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Hemet is a city located in the San Jacinto Valley in Riverside County, California, United States. It covers a total area of 27.1 square miles (70 km2), about half of the valley, which it shares with the neighboring city of San Jacinto. In 2007 the city's population was estimated to be 74,185 according to the California Department of Finance. Hemet was founded in 1887, predating the formation of Riverside County, and was incorporated on January 20, 1910. The formation of Lake Hemet helped the city grow and prosper, 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. During the early 1800s, 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. The area's original inhabitants, the Soboba Cahuilla were moved to the Indian reservation near San Jacinto.
The City of Hemet was incorporated in January 1910. 130 out of 177 residents 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, joined Corona as the third largest city in the Riverside area.
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 2000s. 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, and is located in the San Jacinto Valley. Hemet is south of the city of San Jacinto, and located near the base of the San Jacinto Mountains. 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 (33.742001, -116.983068). According to Riverside County, the city has a total area of 27.1 square miles as of 2007(66.4 km²), all of it land.
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/sq mi (768/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 70% White, 3.8% Black or African American, 1.5% Native American, 2.7% Asian, 0.4% Pacific Islander, 17.5% from other races, and 4.1% from two or more races. 34.8% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 12.6% were of German, 10.5% English, 7.8% Irish and 4.3% American ancestry.
There were 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 was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.24.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.9% under the age of 19, 6.7% from 19 to 24, 13.9% from 25 to 34, 10.1% from 35 to 44, 17.5% from 45 to 64, and 24% who were 65 or older. The median age was 36 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.
According the the California Economic Development Department, in 2005 the economy of Hemet was based on four main industries: retail trade, health and 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.
The City of Hemet has two museums, as well as an outdoor amphitheater. The Hemet Museum is located at the intersection of State street and Florida Avenue, in downtown Hemet. It is a museum of local history, and features photographs of old Hemet, historic photographs from the Ramona Pageant, as well as native American atrifacts 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, Hemet also has an outdoor amphitheater, the Ramona Bowl a natural amphitheater located in the southern hills of the city. It is known for producing the play, "Ramona".
The city of Hemet is expanding upon its entertainment venues. The two largest venues are the Ramona Bowl, an outdoor amphitheater, and the Regal Cinemas. However, the city is slated for upcoming projects that could bring residents more things to do in the valley. The largest is the proposed, and in planning stages, "Garrett Ranch" will be a new outdoor lifestyle entertainment center located at the corner of Florida Avenue and Warren Road in west Hemet. Plans for it include a new state of the art multiplex, as well as rows of shops, cafes, and botiques. It is to be modeled somewhat after the downtown area of a city, with boulevards,and pedestrian friendly streets. Another 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 parks. The station itself, could feature a Railroad museum, heritage trail, as well as a farmers market and market hall. These are all in early stages however, information will be updated as it is available.
On September 12 of 2009, the Valley Wide Community sports park will have its grand opening. The park will host 8 baseball fields, 8 lighted baseball fields, 8 soccer fields, 4 basketball courts, 6 tennis courts, 7 volley ball courts, 2 pickle ball courts, fitness trails, 3 play areas, 4 restrooms, and 3 picnic areas.
Hemet has eight city parks located throughout the city, though some are small greens, and others are larger parks.
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 is four acres.
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, it provides an expansive view of San Jacinto Valley, as well of nearby towns of Winchester (Menifee) and Rancho California (Temecula, California), and it is 438 acres.
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. Mary Henley Park park contains two playground areas, half basketball court, picnic tables, shade structures,restrooms and a large turf area. There is a 3/4 mile marked walking path/sidewalk around the perimeter of the park. It is 16 acres, and was established in 1993.
Gibbel park contains a large children's play area, ball field, a half basketball court, restrooms, 2 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 is eleven acres, and was established in 1970.
In the state legislature Hemet is located in the 37th Senate District, represented by Republican Bill Emmerson (who grew up and currently resides in Hemet), and in the 65th Assembly District, represented by Republican Paul Cook. Federally, Hemet is located in California's 45th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +3 and is represented by Republican Mary Bono Mack.
