After the Spanish founded Mission San Gabriel in 1771, the Chino Hills region was used extensively for grazing by mission cattle. During the Mexican Republic era, the hills were used as spillover grazing from such surrounding Mexican ranchos as Santa Ana del Chino and Rancho La Sierra (Yorba). After Mexico ceded California to the United States it was, and still is, a swamp and subject to flooding annually. Most historical dwellings were demolished in the rush to develop the modern city. A local state monument is present in the grass lawn area of the local fire department. Casa Colina, a well-known rehabilitation center now situated in Pomona California, began as a tubercular clinic in the Los Serranos sector.
This land was sold to Richard Gird, the founder of nearby Chino subdivision and from which the town of Chino sprung in 1910. With the building of the Carbon Canyon Mineral Springs in the modern-day Sleepy Hollow region of the city and the new Los Serranos Country Club in Los Serranos, Chino Hills, California, the area became a destination for both Los Angeles tourists and bootleggers during the prohibition because of its isolation. For the same reason, Sleepy Hollow became a destination for hippies and artists during the 1960s. During the late 1980s, an incorporation effort began and in 1991, the city was incorporated with a population of 42,000.
Due to its topography of rolling hills, Chino Hills was primarily rural prior to the mid-1970s; most land was utilized for equestrian purposes and for dairies, except for the multi-use purposes of the State of California, promoting jobs for the community through day labor from the Chino Institute for Men on Central Avenue. Rapid and extensive housing developments followed throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, only slowing down in recent years. Most neighborhoods are arranged in a village-type format with strategically placed shopping centers and parks designed to be within walking distance of nearby homes.
Chino Hills is home to the Vellano Country Club, a private golf course and housing development designed by golf champion Greg Norman, his first project in the Greater Los Angeles area.
Chino Hills also includes the developed golf course development neighborhood of Los Serranos. Other large master-planned subdivisions without amenities include Woodview/Village Crossing, Gordon Ranch, LaBand Village, Butterfield Ranch, Rolling Ridge, Fairfield Ranch, and Payne Ranch.
Chino Hills earthquake
Main article: 2008 Chino Hills earthquake
On July 29, 2008, a 5.4 magnitude earthquake occurred at approximately 11:42:15 am PDT (18:42:15 UTC). Some incidents of damage were reported, but no fatalities or severe injuries occurred as a result. The earthquake was felt as far south as San Diego and as far north as Las Vegas. The quake was reported to have interrupted a taping of the show Judge Judy, as well as a first-day taping of the new show Judge Penny. The epicenter was located in the southeast portion of the Yorba Linda Fault.
Chino Hills was ranked 22nd in Money magazine's "Best places to live 2012." It is also the 5th highest income place in the United States (with population 65,000 to 250,000) and was ranked as the 9th safest city in the United States in 2011 by the FBI., and 6th safest city in the U.S. overall in 2016, also according to FBI crime data. Chino Hills is a part of the Chino Valley.
Chino Hills' reputation is known in the national arena as well, as it was featured on the list of 57 of America's hottest towns in the January 2004 issue of Money magazine. Chino Hills was ranked 3rd on the list of "best places in the west with a population under 100,000." The magazine reviewed a decade of data for communities with above average population growth, income, and home prices "to see where people were most willing to devote a high multiple of their annual income to live happily ever after."