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San Clemente, California

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"San Clemente" redirects here. For the island off the California coast, see San Clemente Island. For other uses, see San Clemente (disambiguation).

San Clemente, California


The San Clemente Pier and central San Clemente Beach on the Pacific Ocean


Location of San Clemente within Orange County, California.

San Clemente, CaliforniaLocation in the United States


33°26′16″N 117°37′13″WCoordinates: 33°26′16″N 117°37′13″W


United States



County Orange

Incorporated February 28, 1928[1]


• Mayor Chris Hamm[2]


• Total 19.468 sq mi (50.422 km2)

• Land 18.711 sq mi (48.461 km2)

• Water 0.757 sq mi (1.961 km2) 3.89%

Elevation[4] 233 ft (71 m)

Population (April 1, 2010)[5]

• Total 63,522

• Estimate (2013)[5] 65,040

• Density 3,300/sq mi (1,300/km2)

Time zone Pacific (UTC-8)

• Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)

ZIP codes 92672–92674

Area code 949

FIPS code 06-65084

GNIS feature IDs 1661376, 2411781


San Clemente is a city in Orange County, California. The population was 63,522 at the 2010 census. Located on the California Coast, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego at the southern tip of the county, it is known for its ocean, hill, and mountain views, a pleasant climate and its Spanish Colonial style architecture. San Clemente's city slogan is "Spanish Village by the Sea". The official city flower is the Bougainvillea; the official city tree, the Coral.

Contents [hide]


1.1Early colonization

1.2Becoming a city

1.3Nixon's "Western White House"








4.1Corporate headquarters

4.2Largest employers

5Surfing legacy





10Notable natives and residents

11Sister cities

12See also


14External links


The pier in San Clemente at the end of Avenida Del Mar, part of the original village created by Ole Hanson

Another view of the San Clemente pier

San Clemente beach view, December 17, 2013

Amtrak passes along the beach at San Clemente.

Early colonization[edit]

Prior to colonization by Spaniards, the area was inhabited by the Juaneño native people. Long admired by explorers and passing settlers, it remained virtually uninhabited until 1776, when Mission San Juan Capistrano was established by Father Junipero Serra, which led both Indian and Spanish settlers to establish villages nearby. After the founding of Mission San Juan Capistrano, the local natives were conscripted to work for the mission.

Becoming a city[edit]

Property rights to the land exchanged hands several times, but few ventured to build on it until 1925, when former Mayor of Seattle, Ole Hanson, an out of town, major land developer, with the financial help of a syndicate headed by Hamilton Cotton, purchased and designed a 2,000-acre (8.1 km2) community. Hanson believed that the area's pleasant climate, beautiful beaches and fertile soil would serve as a haven to Californians who were tired of "the big city". He named the city after San Clemente Island, which in turn was named by the explorer Vizcaino in 1602 after Saint Clement, whose feast day occurs on November 23, the day of Vizcaino's arrival on the island. Hanson envisioned it as a Mediterranean-style coastal resort town, his "San Clemente by the Sea". He had a clause added to the deeds requiring all building plans to be submitted to an architectural review board in an effort to ensure that future development would retain some Mediterranean-style influence. But this proved to be short lived, and in the oldest parts of town you find a very eclectic mix of building styles.

Hanson succeeded in promoting the new area and selling property to interested buyers. The city was to consist of buildings built in the classic Mediterranean style with red tile roofs. He built public structures such as the Beach Club, the Community Center, the pier and San Clemente Plaza, now known as Max Berg Plaza Park, which were later donated to the city. The area was officially incorporated as a City on February 27, 1928 with a council-manager government.

Referring to the way he would develop the city, Hanson proclaimed, "I have a clean canvas and I am determined to paint a clean picture. Think of it – a canvas five miles (8 km) long and one and one-half miles wide!" My San Clemente by the Sea

Soon after San Clemente was incorporated, the need for a "Fire House" was realized. The headlines in San Clemente’s first newspaper, El Heraldo de San Clemente June 1928 read: "Building to house local fire department will be constructed by popular subscription and turned over to the city when completed!" Individual subscriptions were received in the amounts from $6.00 to $1500.00 from the local citizenry.

