were a significantly larger number of property crimes reported than violent crimes for 2020. The number of violent crimes that occurred was 1,493 while the number of property crimes that were reported towered in at 6,866.
5. Kearny Mesa
- Population: 3,664
- Violent crime rate (per 100k): 1,493
- Property crime rate (per 100k): 11,765
- Total Reported Crimes: 13,258
Kearny Mesa is located in central San Diego. The neighborhood is adjacent to Tierrasanta and Clairemont. It is named for the former Camp Kearny U.S. military base. Most of Kearny Mesa is industrial, but there are some residential areas. Kearney Mesa has a median home value of $478,891 and a median rent of $2,189, with most residents being renters.
As far as crime, violent crime is 287% higher than the national average, and property crime is 522% higher. You have a 1 in 7 chance of being a victim of a crime in Kearny Mesa, based on statistics. There is 306% more crime than the rest of San Diego.
Statistics show that there were a total of 13,258 reported crimes in 2020 in the Kearny Mesa neighborhood. These crimes include both violent and property crimes.
However, the property crimes far surpassed the violent crimes that were reported. Violent crimes contributed to 1,493 of the reported crime total, while property crime accounted for 11,765 of the incidents per capita.
6. Cortez Hill
- Population: 2825
- Violent crime rate (per 100k): 1,474
- Property crime rate (per 100k): 5,453
- Total Reported Crimes: 6,927
Cortez Hill is located close to the Core District, Bankers’ Hill, Little Italy, and Balboa Park. The neighborhood is partially on a hill, and the El Cortez Hotel was the first structure in the neighborhood. Cortez Hill is the oldest residential neighborhood in San Diego.
Living in Cortez Hill is often preferable for young professionals who want to avoid commuting downtown for work. It’s walkable, and the view from some parts of the neighborhood can be stunning.
Unfortunately, there is 300% more crime in Cortez Hill than in the rest of San Diego. The Cortez Hill crime rate for both property and violent crimes is 203% higher than the national average, with a 1 in 14 chance of being a crime victim. The cost of living is also high in Cortez Hill, with it being 12% more than the U.S. average on all measures.
FBI statistics report that there were a total of 6,927 reported crimes in 2020 in the Cortez Hill neighborhood. These crimes include everything from murder and rape to property and vehicle theft.
There were more incidents of property crime than violent crime. Violent crime had 1,474 occurrences, while property crime made up 5,453 of the total reported incidents per capita.
7. Midtown District
- Population: 10,962
- Violent crime rate (per 100k): 1333
- Property crime rate (per 100k): 9,152
- Total Reported Crimes: 10,485
Midtown San Diego is also known as Middletown, and it’s bordered by downtown to the South and Mission Hills to the north. The Midtown District is 23% more expensive in terms of the overall cost of living than the U.S. average, but housing compared to the rest of San Diego can be less expensive. For example, the median home value in Midtown is $274,430, and the median rent price is $1,219.
The violent crime rate in the Midtown District of San Diego is 246% higher than the national average, with total crime being 363% higher. The chances of being the victim of a crime in the Midtown District is 1 in 9.
Over the last year, crime in the Midtown District has gone down considerably. According to statistics, there were 10,485 total crimes reported for 2020. These crimes included everything from murder to vehicle theft.
However, there were a significantly larger amount of property crimes than violent crimes. Stats show that there were 9,152 property crimes reported, and 1,333 violent crimes reported per capita for 2020.
- Population: 1641
- Violent crime rate (per 100k): 1,294
- Property crime rate (per 100k): 6,611
- Total Reported Crimes: 7,905
Columbia is a San Diego neighborhood that is located downtown, and much of it is commercial. Columbia includes a waterfront area, and there are a few popular condo buildings in the neighborhood. There are recent development projects that have been launched in the Columbia community, which is also home to the Historic Santa Fe Depot Train Station.
Violent crime in Columbia is 235% higher than the national average, and total crime is 247% higher. The risk of being a victim of a crime in Columbia is 1 in 12. There’s 252% more crime than the rest of San Diego.
The FBI has reported a total of 7,905 reported crimes for the Columbia area of San Diego in 2020. These reports include both violent and property crimes that include murder, rape, property theft, and grand theft auto.
There were more property crimes in 2020 than violent crimes. Statistics show 1,294 violent crimes were reported, while 6,611 property crimes were reported per capita.
- Population: 14,637
- Violent crime rate (per 100k): 1,077
- Property crime rate (per 100k): 3,266
- Total Reported Crimes: 4,343
Memorial is an urban community located in southeastern San Diego. It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, bordered by Logan Heights, Grant Hill, and Stockton. Memorial has a total crime rate that’s 89% greater than the national average, with violent crime being 179% higher.
Being in Memorial means that based on crime rates and statistics, you could have a 1 in 22 chance of being a crime victim.
Overall, there have been a total of 4,343 reported crimes for the Memorial area, which isn’t bad among a population of 14,637. The crimes reported include rape, murder, and other violent crimes, as well as property crimes.
There were 3,266 property crimes that contributed to the total tally. The rest of these, 1,077, were violent crimes. These were reported on a per capita basis.
10. Mission Valley
- Population: 7,490
- Violent crime rate (per 100k): 1,068
- Property crime rate (per 100k): 8,961
- Total Reported Crimes: 10,029
Mission Valley is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in San Diego, with 191% more crime than the rest of the city. Mission Valley is actually technically two neighborhoods, divided by the Mission Valley.
There’s Mission Valley East and Mission Valley West. It was the site of the first California Spanish settlement in 1769. Mission Valley is also a hub of shopping and entertainment in San Diego.
According to FBI statistics, there were a total of 10,029 reported crimes for the Mission Valley area of San Diego in 2020. These crimes included everything from murder to property theft.
There were eight times more property-based incidents than violent crimes. The violent crime total was 1,068 while property crimes made up 8,961 of the total reported crimes per capita in the 2020 calendar year.
What are the Safest Places to Live in San Diego?
While above the most dangerous neighborhoods in San Diego are featured, there are also many communities that are considered very safe.
For example, Torrey Pines is a San Diego neighborhood that’s not only ranked as being one of the safest, but it also has great public schools, is beautiful, and is one of the top-rated places to live in the city. There are restaurants, shops, and parks, and the median home value is more than $1.2 million.
Torrey Hills is another safe San Diego neighborhood. Torrey Hills has a mix of urban and suburban environments, and the public schools are very highly rated. In Torrey Hills, again, the median home value is also above $1.2 million, and the median rent in this affluent community is $2,675.
Del Mar Mesa is frequently described as one of the best neighborhoods for families in San Diego, with good schools and low crime rates.
The violent crime rate in San Diego is lower than the California average rate and lower than the national rate as well. The same is true of property crimes in San Diego. Overall, San Diego is a beautiful place to live with a high quality of life, despite there being some dangerous neighborhoods and parts of the city.
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Ashley Sutphin Watkins studied journalism at the University of North Carolina. She now works as a full-time writer with an interest in all things real estate and interior design. She lives in East Tennessee and enjoys the nearby Smoky Mountains with her family.
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