Costa Mesa is a city in Orange County, California. Since its incorporation in 1953, the city has grown from a semi-rural farming community of 16,840 to a primarily suburban and edge city with an economy based on retail, commerce, and light manufacturing. The population was 109,960 at the 2010 United States Census.
Members of the Gabrieleño/Tongva and Juaneño/Luiseño nations long inhabited the area. After the 1769 expedition of Gaspar de Portolà, a Spanish expedition led by Junípero Serra named the area Vallejo de Santa Ana (Valley of Saint Anne). On November 1, 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano became the area's first permanent European settlement in Alta California, New Spain.
In 1801, the Spanish Empire granted 62,500 acres (253 km2) to Jose Antonio Yorba, which he named Rancho San Antonio. Yorba's great rancho included the lands where the communities of Olive, Orange, Villa Park, Santa Ana, Tustin, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach stand today.
After the Mexican-American war, California became part of the United States and American settlers arrived in this area and formed the town of Fairview in the 1880s near the modern intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Adams Avenue. An 1889 flood wiped out the railroad serving the community, however, and it shriveled.
To the south, meanwhile, the community of Harper had arisen on a siding of the Santa Ana and Newport Railroad, named after a local rancher. This town prospered on its agricultural goods. On May 11, 1920, Harper changed its name to Costa Mesa, which literally means "coast table(land)" in Spanish. This is a reference to the city's geography as being a plateau by the coast.
Costa Mesa surged in population during and after World War II, as many thousands trained at Santa Ana Army Air Base and returned after the war with their families. Within three decades of incorporation, the city's population had nearly quintupled.
Costa Mesa is located 37 miles (60 km) southeast of Los Angeles, 88 miles (142 km) north of San Diego and 425 miles (684 km) south of San Francisco, Costa Mesa encompasses a total of 16 square miles (41 km2) with its southernmost border only 1 mile (1.6 km) from the Pacific Ocean. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.7 square miles (41 km2). 15.7 square miles (41 km2) of it is land and 0.05 square miles (0.13 km2) of it (0.29%) is water.
Costa Mesa has a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSh/BSk) with mild temperatures year round. Rain falls primarily in the winter months, and is close to nonexistent during the summer. Morning low clouds and fog are common due to its coastal location.
|Climate data for Costa Mesa, California|
|Average high °F (°C)||70
|Average low °F (°C)||47
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||2.07
|Source: Weather Channel|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
The 2010 United States Census reported that Costa Mesa had a population of 109,960. The population density was 7,004.0 people per square mile (2,704.3/km²). The racial makeup of Costa Mesa was 75,335 (68.5%) White (51.8% Non-Hispanic White), 1,640 (1.5%) African American, 686 (0.6%) Native American, 8,654 (7.9%) Asian, 527 (0.5%) Pacific Islander, 17,992 (16.4%) from other races, and 5,126 (4.7%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 39,403 persons (35.8%).
The Census reported that 106,990 people (97.3% of the population) lived in households, 2,232 (2.0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 738 (0.7%) were institutionalized.
There were 39,946 households, out of which 12,298 (30.8%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 16,478 (41.3%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 4,369 (10.9%) had a female householder with no husband present, 2,392 (6.0%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 3,013 (7.5%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 281 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 10,963 households (27.4%) were made up of individuals and 2,775 (6.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68. There were 23,239 families (58.2% of all households); the average family size was 3.30.
The population was spread out with 23,682 people (21.5%) under the age of 18, 12,847 people (11.7%) aged 18 to 24, 38,211 people (34.7%) aged 25 to 44, 25,106 people (22.8%) aged 45 to 64, and 10,114 people (9.2%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.6 years. For every 100 females there were 103.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.7 males.
There were 42,120 housing units at an average density of 2,682.9 per square mile (1,035.9/km²), of which 15,799 (39.6%) were owner-occupied, and 24,147 (60.4%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.9%. 42,517 people (38.7% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 64,473 people (58.6%) lived in rental housing units.
During 2009–2013, Costa Mesa had a median household income of $65,830, with 15.1% of the population living below the poverty line.
