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Los Angeles County


Los Angeles County

Not to be confused with Los Angeles, California.
Los Angeles County, California
County of Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles in March 2007
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Nickname(s): "L.A. County"

Map of Los Angeles County, with incorporated areas (islands not shown in actual positions); inset- location of the county in California

California's location in the contiguous United States

Coordinates: 34°3′N 118°15′W / 34.050°N 118.250°W / 34.050; -118.250Coordinates: 34°3′N 118°15′W / 34.050°N 118.250°W / 34.050; -118.250

Country  United States of America


Region Southern California
Metro area Greater Los Angeles Area
Formed February 18, 1850[1]
Named for City of Los Angeles
County seat Los Angeles
Incorporated cities 88
 • Type Council–manager
 • Body Board of Supervisors
 • Board of Supervisors
 • Chief Executive Officer William T Fujioka
 • Total 4,752.32 sq mi (12,308.5 km2)
 • Land 4,060.87 sq mi (10,517.6 km2)
 • Water 691.45 sq mi (1,790.8 km2)
Highest elevation[2] 10,068 ft (3,069 m)
Lowest elevation[3] 0 ft (0 m)
 • Total 9,962,789
 • Density 2,100/sq mi (810/km2)
Time zone Pacific Standard Time (UTC−8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC−7)
ZIP Code 90001–90899, 91001–93599
Area code(s) 213, 310, 323, 424, 562, 626, 661, 818
FIPS code 06-037

Los Angeles County, also known as L.A. County, officially the County of Los Angeles,[4] is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the county has a population of 9,818,605, making it the most populous county in the United States. Los Angeles County alone is more populous than 42 individual U.S. states. The county seat is the city of Los Angeles, the largest city in California and the second-largest city in the United States.

Los Angeles County also includes two offshore islands, San Clemente Island and Santa Catalina Island. The county is home to 88 incorporated cities and many unincorporated areas. At 4,083 square miles (10,570 km2), it is larger than the combined areas of the states of Rhode Island and Delaware.

The county is home to over a quarter of all California residents and is one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the country.[5] It is part of the Tech Coast.


Los Angeles County was one of the original counties of California, created at the time of statehood in 1850.[6] The county's large area included parts of what is now Kern County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County and Orange County. These parts of the county's territory were split to form San Bernardino County in 1853, Kern County in 1866, and Orange County in 1889. In 1893, part of San Bernardino County became Riverside County.


According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 4,752.32 square miles (12,308.5 km2), of which 4,060.87 square miles (10,517.6 km2) (or 85.45%) is land and 691.45 square miles (1,790.8 km2) (or 14.55%) is water.[7] Los Angeles County borders 70 miles (110 km) of coast on the Pacific Ocean and encompasses towering mountain ranges, deep valleys, forests, islands, lakes, rivers, and desert. The Los Angeles River, Rio Hondo, the San Gabriel River and the Santa Clara River flow in Los Angeles County, while the primary mountain ranges are the Santa Monica Mountains and the San Gabriel Mountains. The western extent of the Mojave Desert begins in the Antelope Valley, in the northeastern part of the county. Most of the population of Los Angeles County is located in the south and southwest, with major population centers in the Los Angeles Basin, San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Valley. Other population centers are found in the Santa Clarita Valley, Crescenta Valley and Antelope Valley.

The county is divided west-to-east by the rugged San Gabriel Mountains, filled with coniferous forests and subject to plentiful snowfall in the winter. The San Gabriel Mountains are part of the Transverse Ranges of southern California, and are contained mostly within the Angeles National Forest. Most of the highest peaks in the county are located in the San Gabriel Mountains, including Mount San Antonio (10,068 ft) at the Los Angeles-San Bernardino county lines, Mount Baden-Powell (9,399 ft), Mount Burnham (8,997 ft), and the well-known Mount Wilson (5,710 ft) where the Mount Wilson Observatory is located. Several smaller, lower mountains are located in the northern, western, and southwestern parts of the county, including the San Emigdio Mountains, the southernmost part of Tehachapi Mountains, and the Sierra Pelona Mountains.

