Orange County, California

Orange County, California

Coordinates: 33°40′N 117°47′W / 33.67°N 117.78°W / 33.67; -117.78

County of Orange
—  County  —


Location in the state of California
Cities in Orange County
Country  United States
State  California
Region Southern California
Incorporated March 11, 1889
Named for Orange groves that were once plentiful in the area
County seat Santa Ana
Largest City Anaheim
 - Total 2,455.3 km2 (947.98 sq mi)
 - Land 2,044.5 km2 (789.40 sq mi)
 - Water 410.7 km2 (158.57 sq mi)
Population (2010 Census)
 - Total 3,010,232
 - Density 1,472.3/km2 (3,813.3/sq mi)
Demonym Orange Countian
Time zone Pacific Standard Time (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)

Orange County is a county in the U.S. state of California. Its county seat is Santa Ana. As of the 2010 census, its population was 3,010,232, up from 2,846,293 at the 2000 census, making it the third most populous county in California, behind Los Angeles County and San Diego County.[1] It is the sixth most populous county in the United States as of 2009 while at the same time is the smallest area-wise county in Southern California, being roughly half the size of the next smallest county, Ventura. The county is famous for its tourism, as the home of such attractions as Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm, as well as several beaches along its more than 40 miles (64 km) of coastline. It is known for its affluence and political conservatism – a 2005 academic study listed three Orange County cities as being among America's 25 "most conservative," making it the only county in the country containing more than one such city.[2]

Orange County was at the time the largest US county to have gone bankrupt, when in 1994 longtime treasurer Robert Citron's investment strategies left the county with inadequate capital to allow for any raise in interest rates for its trading positions. When the conservative residents of Orange County voted down a proposal to raise taxes in order to balance the budget, bankruptcy followed soon after. Citron later pleaded guilty to six felonies regarding the matter.[3]

Whereas most population centers in the United States tend to be identified by a major city, there is no defined urban center in Orange County. It is mostly suburban, except for some traditionally urban areas at the centers of the older cities of Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange, Huntington Beach, and Fullerton. There are several edge city-style developments such as Irvine Business Center, South Coast Metro and Newport Center.

The city of Santa Ana serves as the governmental center of the county, Anaheim as its main tourist destination, and Irvine as its major business and financial hub. Three Orange County cities have populations exceeding 200,000: Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Irvine.

Thirty-four incorporated cities are located in Orange County; the newest is Aliso Viejo, which was incorporated in 2001. Anaheim was the first city incorporated in Orange County, in 1870 when the region was still part of neighboring Los Angeles County.



Members of the Tongva, Juaneño, and Luiseño Native American groups long inhabited the area. After the 1769 expedition of Gaspar de Portolà, a Spanish expedition led by Junipero Serra named the area Valle de Santa Ana (Valley of Saint Anne). On November 1, 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano became the area's first permanent European settlement. Among those who came with Portolá were José Manuel Nieto and José Antonio Yorba. Both these men were given land grants - Rancho Los Nietos and Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana, respectively. The Nieto heirs were granted land in 1834. The Nieto ranches were known as Rancho Los Alamitos, Rancho Las Bolsas, and Rancho Los Coyotes. Yorba heirs Bernardo Yorba and Teodosio Yorba were also granted Rancho Cañón de Santa Ana (Santa Ana Canyon Ranch) and Rancho Lomas de Santiago, respectively. Other ranchos in Orange County were granted by the Mexican government during the Mexican period in Alta California.[4]

A severe drought in the 1860s devastated the prevailing industry, cattle ranching, and much land came into the possession of Richard O'Neill, Sr.,[5] James Irvine and other land barons. In 1887, silver was discovered in the Santa Ana Mountains, attracting settlers via the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railroads.

This growth led the California legislature to divide Los Angeles County and create Orange County as a separate political entity on March 11, 1889. The county is generally said to have been named for the citrus fruit (its most famous product).[6] However, in the new county there was already a town by the name of Orange, named for Orange County, Virginia, which itself took its name from William of Orange. The fact the county took the same name as one of its towns may have been coincidence.

