By Lew Avera
Distinct Features of San Clemente
I have written various times about San Clemente in the past and this time I thought I would identify four distinct features that make us unique. Although there are also numerous other factors that make San Clemente what it is, this perspective is based upon my personal experience. I guess it’s fair to say, in some ways, it also represents my values.
Our residential population is approximately 66,000. As I’ve said before, this makes us the exact median city of 34 cities in Orange County. I think this is close to “ideal.” Much larger would be too big and much smaller would be difficult to exist as a stand-alone city. The factors are listed below and are not in terms of priority or importance.
Our population has two elements: those who are actually residents and live in the city and the many who live elsewhere and work in San Clemente. In this same sense, many of our actual residents work outside of San Clemente. Other elements of diversity are older members who are enjoying their retirement years, many up and coming leaders of our community, many ethnic and religious backgrounds and beliefs, and the younger generations in our prestigious schools. Our workforce also significantly represents the tech world, apparel industry and the surfing world.
License plate frames in recent years have said it all “San Clemente: World’s Best Climate.”
Climate is also a major factor in my retirement here the past 17 years. I will always remember my living here 55 years ago for two years in the Marines. I lived on the ocean side of the freeway in a home with ocean views. It was seldom hot or cold, but we slept under a blanket 365 days a year, light in the summer and heavier in the winter, both comfortable. There was no air conditioning because it wasn’t needed. There was some, but little wet weather, mostly sunny and sometimes cloudy. With today’s weather, I think there has definitely been climate change.
This is a big factor in the positive profile of the city. We have at least four national “big box” retail stores and several smaller versions of national stores. These are contrasted with the multitude of small local “boutique” shops, especially in the T Zone along Del Mar and El Camino Real. Restaurants of all kinds exist, and the commercial support of the surfing community is very noticeable. Adding to this commercial diversity is the Outlets at San Clemente, one of only a few in the state. It brings thousands of tourists, shoppers and needed tax dollars to San Clemente. Many people have opposed operations at the Outlets, but the sales tax revenues are very large and rewarding to the city.
Possibly the most unique feature of our city is its position within the world of fitness and recreation. Except for major league, professional and college sports, we have it all. San Clemente is a world-recognized surfing locale, including the ocean and beaches for swimming and recreation. Within the city, there are four 18-hole golf courses. With our unique location, we have miles of open space and trails of all types. Perhaps the most special are the city-owned recreation sites, especially Vista Hermosa Sports Park, newly opened Jim Johnson Memorial Sports Park, Liberty Park, Ole Hanson Beach Club and numerous other smaller parks. Our City Council has had the foresight over the years to dedicate resources to all of these. Finally, in this category of features are the commercially-owned fitness centers.
We have at least four widely known large facilities and numerous smaller ones concentrating on, but not limited to, such things as yoga, Pilates, spinning, etc. The first of all of these is the original San Clemente Gym on El Camino Real.
As I said initially, I believe the above features are powerful in helping make San Clemente the distinct and wonderful place it is. Very few other locales have such livable and contributing features as these.
Lew Avera is a retired career officer, Lt. Col., U.S. Marine Corps. He was a director of the Talega HOA and served on the San Clemente Planning Commission from 2005-2013.
Discussion about this post