I was born and raised (except where I went to elementary school) in a community of San Diego called Mira Mesa. Mira Mesa is considerably isolated from the rest of San Diego due to all the canyons and freeways that border it, and it is about a 20 minute drive up SR-163 from Downtown San Diego. Since its inception, Mira Mesa was marketed as an affordable neighborhood outside of the central core of San Diego. In the late 60's and early 70's, Mira Mesa started out as rows and rows of identical tract housing plans with no amenities to accommodate the new residents of these homes (you can see a bit of that here, here, and here). Eventually, the neighborhood began to develop more and larger amounts of people began to move in, leading to Mira Mesa becoming the most populated neighborhood of San Diego. Nicknamed "The Mecca", Mira Mesa became a crucial passageway right between the I-15 and I-805 freeways for commuters.
To this day, Mira Mesa remains as one of the cheapest (relatively speaking, sadly everywhere in San Diego is becoming increasingly more and more expensive lately) areas to live in the city of San Diego north of the 8 freeway only behind Linda Vista (and cheaper than a number of areas south of the 8 freeway as well), which puts it in an interesting position considering all the neighborhoods surrounding it are considerably more affluent and white like Sorrento Valley, Scripps Ranch and Rancho Peñasquitos. (However this can very possibly change in the coming years...) Mira Mesa is ethnically diverse, being about one half Asian (mostly Filipinos and Vietnamese, and also a growing South Asian population). There's a noticeable Afghan & Persian population, some Black Americans, and of course there's a significant Latin American population, however not as much compared to other areas of San Diego farther south. This is the only recent and reliable source I could find on the ethnic/racial numbers of Mira Mesa, and although it is only for the high school, I feel it more or less represents the area as a whole.
Mira Mesa has always had a somewhat negative reputation since its founding. Initially being viewed as a logistical mistake due to its incredibly quick housing development without any thought for schools or even grocery stores, Mira Mesa's relative infamy stuck throughout the decades while the underlying reasons changed. As Mira Mesa's Filipino population grew due to the community's location next to Miramar Navy Air Station (now Marine Corps Air Station), White residents attempted to downplay the Filipino residents' presence and influence on Mira Mesa's collective culture and identity. Throughout San Diego in the 90's and into the 2000's, gangs, violent crime, and property crime were a lot more prevalent than they are today and Mira Mesa wasn't excluded from this. There were various gangs that took hold throughout the decades and robberies, burglaries, and assaults were very common compared to the surrounding whiter, richer neighborhoods in northern San Diego. As crime throughout San Diego, and the US in general, has declined greatly, Mira Mesa is now mainly looked down upon for what some residents describe as an unsightly or decaying appearance, although feelings and preconceptions from Mira Mesa's history still linger.
Racism and classism also play a part in this (duh), although usually not explicitly. Sorrento Valley, which is immediately west of Mira Mesa and is also part of the Mira Mesa neighborhood planning committee, has always tried to distance itself from its more working class, more racially diverse neighbor. As new upscale housing developments pop up around the western fringes of Mira Mesa, the areas seem to always secede from Mira Mesa and join Sorrento Valley, even sometimes adopting the zip code. A recent and ongoing example of this is the 3Roots housing development, located at the former southwestern corner of Mira Mesa, which now advertises itself as part of "Sorrento Mesa". In 2013, a group of 100 Sorrento Valley residents stormed a Mira Mesa town council meeting claiming Mira Mesa was trying to annex (and therefore ruin) Sorrento Valley. This has caused many residents of northwestern Mira Mesa to hop onto this trend and attempt to distance themselves from Mira Mesa, claiming they lived in "Sorrento Mesa" (which was a completely different area than where the 3Roots development is occurring), despite there being no actual neighborhood named as such. This isn't surprising to me though, considering this area is significantly whiter and wealthier than the rest of Mira Mesa and all the neighborhoods belong to various Homeowner's Associations, with residents being notorious for elitism, classism, and just being fucking annoying.
I've had people ask me what high school I went to and then would be visibly shocked when I told them Mira Mesa High, followed by them asking about the gangs and crime here. In high school I'd see on social media how students from wealthier and whiter areas would talk about Mira Mesa, even many referring to it as "ghetto". Well, San Diego, compared to pretty much every other big city in the US, is relatively safe and upkept, and Mira Mesa is not exempt from this. This isn't to say crime doesn't happen and there isn't decay though. There have been many traumatizing events that have occurred and still occur here in Mira Mesa and San Diego as a whole. And since the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a noticeable uptick in violence and crime in Mira Mesa and in San Diego in general, like much of the country.
With all that said, I've come to really love how Mira Mesa looks and feels, and I try to capture that when I am out walking or biking. Although it isn't completely unique, (other suburban areas in the city of San Diego developed around the same time like parts of South San Diego and parts of the Skyline-Paradise Hills area have a similar look), there are many aspects I really enjoy seeing. I like seeing how the houses and apartments visually stack in front of each other from certain angles, creating cool looking shapes and compositions. I like seeing how personalized most of the houses have become, especially in the older areas of Mira Mesa. Many houses contain unique walls and gates, many people have torn up their lawns and replaced them with rocks/plants or more driveway space, and there are many houses with additions that are kind of odd but pretty cool anyways, not to mention some of the very outlandish paint jobs on some houses (one of my neighbors painted their house smurf blue with a bright white roof). Seeing all the random things people leave out for the city to take care of like mattresses, furniture, and other random household items is pretty funny to me. I've also come to enjoy the overgrowth of lawns, weeds, and greenery that line the streets. Seeing a community where every hedge, every lawn, and every part of "nature" is carefully manicured and regulated feels suffocating and artificial and weirdly sterile to me. Mira Mesa's graffiti scene is pretty limited compared to central areas of San Diego or the Eastside, however there are a number of tag names I see whenever I go out, some getting up noticeably often (and even if some of them don't look the most skilled, I still really enjoy seeing them get up).
So now every time I'm out the house walking or biking around, I try to take a few shitty pictures on my phone or old ass digital camera of things that I think embody this neighborhood, or views that I just think look cool.