Other citrus crops, avocados, and oil extraction were also important to the early economy. Orange County benefited from the July 4, 1904 completion of the Pacific Electric Railway, a trolley connecting Los Angeles with Santa Ana and Newport Beach. The link made Orange County an accessible weekend retreat for celebrities of early Hollywood. It was deemed so significant that the city of Pacific City changed its name to Huntington Beach in honor of Henry Huntington, president of the Pacific Electric and nephew of Collis Huntington. Transportation further improved with the completion of the State Route and U.S. Route 101 (now mostly Interstate 5) in the 1920s.

South Coast Metro area in central Orange County

Agriculture, such as the boysenberry which was made famous by Buena Park native Walter Knott, began to decline after World War II but the county's prosperity soared. The completion of Interstate 5 in 1954 helped make Orange County a bedroom community for many who moved to Southern California to work in aerospace and manufacturing. Orange County received a further boost in 1955 with the opening of Disneyland.

In 1969, Yorba Linda-born Orange County native Richard Nixon became the 37th President of the United States.

In the 1980s, the population topped two million for the first time; Orange County had become the second-most populous county in California.

An investment fund melt-down in 1994 led to the criminal prosecution of County of Orange treasurer Robert Citron. The county lost at least $1.5 billion through high-risk investments in derivatives.[7] On December 6, 1994, the County of Orange declared Chapter 9 bankruptcy,[7] from which it emerged in June 1995. The Orange County bankruptcy was the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.[7]

In recent years land-use conflicts have arisen between established areas in the north and less developed areas in the south. These conflicts have regarded things such as construction of new toll roads and the re-purposing of a decommissioned air base. For example, the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station site was designated by a voter measure in 1994 to be developed into an international airport to alleviate the heavily used John Wayne Airport. But subsequent voter initiatives and court actions have caused the airport plan to be permanently shelved. Instead it will become the Orange County Great Park.[8]


According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 947.98 square miles (2,455.3 km2), of which 789.40 square miles (2,044.5 km2) (or 83.27%) is land and 158.57 square miles (410.7 km2) (or 16.73%) is water.[9] It the smallest county in Southern California. The average annual temperature is about 68 °F (20 °C).

Orange County is bordered on the southwest by the Pacific Ocean, on the north by Los Angeles County, on the northeast by San Bernardino County and Riverside County, and on the southeast by San Diego County.

The northwestern part of the county lies on the coastal plain of the Los Angeles Basin, while the southeastern end rises into the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Most of Orange County's population reside in one of two shallow coastal valleys that lie in the basin, the Santa Ana Valley and the Saddleback Valley. The Santa Ana Mountains lie within the eastern boundaries of the county and of the Cleveland National Forest. The high point is Santiago Peak (5,689 feet (1,734 m)[10]), about 20 mi (32 km) east of Santa Ana. Santiago Peak and nearby Modjeska Peak, just 200 feet (60 m) shorter, form a ridge known as Saddleback, visible from almost everywhere in the county. The Peralta Hills extend westward from the Santa Ana Mountains through the communities of Anaheim Hills, Orange, and ending in Olive. The Loma Ridge is another prominent feature, running parallel to the Santa Ana Mountains through the central part of the county, separated from the taller mountains to the east by Santiago Canyon.

The Santa Ana River is the county's principal watercourse, flowing through the middle of the county from northeast to southwest. Its major tributary to the south and east is Santiago Creek. Other watercourses within the county include Aliso Creek, San Juan Creek, and Horsethief Creek. In the North, the San Gabriel River also briefly crosses into Orange County and exits into the Pacific on the Los Angeles-Orange County line between the cities of Long Beach and Seal Beach. Laguna Beach is home to the county's only natural lakes, Laguna Lakes, which are formed by water rising up against an underground fault.

North Orange County in purple shades. South Orange County in blue shades.

