Pebble Beach is an unincorporated community in Monterey County, California. It lies at an elevation of 3 feet (1 m). Pebble Beach is a small coastal resort destination, home to the famous golf course, Pebble Beach Golf Links. As well, the Inn at Spanish Bay and Pebble Beach Lodge and half of the seven golf courses inside the Pebble Beach community are among the local assets owned by the Pebble Beach Company, a subsidiary of Plaut Inc. Residents pay homeowner association fees for road maintenance as well as Monterey County property taxes. Application of the property tax revenues is the realm of the Pebble Beach Community Services District, a public agency with an elected board of directors that manages essential functions including fire protection and emergency medical services, supplemental law enforcement, wastewater collection and treatment, recycled water distribution, and garbage collection, disposal and recycling. The community's post office is named Pebble Beach, however, the U.S. Census Bureau aggregates census returns from Pebble Beach as part of the larger census-designated place of Del Monte Forest.
The area is also partly administered by the Del Monte Forest Foundation, a non-profit organization designated by Monterey County and the California Coastal Commission to acquire and manage certain properties by conservation easement and, as well, as by fee title. The Foundation comprises a volunteer board of 12 members working to preserve the open space within the Del Monte Forest. Except for two representatives of the Pebble Beach Company, all must be property owners and residents of the Forest.
The name Pebble Beach was originally given to a rocky cove, a small part of the Rancho Pescadero Mexican land grant awarded to Fabi?n Barreto in 1836. Barreto died and the land went through several owners. In the 1850s, Chinese immigrants formed a series of fishing settlements along Carmel Bay including one at Stillwater Cove, next to Pebble Beach. They collected abalone and various fish. In 1860, David Jack bought the Mexican land grant, then sold it in 1880 to the Pacific Improvement Company (PIC), a consortium of The Big Four railroad barons. By 1892, the PIC laid out a scenic road that they called the 17-Mile Drive, meandering along the beaches and among the forested areas between Monterey and Carmel. The drive was offered as a pleasure excursion to guests of the PCI-owned Hotel Del Monte, and it was intended to attract wealthy buyers of large and scenic residential plots on PIC land. Sightseers riding horses or carriages along the 17-Mile Drive sometimes stopped at Pebble Beach to pick up agate and other stones polished smooth by the waves, and they commented on a few unusual tree formations known as the Witch Tree and the Ostrich Tree?the latter formed by two trees leaning on each other. At that time, the Chinese fishing community continued in existence despite mounting anti-Chinese sentiment among Monterey residents of European heritage. At roadside stands, Chinese-American girls sold shells and polished pebbles to tourists. In the 1900s, the automobile began replacing horses on 17-Mile Drive, and by 1907 there were only automobiles.
In 1908, architect Lewis P. Hobart was hired by PIC manager A.D. Shepard to design the Pebble Beach Lodge, a rustic log-cabin-style one-story inn completed by 1909. The rambling lodge, featuring private patio nooks and a wide pergola made of local logs, was positioned halfway along 17-Mile Drive, overlooking Pebble Beach. The great hall or assembly room was 35 by 70 feet (11 by 21 m) wide and was flanked by massive fireplaces at each end. A tavern and kitchen supplied food and drink, and cabins could be rented for overnight guests. Operated under the same management as the Hotel Del Monte, food service was available at all hours, including fresh local abalone chowder. The lodge was built as the community center for the wealthy residents of the Del Monte Forest, and was popular as a rest stop for 17-Mile Drive motorists. Finley Brown Morse, a distant cousin to Samuel F. B. Morse known as the inventor of Morse Code, was hired in the 1910s to manage the PIC. In 1916, Morse convinced the PIC to create a golf course at the edge of Pebble Beach and Stillwater Cove. The lodge burned down on December 17, 1917, while the course was being completed, and a completely different structure replaced it: the Del Monte Lodge. Hobart worked with Clarence Tantau to create a luxurious multi-story hotel, and Hobart designed a signature "Roman Plunge" pool to the east of the hotel. The golf course and the new lodge held a grand opening on February 22, 1919.
Morse formed the Del Monte Properties Company on February 27, 1919, and acquired the extensive holdings of the PIC, which included the Del Monte Forest, the Del Monte Lodge and the Hotel Del Monte. Morse brought his son on board as president in 1948. The lodge was expanded with offices and a shopping arcade. In 1954, Morse's son-in-law was named president of the Del Monte Properties Company. Finley Brown Morse died in 1969. Alfred Gawthrop Jr served as Chairman of Del Monte Properties through the 1970s. On March 30, 1977, the Del Monte Properties Company was reincorporated as the Pebble Beach Corporation. The Del Monte Lodge was renamed the Lodge at Pebble Beach. In May 1979, 20th Century Fox, then chaired by Marvin Davis, purchased the Pebble Beach Corporation. When the film company was sold to Rupert Murdoch in 1985, Davis kept several company assets not directly related to the film and TV industry, including the Pebble Beach Company and the Aspen Skiing Company.
In 1999 the Pebble Beach Company was acquired from Cypress by an investor group led by Clint Eastwood, Arnold Palmer, and Peter Ueberroth. In 2000, the company initiated Measure A, a controversial development proposal. Eastwood appeared in a $1 million advertising campaign urging voters to help save the forest. In 2006, the plan went before the California Coastal Commission for approval. On June 14, 2007, the plan was submitted again. Commissioner Sara Wan called it "wholesale destruction of the environment," and Measure A was denied in an 8 to 4 vote.
A famous landmark, known as the "Witch Tree," stood for decades at Pescadero Point until it fell during a storm on January 14, 1964. It was sometimes used as scenic background in movies and television. It was displayed as part of the coast of Italy, in the 1951 movie Mr. Imperium, with Lana Turner, Ezio Pinza, Majorie Main and Barry Sullivan. That tree was also part of the background in an early scene from the 1956 movie Julie, featuring Doris Day, while she was fleeing from her psychopathic husband, played by Louis Jourdan.
Pescadero Point is the site of the "Ghost Tree", a landmark Monterey Cypress tree. The tree gives its name to a dangerous extreme surfing location known to have storm waves as large as 60 feet (18?m) high. Effective 2009, the surf break of Ghost Tree is off limits, the result of a decision by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that personal watercraft, which are a necessity for the tow-in only surf spot, are not permitted in specified waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
The community has 4,531 residents and is relatively affluent, home to many retirees and well-educated workers in the social service (education and health care), management and finance sectors. While Monterey County has a very large Hispanic population, Pebble Beach is more ethnically homogenous, with 91.4% of the population being White, 5.3% Asian, 2.3% Hispanic or Latino and 0.4% African American. The median household income is $99,788, with 54% with incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 and a little more than a quarter of households, 26.2%, with incomes exceeding $150,000. Household income figures, however, may not accurately reflect the area's wealth as 50.8% of households received social security income and 30.8% were retired. Less than half of the population 16 or over, 46.4%, are employed. Of those who work, the plurality (25%) are employed in the social service, education and health care sector, followed by the management (15%) and finance sectors (15%). 2.3% of the population live below the poverty level. The area's adult population is fairly well-educated, with 61% having at least a Bachelor's degree, and 98% having a high school diploma, compared to 25% and 80% at the national average, respectively.
Pebble Beach is in Monterey County on the Monterey Peninsula. It is bordered by Carmel-by-the-Sea to the south, Pacific Grove to the north, the City of Monterey to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Big Sur is about a 40-mile drive south on scenic State Route 1. Santa Cruz and San Francisco are about 45 and 120 miles to the north, respectively.