Nixon's "Western White House"[edit]

In 1969, President Richard Nixon bought part of the H. H. Cotton estate, one of the original homes built by one of Hanson's partners. Nixon called it "La Casa Pacifica", but it was nicknamed the "Western White House", a term now commonly used for a President's vacation home. It sits above one of the West Coast's premier surfing spots, Trestles, and just north of historic surfing beach San Onofre. During Nixon's tenure it was visited by many world leaders, including Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, Mexican President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz,Prime Minister of Japan Eisaku Sato, and Henry Kissinger, as well as businessman Bebe Rebozo. Following his resignation, Nixon retired to San Clemente to write his memoirs. He sold the home in 1980 and moved to New York City, later to Saddle River, New Jersey, and then eventually to Park Ridge, New Jersey. The property also has historical ties to the Democratic side of the aisle; prior to Nixon's tenure at the estate, H.H. Cotton was known to host Franklin D. Roosevelt, who would visit to play cards in a small outbuilding overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The Old City Plaza also at one time had a small Nixon museum inside when the city occupied the premises.


A view of Santa Catalina Island, California from San Clemente. The city is known for its mild weather andmediterranean climate

San Clemente is located at 33°26′16″N 117°37′13″W (33.437828, −117.620397).[6]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.5 square miles (51 km2). 18.7 square miles (48 km2) of it is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) of it (3.89%) is water.


San Clemente enjoys a Mediterranean climate where temperatures tend to average around the 70's. The warmest month of the year is August with an average temperature of 79 °F (26 °C). The coldest month is December with an average temperature of 64 °F (18 °C). The annual rainfall in 2010 was 10.5 inches (270 mm) and the annual days of sunshine was 310.


Interstate 5 runs through San Clemente. The Foothill Transportation Corridor has proposed to connect Mission Viejo to the Orange/San Diego county line, running along the east side of San Clemente and through San Onofre State Beach on its way to I-5. The California Coastal Commission[7] soundly rejected this proposal by an 8–2 vote. Reasons cited for rejection included: the road's alignment through a state park, endangered species habitat, and a native American archaeological site, and the runoff from the road damaging the state park and surf break. The Federal Government rejected the proposal to place the toll road in accordance with the TCA proposal. This decision was viewed as a major defeat for the TCA and great victory for The Surfrider Foundation, which is based in San Clemente, and assorted environmental groups.

At the south end of town is located Camp Pendleton and Trestles surf beach. Additionally, the city is served by numerous daily trains operated by Amtrak and Metrolink between Los Angeles and San Diego. San Clemente has beachside Amtrak and Metrolink service.

Traveling north on Interstate 5, San Clemente is the last city that is closer to San Diego than it is to Los Angeles.


Historical population


1930 667 —

1940 479 −28.2%

1950 2,008 319.2%

1960 8,527 324.7%

1970 17,063 100.1%

1980 27,325 60.1%

1990 41,100 50.4%

2000 49,936 21.5%

2010 63,522 27.2%

Est. 2014 65,326 [8] 2.8%

U.S. Decennial Census[9]

San Clemente Civic Center


The 2010 United States Census[10] reported that San Clemente had a population of 63,522. The population density was 3,262.9 people per square mile (1,259.8/km²). The racial makeup of San Clemente was 54,605 (86.0%) White (76.0% Non-Hispanic White),[11] 411 (0.6%) African American, 363 (0.6%) Native American, 2,333 (3.7%) Asian, 90 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 3,433 (5.4%) from other races, and 2,287 (3.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10,702 persons (16.8%).

The Census reported that 63,249 people (99.6% of the population) lived in households, 245 (0.4%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 28 (0.04%) were institutionalized.

There were 23,906 households, out of which 8,210 (34.3%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 13,873 (58.0%) wereopposite-sex married couples living together, 1,898 (7.9%) had a female householder with no husband present, 986 (4.1%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,207 (5.0%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 149 (0.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 5,184 households (21.7%) were made up of individuals and 1,972 (8.2%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65. There were 16,757 families (70.1% of all households); the average family size was 3.

