Bonita is an unincorporated community in southern San Diego County, California, nestled between the cities of Chula Vista, National City, and San Diego. It is also a census-designated place defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.
While Bonita is politically designated as an unincorporated community, bounded by the incorporated cities of Chula Vista, San Diego, and National City the community of Bonita is more closely associated with the geography of the Lower Sweetwater Valley. Thus considered, Bonita occupies about a five mile (8 km) stretch of the Sweetwater River, its valley, and surrounding hills on either side, bounded upstream (east) by the Sweetwater Reservoir, and downstream (west) effectively by Interstate 805. The community crosses west of I-805 -- an area less than 160 acres (0.6 km²) -- reaching as far south and west as East H Street and Hilltop Drive. Its northern boundary is State Route 54 and its southern extent reaches approximately one mile (2 km) south of the river.
Large portions of modern Bonita consist of housing tracts built throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, including:
Bonita has experienced minor flooding throughout history, generally as a result of high seasonal rains attributed to El Niño. The floods most affect the Central Avenue river crossing, as no bridge has ever been built, unlike the Bonita Road and Willow Road crossings which are bridges, the former of which was rebuilt in the late 1990s.
In the 1990s and 2000s, the development of State Route 125 (The South Bay Expressway) became a major issue to Bonita residents, much as Interstate 805 and State Route 54 did during their development. Opponents argued that Bonita's rural nature would be compromised without benefit while proponents argued that the highway would reduce the significant increase in surface-street car traffic the community had seen since the 1980s when the eastern Chula Vista communities surrounding Eastlake were developed. The tollway opened in November 2007.
The Bonita Historical Museum is the principal repository of historical information for the Lower Sweetwater Valley.
In the state legislature Bonita is located in the 36th and 40th Senate District, represented by Republican Dennis Hollingsworth and Democrat Denise Moreno Ducheny, and in the 78th and 79th Assembly District, represented by Republican Shirley Horton and Democrat Mary Salas respectively. Federally, Bonita is located in California's 51st congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +7 and is represented by Democrat Bob Filner.
To visitors and residents alike, one of the most visible features of Bonita recreational life is the walking trail which loops the Chula Vista Municipal Golf Course in central Bonita. Hundreds of residents walk, run, and ride this trail every day for pleasure and fitness, and the trail has become a vital component of Bonita life for many residents.
In the late 1990s the Sweetwater Regional Park was expanded and significantly improved, extending the walking and equestrian trails to an even greater number, and introducing a camping area at Summit Meadow Road. Now, virtually the entire valley from the reservoir to I-805 formally serve recreational purposes as either park or golf course.
Equestrianism has long been a part of the Bonita community, and many trails exist throughout the Lower Sweetwater Valley. There are a number of connections to trails external to Bonita as well. In fact many residents still keep their own horses and can be seen riding the trails regularly. The Bonita Valley Trails organization monitors and supports the network of trails throughout the valley.
The following parks serve the Bonita community:
As of the 2000 census, there were 12,401 people, 4,179 households, and 3,397 families residing in Bonita. The population density was 977.2/km² (2,533.3/mi²). There were 4,281 housing units at an average density of 337.3/km² (874.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 71.99% White, 3.11% African American, 0.56% Native American, 8.54% Asian, 0.31% Pacific Islander, 10.64% from other races, and 4.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 30.47% of the population.
There were 4,179 households out of which 35.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.4% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.7% were non-families. 14.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.94 and the average family size was 3.22.
In Bonita the population is spread out with 24.4% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 28.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 95.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.2 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $70,109, and the median income for a family was $79,333. Males had a median income of $50,495 versus $39,653 for females. The per capita income for Bonita is $31,131. About 2.1% of families and 3.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.2% of those under age 18 and 2.0% of those age 65 or over.