Major divisions of the county

Cities and other areas


There are 88 incorporated cities in Los Angeles County. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the most populous are: [8]

Unincorporated areas

Despite the large number of incorporated cities, most of the area of the county is unincorporated, and falls directly under the county government's jurisdiction. There are 140 County-recognized unincorporated communities. The Board of Supervisors is their "city council" and the supervisor representing the area the "mayor." County departments provide the municipal services.[9] Some unincorporated areas may have town councils which provide advisory services to local supervisors and government officials.[10]

Census-designated places

Communities not census-designated

See: Los Angeles Almanac MAP: Unincorporated Areas and Communities of Los Angeles County

National protected areas

Transportation infrastructure

Major highways


Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), located in the Westchester district, is the primary commercial airport for commercial airlines in the county and the Greater Los Angeles Area. LAX is operated by Los Angeles World Airports, an agency of the City of Los Angeles. Other important commercial airports in Los Angeles County include:

The following general aviation airports also are located in Los Angeles County:

County operated airports (Department of Public Works, Aviation Division)
City operated airports

The U.S. Air Force also has two airports in Los Angeles County:


Los Angeles is a major freight railroad transportation center, largely due to the large volumes of freight moving in and out of the county's port facilities. The ports are connected to the downtown rail yards and to the main lines of Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe headed east via a grade-separated, freight rail corridor known as the Alameda Corridor.

Passenger rail service is provided in the county by Amtrak, Los Angeles Metro Rail and Metrolink.

Amtrak has the following intercity Amtrak service at Union Station in the city of Los Angeles.

Union Station is also the primary hub for Metrolink commuter rail, which serves much of the Greater Los Angeles Area.

Light rail, subway (heavy rail), and long-distance bus service are all provided by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).


The county's two main seaports are the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. Together they handle over a quarter of all container traffic entering the United States, making the complex the largest and most important port in the country, and the third-largest port in the world by shipping volume.

The Port of Los Angeles is the largest cruise ship center on the West Coast, handling more than 1 million passengers annually.

The Port of Long Beach is home to the Sea Launch program, which uses a floating launch platform to insert payloads into orbits that would be difficult to attain from existing land-based launch sites.

Ferries link the Catalina Island city of Avalon to the mainland.


Los Angeles County is commonly associated with the entertainment industry; all six major film studios—Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Sony, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, and Walt Disney Studios—are located within the county. Beyond motion picture and television program production, other major industries of Los Angeles County are international trade supported by the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, music recording and production, aerospace, and professional services such as law and medicine.

The following major companies have headquarters in Los Angeles County:



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20129,962,7891.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[20]
2012 Estimate[21]

The 2010 United States Census reported that Los Angeles County had a population of 9,818,605. The racial makeup of Los Angeles County was 4,936,599 (50.3%) White, 856,874 (8.7%) African American, 72,828 (0.7%) Native American, 1,346,865 (13.7%) Asian (4.0% Chinese, 3.3% Filipino, 2.2% Korean, 1.0% Japanese, 0.9% Vietnamese, 0.8% Indian, 0.3% Cambodian, 0.3% Thai, 0.1% Pakistani), 26,094 (0.3%) Pacific Islander (0.1% Samoan), 2,140,632 (21.8%) from other races, and 438,713 (4.5%) from two or more races.

Non-Hispanic whites were 2,728,321 (27.8%) of the population.[22] Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4,687,889 persons (47.7%); 35.8% of Los Angeles County is Mexican, 3.7% Salvadoran, 2.2% Guatemalan, 0.5% Puerto Rican, 0.4% Cuban, 0.4% Honduran, 0.4% Nicaraguan, 0.3% Peruvian, 0.3% Colombian, and 0.2% Ecuadorian.[23]


As of the census[24] of 2000, there were 9,519,338 people, 3,133,774 households, and 2,137,233 families residing in the county. The population density was 2,344 people per square mile (905/km²). There were 3,270,909 housing units at an average density of 806 per square mile (311/km²). The racial makeup of the county is 48.7% White[25] 11.0% African American, 0.8% Native American, 10.0% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 23.5% from other races, and 4.9% from two or more races. 44.6% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. The largest European-American ancestry groups are German (6%), Irish (5%), English (4%) and Italian (3%). 45.9% of the population reported speaking only English at home; 37.9% spoke Spanish, 2.22% Tagalog, 2.0% Chinese, 1.9% Korean, and 1.87% Armenian.[26]

Because the county is so populous, what is not so evident is that it has the largest Native American population of any county in the nation: according to the 2000 census, it has more than 153,550 people of indigenous descent, and most are from Latin America. "The invisible population that is virtually ignored by the census is that of indigenous people from Mexico, Central and South America."[27]

There were 3,133,774 households out of which 36.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.6% were married couples living together, 14.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.8% were non-families. 24.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.98 and the average family size was 3.61.

