San Clemente, California

San Clemente (/ˌsæn kləˈmɛnti/; Spanish for "St. Clement")[6] is a coastal city in Orange County, California, United States. The population was 64,293 in at the 2020 census.[5] 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".[7] The official city flower is the bougainvillea, and the official city tree is the coral.[8] San Clemente is also the southernmost city in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

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 is located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area
San Clemente
San Clemente
San Clemente is located in California
San Clemente
San Clemente
Location in the state of California
San Clemente is located in the United States
San Clemente
San Clemente
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 33°26′16″N 117°37′13″W / 33.43778°N 117.62028°W / 33.43778; -117.62028Coordinates: 33°26′16″N 117°37′13″W / 33.43778°N 117.62028°W / 33.43778; -117.62028
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedFebruary 28, 1928[1]
Named forSaint Clement
 • MayorGene James[2]
 • Mayor Pro TemChris Duncan
 • City CouncilLaura Ferguson
Steve Knoblock
Kathleen Ward
 • City ManagerErik Sund
 • Assistant City ManagerVacant
 • Total19.11 sq mi (49.48 km2)
 • Land18.36 sq mi (47.54 km2)
 • Water0.75 sq mi (1.94 km2)  3.89%
Elevation233 ft (71 m)
 • Total64,293
 • Density3,400/sq mi (1,300/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
Area code949
FIPS code06-65084
GNIS feature IDs1661376, 2411781


The pier in San Clemente at the end of Avenida Del Mar, part of the original village created by Ole Hanson
Amtrak and Metrolink pass along the beach at San Clemente

Early colonizationEdit

Prior to colonization by Spaniards, the area was inhabited by the Acjachemen people. In 1776 Father Junípero Serra founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, and afterward the local indigenous people were dubbed "Juaneños" in Spanish. Both Native Americans and Spanish settlers established villages near the mission, and local indigenous people were conscripted to work for the mission.

Becoming a cityEdit

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, purchased and designed a 2,000-acre (8.1 km2) community with the financial help of a syndicate headed by Hamilton Cotton. 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 Sebastián Vizcaino in 1602 after Saint Clement. 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 future development would retain red tile roofs and white exteriors. This proved to be short-lived; an eclectic mix of building styles is found in the oldest parts of town.

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. 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!... My San Clemente by the Sea."

Soon after San Clemente was incorporated, the need for a fire station 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 $1,500.00 from the citizenry.

Casa RomanticaEdit

Casa Romantica

Casa Romantica is one of the most historic places in San Clemente and is well known to its residents. When Ole Hanson came to San Clemente and decided to develop the city he moved into his epitome of the perfect house which was called Casa Romantica. Hansen owned Casa Romantica up until the Great Depression hit and the Bank of America foreclosed on the property. Today the home is owned by the city and is used as a cultural center. It is also open to rent for private events like weddings. Casa Romantica is located above the San Clemente Pier station and overlooks the San Clemente coastline.

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" and 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. Many world leaders visited the home during Nixon's tenure, including Soviet general secretary Leonid Brezhnev, Mexican President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Prime Minister of Japan Eisaku Satō, Henry Kissinger, and businessman Bebe Rebozo. After his resignation, Nixon retired to San Clemente to write his memoirs. He sold the home in 1980 and moved to New York City. 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.

San Clemente PierEdit

One of the most iconic landmarks in San Clemente is the San Clemente Pier. The first constructed pier was built in 1928 and was 1,200 feet long. This pier was built at no cost to the residents and its intention was for fishing and pleasure. In 1939 and 1983 the pier was damaged due to storms but has since been reconstructed into the pier it is today. The pier hosts the Fisherman's Restaurant & Bar where people eat while watching the waves crash below. The pier is perpendicular to the San Clemente Beach trail which starts at North Beach and goes as far as Califia, extending 2.6 miles out along the beaches of San Clemente. The San Clemente Beach trail is a popular place for locals to walk or run, with the most crowded times being morning and around sunset. Dogs are allowed on the beach trail, however not on the beach.

