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San Clemente, California
The San Clemente Pier and central San Clemente Beach on the Pacific Ocean
The San Clemente Pier and central San Clemente Beach on the Pacific Ocean
Official seal of San Clemente, California
Location of San Clemente within Orange County, California
Location of San Clemente within Orange County, California
San Clemente, California is located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area
San Clemente, California
San Clemente, California
Location in the Los Angeles metropolitan area
San Clemente, California is located in California
San Clemente, California
San Clemente, California
Location in California
San Clemente, California is located in the United States
San Clemente, California
San Clemente, California
Location in the United States
Country United States
State California
County Orange
Incorporated February 28, 1928
Named for Saint Clement
 • Total 19.11 sq mi (49.48 km2)
 • Land 18.36 sq mi (47.54 km2)
 • Water 0.75 sq mi (1.94 km2)  3.89%
233 ft (71 m)
 • Total 63,522
 • Estimate 
 • Density 3,517.00/sq mi (1,357.92/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
Area code 949
FIPS code 06-65084
GNIS feature IDs 1661376, 2411781

San Clemente ( Spanish for "St. Clement") is a coastal city in Orange County, California, United States. The population was 63,522 in at the 2010 census. Located on the California Coast, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, the southernmost city of Orange County 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, and the official city tree is the coral. San Clemente is also the southernmost city in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.


The pier in San Clemente at the end of Avenida Del Mar, part of the original village created by Ole Hanson
Pier of San Clemente, CA
Another view of the San Clemente pier
Beach scene, San Clemente, CA DSCN0032
San Clemente beach view, December 17, 2013
Amtrak route along San Clemente, CA, beach DSCN0040
Amtrak passes along the beach at San Clemente

Early colonization

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 Indians 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 the area's pleasant climate, beautiful beaches, and fertile soil would serve as a haven to Californians 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 red tile roofs and white exteriors. But this proved to be short-lived; in the oldest parts of town you find an eclectic mix of building styles.

Hanson succeeded in promoting the new area and selling property. 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 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 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 when the city occupied the premises.


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

San Clemente is located at 33°26′16″N 117°37′13″W / 33.43778°N 117.62028°W / 33.43778; -117.62028 (33.437828, −117.620397).

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 has a Mediterranean climate where temperatures tend to average in the 70s. 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 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 rejected this proposal 8–2. 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 for assorted environmental groups.

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


Historical population
Census Pop.
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%
2020 64,293 1.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
San Clemente
San Clemente Civic Center


The 2010 United States Census reported 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), 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 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%) were marriage 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 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.


The Federal census statistics from the 2000 census reported 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. Ninety percent of the adult population is a high school grad or higher, and 5.5% of the population are considered below the poverty line.

As of 2017 the median household income was $101,843. The per capita income for the city as of 2017 was $54,133. As of March 2010 the median home value was $605,500.

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.

Surfing legacy

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

San Clemente catches swells all year. From South to North, they include Trestles (technically just south of the city line), Lowers, Middles & Uppers, Cotton's Point, Calafia, Riviera, Lasuens (most often called Lost Winds), The Hole, T-Street, The Pier, Linda Lane, 204, North Beach and Poche Beach. Old Man's Beach you can find on your own.

San Clemente is the surfing media capital of the world as well as a major surfing destination. It is home to Surfing Magazine, The Surfer's Journal, and Longboard Magazine, with Surfer Magazine an adjacent city San Juan Capistrano.

The city has a large concentration of surfboard shapers and manufacturers. 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).

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

In popular culture

  • San Clemente is mentioned in the Tom Waits song "Diamonds on My Windshield" from the album The Heart of Saturday Night.
  • Orange County band The Ziggens released a song named "San Clemente."

Sister cities

San Clemente is twinned with:


Historic City Hall, San Clemente, CA DSCN0042
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 the National Register of Historic Places.

Corporate headquarters

The following companies have their corporate headquarters 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
  • Stance Socks – Sock and underwear brand

Largest employers

According to the city's 2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the largest employers in the city are:

# Employer # of employees
1 Capistrano Unified School District 610
2 Glaukos Corp. 278
3 ICU Medical 250
4 Fisherman's Restaurants 225
5 Ralphs 223
6 Target 205
7 City of San Clemente 196
8 Walmart 195
9 Albertsons 183
10 Metro One Development Inc. 155

Many people also work as civilian employees at the USMC Base Camp Pendelton which is just over the San Diego County line.


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 AP (advanced placement) courses. Students at San Clemente High School have received academic accolades and hosted 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 also received opportunities to perform at various venues including Carnegie Hall (madrigals and orchestra), various venues in Hawaii (marching band), and many others.

Notable people

Brian de la Puente at 49ers training camp 2010-08-09
Brian de la Puente
  • Kolby Allard, professional baseball player
  • 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
  • Sam Darnold, quarterback USC Trojans, New York Jets
  • Brian de la Puente, NFL football player
  • Connor De Phillippi, race car driver
  • Chloe East, American actress
  • Jennie Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Richard Nixon, great-granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Sue Enquist, Hall of Fame UCLA softball coach
  • Jim Everett, NFL football quarterback
  • Fu Manchu, rock band
  • Jorge Garcia, actor
  • Ole Hanson, former mayor of Seattle and founder of San Clemente
  • Annie Hardy, musician with Giant Drag
  • Billy Johnson, racing driver
  • Rian Johnson, director
  • Carl Karcher, founder of Carl's Jr. and CKE Enterprises
  • Jeff Kargola, professional Freestyle Motocross rider
  • Todd Keneley, professional wrestling commentator
  • Karch Kiraly, Olympic gold medalist in volleyball
  • Gracie Kramer, artistic gymnast, part of the UCLA Bruins women's gymnastics team
  • Kian Lawley, Youtuber, American actor
  • Bob Lutz, tennis champion
  • John Lyon, known as Southside Johnny, lead singer of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes
  • Colin McPhillips, professional longboarder
  • Kyle Murphy, professional football player (offensive tackle, Green Bay Packers)
  • Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States and Pat Nixon, first lady
  • Ryann O'Toole, LPGA golfer
  • Dominic Purcell, actor
  • Aaron Rowand, MLB player
  • Beckah Shae, Christian singer-songwriter
  • Ryan Sheckler, professional skateboarder
  • Adrian Smith, architect and designer of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world
  • Gloria Swanson, Three time Academy Award Best Actress nominee
  • Peter "PT" Townend, surfer
  • Hal Trumble, American ice hockey administrator and referee.
  • Jean Vander Pyl, actress, voice of Wilma Flintstone
  • Paul Walker, American actor
  • Gene "Pop" Warner, influential football coach
  • Paul Wiancko, classical cellist

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: San Clemente (California) para niños

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