In the county the population was spread out with 28.0% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 32.6% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 97.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.0 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,189, and the median income for a family was $46,452. Males had a median income of $36,299 versus $30,981 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,683. There are 14.4% of families living below the poverty line and 17.9% of the population, including 24.2% of under 18 and 10.5% of those over 64.

According to TNS Financial Services, Los Angeles County has the highest number of millionaires of any county in the nation, totaling 261,081 households as of 2007.[28] In addition to millionaires, Los Angeles County has the largest number of homeless people, with "48,000 people living on the streets, including 6,000 veterans."[29]


The homeownership rate is 47.9%, and the median value for houses is $409,300. 42.2% of housing units are in multi-unit structures.

Undocumented residents

As estimated by the Public Policy Institute of California in 2008, Los Angeles County is home to more than one third of the California's undocumented immigrants, who make up more than ten percent of the population.[30]

Law, government and politics


Main article: Government of Los Angeles County

The Government of Los Angeles County is defined and authorized under the California Constitution, California law and the Charter of the County of Los Angeles.[31] Much of the Government of California is in practice the responsibility of local governments such as the Government of Los Angeles County.

The county's voters elect a governing five-member Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The small size of the board means each supervisor represents over 2 million people. The board operates in a legislative, executive, and quasi-judicial capacity. As a legislative authority, it can pass ordinances for the unincorporated areas (ordinances that affect the whole county, like posting of restaurant ratings, must be ratified by the individual city). As an executive body, it can tell the county departments what to do, and how to do it. As a quasi-judicial body, the Board is the final venue of appeal in the local planning process, and holds public hearings on various agenda items.

As of 2008, the Board of Supervisors oversees a $22.5 billion annual budget and approximately 100,000 employees.[32] The county government is managed on a day-to-day basis by a Chief Executive Officer, William T Fujioka, and is organized into many departments, each of which is enormous in comparison to equivalent county-level (and even state-level) departments anywhere else in the United States. Some of the larger or better-known departments include:

  • Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs – offers consumers in the county a variety of services including: consumer and real estate counseling, mediation, and small claims counseling. The department also investigates: consumer complains, real estate fraud and identity theft issues.
  • Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services – administers foster care
  • Los Angeles County Fire Department – provides fire protection, suppression, and prevention as well as emergency medical services
  • Los Angeles County Department of Health Services – operates several county hospitals and a network of primary care clinics,
  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Health - administers public health programs including STD programs, smoking cessation, and restaurant inspection. In the majority of the county LACDPH puts letter grades relating to the food cleanliness and safety of a restaurant in the front window of restaurants.
  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services – administers many federal and state welfare programs
  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Works – operates countywide flood control system, constructs and maintains roads in unincorporated areas
  • Los Angeles County District Attorney – prosecutes criminal suspects
  • Los Angeles County Probation Department
  • Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department – provides law enforcement services to unincorporated areas and cities that do not have their own police departments, and operates the county jails. The LASD is the largest county Sheriff's Department in the United States.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, despite its name, is not a County department. Technically it is a state-mandated county transportation commission that also operates bus and rail.


