Government, environmentalists and developers forged a historic blueprint in 1997 to preserve thousands of acres in San Diego for wildlife and thousands more for development.

A couple of weeks ago, we reported that some 33,000 acres of the land designated for preservation has been often left susceptible to abuse. At one preserve, our Rob Davis found broken fences, trash and bike tracks on land set aside for endangered species.

The story spurred me to explore which land the 1997 agreement has set aside for preservation and development. San Diego’s preserves stretch all across the city. Canyons in South Park, Clairemont and Mission Valley are designated the same as more well-known preserves like Mission Trails Regional Park and the Tijuana River Valley. But which land’s been developed under the agreement?

For a glimpse of the most dramatic changes in the city, I created the map above. Some of the biggest swaths of preserved and newly developed land exist in northern neighborhoods like Rancho Peñasquitos and Black Mountain Ranch.

Light green areas show land designated for preservation via the 1997 agreement. Dark green areas represent city parks, which often connect with preserved land. Orange areas indicate previously undeveloped land that city planners approved for development (about 9,000 acres citywide).

To see the same map for other neighborhoods, you can check out this interactive mapping website run by Sandag. Just click on the map type called “MSCP” and then zoom into your area.

Keegan Kyle is a news reporter for He writes about local government, creates infographics and handles the Fact Check Blog. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at or 619.550.5668. You can also find him on Twitter (@keegankyle) and Facebook.

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