Cerritos, California

Cerritos (formerly known as Dairy Valley) is a charter city in Los Angeles County, California, United States, and is one of several cities that constitute the Gateway Cities of southeast Los Angeles County. It was incorporated on April 24, 1956. The current OMB metropolitan designation for Cerritos is "Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA." According to the California Department of Finance, the population was 55,074 as of 2005.


Cerritos was originally inhabited by Native Americans belonging to the Tongva (or "People of the Earth") tribe. Later, the Tongva would be renamed the "Gabrielenos" by the Spanish settlers after the nearby Mission San Gabriel Arcangel. The Gabrielenos were the largest group of Southern California Indians as well as the most developed in the region. The Gabrielenos lived off the land, deriving food from the animals or plants that could be gathered, snared, or hunted, and grinding acorns as a staple.

Beginning in the late 1400s, Spanish explorers arrived in the New World and worked their way to the California coast in 1542. The colonization process included "civilizing" the native populations in California by means of establishing various missions. Soon afterwards, a town called El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula (Los Angeles today) would be founded and prosper with the aid of subjects from New Spain and Native American labor.

One soldier, Jose Manuel Nieto, was granted a large plot of land by the Spanish King Carlos III, which he named Rancho Los Nietos. It covered 300,000 acres (1200 km²) of what are today the cities of Cerritos, Long Beach, Lakewood, Downey, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs, part of Whittier, Huntington Beach, Buena Park, and Garden Grove.

The Nieto family would eventually come to own the rancho exclusively and was divided five ways among Nieto's heirs during the nationalization of church property by the Mexican government, with Juan Jose Nieto retaining the largest plot called Rancho Los Coyotes. Nieto called the area of Rancho Los Coyotes where Cerritos is located today "Sierritos" or "little hills" although no natural hills exist in modern-day Cerritos.

After the Mexican-American war, the rancho would eventually wind up in the hands of the Los Angeles and San Bernardino Land Company which encouraged development and rail lines to be built by Henry E. Huntington and his Pacific Electric Railway company. It is through rapid development combined with improved transportation systems that formed the modern-day city of Artesia in Rancho Los Coyotes in 1875, and from it, the City of Dairy Valley.

The City of Dairy Valley was incorporated on April 24, 1956, as a reaction to nearby Artesia's rapid urbanization. The City's name symbolized the more than 400 dairies, 100,000 cows and 106,300 chickens found within its limits. The cows outnumbered the City's 3,439 residents by 29 to 1. The chickens outnumbered the residents by over 30 to 1. At its peak, the City produced more dairy than any other place in the nation, surpassing even the entire state of Wisconsin.

Two years later, Dairy Valley voted to become a chartered California city. As land values and property taxes in California rose in the early 1960s, agriculture became increasingly unprofitable, and development pressures increased. In a special election held on July 16, 1963, residents voted to permit large-scale residential development. As a reflection of its newly planned suburban orientation, the City's name formally changed to "Cerritos" on January 10, 1967, after the nearby Spanish land grant Rancho Los Cerritos, which figured prominently in the region and after Cerritos College in neighboring Norwalk.

Cerritos is a prime example of the "fiscalization" of California politics after the tax revolt of the 1970s and the passage of Proposition 13. The only way for California cities to raise long-term tax revenue in light of Proposition 13 was to create as many commercial zones as possible to take advantage of the percentage of county sales tax allocated back to municipalities as sales tax revenue. Cerritos was one of the first cities in Los Angeles County to develop large-scale retail zones, such as the Los Cerritos Center and Cerritos Auto Square, and achieved stunning success. City leaders reinvested funds into the community with large public works projects and an increasing number of community services and programs.

The current progressive nature of the Cerritos government and the unusually strong tax-base is best reflected in its facilities. In 1978, Cerritos dedicated the nation's first solar-heated City Hall complex. In 1993, the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts opened its doors. In 1994, the City unveiled the Cerritos Towne Center project that combines office, retail, lodging, fine arts and dining in an open-air location. In 1997, the City opened the Cerritos Sheriff's Station/Community Safety Center to provide public safety services. In 2002, the City rededicated its public library. In 2006, the City celebrated its golden anniversary with memorials and the unveiling of a sculpture garden. The assessed valuation of the City of Cerritos is nearing the $6.5 billion ($6,500,000,000) mark.