Architectural styleEdit

Known as the “Spanish Village by the Sea”, San Clemente has long been known for its Spanish style architecture. Downtown San Clemente restaurants and shops are adorned with red tile roofs, cream stucco walls, and dark wood doors and windows. The historic "North Beach" area is home to San Clemente's Casino Building and Ole Hanson Beach Club, which were renovated in 2010 and 2016. The homes in the area range in style, but stick to the Spanish theme for the most part. The area's oldest homes are in Southwest San Clemente, directly south of downtown and "North Beach" area, directly north of downtown. The homes in the Southwest Riviera neighborhood include several new constructions in the Cape Cod style, as well as new modern residences. More traditional, older homes sit in the Lasuen "boot" district; the neighborhood surrounding Lasuens or "Lost Winds" beach is characterized by a variety of styles in both single and double story fashion, with Hansons’s traditional Spanish style sprinkled throughout, crafting an eclectic atmosphere. The renovations to historic buildings in North Beach have sparked a revival in the area, attracting new residents and business owners.


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).[9] To the south of town are Camp Pendleton and Trestles surf beach.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an 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 °F (20s °C). The warmest month of the year is August, with an average high temperature of 79 °F (26 °C). The coldest month is December with an average high temperature of 64 °F (18 °C). The annual rainfall in 2010 was 10.5 inches (270 mm) and the annual days of sunshine 310.

Climate data for San Clemente, California
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 90
Average high °F (°C) 66
Average low °F (°C) 45
Record low °F (°C) 22
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.73
Source: [10]


Interstate 5 runs through San Clemente. The Foothill Transportation Corridor (SR 241) had 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[11] 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. Although other alternatives have been considered, TCA has no current plans to extend the SR 241 corridor through San Clemente.

Additionally, the city is served by Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner and Metrolink's Orange County Line and Inland Empire-Orange County Line between Los Angeles and San Diego, and which provide beachside service in San Clemente. The city has two stations: San Clemente station and San Clemente Pier station.

In 2016, San Clemente began offering residents free trolley service. The San Clemente Trolley service provides three open-air (windowless) trolleys that cruise throughout the coastal areas of town and pick people up at designated stops every 15 minutes. The trolley is available Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The funding for the San Clemente Trolley came from a $1.2 million grant from the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) which the city applied for.[12] The grant will cover most of the costs for the service for seven years. The grant requires the city to fund a portion of the trolley service at $146,000 over the seven-year grant period. The Friends of the San Clemente Beaches, Parks & Recreation Foundation provided a donation of $10,000 towards the funding of the capital costs of the trolley.


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[13]



The 2020 United States Census reported a population of 64,293. The racial makeup was 81% White, 1.1% African American, 5.1% Asian, and 16.1% Hispanic or Latino of any race.


The 2010 United States Census[15] 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),[16] 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.[16]


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.[17] The per capita income for the city as of 2017 was $54,133.[18] As of March 2010 the median home value was $605,500.[19]

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 the National Register of Historic Places.[20]

Corporate headquartersEdit

The following companies have their corporate headquarters in San Clemente:

Largest employersEdit

According to the city's 2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[21] 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.


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

San Clemente is known for its many surfing locations, which include Trestles, Lowers, Middles & Uppers, Cotton's Point, Calafia Beach Park, Riviera, Lasuens (most often called Lost Winds), The Hole, T-Street, The Pier, Linda Lane, 204, North Beach and Poche Beach. It is also home to Surfing Magazine, The Surfer's Journal, and Longboard Magazine.

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 Kolohe Andino, 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 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.

Government and politicsEdit

San Clemente city vote
by party in presidential elections
Year Democratic Republican Third Parties
2020[22] 44.04% 17,346 53.93% 21,239 2.03% 800
2016[23] 39.40% 12,620 53.81% 17,237 6.79% 2,175
2012[24] 35.58% 11,161 62.22% 19,518 2.20% 690
2008[25] 41.91% 13,293 55.85% 17,716 2.24% 712
2004[26] 34.47% 9,801 64.46% 18,326 1.07% 304
2000[27] 33.18% 7,349 62.53% 13,850 4.29% 949
1996[28] 30.47% 5,917 58.00% 11,265 11.53% 2,240
1992[29] 27.41% 5,700 43.43% 9,033 29.16% 6,066*
1988[30] 30.46% 5,205 68.51% 11,707 1.02% 175
1984[31] 22.26% 2,888 76.68% 9,950 1.06% 138
1980[32] 19.22% 2,313 71.20% 8,570 9.58% 1,153

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 by Republican Laurie Davies.[33]

In the United States House of Representatives, San Clemente is in California's 49th congressional district, represented by Democrat Mike Levin.[34]

According to the California Secretary of State, as of February 10, 2019, San Clemente has 40,105 registered voters. Of those, 17,791 (44.4%) are registered Republicans, 9,926 (24.8%) are registered Democrats, and 10,309 (25.7%) have declined to state a political party.[35]

