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Hemet is a city in the San Jacinto Valley in Riverside County, California. It covers a total area of 27.8 square miles (72 km2), about half of the valley, which it shares with the neighboring city of San Jacinto. The population was 78,657 at the 2010 census.
The founding of Hemet predates the formation of Riverside County. The formation of Lake Hemet helped the city to grow and stimulated agriculture in the area. The city is known for being the home of The Ramona Pageant, California's official outdoor play. Started in 1923, the play is one of the longest running outdoor plays in the United States. Hemet has been named a Tree City USA for 20 years by the Arbor Day Foundation for its dedication to the local forest. The city is home to the Hemet Valley Medical Center, a 320-bed general hospital.
The Cahuilla tribe were the initial inhabitants of the Hemet area. The tribe was moved to the Indian reservation near San Jacinto. During the early 19th century, the land was used for cattle ranching by Mission San Luis Rey, which named the area Rancho San Jacinto. In 1842 José Antonio Estudillo received the Rancho San Jacinto Viejo Mexican land grant.
In 1887, during the first major Southern California land boom, W.F. Whittier and E.L. Mayberry founded the Lake Hemet Water Company, the Hemet Land Company, and the city of Hemet. In 1895, the Hemet Dam was completed on the San Jacinto River, creating Lake Hemet and providing a reliable water supply to the San Jacinto Valley. This water system was a major contribution to the valley's development as an agricultural area.
By 1894, the area had a newspaper, the Hemet News, and "several general stores," the largest being Heffelfinger & Co, which occupied an entire block. There were "a drug store, an excellent barber shop, two blacksmith shops, harness shop, shoe repairing houses, two real estate offices and two lumber yards." "The most pretentious building" was the two-story Hotel Mayberry, "supplied with all the modern conveniences usually found in first-class hostelries, including stationary water, baths, etc., and a complete electric light system, the power for which is furnished by the company's private plant."
Another important institution is the Hemet flouring mills, John McCool, proprietor. The mill, which is the only one in this section, occupies a fine brick building and has a capacity of 50 barrels of flour per day. The plant cost $20,000.
The City of Hemet was incorporated in January 1910. Out of 177 residents, 130 voted to incorporate, with 33 votes against. Those who voted against incorporation were landowners who feared increased taxation. The incorporation helped to serve the growing city, which was outgrowing its current infrastructure. Served by a railroad spur from Riverside, the city became a trading center for the San Jacinto Valley's agriculture, which included citrus, apricots, peaches, olives and walnuts. The city has long hosted the Agricultural District Farmer's Fair of Riverside County, which began in 1936 as the Hemet Turkey Show, now located in Perris. During World War II, the city hosted the Ryan School of Aeronautics, which trained about 6,000 fliers for the Army Air Force between 1940 and 1944. Hemet-Ryan Airport exists today at the site of the flight school. In 1950, Hemet was home to 10,000 people, and joined Corona and Riverside as the three largest cities in Riverside County.
In the 1960s, large-scale residential development began, mostly in the form of mobile home parks and retirement communities, giving Hemet a reputation as a working-class retirement area. In the 1980s, subdivisions of single-family homes began to sprout up from former ranchland, with "big-box" retail following. After a roughly decade-long lull in development following the major economic downturn of the early 1990s, housing starts in the city skyrocketed in the early 21st century. The area's affordability, its proximity to employment centers such as Corona, Riverside and San Bernardino, and its relatively rural character made it an attractive location for working-class families priced out of other areas of Southern California.
From the Hemet Library Heritage Room History Collection:
Hemet is located in southwestern Riverside County, in the San Jacinto Valley. Hemet is south of the city of San Jacinto. The valley is surrounded by the Santa Rosa Hills and San Jacinto Mountains, and is mostly dry land, except for Diamond Valley Lake to the south of Hemet. Hemet is located at 33°44′31″N 116°58′59″W (33.742001, −116.983068). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 27.847 square miles (72 km2) as of the 2010 census, all of it land.
Hemet is 80 miles (130 km) southeast of Downtown Los Angeles.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Hemet had a population of 78,657. The population density was 2,824.6 people per square mile (1,090.6/km²). The racial makeup of Hemet was 53,259 (67.7%) White (51.8% Non-Hispanic White), 5,049 (6.4%) African American, 1,223 (1.6%) Native American, 2,352 (3.0%) Asian, 284 (0.4%) Pacific Islander, 12,371 (15.7%) from other races, and 4,119 (5.2%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 28,150 persons (35.8%).
