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Seal prior to 2004 lawsuit threat
Los Angeles County is a county in Californiamarker and is by far the most populous county in the United Statesmarker. Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau give an estimated 2008 population of 9,862,049 residents, while the California State government's population bureau lists a January 1, 2009, estimate of 10,393,185. The county seat is the city of Los Angelesmarker, the largest city in Californiamarker.

The county is home to 88 incorporated cities and many unincorporated areas. The southern portion is the most heavily urbanized area and is home to the vast majority of the population which lives along the Southern California coastline and the inland basins and valleys. The northern half is a large expanse of less-populated desert including the Santa Clarita Valleymarker and the Antelope Valleymarker, which encompasses the northeastern part of the county and is adjacent to Kern Countymarker. In between these portions of the county sit the San Gabriel Mountainsmarker and the vast wilderness known as the Angeles National Forestmarker.

One of the most diverse counties in the country, it holds most of the principal cities encompassing the Greater Los Angeles Area and is the core of the five counties that make up the area. In 2004, the county's population was larger than the individual populations of 42 states considered separately, and on that basis, is more populous than the aggregate of the 11 least populous states. Similar in land area to the state of Connecticutmarker and in population to the state of Michiganmarker, the county is home to over a quarter of all California residents. According to the United States Conference of Mayors, if Los Angeles County were a nation, it would boast a GDP among the twenty largest countries in the world.

History

Los Angeles County was one of the original counties of Californiamarker, created at the time of statehood in 1850. The large area once included parts of what is now known as Kern County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County and Orange County. These parts of the county's territory were given to San Bernardino Countymarker in 1853, to Kern Countymarker in 1866 and to Orange Countymarker in 1889. In 1893, part of San Bernardino county became Riverside County.

The county was targeted with the threat of legal action by the ACLU in 2004 regarding a small cross on its seal. The ACLU said that separation of church and state prohibited this display.

Geography

With 4,061 square miles (10,517 km²), Los Angeles County borders of coast on the Pacific Oceanmarker and encompasses numerous other natural landscapes including towering mountain ranges, deep valleys, forests, islands, lakes, rivers, and desert. The county contains the following rivers: Los Angeles River, Rio Hondo, the San Gabriel River and the Santa Clara River. The primary mountain ranges are the Santa Monica Mountainsmarker and the San Gabriel Mountainsmarker. It also includes the westernmost part of the Mojave Desert, and San Clemente Islandmarker and Santa Catalina Islandmarker in the Pacific Ocean.

Most of the population of Los Angeles County is located in the south and southwest. The major population centers are the Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernandomarker and San Gabriel Valleys. Moderate populations are in the Santa Claritamarker, Crescenta and The Antelope Valleymarker. The area north of the Santa Clarita Valley (Northwest Los Angeles County, adjacent to Venturamarker and Kernmarker counties) is mostly mountainous, rugged, well-timbered and filled with coniferous forests that receives plentiful snow in the winter, right to the point of blizzard conditions. This area is less populated. Mountains in this area include San Emigdio Mountainsmarker, the southernmost part of Tehachapi Mountains, and the Sierra Pelona Mountains.

Most of the highest peaks in the county are located in the San Gabriel Mountainsmarker, which are part of the Transverse Ranges. They include Mount San Antoniomarker (10,064 ft) at the Los Angeles-San Bernardinomarker county lines, Mount Baden-Powellmarker (9,399 ft), Mount Burnhammarker (8,997 ft), and the well-known Mount Wilsonmarker (5,710 ft) where the Mount Wilson Observatorymarker is located. Several smaller, lower peaks are located in the northern, western, and southwestern Los Angeles County.

The county has a total area of 4,752 square miles (12,308 km²), of which, 4,061 square miles (10,518 km²) of it is land and 691 square miles (1,791 km²) of it (14.55%) is water.

Major divisions of the county

Los Angeles, CA from the air




Cities

There are 88 incorporated cities in Los Angeles County. The most populous are as follows:



Census-designated places



Unincorporated communities in Los Angeles County

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. With no city government, residents of these areas must petition the appropriate member of the Board of Supervisors when they have a grievance about the quality of local services.

See: Los Angeles Almanac MAP: Unincorporated Areas and Communities of Los Angeles County
See also: List of districts and neighborhoods of Los Angeles


Adjacent counties

National protected areas



Transportation Infrastructure

Roads

The county has an extensive freeway network of legendary size and complexity, which is maintained by Caltrans and patrolled by the California Highway Patrol. It also has a vast urban and suburban street network, most of which is maintained by city governments. The county and most cities generally do a decent job of maintaining and cleaning streets. For more information about the primary exception, see the Transportation in Los Angeles article.

Both the freeways and streets are notorious for severe traffic congestion, and the area's freeway-to-freeway interchanges regularly rank among the top 10 most congested points in the country.

In addition to Metro Bus service, numerous cities within the county also operate their own bus companies and shuttle lines.