Between 1970 and 1972, Cerritos was the fastest growing city in California. The population exploded from 16,000 to 38,000. Since the 1980s, Cerritos has attracted a large number of upper-middle class Filipino, Korean and Chinese immigrant families, making it the city with the second largest Asian/Asian American population in the nation, after Monterey Park, California. The "A-B-C" (Artesia-Bellflower-Cerritos) region, as well as the neighboring cities in the Gateway Cities region, are considered one of the most ethnically diverse and rapidly growing areas in the world. According to a California State University, Northridge study, Cerritos was the most ethnically diverse city of its size in California.

On August 31, 1986, Aeroméxico Flight 498 on approach to Los Angeles International Airport was struck by a small Piper aircraft that had strayed into an air traffic control zone reserved for commercial flights. Eighty-two people died, including 15 people on the ground. The Piper crashed into Cerritos Elementary School's unoccupied playground, but the Douglas DC-9 fell inverted (upside-down) out of the sky and plowed into dense residential zones, immediately flattening four houses. Eight more houses were destroyed by the subsequent fire before firefighters could bring it under control. The incident is memorialized with a new sculpture installed in the Cerritos Sculpture Garden.


Cerritos operates under a Council/Manager form of government, established by the Charter of the City of Cerritos in 1958. The five-member City Council acts as the City's chief policy-making body and as members of the Cerritos Redevelopment Agency.

City Council

The Mayor, selected by the Council, is its presiding officer and serves a one-year term. In the Mayor's absence the Mayor Pro Tempore assumes his or her responsibilities.

The City Council is directly responsible for the employment of only three individuals: the City Manager, Clerk/Treasurer, and the City Attorney.

Cerritos Redevelopment Agency

The Cerritos Redevelopment Agency was established on November 19, 1970. The Redevelopment Agency's primary purpose is to promote sound new community development and prepare and execute plans designed to address blighted areas.

The Cerritos Redevelopment Agency has two project areas: the Los Cerritos Project Area, and the Los Coyotes Project Area.

  Los Cerritos
Project Area
Los Coyotes
Project Area
Area 940 acres (3.8 km²) 1,600 acres (6.5 km²)
Location within the city western half eastern half
Expiration May 2016 May 2016

Emergency services

The Cerritos Sheriff's Station/Community Safety Center provides 24-hour safety services to Cerritos residents. Located in the Civic Center, the Station houses the City's Community Safety Division and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department personnel. The station was constructed by a referendum in 1996, and inaugurated in 1997. In 2006, the city council approved the construction of a expansion to the Sheriff's Station, at a cost of $400,000.

In 2004, an extension of the Cerritos Sheriff opened in the Los Cerritos Center mall in order to increase a visible presence at the shopping destination.

Fire protection is provided by Los Angeles County Fire Department Station 30, the headquarters for Battalion 9 with ambulance transport by Care Ambulance Service.

State and Federal

In the state legislature Cerritos is located in the 27th Senate District, represented by Democrat Alan Lowenthal, and in the 56th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Tony Mendoza. Federally, Cerritos is located in California's 39th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +13 and is represented by Democrat Linda Sánchez.


Cerritos is located at (33.868314, -118.067547).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the City has a total area of 23.0 km² (8.9 mi²). 22.3 km² (8.6 mi²) of it is land and 0.7 km² (0.3 mi²) of it (3.04%) is water.

Cerritos lies along the Los Angeles County and Orange County border. The cities bordering Cerritos on the Los Angeles County side include Artesia in the center, Bellflower, Lakewood, Norwalk, and Santa Fe Springs. Buena Park, La Mirada, and La Palma border the City on the Orange County side. Other cities in the region include Cypress in Orange County, and Hawaiian Gardens, Long Beach, and Signal Hill in Los Angeles County.

The former postal ZIP code of Cerritos was 90701 and was shared with the City of Artesia; however, it was later changed to an exclusive 90703 to accommodate the increasing number of new addresses in the City during the mid-1990s.