The census reported that 78,043 people (99.2% of the population) lived in households, 155 (0.2%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 459 (0.6%) were institutionalized.
There were 30,092 households, out of which 9,700 (32.2%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 13,174 (43.8%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 4,349 (14.5%) had a female householder with no husband present, 1,623 (5.4%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 2,002 (6.7%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 208 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 9,119 households (30.3%) were made up of individuals and 5,754 (19.1%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59. There were 19,146 families (63.6% of all households); the average family size was 3.24.
The population was spread out with 20,340 people (25.9%) under the age of 18, 6,814 people (8.7%) aged 18 to 24, 17,323 people (22.0%) aged 25 to 44, 16,776 people (21.3%) aged 45 to 64, and 17,404 people (22.1%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.3 males.
There were 35,305 housing units at an average density of 1,267.8 per square mile (489.5/km²), of which 18,580 (61.7%) were owner-occupied, and 11,512 (38.3%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 5.0%; the rental vacancy rate was 17.5%. 45,459 people (57.8% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 32,584 people (41.4%) lived in rental housing units.
During 2009–2013, Hemet had a median household income of $32,774, with 23.3% of the population living below the federal poverty line.
As of 2008, the census estimated there were 75,163 people, over 29,341 households, and 18,031 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,713.4 people per square mile (1,723.9/km²). There were 33,486 housing units at an average density of 1,208.8 per square mile (768/km²). As of 2009, The racial makeup of the city was 60% white, 2.4% black or African American, 4.9% Asian or Pacific Islander, 4.9% from other races and 28.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino. 12.6% were of German, 10.5% English, 7.8% Irish and 4.3% American ancestry.
There are 29,341 households out of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.6% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.5% were non-families. 33.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 21.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.5 and the average family size is 3.2.
In the city, the population is spread out with 29.1% under the age of 19, 6.2% from 20 to 24, 11.9% from 25 to 34, 10.6% from 35 to 44, 17.2% from 45 to 54, and 25.7% who were 65 or older. The median age is 38 years.
The median income for a household in the city was $34,974, and the median income for a family was $41,559. Males had a median income of $40,719 versus $30,816 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,046. About 14.5% of families and 17.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.5% of those under age 18 and 9.1% of those age 65 or over. As of 2009, about 22,300 residents of the city were employed with 4,700 unemployed (an unemployment rate of 17.4%).
According to the California Economic Development Department, in 2005 the economy of Hemet was based on four main industries: retail trade, health care, educational services, and government. These industries provide 4,734, 4,441, and 3,946 jobs respectively. Other major industries in the city include leisure and hospitality, financial services, professional and business services, construction, and manufacturing. The amount of wage and salary positions in Hemet is 22,769, with a further 1,479 people were self-employed, adding up to a total of 24,248 jobs in the city.
According to the City's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, the top employers in the city are the following.
Hemet was heavily impacted by the housing crisis which followed the financial crisis of 2007–2008. Rent remains affordable, but the three-hour commute by Metrolink to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles has impeded Hemet's growth as a bedroom community.
The City of Hemet has two museums and an outdoor amphitheater. The Hemet Museum is located at the intersection of State Street and Florida Avenue in downtown. It is a museum of local history, and features photographs of old Hemet, historic photographs from the Ramona Pageant, as well as Native American artifacts and agriculture displays. Hemet is also home of the Western Science Center, located in the southern part of the city at the intersection of Domenigoni Parkway and Searl Parkway. It features exhibits of Ice Age mammals, including 'Max', the largest mastodon found in the Western United States, and as 'Xena', a Columbian mammoth. Along with the two museums, science center and theater, close to Hemet there sits an outdoor amphitheater, the privately owned Ramona Bowl is a natural amphitheater located nearby in the Riverside county foothills. It is known for producing the play, Ramona.
