Pauma Valley is an unincorporated community in North County east of Interstate 15 about 50 miles northeast of San Diego. This largely agricultural area supports avocado and citrus farms, wholesale growers and nurseries and ancillary businesses. Home to Native Americans for centuries, Pauma Valley also has several reservations and gaming casinos.
Pauma Valley has not participated in recent Census counts; however, as of July 2007, the population was 7,475. Agriculture represents roughly 19 percent of industry, according to City-Data.com. The estimated median household income in 2011 was $53,972. About 18 percent of Pauma Valley residents fall below the poverty line.
The climate in the valley and low rolling hills is ideal for agriculture, although many citrus growers are finding it difficult to remain profitable due to escalating water rates. In recent years, some citrus growers have switched to organic farming to improve profit margins, and supporting businesses have followed suit. Pauma Valley Citrus is a family-owned organic fruit-packing house.
T-Y Nursery, established in 1966, is one of the leading volume growers of container-grown plants in Southern California. The nursery grows 700 varieties, including woody ornamentals, palms, fruit and shade trees and drought-tolerant plants. Its four growing grounds throughout the region total 800 acres, 600 of which are in Pauma Valley.
Village Nurseries Wholesale, founded in 1976, has more than 875 growing acres throughout the state, 233 of which are in Pauma Valley. The specialty grower partners with Kellogg, Monrovia and Sunset Western Garden Collection, and sells direct to landscape professionals through five regional landscape centers. In July it acquired Miramar Wholesale Nurseries, a 200-acre commercial landscape center.
The Pauma and Yuima Reservation, known as the Pauma Indian Reservation, was established in 1872 near the foothills of Palomar Mountain. The Pauma Band of Luiseño Mission Indians has owned and operated Casino Pauma, a tropical-themed casino with 1,050 slot machines, 19 gaming tables and four restaurants since 2001. Tribal lands total approximately 5,800 acres. The band began growing Haas avocados on five acres in 1985 and today farms 60 acres of Hass avocados, Valencia oranges and lemons.
The adjoining Pala Indian Reservation lies at the western border of the Pauma Reservation. Since 2003, the Pala Band has operated Pala Casino Resort and Spa, one of the largest and most successful casino and resort hotels in Southern California. The Las Vegas-style casino has 2,000 slot machines, 87 table games, an 11-table poker room and 10 restaurants. Pala has been a AAA Four-Diamond award winner for 10 years. The 507-room hotel has 82 luxury suites and a full-service spa. In addition to 40,000 square feet of meeting space, the Pala Events center seats 2,000 and frequently books top entertainers and comedians.
Outside the southern end of Pauma Valley is Harrah’s Rincon Casino just off Highway 76 in Valley Center.
-By Cameron Leigh James. James is an Encinitas-based freelance writer.