Major highways



Air

The county's primary commercial aviation airport is Los Angeles International Airportmarker (LAX) in Los Angeles. Other important airports include the Long Beach Municipal Airportmarker in Long Beach and Bob Hope Airportmarker in Burbank. Palmdale Regional Airportmarker is planned for expanded commercial service. There are also general aviation airports in Los Angeles, including airports in Van Nuysmarker and Pacoimamarker. Other general aviation airports exist in Santa Monicamarker, Comptonmarker, Torrance, El Monte, Lancaster, and Hawthornemarker.

Train

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 Stationmarker 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).

Sea

The county's two main seaports are the Port of Los Angelesmarker and the Port of Long Beachmarker. 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 over 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 Avalonmarker to the mainland.

Economy

The major industries of Los Angeles County are international trade, supported by the Port of Los Angelesmarker and the Port of Long Beachmarker, motion picture and television program production, music recording and production, aerospace, and professional services such as law and medicine.

County of Los Angeles is commonly associated with the entertainment industry. Most of the major studios, including Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Sony, Warner Bros., and Walt Disney Studiosmarker, are all located within the boundaries of the county, in the cities of Los Angelesmarker, Culver Citymarker, Burbankmarker and Glendalemarker. Universal Pictures is located in the unincorporated portion of Los Angeles County at Universal Citymarker.

For major companies headquartered in the City of Los Angeles, and adjacent cities, see the Economy section of the Los Angeles, California article.

The following major companies have headquarters in Los Angeles County cities not adjacent to the city of Los Angeles:


Demographics

As of the census 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 48.71% White 11.0% African American, 0.81% Native American, 10.0% Asian, 0.28% Pacific Islander, 23.53% from other races, and 4.94% from two or more races. 44.56% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. The largest ancestry groups are German (6%), Irish (5%), English (4%) and Italian (3%). 45.87% of the population reported speaking English at home; 37.89% spoke Spanish as their first language, 2.22% Tagalog, 1.98% Chinese, 1.87% Korean, and 1.57% Armenian. [12144]

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.

Housing

The homeownership rate is 47.9%, and the median value for houses is $209,300. 42.2% of housing units are in multi-unit structures.

2008 Demographics

Map of Los Angeles County showing population density in 2000 by census tract
As of: January 1, 2008

  • Total Population: 10,363,850, or about 27% of California's population. The county population increased 8.1% between 2000 and 2008.
Non Hispanic Persons: 52.7%

  • Caucasion(Non-Hispanic/Non-Latino): 29.2%
  • African (including African American): 9.6%
  • Asian: 13.1%
  • Other: 0.90%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 47.3%
Other Statistics
  • Male Residents: 49.4%
  • Female Residents: 50.6%
  • Residents Aged under 18: 27.6%
  • Residents Aged between 19 and 64: 62.3%
  • Residents Aged above 65: 10.1%


  • Foreign born: 36.2% (a majority born in Mexico)
  • Poverty Level: 17.7%


Law, government and politics

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. The county government is managed on a day-to-day basis by a Chief Executive Officer, currently 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:

The Grand Avenue entrance of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.


  • Los Angeles County Coronermarker – performs autopsies and determines the cause of death for those who die without medical supervision.
  • Los Angeles County Community Development Commission – serves as the County's housing authority as well as the housing and community and economic development agency with wide-ranging programs that benefit residents and business owners in unincorporated County areas and in various incorporated cities.
  • Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors
  • 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, and also runs the public health system, which has a requirement that all restaurants in the unincorporated County and the majority of independent cities prominently post their food safety inspection grade in their front window
  • Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation – administers public parks and the largest public golf course system in the U.S.
  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services – administers many federal and state welfare programs
  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Worksmarker – operates countywide flood control system, constructs and maintains roads in unincorporated areas
  • Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning – maintains the Zoning Code that regulates land use in the unincorporated areas, researches and facilitates land-use decisions and serves to connect the community to the established building regulations.
  • Los Angeles County District Attorney – prosecutes criminal suspects
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Artmarker – public art museum
  • Los Angeles County Probation Department
  • Los Angeles County Public Defender – defends indigent criminal suspects
  • Los Angeles County Public Library – operates a large network of branch libraries
  • 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.
    • Los Angeles County Disaster Communications Service ( DCS )is a volunteer organization administered by the Sheriff's Department Emergency Operations Bureau for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Their main function, authorized under County Ordinance, is to provide volunteer disaster relief communication for the citizens of Los Angeles County.
  • 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.


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.

The Los Angeles Superior Court, which covers the entire county, is not a County department but a division of the State's trial court system. The courthouses, however, are county-owned buildings that are maintained at county expense.