The average temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1 °C).

The City of Cerritos, as well as most of coastal Southern California, generally has a Mediterranean climate. The name derives from its similarity to the climate of areas along the Mediterranean Sea. Summers are warm to hot, and winters are cool, rarely falling below freezing. Precipitation in Cerritos occurs predominantly during the winter months.

Cerritos also has a unique "semi-marine" climate pattern. The fog that typically covers the beach cities rarely reaches Cerritos, but the breeze that comes along the San Gabriel River from the Pacific Ocean has a significant cooling effect. Cerritos is rarely affected by the smog, Santa Ana winds, and smothering heat of the Los Angeles Basin.


As of the census of 2000, there are 51,488 people, 15,390 households, and 13,650 families residing in the City. The population density is 2,306.2/km² (5,974.0/mi²). There are 15,607 housing units at an average density of 699.1/km² (1,810.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the City is 26.90% White, 6.67% Black or African American, 0.28% Native American, 58.44% Asian, 0.19% Pacific Islander, 3.75% from other races, and 3.78% from two or more races. 10.39% of the population is Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 15,390 households out of which 40.9% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 73.9% are married couples living together, 10.9% have a female householder with no husband present, and 11.3% are non-families. Nearly 8.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 3.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.34 and the average family size is 3.54.

The population is spread out with 24.5% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 31.3% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 39 years. For every 100 females there are 94.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.3 males.

The median income for a household in the City is $73,030, and the median income for a family is $76,944. Males have a median income of $50,103 versus $37,421 for females. The per capita income for the City is $25,249. About 5.0% of the population and 4.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 5.4% of those under the age of 18 and 5.3% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line. The average annual income of a household is $87,700 (approx. 15,900 total households as of 2006).


The two major sources of revenue for Cerritos are from retail sales tax and interest income from the City's General Fund.

Employment within Cerritos is primarily located in two districts, Los Cerritos Shopping Center and Cerritos Industrial Park. Businesses found in the Industrial Park provide jobs in light manufacturing and assembly of electronic and automotive parts, among other things. United Parcel Service, the City's largest employer with a staff of 6,000, is located in the Industrial Park. Los Cerritos Center provides for more than 2,500 full and part-time positions and the Cerritos Auto Square employs 2,088 people. Retail and industrial trades are responsible for the City's $2.6 billion taxable retail sales and the $6 billion assessed property valuation.

Other companies that have offices in Cerritos include: Delta Dental, Bunn-o-Matic Corporation, Xerox Corporation, Automatic Data Processing (ADP), AT&T Wireless, Isuzu, and Memorex.

According to the California State Board of Equalization, Cerritos residents are the second highest retail spenders in California (second to Beverly Hills) averaging $36,544 per resident. Applied Development Economics, in a presentation for the Cerritos Economic Commission on February 14, 2006 states that total annual household spending on retail is about $365 million a year with new car dealerships, grocery stores, department stores, service stations and eating places having the strongest demands.

A business survey conducted by Applied Development Economics in February 2006 revealed that the total consumer breakdown in Cerritos is: 25% from residents from other parts of Southern California, about 21.9% from Cerritos residents, 18% from commuters, 16% from neighboring communities, 13% from business to business/employee transactions, 10% from residents of Orange County, 5% from households from outside of Southern California, mainly to purchase vehicles from the Auto Square.

Cerritos Auto Square

The Cerritos Auto Square is a planned auto mall combining all auto dealers within the City into one, large three-block center accessible through two freeways. It grosses sales of $1.1 billion and provides half of the sales tax revenue for Cerritos.

Los Cerritos Center

Since September 1971, the Los Cerritos Center has been an integral source of retail tax revenue. The total gross lease area is and is the City's second largest retail-revenue source, producing $561 per square foot ($368 million total) as of 2007. The tax revenue generated from the Los Cerritos Center totals approximately $3.7 million a year.

