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San Marcos struts her stuff on 60th birthday!

The 'little city that could' is all grown up as Fortune ranks San Marcos #20 best city in America for families.

SAN MARCOS, Calif. — You know that sinking feeling of panic when you forget someone's birthday? In this Zevely Zone, I made it to San Marcos just in time. 

I've lived in San Marcos for 20 years, and I had no idea my city was celebrating a major milestone. The 'little city that could' is celebrating its 60th birthday. Sometimes the biggest birthdays sneak up on you. "Well, we've been telling people but not everyone listens of course," said San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones. She grew up in Ramona and El Cajon but roots for a new home team now.

Credit: City of San Marcos

If San Marcos had a cheerleader, she'd be on the squad. "Oh, I'm the head cheerleader," laughed Mayor Jones who showed us her city's weekly Farmers Market in what's now called North City. 

The entire area with new housing and commercial space just seemed to pop up overnight. "Yes, you want to know what's funny is back in 2009 when we actually approved this it was a dirt lot. It was a dirt lot where people just threw their unwanted furniture," said Mayor Jones.

Credit: City of San Marcos

The City of San Marcos was recently selected by Fortune as a top finalist in its Best Places to Live for Families ranking. Out of nearly 2,000 places Fortune evaluated, the City of San Marcos ranked #20 for its high-quality amenities for families raising children and caring for aging parents. 

To select the top 25 Best Places to Live for Families, Fortune evaluated cities, towns, suburbs, exurbs, villages and townships with 25,000 to 750,000 residents across all 50 states in the United States. Fortune analyzed comprehensive data on education, aging resources, general wellness, financial health and livability for each location. The ranking focused on cities and towns with affordable housing, diverse neighborhoods and resources for multigenerational families.  

Credit: Maya's Cookies

"When I first moved here there were 2,000 people," said 82-year-old Pia Harris-Ebert. She served on the city council for six terms and 24 years. "Today it is the place where people want to go and want to live and want to stay," said Pia. I asked the former councilmember if she would ever to live anywhere else. "Of course not, I live in the same house I bought a long, long time ago," Pia said.

Credit: City of San Marcos

In the 1960's, San Marcos was known for its dairy farms and chicken ranches but now a new Kaiser Permanente hospital is under construction. The city boasts quality schools and higher education at California State University San Marcos. 

San Marcos has not one but two Costco's. There is also a new Creek Project, not to mention the city's nickname I had to ask the mayor about. "San Parkos? Yes, we have so many parks here in San Marcos and we have about 72 miles of walking trails," said Mayor Jones.

Credit: City of San Marcos

Above all, city leaders are proud to be inclusive and support people from all walks of life. "I am so proud of San Marcos," said Pia who became the first woman ever elected to San Marcos city council in 1982. "I was immigrant from Sweden. They started early in San Marcos to accept immigrants on their city council," said Pia.

From cow fields to cookies San Marcos has come a long way. Maya Madsen could have opened her African American owned business Maya's Cookies anywhere but chose San Marcos. "Why would I not? I mean it's an amazing city, the mayor is amazing, the community support, the university it just goes on and on," said Maya.  From bowling to breweries, San Marcos is also famous for sunshine. "The nice thing is we don't have the gloom from the coast, and we are not as hot as Escondido," said Mayor Jones.

Not to mention the perfect place to eat a Wynston's Ice Cream Cake. I joined a group of city leaders and residents as we sang Happy Birthday to San Marcos.

"I am exceptionally honored to serve as mayor while San Marcos marks this momentous occasion," said Rebecca Jones, mayor of San Marcos. "I'm looking forward to the chance to celebrate how our city has progressed while remaining true to what makes San Marcos so special – our people, our businesses and our history as a place where people can thrive together."

94,926 people live in San Marcos making it the fastest growing population in North County. For more information about the City of San Marcos' current projects and historical facts, please visit san-marcos.net.

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