Rancho Santa Fe (Spanish: santa—holy, fe—faith) known locally as ″The Ranch″, is a census-designated place (CDP) in San Diego County, California, United States, within the San Diego metropolitan area. With an estimated (2010) median income of $188,859, it is on the list of highest income communities in the United States with a population of at least 1,000. The population was 3,117 at the 2010 census, down from 3,252 at the 2000 census. The CDP is primarily residential with a few shopping blocks, a middle and elementary school, several restaurants and single family residential areas situated on primarily 1-3 acre parcels. .
In 2011, Forbes reported Rancho Santa Fe as having the fourteenth most expensive ZIP code in the United States (down from second place in both 2006 and 2007), and fourth most expensive in California (most expensive California ZIP in 2007), with a 2011 median home sale price of $2,585,000. Some homes in ZIP code 92067 but not within the CDP are valued at more than the median home-value within the Master Planned Community that makes up the official CDP, and many people who live within the 92067 ZIP code cite their community as Rancho Santa Fe even though they do not live within the strict boundaries of the Master Planned Community known as "The Covenant" of Rancho Santa Fe. In 2012, CNN Money / OnBoard LLC reported Rancho Santa Fe, with 96%, rated number one in the US ZIP code list of neighborhoods with the highest percentage of million-dollar homes.
Rancho Santa Fe (RSF) has its origins as Rancho San Dieguito, a Mexican land grant made during 1836–1845 to Juan María Osuna (the first mayor or alcalde of the San Diego area). In 1906 it was sold to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company, which renamed it after the second transcontinental railroad to reach California. As previously mentioned, the Railway planted extensive groves of eucalyptus trees in the hope of having a near-inexhaustible supply of raw material for the railway ties they needed to expand their Western American market. Eucalyptus wood, however, proved too brittle; unable to hold railway spikes. One Sydney Nelson, about whom little else is known, helped finance the purchase of the ten square mile plot, as well as the construction of a golf course (today the main course of the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club). Nelson also drew up rudimentary community plans.
Rancho Santa Fe gained popularity when Bing Crosby bought the storied Osuna Ranch in 1936. He invited all of his Hollywood cronies down to enjoy the peace and quiet of the country, and play the Rancho Santa Fe golf course. In 1937 he launched the First Bing Crosby Pro Am Tournament. The same year Bing Crosby, movie director for Douglas Fairbanks, Ted Reed, and Pat O'Brien opened the Del Mar Race Track. His "fun golf tournaments", which included Hollywood celebrities matched with owners, jockies, and trainers from the area, drew great crowds to the Ranch. Rancho Santa Fe became a popular destination.
In addition to many notable Hollywood figures (Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford) who played important roles in the founding and popularization of the resort town, Rancho Santa Fe has been the scene for a good deal of San Diego County's high social dramas. In March 1997, 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult, committed mass suicide in a rented house at 18241 Colina Norte. Due to the publicity surrounding the case, the street name was changed to Paseo Victoria.
Rancho Santa Fe is in the 50th congressional district. Their representative, Randy Duke Cunningham, resigned from the House on November 28, 2005 after pleading guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004. Cunningham's corruption first came to light when he bought his Rancho Santa Fe house largely with the proceeds of the sale of his Del Mar home for an inflated price. He was replaced by Brian Bilbray in the 2006 elections, who beat Democrat Francine Busby.
The public library in Rancho Santa Fe is a branch of the San Diego County Library system, and is open to all California residents. The Rancho Santa Fe Library Guild owns the building and land that house the Rancho Santa Fe Library, as well as providing the staff for the children's room.