Cerritos Towne Center

The Cerritos Towne Center is a power center which combines offices, retail, hotel and entertainment facilities in one master planned project. The Towne Center includes the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, a 203-room Sheraton Hotel and more than one million square feet (93,000 m²) of office space. The retail portion of the project includes several anchors and specialty shops. The project is bounded by 183rd Street to the south, Bloomfield Avenue to the west, Shoemaker Avenue to the east, and the Artesia Freeway (Route 91) to the north. The Towne Center, including the Cerritos Center, generates revenue in excess of $200 million a year.

The Magnolia Power Project

The uncertain state of availability of electricity in California over the past five years prompted the City of Cerritos on February 13, 2003, in conjunction with the cities of Anaheim, Burbank, Colton, Glendale and Pasadena, to participate in the Magnolia Power Project, which authorized the construction of a 310-megawatt power plant in the City of Burbank. Cerritos receives 10 megawatts, or 4% of the total output, to power public facilities, park lighting, traffic signals and water wells. Excess power (approximately 5 megawatts) is sold to public and/or private agencies.


The City of Cerritos owns a fleet of federally funded circulators known as the Cerritos On Wheels (or COW), which has stops throughout town. The acronym, "COW," is a tribute to the City's origins as Dairy Valley, when cows outnumbered residents. The propane fueled COW also connects to the Long Beach Transit, Orange County Transportation Authority, Norwalk Transit or Los Angeles MTA Buses at overlapping stops on the borders of the City. Wi-Fi Internet access is also accessible on the buses.

In conjunction with the COW, the City also provides a Dial-A-Ride service for its disabled and elderly commuters.

Cerritos is directly served by three major California freeways:

  • SR 91 (the Artesia Freeway) cuts through the center of the City.
  • Interstate 605 (the San Gabriel River Freeway) runs along the west side between the Los Cerritos Center and Auto Square.
  • Interstate 5 (the Santa Ana Freeway) grazes Cerritos at the northeast border.

The major thoroughfares in Cerritos are Alondra Boulevard, Artesia Boulevard, Bloomfield Avenue, Carmenita Road, Del Amo Boulevard, Norwalk Boulevard, Pioneer Boulevard, Shoemaker Avenue, South Street, Studebaker Road, and Valley View Avenue.

The nearby Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach are major ports of entry from the Pacific Ocean for importing and exporting goods.

Airports that serve Cerritos include: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Ontario International Airport, and the Long Beach Municipal Airport.

Arts and culture

The Cerritos Fine Arts and Historical Commission has an "Art in Public Places Program" whereby the City commissions artists to create sculptures and fountains to be displayed in public points of interest, commercial property, and gateways into the City.

Tournament of Roses Parade

Since 2002, the City of Cerritos has participated in the Tournament of Roses Parade that is held every New Year's Day in Pasadena. The City's 2003 float entitled, "Learning Can Be Magical," was awarded the Judges' Special Trophy for Showmanship and Dramatic Impact. In 2004, the City entered a float entitled "Rhapsody in Blue" which was awarded the Craftsman Trophy. For its 2005 float, "Families Make a Community," it was awarded the Tournament Special Trophy for exceptional merit in multiple categories. The City's 2006 Rose parade float celebrated the Tournament of Roses Parade theme of "It's Magical" with a float entitled "Magical Music Machine" It was awarded the Animation Trophy for best animation and motion. In 2007, the City was awarded the Bob Hope Humor award for "Nature Rocks," a float celebrating the theme "Our Good Nature."

Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts

The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts (CCPA) features live performances in music, magic, comedy, dance and drama. The 154,000 square foot (14,300 m²) arts center has movable seats, floors, ceilings and stage areas; the end result being a theater that can transform into six distinctive seating configurations, ranging in capacity from 921 to 1,800 seats. The facility also houses three additional meeting and banquet areas. The CCPA was designed by architect Barton Myers.

The cost of the CCPA had reached over $60 million by the end of construction and scheduling. It was designed to serve as a cultural icon for people in the community and formally opened its doors on January 9, 1993 with a four-day performance by Frank Sinatra.

The CCPA collected four awards for design shortly after its opening and has been named one of the top grossing theaters in its category in the United States.