On December 9, 2008, 3 new members (Jerry Franchville, Jim Foreman,and Robert Youssef) began their terms on the Hemet City Council, replacing Brian Christie, Marc Searl (also the outgoing Mayor), and Lori VanArsdale. In July 2009, the city counsel approved the hiring of Brian S. Nakamura as the new city manager, replacing interim city manager Len Wood, who had managed the city for the past year. Brian Nakamura was the former city manager of near by Banning, California. He agreed to an immediate pay cut from a salary of $230,000 per year to $215,000 as well as took an additional 5 percent cut on top of that to reduce his salary to $204,250 per year to help with the city budget issues.
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.
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.
Advanced Path Studies School (grades K-5), Alessandro High School - continuation (grades 10-12), Family Tree Learning Center (grades K-8), Helen Hunt Jackson School for independent studies, Hemet Academy of applied academics and technology, and Hemecinto Alternative Educational Center (grades 6-9).
Hemet and nearby San Jacinto are situated in the Los Angeles DMA 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[verification needed]; 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, some of which being Florida Ave. and Lincoln Ave, as well as The Hemet Valley Mall. Routes in the Hemet area are:RTA 27, 31, 32, 33, 42, 74, 79. Two more commuter lines will be launched on June 29, 2009. The two new lines will offer routes to Riverside and Escondido. The Riverside line will be route 212 and the Escondido route will be 217. These lines will have departure times starting around 4 a.m. and returning around 5 p.m.. The Riverside line will have departure times around afternoon. There is also an Amtrak stop in Hemet which can take you to train stations in the area.
Air service is provided by the Hemet-Ryan Airport, which is a municipal airport owned by Riverside County. The closest International Airports are Palm Springs International Airport, and Ontario International Airport.
Two California State Highways make their way through 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 shortly, 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 to west, are avenues, and almost all streets going north to south, are streets, with the exception of 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 back then for loading and shipping oranges that grew in the region. In 1987, it was abandoned due to the lack of transportation needed. For today, the railroad is mostly abandoned and very little even happens on this line, these tracks are usually used for storing rail cars due to our economy for a short time for lowering the price for Class I railroads from handling to much freight cars. As of the future, the city of Hemet is planning to remove all crossings and to pave over the tracks, this will increase the smoothness of the road, and to prevent tire damage in the future. Also, this will most likely cut off the rail line to Hemet, which meaning, no more rail cars or locomotives heading into the city.
The city of Hemet operates its own police force and fire department.
Police headquarters is located at the corner of Buena Vista Avenue and Latham Avenue in the downtown area. The force was formed in the early 1900s, and has been the police force for Hemet since then. The force regularly responds to all types of calls, in extreme situations, S.W.A.T. is called in. In 2008, the police department responded to over 70,000 incidents and made over 5000 arrests. The police department includes 94 employees: 68 sworn officers, 26 civilians, and 68 volunteers (FY09/10). Hemet P.D. maintains some of the highest arrest and closure rates in the entire county. The department operates on an annual budget of $13.7 million, and is supplemented by about $350,000 in Federal grants. The Department was cut from 91 sworn officers to 68 officers because of budget cuts in 2009. The Police Chief is Richard Dana.
The fire department was started in 1908, predating the incorporation of the city itself. The headquarters is located on 510 E. Florida Avenue, and it currently operates four fire stations in the city. The department recently had to close a fifth station, due to tough economic times. The department estimated that it will respond to about 12,000 calls in 2009.
The City of Hemet public library was created in 1906 when citizens wanted a place to gather and read various books. 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 on 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 to 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 North Latham Avenue. Just blocks from its former location. The new building is two stories tall, and contains 52,000 square feet. It was designed by John Loomis of 30th Street Architects.
Hemet Theater in downtown. Built in 1921
Harvard street, looking north in 2008
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- Acacia Middle
- Alessandro High
- Cawston Elementary
- Idyllwild Elementary
- Hemet Senior High
- Hemet Educational Learning Center
- Hemet Adult Education
- Hemet Academy For Applied Academic And Technology
- Helen Hunt Jackson Alternative High
- Hamilton High
- Hamilton Elementary
- Cottonwood Elementary
- Winchester Elementary
- West Valley High
- Tahquitz High
- Santa Fe Middle
- Valle Vista Elementary
- Ramona Elementary
- McSweeny Elementary
- Little Lake Elementary
- Jacob Wiens Elementary
- Hemet Elementary
- Harmony Elementary
- Fruitvale Elementary