Monday, June 9, 2008

My Town Monday: San Clemente

About 35 years ago, my in-laws bought a house in San Clemente, one of my favorite California beach towns. They've both passed on, but the house is still in the family and I love spending time there. Ever since I was little, growing up in Pittsburgh, PA., I wanted to live by the ocean, and now I get to, at least some of the time. The first photo shows the view from out street.

San Clemente is pretty new, even for California. It was founded in the late 1920's by a man named Ole Hanson. According to the city's website, it was "among the first master planned communities built from totally open land in the United States". Hanson's dream was to create a "Spanish Village By The Sea" and some of the Spanish-style architecture has survived, particularly in the downtown area around Del Mar, the main commercial street that winds down to the pier. He picked a lovely spot for his town. The beach is ringed by cliffs where houses perch overlooking the blue Pacific. The weather is temperate: cool but not cold in the winter and pleasantly warm in the summer, though there is the occasional heat wave. Most houses in the older part of town don't have air conditioning, because it's rarely needed. The ocean breeze acts as a natural cooling factor. Heat waves usually occur because of a Santa Ana condition where the prevailing winds shift from off the ocean to hot, dry winds out of the canyons to the north and east.

I'm not sure what Ole Hanson would think of the town he founded now. In the last thirty years, San Clemente has grown dramatically, both in size and population, now app. 68,000. The city has expanded inland, with new housing developments scattered over the hills. I'm pretty sure those houses have A/C because you don't have to go very far inland for the temperature to increase. Nor would the founders recognize the older neighborhoods. Mansionization has come to San Clemente with a vengeance. Many homeowners, and some speculators, have town down the typical California two-bedroom bungalows and replaced them with two-story mini mansions. It makes for an interesting neighborhood as no two homes look are the same, unlike the more homogeneous developments you find inland.


My Town Monday comes to us via Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Click out his site to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.


Travis Erwin said...

I could use a bit of beach side relaxation right now .

Terrie Farley Moran said...


Wonderful post. Other than the "San Clemente White House" I didn't know a thing about the town. from your description and the pictures, it is beautiful.

I've lived in New York City my entire life--not exactly a beach town, but in the snap of a finger (surely I exaggerate-well maybe a few snaps) I can stand on the beach and look at the ocean. So healing.


debra said...

I can drive a bit to see Lake Erie, which is pretty cool, but there's nothing quite like the Pacific OCEAN.
I didn't know much about it before. Thanks for an informative post.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Looks beautiful from here.

Barbara Martin said...

Real palm trees and real beach. Beats the beach here. Ahh, I can almost smell the salty air.

Great post Linda.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Travis, you'll just have to head out to that pretty lake again, or is it too hot now?

Terrie, the ocean is healing and relaxing, isn't it? I love to watch the waves flow in and out.

Debbie, it's funny, I grew up in Pittsburgh but don't remember ever seeing Lake Erie. My dad always wanted to head south or west.

Barbara, thanks for stopping by. where do you live?

Thanks to all for the comments.


deboradale said...

It's sad that the old-town feel has been altered so much, but then, that's progress, yes? I'm glad to hear that the homes are being upgraded and not simply torn down and replaced by multi-family dwellings. That's what's happening here and it's just terrible. San Clemente - with all it's growth - still sounds lovely.

Linda McLaughlin said...

We have some apartments here, Debbie, but the lots in our neighborhood aren't large enough for multi-family dwellings. A duplex maybe, but that's about it.


Beth said...

San Clemente has grown so much in the last few years. It is really pretty and you can't beat the view!

Linda McLaughlin said...

I can't get over how much it's grown either, Beth, but that's happening all over California. The view is great though.