Cerritos Millennium Library

The Cerritos Library originally opened to the public in September 17, 1973 with a "First Ladies" theme (in recognition of former First Lady Pat Nixon's home in the community). Eight years later, the City made its first renovation to the library for $6.6 million. Twenty-one thousand square feet (2,000 m²) were added for $5.4 million, and the remaining $1.2 million was spent on furniture and equipment.

In the late 1990s, Cerritos recognized the ever-changing innovation in information technology and the Internet and plans for a second renovation were approved. During the reconstruction, all materials were moved off site to temporary trailers in the parking lot of the Cerritos Towne Center for two years. The second renovation and expansion was completed on March 16, 2002.

At the time of its rededication, the newly renamed Cerritos Millennium Library was the first building in North America to be coated in titanium panels. This $40 million library features an elaborate interior design with themed reading rooms in a variety of Old World and ultramodern styles A third floor was added to include several conference rooms and an outdoor terrace.

The Cerritos Library currently holds a Smithsonian Affiliation. It has been awarded American Library Association/American Institute of Architects "Award of Excellence" back in 1989. It was also honored with Reader's Digest's 2004 Best Library Award.

Cerritos Sculpture Garden

The Cerritos Sculpture Garden was dedicated on March 11, 2006 and included a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by representatives from Cerritos' Sister City, Loreto, Baja California Sur. It is located in the Civic Center and is designed to house approximately 20 sculptures to be phased in over the coming years. At the time of the dedication ceremony, three sculptures were already in place.

The garden was made to be able to accommodate future sculpture installations in a lush landscape.


Primary and secondary schools

Public schools

The majority of Cerritos is under the jurisdiction of the ABC Unified School District with a small portion on the west side of the City bounded by Palo Verde Avenue on the west, the San Gabriel River on the east, Artesia Boulevard on the north, and South Street on the south that is under the jurisdiction of the Bellflower Unified School District.

Children in Cerritos attend a neighborhood elementary school (from kindergarten to sixth grade) before going onto a middle school (seventh and eighth grade) or high school (applicable only to students who are accepted and decide to attend to Whitney High School, which covers seventh to twelfth grade).

Private schools

Private Valley Christian High School is one of the largest Protestant schools in Los Angeles County.

Colleges and universities

Cerritos is also serviced by one adult school and Cerritos College.

Education of citizens

Eighty-five percent of high school graduates go on to higher education. Ten percent of the total population has an associates degree, 26% get a bachelors degree, and 11% get an advanced degree.

Parks and recreation

Cerritos Olympic Swim & Fitness Center

The Cerritos Olympic Swim & Fitness Center provides year-round, indoor recreational, instructional and competitive swimming and gym.

The Swim Center was used by Olympians for swimming practices during the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Pat Nixon Park

The Pat Nixon Park is a recreational park that pays tribute to the late First Lady Pat Nixon on the site of her childhood home. The City of Cerritos undertook the project of building a Senior Center in 1993 to create a state-of-the-art public facility dedicated to its seniors with social events, services, life enriching programs and clubs. Also on the property is Pat Nixon's childhood home.

Community and Neighborhood Parks

Cerritos Park East is the de facto "central park" of the City. The Olympic Swim and Fitness Center is located on its grounds.

Heritage Park, a community park in the center of the City, pays tribute to Revolutionary America and the founding of the country. It re-opened to the public in 2002 complete with a refurbished colonial themed play island and moat.

Liberty Park, another community park in the western part of town, underwent massive renovation and re-opened to the public in February 2005 and features an updated community center, fitness center, rubberized jogging track, and children's playground. Camp Liberty, a children's amphitheater located within Liberty Park, is slated to be renovated during the 2006-2007 fiscal year.

Cerritos Regional Park houses the Cerritos Sports Complex, the skate park, and outdoor swimming pools. The unique characteristic is an artificial lake complete with sporting fish. Los Angeles County maintains 75% of Regional Park and Cerritos oversees the remaining 25%.

The City also has 18 neighborhood parks located near residential tracts, an executive golf course, and two community gymnasiums located on the Cerritos and Whitney high school campuses.

Sister cities

Famous residents

Filming location

According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), the following productions have either been partially or entirely filmed in Cerritos:


  • ABC

See also



External links

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