Huntington Beach, CA Real Estate
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Huntington Beach is a seaside city in Orange County in Southern California, located 35 miles southeast of Downtown Los Angeles. The city is named after American businessman Henry E. Huntington. The population was 189,992 during the 2010 census, making it the most populous beach city in Orange County and the seventh most populous city in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area. Its estimated 2018 population was 200,641. It is bordered by Bolsa Chica Basin State Marine Conservation Area on the west, the Pacific Ocean on the southwest, by Seal Beach on the northwest, by Westminster on the north, by Fountain Valley on the northeast, by Costa Mesa on the east, and by Newport Beach on the southeast.
Huntington Beach (locally called “Huntington”) is known for its long 9.5-mile (15.3 km) stretch of sandy beach, mild climate, excellent surfing, and beach culture. The ocean waves are enhanced by a natural effect caused by the edge-diffraction of open ocean swells around Santa Catalina Island. Swells generated predominantly from the North Pacific in winter and from a combination of Southern Hemisphere storms and hurricanes in the summer focus on Huntington Beach, creating consistent surf all year long, hence the nickname “Surf City”.
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Living in Huntington Beach
The area was originally occupied by the Tongva people. European settlement can be traced to a Spanish soldier, Manuel Nieto, who in 1784 received a Spanish land grant of 300,000 acres (1,200 km2), Rancho Los Nietos, as a reward for his military service and to encourage settlement in Alta California. Nieto’s western area was reduced in 1790 because of a dispute with the Mission San Gabriel, but he retained thousands of acres stretching from the hills north of Whittier, Fullerton and Brea, south to the Pacific Ocean, and from today’s Los Angeles River on the west, to the Santa Ana River on the east.
The main thoroughfare of Huntington Beach, Beach Boulevard, was originally a cattle route for the main industry of the Rancho. Since its time as a parcel of the enormous Spanish land grant, Huntington Beach has undergone many incarnations. One time it was known as Shell Beach, the town of Smeltzer, and then Gospel Swamp for the revival meetings that were held in the marshland where the community college Golden West College can currently be found. Later it became known as Fairview and then Pacific City, as it developed into a tourist destination. In order to secure access to the Pacific Electric Red Car lines that used to criss-cross Los Angeles and ended in Long Beach, Pacific City ceded enormous power to railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington, and thus became a city whose name has been written into corporate sponsorship, and like much of the history of Southern California, boosterism.
The original Huntington Beach Pier was built in 1904 and was originally a 1,000-foot-long timber structure. Huntington Beach was incorporated on February 17, 1909, during the tenure of its first mayor, Ed Manning. Its original developer was Huntington Beach Company (formerly the West Coast Land and Water Company), a real-estate development firm owned by Henry Huntington. The Huntington Beach Company is still a major land-owner in the city, and still owns most of the local mineral rights. The company is now wholly owned by the Chevron Corporation.
At one time, an encyclopedia company gave away free parcels of land (with the purchase of a whole set for $126) in the Huntington Beach area. The lucky buyers got more than they had bargained for when oil was discovered in the area, and enormous development of the oil reserves followed. Though many of the old reserves are depleted, and the price of land for housing has pushed many of the rigs off the landscape, oil pumps can still be found to dot the city.
Huntington Beach was primarily agricultural in its early years with crops such as lima beans, asparagus, peppers, celery and sugar beets. Holly Sugar was a major employer with a large processing plant in the city that was later converted into an oil refinery.
The city’s first high school, Huntington Beach High School, located on Main Street, was built in 1906. The school’s team, the Oilers, is named after the city’s original natural resource.
Meadowlark Airport, a small general-aviation airport, existed in Huntington Beach from the 1940s until 1989.
Huntington Beach sits above a large natural fault structure containing oil. Although the oil is mostly depleted, extraction continues at a slow rate, and still provides significant local income. There are only two off-shore extraction facilities left, however, and the day is not far off when oil production in the city will cease and tourism will replace it as the primary revenue source for resident industry.