Voter registration statistics

Cities by population and voter registration


Los Angeles County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year GOP DEM Others
2012 27.8% 885,333 69.7% 2,216,903 2.5% 77,378
2008 28.8% 956,425 69.2% 2,295,853 2.0% 65,970
2004 35.6% 1,076,225 63.2% 1,907,736 1.3% 39,319
2000 32.4% 871,930 63.5% 1,710,505 4.2% 112,719
1996 31.0% 746,544 59.3% 1,430,629 9.7% 233,841
1992 29.0% 799,607 52.5% 1,446,529 18.4% 507,267
1988 46.9% 1,239,716 51.9% 1,372,352 1.2% 32,603
1984 54.5% 1,424,113 44.4% 1,158,912 1.1% 29,889
1980 50.2% 1,224,533 40.2% 979,830 9.7% 235,822
1976 47.8 1,174,926 49.7% 1,221,893 2.5% 62,258
1972 54.8% 1,549,717 42.0% 1,189,977 3.2% 90,676
1968 47.6% 1,266,480 46.0% 1,223,251 6.3% 168,251
1964 42.5% 1,161,067 57.4% 1,568,300 0.1% 1,551
1960 49.4% 1,302,661 50.2% 1,323,818 0.3% 8,020
1956 55.4% 1,260,206 44.3% 1,007,887 0.3% 7,331
1952 56.2% 1,278,407 42.7% 971,408 1.1% 24,725
1948 46.5% 804,232 47.0% 812,690 6.5% 112,160
1944 42.7% 666,441 56.8% 886,252 0.6% 8,871
1940 40.6% 574,266 58.1% 822,718 1.3% 18,285
1936 31.6% 357,401 67.0% 757,351 1.4% 15,663
1932 38.6% 373,738 57.2% 554,476 4.3% 41,380
1928 70.2% 513,526 28.7% 209,945 1.1% 7,830
1924 65.5% 299,675 7.3% 33,554 27.2% 124,228
1920 69.1% 178,117 21.6% 55,661 9.3% 23,992

Los Angeles County has voted for the Democratic candidate in most of the presidential elections in the past four decades, although it did vote twice for Dwight Eisenhower (1952, 1956), Richard Nixon (1968, 1972), and Ronald Reagan (1980, 1984). From 1920 to 1984 it could be considered as a reliable bellwether county which always voted for the eventual national winner. Los Angeles went against the overall national picture in 1988, 2000 and 2004. In 2008 and 2012 approximately 69% of the electorate voted for Democrat Barack Obama.

In the United States House of Representatives, California districts 27–39 are situated entirely within the county and are all represented by Democrats. In order of district number they are Brad Sherman, Howard Berman, Adam Schiff, Henry Waxman, Xavier Becerra, Judy Chu, Karen Bass, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Maxine Waters, Janice Hahn, Laura Richardson, Grace Napolitano, and Linda Sánchez. Parts of the county also lie in the 22nd, 25th, 26th, 42nd, and 46th districts, which are all represented by Republicans: Kevin McCarthy, Buck McKeon, David Dreier, Gary Miller, and Dana Rohrabacher respectively.

In the State Senate, all of districts 20–22 and 24–28, and 30 are entirely within the county and are all represented by Democrats. In order of district number they are Alex Padilla, Carol Liu, Kevin De Leon, Ed Hernandez, Roderick Wright, Curren D. Price, Alan Lowenthal, and Ron Calderon. Most of the 17th, 23rd, and 29th districts are in the county. The 17th and 29th districts are represented by Republicans Sharon Runner and Bob Huff, respectively while the 23rd district is represented by Democrat Fran Pavley. Parts of the 19th and 32nd districts are also in the county. The 19th district is represented by Republican Tony Strickland while the 32nd is represented by Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod.

In the State Assembly, all of districts 39, 40, 42–55, 57, and 58 are entirely within the county and are all represented by Democrats. In order of district number they are Felipe Fuentes, Bob Blumenfield, Mike Feuer, Mike Gatto, Anthony Portantino, Gilbert Cedillo, John A. Perez, Holly Mitchell, Mike Davis, Mike Eng, Ricardo Lara, Steven Bradford, Isadore Hall, III, Betsy Butler, Bonnie Lowenthal, Warren T. Furutani, Roger Hernandez, and Charles Calderon. Most of districts 38, 41, and 56 are in the county. The 38th is held by Republican Cameron Smyth; the 41st and 56th are held by Democrats Julia Brownley and Tony Mendoza. Parts of districts 36, 37, 59, 60, and 61 are also in the county. The 36th, 37th, 59th, and 60th districts are represented by Republicans: Steve Knight, Jeff Gorell, Tim Donnelly, and Curt Hagman. The 61st is represented by Democrat Nell Soto.

On November 4, 2008, Los Angeles County was almost evenly split over Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages. The county voted for the amendment 50.1% with a margin of 2,385 votes.[35]

Legal system

Further information: Superior Court of Los Angeles County

The Los Angeles Superior Court, has jurisdiction over all cases arising under state law, while the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California hears all federal cases. Both are headquartered in a large cluster of government buildings in the city's Civic Center.

