Huntington Beach ~ "Surf City"

A Brief History & Overview

Huntington Beach is the largest beach city in Orange County with a population of over 200,700. Huntington Beach enjoys over eight miles of clean and accessible shoreline and has been nicked named by many: “Surf City” and/or “HB”.

Growth History - Incorporated as a city in 1909, Huntington Beach slept through the first half of the 20th century with the primary excitement coming form oil discoveries in fields near the shore. This created a boom for the town until the great depression halved oil prices. In the 1950’s a suburban housing wave began sweeping over all of Orange County but Huntington Beach's fastest growth did not begin until the 60’s and through the 70’s. From 1960 to 1980 Huntington Beach grew nearly 15 fold! During these two decades about 70% of the city’s current housing stock was erected. U.S. Census Bureau Data puts Huntington Beach’s population numbers as follows at the beginning of the decades:

  • 1950 5,237
  • 1960 11,492
  • 1970 115,960
  • 1980 170,905
  • 1990 181,519
  • 2000 189,594
  • 2006 200,700

Originally built for the middle class, Huntington Beach now attracts many upper-middle families and is considered citywide a desirable address and, in some neighborhoods, a prestige address. School reputations are very good overall with relatively high test scores. HB is regularly included among the 15 safest communities in the U.S. according to FBI statistics on cities with populations over 100,000. Huntington Beach is also a very “kid friendly” city with sixty-seven parks and widespread support of bike lanes on city streets (one of the highest park space and bike path space per capita of any city in California). Most neighborhoods show a very high pride-of-ownership and are undergoing constant improvements. It’s a nice, clean-looking, well located, family oriented town with low crime, good schools, moderate temperatures year round, good open space, clean air, clean beaches and clean shoreline water (go to: for regular ocean water cleanliness test results).

Joanne and I bought our first home in Huntington Beach in 1973 (a brand new Bolsa Landmark) and started our family here. We moved to the Seacliff community of Edwards Hill in 1991. We have seen a lot of very positive growth and changes since then as Huntington Beach has become an even better and better place to live over the years.

Upscale Communities - The cities two primary upscale communities are Huntington Seacliff and Huntington Harbor. The Huntington Seacliff development began in earnest in the early 90’s and is now fully developed with virtually no vacant land left. The Huntington Seacliff is comprised of 17 different “high-end” communities totaling approximately 4,000 detached luxury single family homes and attached luxury town homes. These highly desirable communities generally command from $700,000 to $1M for town homes and from $1M to over $4 million for single family residences (SFR’s) although the Seacliff’s largest and most premium custom properties with the best locations and largest lots have yet to be offered for resale. Huntington Harbor has been going through a major renewal process for many years. Many waterfront SFRs with private boat docks built originally in the 60’s and 70’s are being torn down to be replaced with beautiful and palatial custom homes generally in the $3 to $5 million range.

Commute Times - Huntington Beach is well located for those who need a reasonable (half hour) rush hour commute times to the major business centers of Irvine and Long Beach. Commutes to LA, San Diego and the Inland Empire are longer but Huntington Beach’s central location makes it a good choice for “doable” commute times to all of these SoCal destinations.

Parks - A large, 356 acre, passive use Central Park sits in the middle of the city adjacent to an Equestrian Center with stables, a large Central Library and the new Sports Complex. The Equestrian Center’s 3 miles of equestrian trails on southern central park lands lead to additional miles of horse trails through the estate size homes of the “Edwards Hill” community and connect to multi-use trails that skirt more estate size “Bluffs” homes located on a bluff overlooking the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. These trails at the foot of the bluffs connect to the County’s 105 acre Harriet Weider Regional Park corridor with natural surface multi-use trails that run along Seapoint Drive all the way down to PCH.

Schools - Elementary and middle school aged children residing in Huntington Beach are served by the following school districts: Huntington Beach City, Ocean View, Fountain Valley, and Westminster elementary districts. Huntington Beach has four public high schools within Huntington Beach High School District. Test scores are generally in the 70th to 90th percentiles while some schools have achieved scores earning National Blue Ribbon School accreditation. Huntington Beach’s schools have been and continue to be a major draw for residency in HB.

City Amenities - Huntington Beach boasts many amenities such as: 67 public parks, 8.5 miles of clean shoreline with many great surfing spots, continuous bike and pedestrian path along shore, world class beach lifeguard system and two Junior Lifeguard programs, a 1,247 acre Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve (currently undergoing a multistage $90 million restoration - go to: for a project description), art center, equestrian center, senior center, 72 tennis courts, miles of horse and hiking trails, restaurants, movies, marina, 1,853 foot long pleasure pier, 2 golf courses, dog parks, a dog beach, ice-roller skating rinks (hockey for kids and adults), 5 libraries (the main library has one of the largest children’s libraries in the western US and a 320 seat theater), large Sports Complex, 2 skateboard parks, annual marathon, annual 10-day US Open Surfing Championship Contest, one of the biggest 4th of July parades in the country, no smoking on the beach or pier, Farmers Market and craft show Friday’s at the pier, and many special events and concerts on the pier promenade on summer weekends.

City Stats - In 2005 the state counted 77,616 housing units in HB, of which 38,352, were detached SFRs, 9,457 attached, 26,666 multiples, and 3,141 mobile homes. Census data placed 25 percent of residents under age 21. Median age of residences is 36. In housing units, 61% are owner occupied, 39 percent rented.

Land Use - HB has a healthy mix of land uses: 65% residential, 10% open space, 9% light industrial, 7% commercial/retail, 1% mixed, and 8% other.