San Clemente is a stalwart Republican stronghold in presidential elections with no Democratic nominee winning the city in over four decades. It was one of only five cities in Orange County that backed Donald J. Trump with majorities of its vote in both 2016 and 2020. San Clemente voted in favor of Proposition 8 by 55.5% and for Proposition 4 by 52.2%.[36]

Gene W James, elected by the people of San Clemente to City Council in 2019, was appointed Mayor of the city as of December 1, 2021.[37] Gene James introduced a resolution to make San Clemente as a Second Amendment Freedom City in June 2021 ()

The California DMV has a field office in San Clemente. The location administers permit tests, behind-the-wheel tests, and various types of documentation.[38]


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 used all through the film are mostly props that were placed on location. The movie One of Her Own is based on incidents in and around San Clemente.[citation needed]

San Clemente is served by The San Clemente Times, which prints once weekly on Thursdays.

In popular cultureEdit

Notable peopleEdit

Sister citiesEdit

San Clemente is twinned with:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date". California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Archived from the original (Word) on November 3, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  2. ^ "City Council". City of San Clemente. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  3. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  4. ^ "San Clemente". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "San Clemente (city) QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  6. ^ "San clemente Definition & Meaning". Retrieved May 13, 2022.
  7. ^ "San Clemente SB". CA State Parks. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  8. ^ "Demographics and Statistical Information | City of San Clemente, CA". Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  10. ^ "Zipcode 92672". Retrieved April 10, 2021.
  11. ^ California Coastal Commission
  12. ^ "San Clemente Trolley | City of San Clemente, CA". Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  13. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  14. ^ "Census QuickFacts". Retrieved April 10, 2022.
  15. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA – San Clemente city". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  16. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 7, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: San Clemente city, California". Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  18. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: San Clemente city, California". Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  19. ^ "City of San Clemente Demographic and Statistical Information" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 10, 2011. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  20. ^ "San Clemente's Historic City Hall for sale for $4 million, August 21, 2013". Orange County Register. April 8, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  21. ^ "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report — Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2020". Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  22. ^ "Current Election Results | OC Vote".
  23. ^ "certified statement of the votes cast at the Presidential Election November 8, 2016" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 12, 2019. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  24. ^ "SOV.xls" (PDF). 2012. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  25. ^ "SOV.xls" (PDF). 2008. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  26. ^ "SOV.xls" (PDF). November 29, 2004. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  27. ^ "SOV.xls" (PDF). Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  28. ^ California. Secretary of State (March 30, 1968). "Statement of vote". Sacramento, Calif. : The Secretary – via Internet Archive.
  29. ^ California. Secretary of State (March 30, 1968). "Statement of vote". Sacramento, Calif. : The Secretary – via Internet Archive.
  30. ^ Statement of the Vote. Sacramento, Calif. : The Secretary. 1968.
  31. ^ Statement of the Vote. Sacramento, Calif. : The Secretary. 1968.
  32. ^ Statement of the Vote. Sacramento, Calif. : The Secretary. 1968.
  33. ^ "Statewide Database". UC Regents. Archived from the original on February 1, 2015. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
  34. ^ "California's 49th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC.
  35. ^ "CA Secretary of State – Report of Registration – February 10, 2019" (PDF). Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  36. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 18, 2012. Retrieved March 27, 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  37. ^ "Looking Ahead: Gene James Steps into the Spotlight". San Clemente Times. January 6, 2022. Retrieved June 2, 2022.
  38. ^ "San Clemente Field Office". CA DMV. State of California. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  39. ^ "UCLA Bio". Archived from the original on December 9, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  40. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 17, 2008. Retrieved September 10, 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  41. ^ "POP MUSIC REVIEW : Parting is Such Sweat Sorrow : Southside Johnny Pours on the Energy in His Last Concert as an Orange County Resident". Los Angeles Times. May 22, 1992.
  42. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 29, 2009. Retrieved December 28, 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  43. ^ Flemming, Jack (August 19, 2020). "Former big leaguer Aaron Rowand drops $4.8 million on coastal O.C. home". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  44. ^ "Live in landmark 'Gloria Swanson' home for $3.2 million". June 30, 2009.
  45. ^ Carpio, Anthony Clark (August 15, 2013). "Surfing champ Townend honored". Huntington Beach Independent. p. A4. Archived from the original on July 13, 2014. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  46. ^ "Paul Walker: A California Guy to the End". December 18, 2013.
  47. ^ "Historic San Clemente house with ties to football coach 'Pop' Warner selling for $2.89 million". November 29, 2017.

External linksEdit