Neighborhood Spotlight: Catalina Island – Los Angeles Times
For more than 7,000 years, humans have enjoyed the cool breezes, clear blue water and great fishing of Santa Catalina Island, one of the eight rocky islands that line the southern coast of California, from Santa Barbara in La Jolla.
The Pimungan group of the Gabrielino people were the first Southern Californians to undertake the 35 km journey from the mainland to the island, and for thousands of years settled there, trading fish and soapstone with other groups throughout the region.
The arrival of the Spanish explorer Juan Cabrillo in 1542 marked the beginning of the end of their way of life, although it would be 60 years before the island was visited again by Europeans, when it was was rediscovered by explorer Sebastian Viscaino. He gave the island its current name, nicknamed it Santa Catalina Island, and had the first mass said on its shores.
European diseases and the mission system had devastating effects on the Pimungans, and by the mid-1880s they had largely disappeared from the island. It was now primarily home to passing ranchers and fishermen, but the land boom on the mainland soon prompted speculators to view Catalina as a potential vacation spot.
The first to try his hand at turning the picturesque coves of Catalina into a vacation destination was George Shatto, who founded the town of Avalon before financial difficulties led him to sell the island to the Banning family. The industrious clan modernized Avalon and its environs, building new roads and utilities, and creating an amusement complex that included a dance hall, golf course, and aquarium.
When the Chicago Wrigleys bought the island in 1919, they doubled down on the project initiated by the Bannings. Hotels were built on the slopes above Avalon Bay, the Chicago Cubs moved their spring training facilities to the Islands, and in 1929 Catalina’s most famous building, the Casino, opened its doors.
Catalina has become a popular getaway for the Hollywood elite, many of whom have first visited the island for work because the island has played locations from Africa to the South Pacific in a number of early films. John Wayne, James Cagney and Cecil B. DeMille are just a few of the luminaries who regularly sailed their private yachts from the mainland to get away from it all.
Visitors to Catalina today are still drawn to the relaxed pace of island life and the beauty of its landscapes, a natural heritage that will be protected in perpetuity by a trust the Wrigleys established in the 1970s to ensure the preservation of the island’s open spaces.
Coastal life: boating, fishing, sunbathing, swimming, scuba diving – the list of outdoor activities on Catalina is almost endless.
Rest and Relaxation: After a long day of sailing, there are plenty of places to relax with a cold drink and linger over dinner with your friends and family.
Away from it all: Leave your cares on the mainland and embrace the pace of small town living in Avalon.
An Ocean Away: Catalina’s blissful isolation goes both ways. You can’t just access Target for your day-to-day needs, so planning everything in advance is essential.
Dry place: Catalina’s water comes from reservoirs, so the area is dependent on rain. This means that water rationing is sometimes a reality for the island community.
According to Earl Schrader, broker and owner of Catalina Realtors, limited inventory is typical of the area, but an increase in rental properties has also contributed to the scarcity.
But that could change.
“Now you have to get a conditional use permit from the city, which costs $ 3,000 to apply, with no guarantee that a permit will be issued,” he said.
Despite the lack of homes for sale, Schrader describes the current market as “very stable”.
“Just be ready to act quickly,” he said. “We had a lot of people who lost places because they didn’t have the money available or they weren’t ready to move.”
As of April, there were 24 homes for sale in the 90704 zip code, with a median list price of $ 919,000, according to Redfin. This is a 32.2% increase in the median price compared to the same month a year earlier.
Part of the Long Beach Unified School District, Avalon has a school campus consisting of Avalon Elementary, Avalon Middle, and Avalon High. In 2013, the campus scored 782 out of 1,000 in the Academic Performance Index.
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