Residents sometimes figuratively divide the county into "North Orange County" and "South County" (meaning Northwest and Southeast—following the county's natural diagonal orientation along the local coastline). This is more of a cultural and demographic distinction perpetuated by the popular television shows "The OC" and "Laguna Beach", between the older areas closer to Los Angeles, and the more affluent and recently developed areas to the South and East. A transition between older and newer development may be considered to exist roughly parallel to State Route 55 (aka the Costa Mesa Freeway). This transition is accentuated by large flanking tracts of sparsely developed area occupied until recent years by agriculture and military airfields.

While there is a natural topographical Northeast-to-Southwest transition from inland elevations to the lower coastal band, there is no formal geographical division between North and South County. Perpendicular to that gradient, the Santa Ana River roughly divides the county between northwestern and southeastern sectors (about 40% to 60% respectively, by area), but does not represent any apparent economic, political or cultural differences, nor does it significantly affect distribution of travel, housing, commerce, industry or agriculture from one side to the other.

Incorporated cities

As of August 2006, Orange County has 34 incorporated cities. The oldest is Anaheim (1870) and the newest is Aliso Viejo (2001).

Unincorporated communities

These communities are outside of city limits in unincorporated county territory:

Planned communities

Orange County has a history of large planned communities. Nearly 30% of the county was created as master planned communities[citation needed], the most notable being the City of Irvine, Coto de Caza, Anaheim Hills, Tustin Ranch, Tustin Legacy, Ladera Ranch, Talega, Rancho Santa Margarita, and Mission Viejo. Irvine is often referred to as a model master-planned city, for its villages of Woodbridge, Northwood, University Park, and Turtle Rock that were laid out by the Irvine Company of the mid-1960s before it was bought by a group of investors that included Donald Bren.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

Transportation infrastructure

Transit in Orange County is offered primarily by the Orange County Transportation Authority. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) cited OCTA as the best large property transportation system in the United States for 2005. OCTA manages the county's bus network and funds the construction and maintenance of local streets, highways, and freeways; regulates taxicab services; maintains express toll lanes through the median of California State Route 91; and works with Southern California's Metrolink to provide commuter rail service along three lines - the Orange County Line, the 91 Line, and the Inland Empire-Orange County Line.

Major highways

Surface transportation in Orange County relies heavily on three major interstate highways: the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5), the San Diego Freeway (I-405 and I-5 south of Irvine), and the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605), which only briefly enters Orange County territory in the northwest. The other freeways in the county are state highways, and include the perpetually congested Riverside and Artesia Freeway (SR 91) and the Garden Grove Freeway (SR 22) running east-west, and the Orange Freeway (SR 57), the Costa Mesa Freeway (SR/SR 55), the Laguna Freeway (SR 133), the San Joaquin Transportation Corridor (SR 73), the Eastern Transportation Corridor (SR 261, SR 133, SR 241), and the Foothill Transportation Corridor (SR 241) running north-south. Minor stub freeways include the Richard M. Nixon Freeway (SR 90), also known as Imperial Highway, and the southern terminus of Pacific Coast Highway (SR 1). There are no U.S. Highways in Orange County, though two existed in the county until the mid-1960s: 91 and 101. 91 went through what is now the state route of the same number, and 101 was replaced by Interstate 5. SR-1 was once a bypass of US-101 (Route 101A).


The bus network comprises 6,542 stops on 77 lines, running along most major streets, and accounts for 210,000 boardings a day. The fleet of 817 buses is gradually being replaced by LNG (liquified natural gas)-powered vehicles, which already represent over 40% of the total fleet.


Starting in 1992, Metrolink has operated three commuter rail lines through Orange County, and has also maintained Rail-to-Rail service with parallel Amtrak service. On a typical weekday, over 40 trains run along the Orange County Line, the 91 Line and the Inland Empire-Orange County Line. Along with Metrolink riders on parallel Amtrak lines, these lines generate approximately 15,000 boardings per weekday. Metrolink also began offering weekend service on the Orange County Line and the Inland Empire-Orange County line in the summer of 2006. As ridership has steadily increased in the region, new stations have opened at Anaheim Canyon, Buena Park, Tustin, and Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo. Plans for a future station in Placentia are underway and is expected to be completed by 2014.

