South Redondo Beach
When you first set foot in the South Bay everyone talks about the Beach Cities. Which one is better? Where should I live? What is the difference? As it relates to Redondo Beach, it really is separated into two completely different areas. The majority of South Redondo Beach is on the coast and lies directly South of Hermosa Beach. North Redondo Beach, is not on the coast and lies directly East of the entire city of Hermosa Beach. They are distinctly divided by zip codes: South Redondo is 90277 and North Redondo is 90278.
Of course, like most of the beach cities, there are very distinct neighborhoods throughout North and South Redondo Beach. The city gets its charm from the diverse architecture and zoning that exists. Besides the commercially zoned areas, the residential zones are divided into areas that range from R1 — which typically designates a single family home area — to R4 which is much more dense. The more dense areas have allowed for construction of apartments, condominiums and townhomes. Matter of fact, it is not uncommon to see all of them on one block. You can see a turn of the century home (or California Bungalow as they refer to it), a duplex sitting next to a 4 unit apartment building, and sitting right next to that may be a brand new “2-on-a-lot” town home. The term “eclectic” would certainly describe a few of the streets in the area.
As it relates to Real Estate and prices what really is the difference between North and South? We will start with South Redondo Beach. Because of the proximity to the beach and water, South Redondo has typically remained more expensive than North Redondo. Many of the homes offer views of the Pacific Ocean and if you are located West of Pacific Coast Highway you are just a short walk or stroll to the beach. South Redondo is home to some of the very last remaining (and very charming), original Craftsman and Victorian homes that remind us of the early history of the South Bay; many of which are protected as historic homes of California, and most benefit from the Mills Act.
The Mills Act requires the County Tax Assessor to re-evaluate the property using a capitalization method rather than the market value. The benefit to the homeowner is a substantial reduction in property taxes for the post Proposition 13 qualified historic properties. The money saved from the reduced property tax is made available for the homeowner to use to maintain and restore the structure.
As you head to the most Southern part of the city, you will find The Riviera Village, a commercial area with quaint little shops, terrific restaurants, and other boutique eateries. Being walking distance to this area is a huge draw. The only drawback is you will have to extend your commute by a few miles if you typically head North to Los Angeles for work. The homes range in size from very small, one and two bedroom bungalows, to beautiful, 6,000 square foot estate-style homes. The lot sizes range as dramatically from postage-stamp sized lots that are just slightly larger than the small bungalows, to lots well over 9,000 square feet which offer tremendous back yards.
Along the coast, you will find the only high-rise style buildings in the Beach Cities. These buildings were mostly developed back in the 1970s and early ‘80s. They are made up of mostly one and two bedroom condominiums, and are affordable by beach standards. Many of them have spectacular views of the ocean and coastline, and are within walking distance to either the Pier area or the Village. Nearly all of the area South of Torrance Boulevard and East of Pacific Coast Highway has maintained the R1 zoning, allowing just one home per lot.
The streets take on an interesting thematic history in South Redondo. Starting at the Northern most street (just South of 190th), all of the streets that travel East and West are named after gems, and some of them were known to exist in this area as early as the 1700s. The first street is Agate, then Beryl, Carnelian, Diamond, and so on. The streets that travel North and South are also in alphabetical order, and are all women’s names in reference to the Dominguez heirs from whom the Redondo Company purchased 1,400 acres from back in 1887. You’ll see “the girl” streets as you travel West from Prospect Ave: Paulina, Francisca, Gertruda, Helberta, Irena, Juanita, etc. In what is known as the Clifton Area, South of Knob Hill, the east-west streets are referred to as “The Alphabet Streets”, as they are named after letters of the alphabet streets. The Hollywood Riviera section is actually in the City of Torrance, but has a 90277 zip code. It has a rich history as an elite coastal hide-away for the wealthy families of the 1930s – 1950s.
Excellence in education continues to be a high priority for Redondo Beach and its resident parents. South Redondo is home to the city’s only High School, Redondo Union High, which was opened in 1905 and has a long history of award winning education, arts & sports programs. South Redondo middle school children attend Parras Middle School (grades 6-8), which runs along Prospect Avenue. There are three elementary schools, Beryl, Alta Vista, and Tulita. In 2010 Beryl Elementary scored 10 of 10 in statewide rankings and has a base API score of 948 (as compared to Manhattan Beach elementary schools which scored between 937 and 966 in 2010).
To summarize, South Redondo offers many housing options that suit a range of budgets, fabulous restaurants & shopping, outstanding education, but can be little bit of an extra commute to the freeway compared to North Redondo. And with its gently curving, tree-lined streets, upslope hillside lots that can capture great views, and/or many vantage points that offer great proximity to the beach, South Redondo is typically more expensive than North Redondo.