As of the census of 2000, there were 108,724 people, 39,206 households, and 22,778 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,956.3 inhabitants per square mile (2,685.8/km²). There were 40,406 housing units at an average density of 2,585.2 per square mile (998.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 69.48% White, 1.40% Black or African American, 0.78% Native American, 6.90% Asian, 0.60% Pacific Islander, 16.57% from other races, and 4.27% from two or more races. 31.75% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 39,206 households out of which 29.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.8% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.9% were non-families. 28.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.34.
In the city, the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 39.0% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 8.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 105.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $50,732, and the median income for a family was $55,456. Males had a median income of $38,670 versus $32,365 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,342. About 8.2% of families and 12.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.0% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.
Costa Mesa's local economy relies heavily on retail and services. The single largest center of commercial activity is South Coast Plaza, a shopping center noted for its architecture and size. The volume of sales generated by South Coast Plaza, on the strength of 322 stores, places it among the highest volume regional shopping centers in the nation. It generates more than $1 billion per year in revenue. Some manufacturing activity also takes place in the city, mostly in the industrial, southwestern quarter, which is home to a number of electronics, pharmaceuticals and plastics firms. Business services company Experian is the largest employer in the city, and has its North American headquarters in Costa Mesa.
The commercial district surrounding South Coast Plaza, which contains parts of northern Costa Mesa and southern Santa Ana, is sometimes called South Coast Metro.
A local newspaper, the Daily Pilot, is owned, operated, and printed by the Los Angeles Times. Ceradyne, El Pollo Loco, Emulex, Hurley, RVCA, Toyota Racing Development, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and Volcom are among the businesses headquartered in Costa Mesa.
Costa Mesa is home to the official offices and training facility of the Los Angeles Chargers American football team.
Costa Mesa offers 26 parks, a municipal golf course, 26 public schools and 2 libraries.
According to the City's 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
|#||Employer||# of employees|
|1||El Pollo Loco||3,998|
|3||Coast Community College District Foundation||2,900|
|4||Orange Coast College||1,900|
|5||Automobile Club of Southern California||1,200|
|6||Dynamic Cooking Systems||700|
The Annual Scarecrow & Pumpkin Festival was first held in 1938, went on hiatus for seven decades, and then was restarted in 2013.
A general law city, Costa Mesa has a council-manager form of government. In November 2016, voters approved changing the City Council seats from at-large to six voting districts and a directly elected mayor, who acts as the chairperson for the council and head of the government. Day to day, the city is run by a professional city manager and staff of approximately 460 full-time employees.
Management of the city and coordination of city services are provided by:
|City Manager||Thomas R. Hatch|
|Assistant City Manager||Tamara Letourneau|
|City Attorney||Thomas Duarte|
|Director of Development Services||Barry Curtis|
|Director of Finance||Steve Dunivent (interim)|
|Director of Public Works||Raja Sethuraman|
|Fire Chief||Dan Stefano|
|Police Chief||Rob Sharpnack|
In the California State Legislature, Costa Mesa is in the 37th Senate District, represented by Republican John Moorlach, and in the 74th Assembly District, represented by Republican Matthew Harper.
Institutions of higher learning located in Costa Mesa include Orange Coast College, Vanguard University (affiliated with the Assemblies of God), Whittier Law School (a satellite of Whittier College) and National University (a private university based in La Jolla, California).
Costa Mesa has two public high schools, Costa Mesa High School and Estancia High School. Costa Mesa has two public middle schools; Tewinkle Middle School, which was named after Costa Mesa's first mayor, and Costa Mesa Middle School which shares the same campus as Costa Mesa High School. Costa Mesa also has two alternative high schools that share the same campus, Back Bay High School and Monte Vista High School and another, Coastline Early College High School which is on its own facility.
Costa Mesa is served by several bus lines of the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), but most transportation is by automobile. Two freeways terminate here, State Route 73 and State Route 55 (also known as the Costa Mesa Freeway). The San Diego Freeway, Interstate 405, also runs through the city.
The 9.5 acre (38,000 m²) Costa Mesa Civic Center is located at 77 Fair Drive. City Hall is a five-story building where the primary administrative functions of the city are conducted. Also contained in the Civic Center complex are Council Chambers, the Police facility, Communications building and Fire Station No. 5.
Fire protection is provided by the Costa Mesa Fire Department. Law enforcement is the responsibility of the Costa Mesa Police Department. Emergency Medical Services are provided by the Costa Mesa Fire Department and Care Ambulance Service.
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