Since 1938, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad and later Amtrak, has operated the Pacific Surfliner regional passenger train route (previously named the San Diegan until 2000)[11] through Orange County. The route includes stops at eight stations in Orange County including San Clemente (selected trips), San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo (selected trips), Irvine, Santa Ana, Orange (selected trips), Anaheim, Fullerton.

Orange County's first public Monorail line is undergoing Environmental impact assessment. This line will connect the Disneyland Resort, Convention Center, and Angel Stadium to the proposed ARTIC transportation hub, in the city of Anaheim.[12] A streetcar line connecting Downtown Santa Ana to the Depot at Santa Ana is also in the environmental phase.


A car and passenger ferry service, the Balboa Island Ferry, comprising three ferries running every five minutes, operates between Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Island in Newport Beach.


Orange County's only major airport is John Wayne Airport. Although its abbreviation (SNA) refers to Santa Ana, the airport is in fact located in unincorporated territory surrounded by the cities of Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, and Irvine. Unincorporated Orange County (including the John Wayne Airport) has mailing addresses, which go through the Santa Ana Post Office. For this reason, SNA was chosen as the IATA Code for the airport.[citation needed] The actual Destination Moniker which appears on most Arrival/Departure Monitors in airports throughout the United States is "Orange County," which is the common nickname used for the OMB Metropolitan Designation: Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, California. Its modern Thomas F. Riley Terminal handles over 9 million passengers annually through 14 different airlines.


Census Pop.
1890 13,589
1900 19,696 44.9%
1910 34,436 74.8%
1920 61,375 78.2%
1930 118,674 93.4%
1940 130,760 10.2%
1950 216,224 65.4%
1960 703,925 225.6%
1970 1,420,386 101.8%
1980 1,932,709 36.1%
1990 2,410,556 24.7%
2000 2,846,289 18.1%
2010 3,010,232 5.8%
Orange County Density Map. Darker shades indicate more densely-populated areas.


The 2010 United States Census reported that Orange County had a population of 3,010,232. The racial makeup of Orange County was 1,830,758 (60.8%) White, 67,708 (2.2%) African American, 18,132 (0.6%) Native American, 537,804 (17.9%) Asian, 9,354 (0.3%) Pacific Islander, 435,641 (14.5%) from other races, and 127,799 (4.2%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,012,973 persons (33.7%).[13]

