Santa Monica Bay
Santa Monica Bay was named by Father Juan Crespi in 1769 who, inspired by the area’s natural free-flowing springs, named it after Saint Monica who cried for her errant son. The area remained under Spanish rule until 1828 when Mexico broke free from Spain. Mexico divided this area into three expansive land grants - Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica, Rancho Boca de Santa Monica and Rancho La Ballona. The mid and late-1800s saw much change along Santa Monica Bay. Many rich easterners began enjoying the region’s warm weather during the winter and purchasing large areas of land for ranching opportunities. In 1875 the city of Santa Monica began to take shape and along with it, this area’s place in history as California’s “gold coast.”
The Santa Monica Bay watershed is a 414-mile area bounded by the Santa Monica Mountains on the north, Griffith Park on the east and the Palos Verdes Peninsula on the south. This watershed actually consists of two watersheds - the North Santa Monica Bay watershed and the South Santa Monica Bay watershed. And within each of these two watersheds, there are even smaller tributaries.
Within the North Santa Monica Bay watershed is the Malibu Creek watershed, the Topanga Creek watershed and multiple Santa Monica Mountains watersheds. Land-use in these watersheds is mixed. Portions remain rural and undeveloped while other areas include residential and commercial developments.
The South Santa Monica Bay watershed stretches from Castlerock near Malibu on the north to the Palos Verdes Peninsula on the south. Similar to the North Santa Monica Bay watershed, this watershed has both rural and commercial/residential areas and includes the city of Santa Monica, a small portion of the city of Los Angeles, a part of unincorporated Los Angeles County, and the south bay cities of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance.
Together with community organizations and environmental groups, the City of Los Angeles is working to improve water quality in Southern California. Projects throughout the watershed are improving water quality by reducing the amount of pollution flowing into rivers and creeks that drain into Santa Monica Bay.