The city is discussing closing off Main Street to cars from PCH through the retail shopping and restaurant areas, making it a pedestrian-only zone. Other shopping centers include Bella Terra, built on the former Huntington Center site, Pacific City which opened in 2015, and Old World Village, a German-themed center.
Huntington Beach has an off-shore oil terminus for the tankers that support the Alaska Pipeline. The terminus pipes run inland to a refinery in Santa Fe Springs. Huntington Beach also has the Gothard–Talbert terminus for the Orange County portion of the pipeline running from the Chevron El Segundo refinery.
Several hotels have been constructed on the inland side of Pacific Coast Highway (State Route 1) within view of the beach, just southeast of the pier.
Huntington Beach contains a small industrial district in its northwest corner, near the borders with Westminster and Seal Beach.
Huntington Beach contains a major installation of Boeing, formerly McDonnell-Douglas. A number of installations on the Boeing campus were originally constructed to service the Apollo Program, most notably the production of the S-IVB upper stage for the Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets, and some nearby telephone poles are still marked “Apollo Dedicated Mission Control Line.”
Huntington Beach is also home to the headquarters of Cambro Manufacturing, an international foodservice equipment company, with two manufacturing facilities in the city.
The downtown district includes an active art center, a colorful shopping district, and the International Surfing Museum. This district was also the home of the Golden Bear from 1929 to 1986. Originally a fine dining restaurant opened by Harry Bakre in 1929, the Golden Bear became a nightclub in 1963 and hosted famous-name entertainment until it was demolished in 1986. The list of artists who performed there includes BB King, Janis Joplin, Steve Martin, Charles Bukowski, The Ramones and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
The Huntington Beach Pier stretches from Main Street into the Pacific Ocean. At the end of the pier is a Ruby’s Diner. The Surf Theatre, which was located one block north of the pier, gained fame in the 1960s and 1970s for showing independent surf films such as The Endless Summer and Five Summer Stories. The Surf Theatre was owned and operated by Hugh Larry Thomas from 1961 until it was demolished in 1989. A newer version of The Surf Theatre is now closed, but the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum has preserved its memory with ongoing screenings of surfing movies once shown at a Huntington Beach theater and the original metal SURF sign. Another surfing-related attraction in Huntington Beach is the Surfing Walk of Fame.
Many of the events at Huntington Beach are focused around the beach during the summer. The U.S. Open of Surfing is featured on the south side of the pier. Huntington Beach is a stop on the AVP beach volleyball tour. A biathlon (swim/run) hosted by the Bolsa Chica & Huntington State Beach Lifeguards takes place in July, early at dawn. The race begins at the Santa Ana River Jetties and ends at Warner Avenue, Bolsa Chica State Beach. Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguard day camps are held which teaches pre-adolescents and adolescents ocean swimming, running, and first-aid medical knowledge.
In addition to the beach-focused events, the Fourth of July parade has been held since 1904. The Huntington Beach Film Festival takes place every February.
The inaugural Breitling Huntington Beach Airshow, featuring the Breitling Jet Team and the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, was held October 21–23, 2016.
During the winter, the annual Cruise of Lights Boat Tour is held in the Huntington Harbour neighborhood. This is a parade of colorful lighted boats as well as boat tours to view the decorated homes. In February of each year since 1996, the Surf City USA marathon is held with over 20,000 runners. The annual Kite Festival is held just north of the pier in late February.
Huntington Beach hosts car shows such as the Beachcruiser Meet and a Concours d’Elegance. The Beachcruiser Meet is held in March, attracting over 250 classic cars displayed along Main Street and the Pier parking lot. A Concours d’Elegance is held at Central Park in June and benefits the public library. An informal “Donut Derelicts” car show occurs every Saturday morning at the intersection of Adams and Magnolia Street.
Surf City Nights is held every Tuesday night during the year. The Tuesday Surf City Nights is a community-spirited event that features a farmer’s market, unique entertainment, food, kiddie rides and a carnival atmosphere. Surf City Nights and the Downtown Huntington Beach Art Walk are presented by the Huntington Beach Downtown Business Improvement District (HBDBID) and the City of Huntington Beach. The Tuesday night Surf City Nights event takes place in the first three blocks of Main Street from Pacific Coast Highway to Orange Avenue.
