Bonsall is a census-designated place (CDP) in San Diego County, California. The population was 3,982 at the 2010 census, up from 3,401 at the 2000 census. The area known as Bonsall was originally called Mount Fairview and had a post office by that name from December 28, 1871 to December 28, 1880. It received a post office in 1881 under the name Osgood, after California Southern Railroad chief engineer Joseph O. Osgood; the renaming was supposedly an unsuccessful attempt to convince Osgood to build the railroad through the San Luis Rey River Valley (the rail line eventually followed the Santa Margarita River instead). Following a contest, the town was renamed Bonsall in 1890, after local minister James A. Bonsall.
In the California State Legislature, Bonsall is in the 38th Senate District, represented by Democrat Catherine Blakespear, and in the 75th Assembly District, represented by Republican Marie Waldron. In the United States House of Representatives, Bonsall is in California's 50th congressional district, represented by Democrat Scott Peters. In June 1988, Bonsall-area voters defeated a ballot initiative to create a Community Services District ("CSD") after opponents argued that the boundaries included too many county taxpayers who more closely associated with neighboring cities Vista and Fallbrook rather than the unincorporated Bonsall community.
Bonsall is just east of Oceanside and Camp Pendleton, north of Vista and northwest of Hidden Meadows. According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 13.6 square miles (35 km2). The 13.4 square miles (35 km2) is land whereas 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) or (1.28%) is water.
Bonsall is served by the Bonsall Unified School District consisting of three elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school.
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