The community of Torrey Highlands is located in an area of the City still referred to as the North City Future Urbanizing Area. Torrey Highlands encompasses 1,134 acres and is west of Rancho Peñasquitos, south of Black Mountain Ranch, east of Pacific Highlands Ranch, and north of Del Mar Mesa. State Route 56 traverses the community.
The majority of Torrey Highlands is designated Planned Urbanized in the City's Progress Guide and General Plan. The exception is the Fairbanks Highlands development (approximately 28 acres) which retains the designation of Future Urbanizing Area. Torrey Highlands is a new community that is currently being developed. The Torrey Highlands Subarea Plan was approved in 1996 by the City Council and by the voters of the City of San Diego. As part of the approval, the number of residential units was limited to no more than 2,600 dwelling units in the Planned Urbanized portion of the community (Fairbanks Highlands contains an additional 93 dwelling units for a community total of 2,693 dwelling units).
As of January 2003 approximately 50% of the possible residential building permits had been issued and approximately one-third of residences had been occupied. The Torrey Highlands Subarea Plan designates 50% of Torrey Highlands for residential development, 30% for parks and open space, 12% for schools, 5% for commercial, and 3% for employment centers.