Costa Mesa is in Orange County, California, about 35 miles south of Los Angeles. Since its incorporation in 1953, the city has grown from a semi-rural farming community of 16,840 to a primarily suburban city of approximately 118,000, with an economy based on retail, commerce and light manufacturing. Costa Mesa may have been incorporated in 1953, but it was named in 1920.
At the time, the town was called Harper and often got confused with Haperville, a town just up the road. The residents wanted a name that better described what the area was like, so they held a contest and offered a prize of $25 to the person who came up with the best name. Teacher Alice Plumer won the contest with the name "Costa Mesa" meaning "coastal tableland." This is a reference to the city's geography as being a plateau by the coast. On July 16, 1920, the city officially became Costa Mesa.
Today, Costa Mesa is the home of such Orange County landmarks as South Coast Plaza, Segerstrom Center for the Arts and the OC Fair and Event Center, which hosts the annual Orange County Fair and receives more than one million visitors each year. With its southernmost border only one mile from the Pacific Ocean, Costa Mesa has become the center of culture for Orange County with Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The campus includes several of Segerstrom Center's own arts venues as well as the adjacent Tony® Award-winning South Coast Repertory and a site designated as the new home of the Orange County Museum of Art.
Costa Mesa's center of commercial activity is South Coast Plaza, a shopping center renowned for its architecture and size. South Coast Plaza is among the highest volume regional shopping centers in the nation and contains the highest concentration of retail brands in the country as well. It generates more than one billion dollars per year.
Experian, Ceradyne, El Pollo Loco, Emulex, Hurley, RVCA and Volcom are among the businesses headquartered in Costa Mesa. The city of Costa Mesa offers 26 parks, a municipal golf course, 26 public schools and 2 libraries. The Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild to cool, wet winters make it an ideal year-round destination.