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.
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
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"
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 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.
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.
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.