San Clemente is a city in Orange County, California, United States. As of 2005, the city population was 65,900. Located six miles (10 km) south of San Juan Capistrano at the southern tip of the county, it is roughly equidistant from San Diego and Los Angeles.
Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the area was inhabited by what came to be known as the Juaneño Indians. Long admired by explorers and passing settlers, it remained virtually uninhabited until 1776, when Mission San Juan Capistrano was established by Father Junipero Serra and led both Indian and Spanish settlers to set up villages nearby. After the founding of Mission San Juan Capistrano, the local natives were conscripted to work for the mission.
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 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 Spanish-style coastal resort town, a "Spanish Village by the Sea." In an unprecedented move, 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 Spanish-style influence (for example, for many years it was required that all new buildings in the downtown area have red tile roofs).
Hanson succeeded in promoting the new area and selling property to interested buyers. The city was to consist of buildings built in the classic Spanish style with red tile roofs. He built public structures such as the Beach Club, the Community Center, the pier and 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 long and one and one-half miles wide!"
Largest Historic Landmark in San Clemente: Soon after San Clemente ( The Spanish Village by the Sea) 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.
In 1969, an event occurred which accelerated the growth and reputation of San Clemente. In that year President Richard Nixon purchased a Spanish mansion in the southern part of town that Hamilton Cotton had built in 1927. This "Western White House" became the site of numerous historical meetings. The Old City Plaza also at one time had a small Nixon museum inside when the city occupied the premises.
In 1968 President Richard Nixon bought 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 and then later 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.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 47.6 km² (18.4 mi²). 45.6 km² (17.6 mi²) of it is land and 1.9 km² (0.7 mi²) of it (4.03%) is water.
Interstate 5 runs through San Clemente. The Foothill Transportation Corridor has proposed to connect Mission Viejo to the Orange/San Diego county line and proposes to run along the east side of San Clemente and through San Onofre State Beach on its way to I-5. The California Coastal Commission recently 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, native American archaeological site and the runoff from the road damaging the state park and surf break. The Federal Government recently 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.
As of the city's 2005 census, there were 65,900 people and 25,514 housing units in the city.
The last Federal census statistics from the 2000 census showed that the population density was 1,094.2/km² (2,833.4/mi²). There were 20,653 housing units at an average density of 452.6/km² (1,171.8/mi²). 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.
There were 19,395 households out of which 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.6% were married couples living together, 7.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.9% were non-families. 23.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.05.
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.
The median income for a household in the city was $63,507, and the median income for a family was $76,261 (these figures had risen to $82,842 and $103,538 respectively as of a 2007 estimate) . Males had a median income of $51,551 versus $36,528 for females. The per capita income for the city was $34,169. About 4.6% of families and 7.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.6% of those under age 18 and 3.2% of those age 65 or over.
San Clemente catches swells all year long. Going from South to North, they include Trestles (technically just south of the city line), North Gate (heavily localized), State Park, Lost Winds, Riviera, The Hole, Beach House, T-Street, The Pier, Linda Lane, 204, North Beach, and Poche.
San Clemente is also the surfing media capital of the world as well as a premier 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 Lost Surfboards, Stewart Surfboards and Cole Surfboards. Additionally, many 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.
In the state legislature San Clemente is located in the 38th Senate District, represented by Republican Mark Wyland, and in the 73rd Assembly District, represented by Republican Diane Harkey. Federally, San Clemente is located in California's 44th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +6 and is represented by Republican Ken Calvert.
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: Concordia Elementary; Truman Benedict; Vista Del Mar; Las Palmas; Marblehead Elementary; and Lobo Elementary. The middle schools are Bernice Ayer, Shorecliffs, and Vista Del Mar.
San Clemente High School has an IB (International Baccalaureate) Program and a large number of advanced placement courses. The music program boasts a nationally recognized Vocal Arts Program with award-winning Madrigals, Women's Ensemble, and A Cappella choirs.
Las Palamas Elementary is well known for its dual immersion program.
San Clemente is 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 phonebooths that were used all through the film are mostly props that were placed on location.