The “Spanish Village By The Sea,” San Clemente spans fifteen square miles of coastline and scenic foothills. The location of the City, long admired by explorers and passing settlers, 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.
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 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 “San Clemente” after San Clemente Island which was named by the explorer Vizcaino in 1602 after Saint Clement, the patron saint of November 23, the day of Vizcaino’s arrival on the island. Hanson succeeded in promoting the new area and selling property to interested buyers. His “San Clemente by the Sea” was to consist of buildings built in the classic Spanish style with red tile roofs. The area was officially incorporated as a City on February 27, 1928. In 1969, former president 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 City’s population and service area are expected to double over the next 20 years as various development projects are completed in the back country. As of the 2010 census, the total number of residents exceeded 63,000.