The city of Hemet is expanding upon its entertainment venues. The three largest venues are the Ramona Bowl, an outdoor amphitheater, a Regal Cinemas and the Historic Hemet Theatre, built in 1921. A development being planned for the area is a downtown transit village, with the center of it being a Metrolink station. It will be north of the downtown core, and will consist of residences, shops, as well as parks. The station itself, could feature a railroad museum, heritage trail, as well as a farmers market and market hall.
The Historic Hemet Theater was once the oldest continually run single-screen theater in the nation. However, the theater was forced to close down in January 2010 due to water damage from a fire that destroyed adjacent store fronts. The musty smell force the theater to stay closed for a year, which created financial struggles. As of 2011 The Foundation was incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)3 for the purpose of supporting community projects. In July 2013 the Historic Hemet Theater Foundation negotiated a five-year lease/option to purchase the theater. Since then the Foundation has restored the Theater back to operation and is in the process of raising funds in order to purchase and restore the Hemet Historical Treasure.
In addition to Diamond Valley Lake, Hemet has five large parks throughout the city.
Weston Park was established in 1921 and was dedicated to John B. Weston, who was president of the board of trustees from 1914 to 1920. It contains shuffleboard courts, restrooms, playground, basketball court, and turf area for passive uses and games. It is located in the downtown area west of Santa Fe Street, and has an area of 4 acres (20,000 m2).
Dedicated to James Simpson, Hemet City Council 1947–48,and mayor 1950 to 1966. Simpson Park is a wilderness park located in the Santa Rosa Hills southeast of Hemet with sheltered picnic area and tables, barbecues, restrooms, and hiking trails. At an elevation of 2,500 feet (760 m), it provides an expansive view of San Jacinto Valley, as well of nearby towns of Winchester (Menifee) and Rancho California (Temecula, California), and it has an area of 438 acres (1.8 km2).
Dedicated to Mary Henley, born in Hemet and served as Hemet City Clerk from October 1951 to March 1975, and is the first Hemet Park named after a real person. The park contains two playground areas, half basketball court, picnic tables, shade structures, restrooms and a large turf area. There is a marked walking path/sidewalk of 0.75 miles (1.2 km) around the perimeter of the park. It has an area of 16 acres (65,000 m2), and was established in 1993.
Gibbel park contains a large children's play area, ball field, a half basketball court, restrooms, two lighted tennis courts, lawn bowling green, horseshoe pits, picnic areas and large turf area for passive uses. The park also features a memorial of military branches of the United States. It has an area of 11 acres (45,000 m2), and was established in 1970.
The Valley Wide Community Sports Park opened in September 2009. The park, part of the eastern recreation area of Diamond Valley Lake hosts eight baseball fields, eight lighted baseball fields, eight soccer fields, four basketball courts, six tennis courts, seven volleyball courts, two pickle ball courts, fitness trails, three play areas, four restrooms, and three picnic areas. The park is also adjacent to an aquatic center.
The city's educational services are under the Hemet Unified School District to cover all of Hemet, and parts of San Jacinto and Valle Vista, with a student pupil population of over 20,000 students. There are HUSD member schools in the rural communities of Anza, Idyllwild and Winchester.
As of January 2010, the school district is facing having to possibly go far out of budget to fix the Historic Hemet Elementary school, due to settling of ground soil underneath the building. The main building was built in 1927, and is one of the few historic landmarks left in Hemet. The other choice, would be to destroy the school, and rebuild a new school in its place. The State of California will pay for 50% of either project, but the already cash strapped district may run into trouble if the repairing of the school goes over budget. A new building could cost 20 million dollars, with an extra 3 million dollars added to that cost to have it built in the original architectural style of the old building.
Hemet High School, Western Center Academy, West Valley High School and Tahquitz High School in Hemet and Hamilton High School in Anza.
Acacia Middle School, Diamond Valley Middle School, Dartmouth Middle School, Western Center Academy, and Rancho Viejo Middle School.
Bautista Creek Elementary, Cawston Elementary, Fruitvale Elementary, Harmony Elementary, Hemet Elementary, Jacob Wiens Elementary, Little Lake Elementary, McSweeny Elementary, Ramona Elementary, Valle Vista Elementary, Whittier Elementary and Winchester Elementary.
Cottonwood School of Aguanga & Hamilton School of Anza.