The population was spread out with 15,506 people (24.4%) under the age of 18, 5,006 people (7.9%) aged 18 to 24, 16,474 people (25.9%) aged 25 to 44, 18,122 people (28.5%) aged 45 to 64, and 8,414 people (13.2%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.7 years. For every 100 females there were 100.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.8 males.

There were 25,966 housing units at an average density of 1,333.8 per square mile (515.0/km²), of which 15,309 (64.0%) were owner-occupied, and 8,597 (36.0%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.3%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.8%. 41,164 people (64.8% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 22,085 people (34.8%) lived in rental housing units.

According to the 2010 United States Census, San Clemente had a median household income of $87,184, with 7.9% of the population living below the federal poverty line.[11]


The Federal census statistics from the 2000 census reported that San Clemente had a population of 49,936. Population density was 2,833.4 inhabitants per square mile (1,094.2/km²). There were 20,653 housing units at an average density of 1,171.8 per square mile (452.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 87.92% White, 0.77% African American, 0.61% Native American, 2.64% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 5.11% from other races, and 2.81% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.89% of the population.

As of the city's 2010 census, there were 68,763 people and 25,514 housing units in the city. 90% of the adult population is a high school grad or higher. 5.5% of the population are considered below the poverty line.

As of 2010 the median family income was $87,200. The per capita income for the city was $34,169. As of March 2010 the Median Home Value was $605,500.[12]

In the city the population was spread out with 24.1% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 24.1% from 45 to 64, and 13.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 102.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.9 males.


Built in 1929, the Historic City Hall at 101 South El Camino Real in San Clemente, also known as the Easley Building, has never been used as a domicile for municipal government. It used to be a bank and the office of the city clerk. In 2011, it was listed for sale for $4 million. The 9,845-square-foot structure, built in Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, is listed on theNational Register of Historic Places.[13]

Corporate headquarters[edit]

The following companies have their corporate headquarters based in San Clemente:

Cameron Health - Medical device manufacturer

ICU Medical - Medical device manufacturer

Pick Up Stix - Fast casual Asian food

Rainbow Sandals - Manufacturer of premium sandals

TrafFix Devices, Inc - Manufacturer of Traffic Safety Devices

Largest employers[edit]

According to the City's 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[14] the largest employers in the city are:

#Employer# of employees

1 Capistrano Unified School District 553

2 ICU Medical 400

3 City of San Clemente 306

4 Cross Section Ventures 300

5 Ethical Nutrients 280

6 Ralphs 266

7 Albertsons 249

8 Fishermans Restaurant 195

9 Wal-Mart 190

10 Inspirational Films 180

Many new development projects are underway[when?] such as Plaza San Clemente which will offer ocean view shopping.

Surfing legacy[edit]

A view of the pier in San Clemente, a popular surfing spot in the city.

San Clemente catches swells all year long. Going from South to North, they include Trestles (technically just south of the city line), Lowers, Middles & Uppers, Calafia, Riviera, Lasuens (most often called Lost Winds),The Hole, T-Street, The Pier, Linda Lane, 204, North Beach and Poche Beach.

San Clemente is the surfing media capital of the world as well as a surfing destination. It is home to Surfing Magazine, The Surfer's Journal, and Longboard Magazine, with Surfer Magazine just up the freeway in San Juan Capistrano.

The city has a large concentration of surfboard shapers and manufacturers including Noll Surfboards, Lost Surfboards, Stewart Surfboards, Cole,Paul Carter, Timmy Patterson Surfboards, Terry Senate and Dewey Weber Surfboards. Additionally, numerous world-renowned surfers were raised in San Clemente or took up long-term residence in town, including Shane Beschen, Mike Parsons (originally from Laguna Beach), and many others.

San Clemente High School has won 6 out of 7 most recent NSSA national surfing titles. One title was won by Capistrano Connections Academy.


