Hemet is a city in the San Jacinto Valley in Riverside County, California, United States. It covers a total area of 27.847 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.
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 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. The area’s original inhabitants, the Soboba Cahuilla were moved to the Indian reservation near San Jacinto.
Harvard Street c. 1907 Hemet Hotel in Background
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 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.
Hemet Panorama at night from the entrance of Simpson Park
 History timeline
From the Hemet Library Heritage Room History Collection
1850 California becomes state.
1858 Hemet was established as a farm settlement.
1887 Jan 27 Lake Hemet Water Company & Hemet Land Company formed.
1888 Rail service from Perris to the San Jacinto Valley.
1892 Post Office Established.
1893 Riverside County formed from San Diego & San Bernardino Counties.
1893 First Hemet Elementary School built – Alessandro Street.
1894 First Hemet High School built – Buena Vista and Acacia.
1895 Oct 9 Lake Hemet Dam completed.
1899 Dec 25 Major earthquake hit valley (Magnitude = 7.0 est.) on Christmas Day before the year 1900 begins.
1910 Jan 20 City of Hemet incorporated.
1914 Santa Fe depot opened at present site.
1921 Original opening of the Hemet Theater.
1923 Apr First performance of Ramona Pageant.
1940 Aug Ryan School of Aeronautics opened in Hemet.
1943 Oct 3 Hemet Community Hospital opened.
1950 Sep 26 Eastern Municipal Water District created.
1966 Jul 1 Hemet Unified School District formed from several existing districts.
1970 Hemet has over 10,000 residents for the first time.
1972 Sep 23 New Hemet High School opened on Stanford and Stetson Ave.
1980 Hemet real estate boom begins.
1987 Depot abandoned by Santa Fe railroad – offered to sell to City of Hemet.
1987 Bacum, Mexico became second sister city.
1988 Save Our Station (S.O.S.) Purchased Santa Fe Depot.
1991 Oct 8 Domenigoni and Diamond Valleys named sites for M.W.D. reservoir.
1995 Metropolitan Water District started 800,000 ac·ft reservoir.
1996 June 13 Domenigoni Parkway opened.
1998 June Hemet Museum opened in Santa Fe depot.
1999 Nov M.W.D. Diamond Valley Lake completed.
2000 Mar Diamond Valley Lake dedicated, becomes recreation spot.
2010 Hemet’s centennial as an incorporated city.
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°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 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, 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 a Regal Cinemas. The city is planning two projects that will contribute to entertainment offerings for residents. 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.
 Parks and recreation
In addition to Diamond Valley Lake, Hemet has five large parks throughout the city.
 Weston Park
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).
 Simpson Park
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).
 Mary Henley Park
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 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
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 has an area of 11 acres (45,000 m2), and was established in 1970.
 Valley Wide Community Sports Park
The Valley Wide Community sports park opened in September 2009. The park, part of the eastern recreation area of Diamond Valley Lake hosts 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. The park is also adjacent to an aquatic center.
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 council 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 nearby 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.
 High schools
Hemet High School, West Valley High School and Tahquitz High School in Hemet and Hamilton High School in Anza.
 Middle schools
Acacia Middle School, Diamond Valley Middle School, Dartmouth Middle School, Western Center Academy, and Rancho Viejo Middle School.
 Elementary schools
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.
 All grade
Cottonwood School of Aguanga, Hamilton School of Anza, and Idyllwild School (grades K-8).
 Alternative schools
Advanced Path Studies School (credit recovery), 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 (grades 9-12), Hemecinto Alternative Educational Center (grades 6-9), and Western Center Academy (grades6-8).
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.
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 including Florida Ave. and Lincoln Ave, and The Hemet Valley Mall. Routes in the Hemet area include:RTA 27, 31, 32, 33, 42, 74, 79, 212, 217.
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.
 Highways and streets
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 because of a lack of demand for transportation. Today, the railroad is mostly abandoned and very little happens on this line. The tracks are usually used for storing rail cars for a short time while they are not needed by Class I railroads. In the future, the city of Hemet is planning to remove all crossings and pave over the tracks to reduce the roughness of the crossings. This will most likely cut off the rail line to Hemet, so no more rail cars or locomotives will be heading into the city.
 Public safety
 Law enforcement
Hemet Police Department, built in 1959
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 20th century, 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, Richard Dana, retired in February 2011 after a 47 year career in law enforcement. On August 9, 2011 20+ year department veteran, Dave Brown, was sworn in as the new Police Chief.
 Fire department
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.
Hemet Public Library, located in downtown
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 (4,800 m2). It was designed by John Loomis of 30th Street Architects.