Within Long Beach, there lies another city unto itself: Signal Hill. With a history going back to the time of California’s first exploration to the present energy giant it is now, there’s a lot to love about the 2.2 square miles that makes up Signal Hill.
Signal Hill of the Past
Signal Hill was originally named for its use to local indigenous cultures. Acting as a high point to communicate with natives on Santa Catalina Island using smoke signals, the local Puva and Tongva tribes occupied this location as far back as the 1500s. When Spanish settlers arrived in the 1700s, the site became known as ‘Loma Sental‘, which is translated as ‘Signal Hill’.
The first landowner within Signal Hill was Manuel Nieto, who received the land as a grant from King Carlos III of Spain in 1784. Later, Nieto split his property into six separate ranches. Two of the most recognizable of these are Rancho Los Alamitos and Rancho Los Cerritos, which are still a part of modern day Long Beach. These ranches were later sold to the Bixby family in the 1800s.
The area that became the modern city of Signal Hill continued to develop during the turn of the century, with homes and open spaces that were used in some of California’s earliest films. Agriculture was strong at the base of the hill.
A California Oil Dream
The discovery of oil in Signal Hill in 1921 dramatically changed its development going through the 20th century. While Shell engineers initially had reservations about drilling where Union Oil had only found dry wells in 1918, this turned out to be fretting for nothing. The territory surrounding the hill as well as the hill itself quickly became home to more oil derricks than houses, known locally sometimes as ‘Porcupine Hill’ due to its prickly appearance. The oil market also prompted the incorporation of the city in 1924. This was due to zoning restrictions that the city of Long Beach would enforce, as well as a per-barrel oil tax. To this day, the Signal Hill portion of the Long Beach Oil Field is the highest producing, although oil production has slowed since crude oil prices dropped in the 1970s.
The Modern Era
Signal Hill has a unique position within the landscape of Long Beach, both literally and economically. Still largely sequestered to the 2.2 miles that the U.S. Census considers to be the city, a mere 11,400 populate this small enclave.
Signal Hill is special in that it has some of the lowest business taxes in Los Angeles county and no utility tax. This makes it especially appealing to industrial manufacturers and businesses. These occupy as much as 60% of Signal Hill’s property. Of the remaining land, 35% is residential. Major employers and revenue generators for the area include Costco and Office Max, as well as Home Depot.
This abundance of business interest along with their local sales tax yielded a tax surplus in 2014, which the city uses to maintain services, schools, multiple parks, and future developments such as a proposed re-use of an oil field by turning it into a nature preserve. The schools within Signal Hill are widely praised as being of excellent quality, with multiple awards and merits from the state of California.
Due to the border with Long Beach on all sides, there is frequent confusion about whether or not a business or property is governed by Signal Hill. Sometimes you might find yourself using a studio in Long Beach, but using the bathroom in Signal Hill.
The Homes of Signal Hill
Signal Hill has a high density of apartments, condominiums, and single family homes alike. Due to the flux of the oil industry and development in the area, many of the properties in the city are new, gated, and within reach of a beautiful view on all sides.
The average price of a home in Signal Hill across all types is around the mid $400,000s, with single family homes higher than condominiums. The average age of the occupants is 35 years old, according to the latest census data. Due to the city’s high quality schools, parks, and public amenities, property in this region can go very quickly.
Ready to get started on your home search in Signal Hill, or looking to sell your home in this lovely neighborhood? The Shannon Jones Team can help. See below for a look at homes currently on the market, or fill out the form below and we’ll be happy to contact you. No matter the stage of planning you’re in, we’re happy to advise, make suggestions, and lead you to the best move you’ve ever made.