Rancho Palos Verdes is a quiet, affluent suburb of Los Angeles. Sitting atop the bluffs of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, it is known for expansive views of the Pacific Ocean. The history of Rancho Palos Verdes dates back to the Spanish explorers and the establishment of the first Spanish rancho land grant in California. Its most notable geographic features are the Palos Verdes Hills and cliffs with grand vistas of the Pacific Ocean, with views of Santa Catalina Island. Its most notorious geographic feature is the continuous landslide at Portuguese Bend, which may have been caused in part by septic runoff from homes in Rancho Palos Verdes and its neighboring communities.
Wayfarers Chapel designed by Lloyd Wright and built between 1949-1951 is on the National Register of Historic Places. Point Vicente Lighthouse was built in 1926 and is also on the National Register of Historic Places. Marineland, once the world's largest oceanarium, operated from 1954 through 1987. The site has been converted into a large resort.
As of the census of 2000, there were 41,145 people, 15,256 households, and 12,220 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,163.0/km² (3,011.2/mi²). There were 15,709 housing units at an average density of 444.0/km² (1,149.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 67.23% White, 1.98% African American, 0.15% Native American, 25.95% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 1.21% from other races, and 3.39% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.68% of the population.
There were 15,256 households out of which 32.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 70.8% were married couples living together, 6.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.9% were non-families. 16.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.00.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.0% under the age of 18, 4.7% from 18 to 24, 23.0% from 25 to 44, 30.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.1 males.
According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $108,640, and the median income for a family was $122,589. Males had a median income of $80,617 versus $46,665 for females. The per capita income for the city was $46,250. About 2.0% of families and 2.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.0% of those under age 18 and 2.6% of those age 65 or over.
The city is served by Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District. PVPUSD schools have constantly ranked among the best in California and the nation. The Washington Post once ranked the district's largest high school, Palos Verdes Peninsula High School (PVPHS) in neighboring Rolling Hills Estates as the 8th best public or private high school in the nation. Also, Chadwick School is a well known K-12 private school that serves the area. Another private school is Christ Lutheran Church and School. It ranges from preschool to 8th grade. Rolling Hills Country Day School, adjacent to the South Coast Botanic Garden, offers a private K-8 education. Rancho Palos Verdes also includes Marymount College.
The latest survey conducted by U.S. News in 2007 reports that PVPHS still ranks among the top 100, at 89th place, and the reopened Palos Verdes High School (PVHS) in Palos Verdes Estates trails closely behind, at 93rd place.
Schools served by the PVPUSD:
In the state legislature Rancho Palos Verdes is located in the 25th Senate District, represented by Democrat Edward Vincent, and in the 54th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Bonnie Lowenthal. Federally, Rancho Palos Verdes is located in California's 46th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +6 and is represented by Republican Dana Rohrabacher.
Fire protection in Rancho Palos Verdes is provided by the Los Angeles County Fire Department with ambulance transport by McCormick Ambulance Service. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department provides law enforcement, operating out of the Lomita Station.