Historically, the courthouses were county-owned buildings that were maintained at county expense, which created significant friction since the trial court judges, as officials of the state government, had to lobby the county Board of Supervisors for facility renovations and upgrades. In turn, the state judiciary successfully persuaded the state Legislature to authorize the transfer of all courthouses to the state government in 2008 and 2009 (so that judges would have direct control over their own courthouses). Courthouse security is still provided by the county government under a contract with the state.

Unlike the largest city in the United States, New York City, all of the city of Los Angeles and most of its important suburbs are located within a single county. As a result, both the county superior court and the federal district court are respectively the busiest courts of their type in the nation.[36][37]

Many celebrities like O. J. Simpson have been seen in Los Angeles courts. In 2003, the television show Extra (based in nearby Glendale) found itself running so many reports on the legal problems of local celebrities that it spun them off into a separate show, Celebrity Justice.

State cases are appealed to the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District, which is also headquartered in the Civic Center, and then to the California Supreme Court, which is headquartered in San Francisco but also hears argument in Los Angeles (again, in the Civic Center). Federal cases are appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which hears them at its branch building in Pasadena. The court of last resort for federal cases is the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Crime statistics

Crime in 2008 (reported by the sheriff's office or police)[38]

  • Assaults: 5452
  • Auto thefts: 7727
  • Burglaries: 5254
  • Murders: 568 (5.7 per 100,000)
  • Rapes: 582
  • Robberies: 2210
  • Thefts: 9682

Crime in 2013

  • Homicides: 386[39]
  • Thefts: 54,971 [40]
  • Burglaries: 17,606
  • Car Thefts: 15,866[40]
  • Robberies: 10,202
  • Violent Crimes: 20,318[40]
  • Rapes: 843
  • Assaults: 8,976[40]
  • Murders: 297


The Los Angeles County Office of Education provides a supporting role for school districts in the area. The county office also operates two magnet schools, the International Polytechnic High School and Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. There are a number of private schools in the county, most notably those operated by the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

Colleges and universities




As of 2000, there are hundreds of Christian churches, 202 Jewish synagogues, 145 Buddhist temples, 48 Islamic mosques, 44 Bahai worship centers, 37 Hindu temples, 28 Tenrikyo churches and fellowships, 16 Shinto worship centers, 14 Sikh gurdwaras in the county.[41] The Los Angeles Archdiocese has approximately 5 million members and is the largest in the United States.

Sites of interest

The county's most visited park is Griffith Park, owned by the city of Los Angeles. The county is also known for the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, the annual Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the La Brea Tar Pits, the Arboretum of Los Angeles, and two horse racetracks and two car racetracks (Pomona Raceway and Irwindale Speedway), also the RMS Queen Mary located in Long Beach, and the Long Beach Grand Prix, and miles of beaches—from Zuma to Cabrillo.

Venice Beach is a popular attraction where its Muscle Beach used to find throngs of tourists admiring "hardbodies". Today it is more arts-centered. Santa Monica's pier is a well known tourist spot, famous for its ferris wheel and bumper car rides, which were featured in the introductory segment of the television sitcom Three's Company. Further north in Pacific Palisades one finds the beaches used in the television series Baywatch. The fabled Malibu, home of many a film or television star, lies west of it.

In the mountain, canyon, and desert areas one may find Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park, where many old westerns were filmed. Mount Wilson Observatory in the San Gabriel Mountains is open for the public to view astronomical stars from its telescope, now computer-assisted. Many county residents find relaxation in water skiing and swimming at Castaic Lake Recreation Area – the county's largest park by area – as well as enjoying natural surroundings and starry nights at Saddleback Butte State Park in the eastern Antelope Valley – California State Parks' largest in area within the county. The California Poppy Reserve is located in the western Antelope Valley and shows off the State's flower in great quantity on its rolling hills every spring.



Music venues

Amusement parks

Other attractions

Other areas

Lakes and reservoirs

  • Castaic Lake
  • Crystal Lake
  • Echo Park Lake
  • Silver Lake
  • Elizabeth Lake
  • Hughes Lake
  • Holiday Lake
  • Jackson Lake
  • Munz Lakes
  • Tweedy Lake

Contiguous areas

Counties adjacent to Los Angeles County

See also



External links

  • Los Angeles County official website
  • LA County Sheriff's list of Unincorporated Areas in Los Angeles County
  • Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
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