Huntington Beach is the site of the world surfing championships, held annually in the summer. The city is often referred to as “Surf City” because of this high-profile event, its history and culture of surfing. It is often called the “Surfing Capital of the World”, not for the height of the waves, but rather for the consistent quality of surf.
George Freeth was the first person to surf in Huntington Beach with a demonstration on June 20, 1914. Freeth had been demonstrating surfing in southern California as a promotion for the city by Henry E. Huntington. Duke Kahanamoku started surfing in Huntington Beach in 1925 and helped popularize the sport. The first surfboard shop, which was located underneath the Huntington Beach Pier, opened in 1956 by Gordie Duane.
Apart from sponsored surf events, Huntington Beach has some of the best surf breaks in the State of California and that of the United States. Huntington Beach has four different facing beaches: Northwest, West, Southwest, and South. Northwest consists of Bolsa Chica State Beach with a length of 3.3 miles (5.3 km), the West consist of “The Cliffs” or “Dog Beach”, Southwest is considered everything north of the pier which is operated by the City of Huntington Beach. South consists in everything south of the pier which primarily focuses on Huntington State Beach (2.2 Miles), which almost faces true South.
Bolsa Chica State Beach is operated by the State of California, Dept. Parks & Recreation, and the Bolsa Chica State Beach Lifeguards. The beach is very narrow and the sand is very coarse. Bolsa Chica tends to have better surf with NW/W swells during the winter season. During the summer months the beach picks up south/southwest swells at a very steep angle. Due to the bottom of the beach, surf at Bolsa Chica tends to be slowed down and refined to soft shoulders. Longboards are the best option for surfing in the Bolsa Chica area.
“The Cliffs” or “Dog Beach” is also another popular surf spot. This segment of Huntington Beach is so named because dogs are allowed around the cliff area. Beach is very restricted and often is submerged with high tides. Surf at this location tends to be even bigger than Bolsa Chica during the winter and often better. During the summer most of the South/Southwest swells slide right by and often break poorly. The best option is to take out a longboard, but shortboards will do at times. Dolphins have also been sighted in this area.
Just north and south of the Huntington Beach Pier are some well defined sandbars that shift throughout the year with the different swells. Southside of the Pier is often a popular destination during the summer for good surf, but the Northside can be just as well during the winter. Around the Pier it all depends on the swell and the sandbars. Shortboard is your best option for surfing around the Pier.
South Huntington Beach, also known as Huntington State Beach, is where all the south swells impact the coastline. Huntington State Beach is operated by the State of California, Department of Parks & Recreation, and Huntington State Beach Lifeguards. This beach is very wide with plenty of sand. Sandbars dramatically shift during the spring, summer and fall seasons, thus creating excellent surf conditions with a combination South/West/Northwest swell. Due to the Santa Ana River jetties located at the southernmost end of the beach, large sandbars extend across and upcoast, forcing swells to break extremely fast and hollow. Best seasons for surfing at this beach is the summer and fall. The best option for surfing in this area is a shortboard.
Huntington Beach is also a popular destination for kite surfing, and this sport can be viewed on the beach northwest of the pier.
Huntington Beach is the host city of the National Professional Paintball League Super 7 Paintball Championships. The NPPL holds its first event of the year traditionally between the dates of March 23 through March 26.
Huntington Beach also hosts the annual Surf City USA Marathon and Half-Marathon, which is usually held on the first Sunday of February.
Huntington Beach has a large central park, known as Huntington Central Park. Central Park is located between Gothard and Edwards Streets to the east and west, and Slater and Ellis Avenues to the north and south. Dedicated on June 15, 1974, Huntington Central Park is the largest city owned park in Orange County with nearly 350 acres (140 ha). The park is vegetated with xeric (low water use) plants, and inhabited by native wildlife. Thick forests encircling the park are supplemented with Australian trees, particularly Blue Gum Eucalyptus, a high water use plant.