Advanced Path Studies School (credit recovery), Alessandro High School – continuation (grades 10–12), Baypoint Preparatory Academy (grades K-12), Family Tree Learning Center (grades K–8), Helen Hunt Jackson School for independent studies, Hemet Academy of applied academics and technology (grades 9–12), Hemecinto Alternative Educational Center (grades 6–9), and Western Center Academy (grades 6–10). Riversprings Charter School k-12.
San Jacinto Valley Academy is a K–12 charter school that serves students and families who do not wish to go to traditional district schools. This school is International Baccalaureate (IB) accredited and it is dedicated to college prep and student achievement.
Dwelling Place Learning Academy (DPLA) DPLA is a Private Christian Academy. DPLA is K – 5th grade with a student to teacher ratio of 16 to 1 classroom environment; Curriculum: The Weaver Curriculum (Unit Study). DPLA will add at least one grade a year until the 12th grade to become K-12. DPLA begins August 17, 2015. Incorporated as a 501(C)(3) in the State of California.
The Hemet News was a newspaper published from about 1894 until 1999.
Hemet and nearby San Jacinto are situated in the Los Angeles designated market area and are able to receive most of the Los Angeles and Riverside/San Bernardino area television stations via cable and satellite providers. Over the air signals with limited reception include KCAL-TV 9 (Independent) Los Angeles; KVCR-TV 24 (PBS) San Bernardino; KFMB-TV 8 (CBS), KUSI 9 (Independent) and KNSD 39 (NBC) from San Diego; two ABC stations KABC 7 L.A. and KESQ-TV 42 from Palm Springs, California; KOCE 50 (PBS) and KVEA 52 (Telemundo) from Orange County, California. Two local TV stations based in Hemet and nearby Perris are KBLM-LP 25 (Spanish independent) and KZSW 27 (Independent) of Temecula.
Public transit in Hemet is provided by the RTA, which has stops at various locations including Florida Ave. and Lincoln Ave, and the Hemet Valley Mall. Routes in the Hemet area include: 27, 31, 32, 33, 42, 74, 79, 212, 217.
Commercial air service is provided by the Palm Springs International Airport and Ontario International Airport. Hemet-Ryan Airport,which is a municipal airport owned by Riverside County, has no commercial service.
Two California State Highways cross the city. California State Route 74 runs along most of Florida Avenue, the main corridor of east and west transportation in Hemet, and California State Route 79 also follows Florida for a short time before heading south on Winchester road, in nearby Homeland. Highway 79 is slated for re-alignment when the Mid County Parkway project is started. Streets in Hemet are arranged mostly in a standard grid. Almost all major streets that go east-west are avenues, and almost all streets going north-south are streets. Exceptions are Sanderson Avenue, Lyon Avenue, Palm Ave and Cawston Avenue. Major streets in Hemet are Florida Avenue, Sanderson Avenue, San Jacinto Street, Stetson Avenue, and State Street.
The railroad to Hemet was operated by AT&SF Railway from 1888 to 1987. It was used for loading and shipping oranges that grew in the region. In 1987, it was abandoned because of a lack of demand for transportation. Today the railroad line is mostly abandoned. Tracks are usually used for storing rail cars for a short time while they are not needed by Class I railroads.
The City of Hemet public library was created in 1906. Members of the Women's Club opened a reading room at the corner of Harvard street, and Florida avenue.
In 1910 after the city had incorporated, citizens of the newly formed city voted for its own library, and the city took over the operation of the facility built in 1906. Shortly after, the reading room became too small for the growing community, and groups and citizens lobbied to get a new larger facility built. This would help to house the growing collection of books. A woman of the community named Mrs. E.A. Davis was the one who wrote to Andrew Carnegie seeking funds to help build a new library. The city received $7,500 to fund part of the construction, and Mr. and Mrs. St. John donated land to the city to build the new Carnegie Library. The new library was finished in 1913, and served the city for 52 years. The building was declared unsafe by the Fire Marshall, and the building was razed in 1969, and the new C.B. Covell memorial Library was built. This building however, also became too small for the city.
The library moved again in 2003, to its current facility, re-located for the first time since 1913. The new facility is now located at 300 E. Latham Avenue. Just blocks from its former location. The new building is two stories tall, and contains 52,000 square feet (4,800 m2). It was designed by John Loomis of 30th Street Architects at a cost of over 15 million.
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