Of the 32,569 registered voters in the city, 18,320 (56.2%) are Republicans, 7,532 (23.1%) are Democrats, 5,132 (15.8%) declined to state political affiliation, and the remaining 1,585 (4.9%) are registered with a minor party. San Clemente voted in favor of Proposition 8 by 55.5% and for Proposition 4 by 52.2%.[15]


In the California State Legislature, San Clemente is in the 36th Senate District, represented by Republican Patricia Bates, and in the 73rd Assembly District, represented byRepublican Bill Brough.[16]

In the United States House of Representatives, San Clemente is in California's 49th congressional district, represented by Republican Darrell Issa.[17]


The city is served by Capistrano Unified School District.

Within the city, there are six elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school. There is also one virtual public K-12 school: Capistrano Connections Academy with flexible hours for students. The elementary schools are: Truman Benedict, Concordia Elementary, Vista Del Mar, Las Palmas, Marblehead Elementary, and Lobo Elementary. The middle schools are Bernice Ayer, Shorecliffs, and Vista Del Mar.

Las Palmas Elementary is well known for its dual immersion program.

San Clemente High School has an IB (International Baccalaureate) Program and a large number of advanced placement courses. Students at San Clemente High School have proven to be well rounded and versatile, receiving academic accolades as well as hosting groups ranging from national title winning dance teams to award winning orchestras, bands, voice groups and one of the nation's most skilled athletic programs; these groups have even received opportunities to perform at various venues including Carnegie Hall (madrigals and orchestra), various venues in Hawaii (marching band), and many others.


San Clemente was the setting of the MTV reality show, Life of Ryan.

It was also the setting of the 2005 film Brick. The town was chosen because it was particularly close to the director Rian Johnson who lived there and went to San Clemente High School, which was the school depicted in the film. Many of the locations in the film are still identical to the real ones, with the exception of the Pin's house which was flattened a week after exterior shooting; the interior was constructed in a local warehouse. The football field has also since been replaced with artificial turf and track. The phone booths that were used all through the film are mostly props that were placed on location.

San Clemente is served by two newspapers, The Sun Post News (owned by the Orange County Register) and The San Clemente Times. The Sun Post runs twice weekly on Thursdays and Saturdays and The San Clemente Times runs once weekly on Thursdays.

The city is also served by the San Clemente Patch], an online only news website.

Notable natives and residents[edit]

Brian de la Puente

Kolohe Andino, professional surfer

Anastasia Ashley, professional surfer

Aaron Bank, US Colonel, Special Forces

Shane Beschen, professional surfer

John "hex" Carter, Nerdapalooza creator

Lon Chaney, Jr., actor

Anthony Cumia, radio host

Brian de la Puente, NFL football player

Connor De Phillippi, race car driver

Jennie Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Richard Nixon, great-granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Sue Enquist, Hall of Fame UCLA softball coach[18]

Jim Everett, NFL football quarterback

Cara Fawn, porn star, mainstream science-fiction actress

Fu Manchu, rock band

Jorge Garcia, actor

Ole Hanson, former mayor of Seattle and founder of San Clemente

Annie Hardy, musician with Giant Drag[19]

Rian Johnson, director

Carl Karcher, founder of Carl's Jr. and CKE Enterprises[citation needed]

Karch Kiraly, Olympic gold medalist in volleyball

Colin McPhillips, professional longboarder

Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States and Pat Nixon, first lady

Ryann O'Toole, LPGA golfer

Dominic Purcell, actor[20]

Ryan Sheckler, professional skateboarder

Adrian Smith, architect and designer of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world

Peter "PT" Townend, surfer[21]

Jean Vander Pyl, actress, voice of Wilma Flintstone

Katie Vernola, model, Playboy Playmate, Miss June 2010

Sister cities[edit]

San Clemente del Tuyú, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Dana Point San Juan Capistrano Santa Ana Mountains & Cleveland National Forest Pacific Ocean

Camp Pendleton

San Clemente

Pacific Ocean Pacific Ocean San Onofre State Beach





Municipalities and communities of Orange County, California, United States





Greater Los Angeles Area


San Clemente, California

1928 establishments in California

Cities in Orange County, California

Incorporated cities and towns in California

Populated coastal places in California

Populated places established in 1925

Populated places established in 1928