The Huntington Beach Public Library is located in Central Park in a notable building designed by Richard Neutra and Dion Neutra. It houses almost a half-million volumes, as well as a theater, gift shop and fountains. The library was founded as a Carnegie library in 1914, and has been continuously supported by the city and local activists, with new buildings and active branches at Banning, Oak View, Main Street, and Graham. The library has significant local historical materials and has a special genealogical reference collection. It is independent of the state and county library systems.
The park is also home of Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center, a top class boarding facility that also offers horse rentals to the public, with guided trail rides through the park. There is also a “mud park” available for kids. The world’s second oldest disc golf course is available in the park, as are two small dining areas, a sports complex for adult use, and the Shipley Nature Center.
The Bolsa Chica Wetlands, contains numerous trails and scenic routes. The wetlands themselves have been connected with the ocean again, in effort to maintain its previous, unaltered conditions.
Huntington Dog Beach
Huntington Dog Beach is located in the 1.5-mile (2.4 km) stretch between 21st and Seapoint streets. This is the only area where dogs are allowed on the beach in Huntington Beach. Dog Beach is free to the public. Dog Beach is very popular so visitors should expect the beach and parking lot to be somewhat congested during the summer months and weekends.
The Orange County Register consistently names Huntington Dog Beach as the best dog park in Orange County. Some popular events that take place at Dog Beach are Surf City Surf Dog and So Cal Corgi Nation Beach Days.
Preservation Society of Huntington Dog Beach works to keep the beach clean and safe. This 501(c)3 non-profit organization was founded in 1997 and has a five volunteers who serve on the board. The mission statement of the Preservation Society of Huntington Dog Beach, taken from their website, is as follows: “to protect and preserve access to the beach for dogs and their people, as well as to promote responsible dog ownership in order to make our canine companions welcome members of society.”
The society receives no public financing and relies completely on private donations from dog-lovers who value this public good. This non-profit provides many valuable services that minimize the impact of the negative externalities caused by dog waste and unfriendly dogs which must be addressed in order to protect the environment and keep visitors safe. One of the main reasons dogs are not usually allowed on beaches is that owners do not pick up after them. Doggie waste bags are provided for free (over 3,000 are used per day during the summer) and dog owners are encouraged to immediately dispose of their dog’s waste in one of the many trash cans provided. Additionally, the society organizes a beach cleanup every Sunday where volunteers help clean up trash. To keep visitors safe, aggressive dogs are not allowed and dogs must be kept under control at all times.
The society also creates positive externalities by providing the public with valuable information on their website. This information includes, but is not limited to, rules to keep dogs safe, tips for introducing dogs to the beach for the first time, warnings about the danger of dogs drinking ocean water, and information about nearby RV parking and dog-friendly hotels. Prospective visitors should be aware of the policy regarding leashes: “Under existing city ordinance, dogs must remain leashed. However, for the past several years only unleashed, potentially dangerous dogs have been cited or removed.” One important exception is that leashes are always required when entering and exiting the park to ensure safety near PCH.
Huntington Beach is the home of Golden West College, which offers two-year associates of arts degrees and transfer programs to four-year universities.
Huntington Beach is in the Huntington Beach Union High School District, which includes Edison High School, Huntington Beach High School, Marina High School, and Ocean View High School in the city of Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley High School in the city of Fountain Valley, and Westminster High School in the city of Westminster.
The district also has an alternative school, Valley Vista High School, and an independent study school, Coast High School.
Huntington Beach High School, which is the district’s flagship school, celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2006.
The city has four elementary school districts: Huntington Beach City School District with 9 schools and Ocean View School District with 15. A small part of the city is also served by the Fountain Valley School District and Westminster School District.
Huntington Beach is also home to The Pegasus School, a nationally recognized blue ribbon school.
Brethren Christian Junior/Senior High School is a private independent school with about 400 students living within 25 miles (40 km) of the school.
Huntington Christian School is a private K–8 school in the city
Grace Lutheran School is a private K–8 school in the city.
Lycée International de Los Angeles previously had its Orange County campus in Huntington Beach.