Politics

Presidential elections results
Year DEM GOP Others
2008 69.2% 2,295,853 28.8% 956,425 2.0% 65,970
2004 63.2% 1,907,736 35.6% 1,076,225 1.3% 39,319
2000 63.5% 1,710,505 32.4% 871,930 4.2% 112,719
1996 59.3% 1,430,629 31.0% 746,544 9.7% 233,841
1992 52.5% 1,446,529 29.0% 799,607 18.4% 507,267
1988 51.9% 1,372,352 46.9% 1,239,716 1.2% 32,603
1984 44.4% 1,158,912 54.5% 1,424,113 1.1% 29,889
1980 40.2% 979,830 50.2% 1,224,533 9.7% 235,822
1976 49.7% 1,221,893 47.8 1,174,926 2.5% 62,258
1972 42.0% 1,189,977 54.8% 1,549,717 3.2% 90,676
1968 46.0% 1,223,251 47.6% 1,266,480 6.3% 168,251
1964 57.4% 1,568,300 42.5% 1,161,067 0.1% 1,551
1960 50.2% 1,323,818 49.4% 1,302,661 0.3% 8,020
Los Angeles County has voted for the Democratic candidate in most of the presidential elections in the past four decades. In 2008 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, Diane Watson, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Maxine Waters, Jane Harman, 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, Jack Scott, Gilbert Cedillo, Gloria Romero, Roderick Wright, Curren D. Price, Alan Lowenthal, Jenny Oropeza, and Ron Calderon. Most of the 17th, 23rd, and 29th districts are in the county. The 17th and 29th districts are represented by Republicans George Runner and Bob Huff, respectively while the 23rd district is represented by Democrat Sheila Kuehl. 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, Lloyd Levine, Mike Feuer, Paul Krekorian, Anthony Portantino, Kevin DeLeon, John A. Perez, Karen Bass, Mike Davis, Mike Eng, Hector De La Torre, Steven Bradford, Isadore Hall, III, Ted Lieu, Bonnie Lowenthal, Warren T. Furutani, Ed 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: Sharon Runner, Audra Strickland, Anthony Adams, and Curt Hagman. The 61st is represented by Democrat Nell Soto.

On Nov. 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 20,806 votes.

Legal system

The Los Angeles County 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.

Unlike the largest city in the United Statesmarker, New York Citymarker, 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.

Many celebrities like O.J. Simpson have been seen in Los Angeles courts. In 2003, the tabloid 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 Courtmarker, which is headquartered in San Franciscomarker 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.marker Supreme Courtmarker in Washington, D.C.marker

Crime Statistics

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

  • Murders: 568
  • Rapes: 582
  • Robberies: 2210
  • Assaults: 5452
  • Burglaries: 5254
  • Thefts: 9682
  • Auto thefts: 7727


Education

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.

Colleges and universities

Colleges

Universities

Moore Hall at UCLA


Religion

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.

Sites of interest

The county's most visited park is Griffith Parkmarker, 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 Artmarker, the Los Angeles Zoomarker, the Natural History Museummarker, the La Brea Tar Pitsmarker, the Arboretum of Los Angelesmarker, and two horse racetracks and two car racetracks (Pomona Racewaymarker and Irwindale Speedwaymarker), also the RMS Queen Marymarker located in Long Beach, and the Long Beach Grand Prixmarker, and miles of beaches—from Zuma to Cabrillo.

Venice Beachmarker 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 Palisadesmarker 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 Observatorymarker in the San Gabriel Mountainsmarker 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 Castaicmarker Lake Recreation Area - the county's largest park by area - as well as enjoying natural surroundings and starry nights at Saddleback Butte State Parkmarker in the eastern Antelope Valleymarker - California State Parks' largest in area within the county. The California Poppy Reservemarker is located in the western Antelope Valley and shows off the State's flower in great quantity on its rolling hills every spring.

Museums



Entertainment





Music venues

Disney Concert Hall


Amusement Parks



Other attractions



Other areas

Angeles National Forest


Lakes and reservoirs

See also



References

  1. [1]
  2. The Role of Metro Areas in the US Economy. United States Conference of Mayors, 2002: 5. http://www.usmayors.org/70thAnnualMeeting/metroecon2002/metroreport.pdf
  3. U.S. Census Bureau http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06/06037.html
  4. California Department of Finance 2008 Population Estimate
  5. " Contact Us." J. D. Power and Associates. Retrieved on August 22, 2009.
  6. " Thousand Oaks city, California." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on August 22, 2009.
  7. " Dole gets ready to turn first shovel of headquarters dirt: plans are set to go to Westlake Village City Council. (Dole Food Co. Inc.)" Los Angeles Business Journal. January 31, 1994. Retrieved on September 27, 2009.
  8. This included over 65,000 Arabs and 75,000 Iranian, who many people would not count as White (see 2000 Census fact sheet table). For a clear discussion of Arabs being counted as white see (http://www.census.gov/prod/2001pubs/c2kbr01-1.pdf)
  9. William T Fujioka, "Department Section," County of Los Angeles, Annual Report 2007-2008, 4.
  10. Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation
  11. http://www.sfgate.com/webdb/prop8results/?appSession=064110343966756
  12. A look at your Superior Court, Public Information Office, Los Angeles Superior Court
  13. About the Los Angeles Superior Court
  14. Los Angeles County Office of Education
  15. Selected Non-Christian Religious Traditions in Los Angeles County: 2000 [2]


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