San Diego County is primarily composed of unincorporated land.  The incorporated cities within the county are: Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, El Cajon, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City, Oceanside, Poway, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach, and Vista.  To learn about researching in these cities, click the names above.

The county is served by 38 different water agencies including the San Diego County Water Authority and the Helix Water District.

County survey records are stored at the County Operations Building located at 5201 Ruffin Road, Suite D, in Kearny Mesa, west of Interstate Route 15 and south of Clairemont Mesa Blvd.  The building is a large, single story warehouse type structure that also houses the county surveyor, the county planning department and the county building department.

There is ample parking at the north end of the building.  The main entrance is on the north end of the building at the easterly half of the building.  After entering the building, you proceed down a long hallway past an information kiosk.  You do not need to check in in order to research maps at the Cartographic records service center.  You continue past the front counters and you should look for an overhead banner that directs you to cartographic records.  Although it appears as if you are heading behind the counter, you will be passing through a long hallway to the records department.

Once you enter this area, there are several tables and file cabinets to the right.  The principal sources for record management are a large volume of County Assessor books that are manually marked and updated.  These are where the primary survey records are principally maintained and indexed.

To the left and right of this collection of books, one will find Records of Survey, Parcel Maps, Subdivision maps, Corner Records and Private Surveys.  Other documents can also be found including railroad surveys, grading plans and other land survey records.  On the opposite end of the tables, government field notes and sectionized records are stored.

There are several old fashioned microfiche viewers.  If you want a copy of any document, you will need to request that the county staff, stationed behind the mapping counter to make a copy for you.  Payment is made at the cashier’s counter back in the main foyer, which you would have had to pass to enter the mapping area.

Most of the county records are online.  Many surveyors will conduct their research in the mapping area and then return to their office where they will download an electronic copy of the document they seek.  For a variety of reasons, not all county records are available online and as such, it is wise to verify before leaving if you select this option.  There are several computers available to review the status of online survey records.  Depending on the workload, county staff can download files onto USB memory sticks or download them to an internet accessible drop box in a secure format only you can see.

The county also maintains an impressive collection of aerial photographs and topographic surveys.  Many of these documents are in the process of being converted to electronic *.tif images.

County staff are helpful and available from 7 AM to 4 PM.

You can also set up a secure credit card account for call-in purposes or so others in your office who are authorized to do research may charge without having to have the credit card or cash with them

The San Diego Chapter of the California Land Surveyors Association maintains a listing of firms and individuals that own the private survey records of retired and deceased Land Surveyors.

It is suggested that researchers obtain a copy of Lay of the Land to learn more about surveying in San Diego County along with the History of San Diego Land Surveying Experiences by Curtis M. Brown and Michael Pallamary. 



7755 Fay Avenue

Suite J

La Jolla, CA 92037





Copyright 2012

All rights reserved.

Research Tips prepared by Michael Pallamary, PLS

Pallamary and Associates

7755 Fay Avenue, Suite J

La Jolla, CA 92037

Phone: 858-454-4094

Fax: 858-454-4667

Main entrance to 5201 Ruffin Road

Primary Assessor book indexes

Research at the counter being conducted by Justin Pallamary, PLS

Jack Gechter, PLS reviewing microfiche records

Mike Curren, PLS in front of the county’s aerial mapping records.