Population reported at 2010 United States Census
The County
two or
more races
or Latino
(of any race)
Orange County 3,010,232 1,830,758 67,708 18,132 537,804 9,354 435,641 127,799 1,012,973
two or
more races
or Latino
(of any race)
Aliso Viejo 47,823 34,437 967 151 6,996 89 2,446 2,737 8,164
Anaheim 336,265 177,237 9,347 2,648 49,857 1,607 80,705 14,864 177,467
Brea 39,282 26,363 1,549 190 7,144 69 3,236 1,731 9,817
Buena Park 80,530 36,454 3,073 862 21,488 455 14,066 4,132 31,638
Costa Mesa 109,960 75,335 1,640 686 8,654 527 17,992 5,126 39,403
Cypress 47,802 26,000 1,444 289 14,978 234 2,497 2,360 8,779
Dana Point 33,351 28,701 294 229 1,064 37 1,952 1,074 5,662
Fountain Valley 55,313 31,225 1,510 229 18,418 171 2,445 2,315 7,250
Fullerton 135,161 72,845 4,138 842 30,788 321 21,439 5,788 46,501
Garden Grove 170,883 68,149 3,155 983 63,451 1,110 28,916 6,119 63,079
Huntington Beach 189,992 145,661 1,813 992 21,070 635 11,193 8,628 32,411
Irvine 212,375 107,215 3,868 355 83,176 334 5,867 11,710 19,621
La Habra 60,239 35,147 1,025 531 5,653 103 15,224 2,556 34,449
La Palma 15,568 5,762 802 56 7,483 41 760 664 2,487
Laguna Beach 22,723 20,645 278 61 811 15 350 663 1,650
Laguna Hills 30,344 22,045 520 101 3,829 58 2,470 1,421 6,242
Laguna Niguel 62,979 50,625 877 219 5,459 87 3,019 2,793 8,761
Laguna Woods 16,192 14,133 110 24 1,624 10 90 201 650
Lake Forest 77,264 54,341 1,695 384 10,115 191 7,267 3,671 19,024
Los Alamitos 11,449 8,131 324 51 1,471 50 726 696 2,418
Mission Viejo 93,305 74,493 1,710 379 8,462 153 4,332 4,276 15,877
Newport Beach 85,186 74,357 616 223 5,982 114 1,401 2,493 6,174
Orange 136,416 91,522 3,627 993 15,350 352 20,567 5,405 52,014
Placentia 50,533 31,373 914 386 7,531 74 8,247 2,008 18,416
Rancho Santa Margarita 47,853 37,421 887 182 4,350 102 2,674 2,237 8,902
San Clemente 63,522 54,605 511 363 2,333 90 3,433 2,287 10,702
San Juan Capistrano 34,593 26,664 293 286 975 33 5,234 1,208 13,388
Santa Ana 324,528 148,838 6,356 3,260 34,138 976 120,789 11,671 253,928
Seal Beach 24,168 20,154 279 65 2,309 58 453 850 2,331
Stanton 38,186 16,991 3,358 405 8,831 217 9,274 1,610 19,417
Tustin 75,540 39,729 2,722 442 15,299 268 14,499 3,581 30,024
Villa Park 5,812 4,550 92 34 854 1 162 169 598
Westminster 89,701 32,037 2,849 397 42,597 361 10,229 3,231 21,176
Yorba Linda 64,234 48,246 835 230 10,030 85 2,256 2,552 9,220
two or
more races
or Latino
(of any race)
Coto de Caza 14,866 13,094 132 26 878 20 174 542 1,170
Ladera Ranch 22,980 17,899 335 54 2,774 27 624 1,267 2,952
Las Flores 5,971 4,488 91 23 780 12 261 316 984
Midway City 8,485 2,884 71 65 3,994 40 1,165 266 2,467
North Tustin 24,917 20,836 148 104 1,994 52 908 875 3,260
Rossmoor 10,244 8,691 84 36 838 29 168 398 1,174
Sunset Beach 971 863 4 6 42 2 18 36 79
two or
more races
or Latino
(of any race)
All others not CDPs (combined) 32,726 20,572 4,365 290 3,934 144 6,113 1,272 13,247


According to Census Bureau's 2006 American Community Survey the racial or ethnic makeup of the county was 64.76% White, 16.05% Asian, 0.33% Pacific Islander, 1.72% African American, 0.38% Native American, 14.32% from other races, and 2.44% from two or more races. 32.89% of the population were Hispanic of any race. 30.49% of the population was foreign born.[14]


As of the census[15] of 2000, there were 2,846,289 people, 935,287 households, and 667,794 families residing in the county, making Orange County the second most populous county in California. The population density was 1,392/km² (3,606/sq mi). There were 969,484 housing units at an average density of 474/km² (1,228/sq mi). The racial makeup of the county was 64.81% White, 13.59% Asian, 1.67% African American, 0.70% Native American, 0.31% Pacific Islander, 14.80% from other races, and 4.12% from two or more races. 30.76% are Hispanic or Latino of any race. 8.9% were of German, 6.9% English and 6.0% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000. 58.6% spoke only English at home; 25.3% spoke Spanish, 4.7% Vietnamese, 1.9% Korean, 1.5% Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin) and 1.2% Tagalog.

In 1990, still according to the census[15] there were 2,410,556 people residing in the county. The racial makeup of the county was 78.60% White, 10.34% Asian or Pacific Islander, 1.77% African American, 0.50% Native American, and 8.79% from other races. 23.43% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Out of 935,287 households, 37.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.9% married couples were living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.6% were non-families. 21.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.00 and the average family size was 3.48.

Ethnic change has been transforming the population. By 2009, nearly 45 percent of the residents spoke a language other than English at home. Whites now comprise only 45 percent of the population, while the numbers of Hispanics grow steadily, along with Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese families. The percentage of foreign-born residents jumped to 30 percent in 2008 from 6 percent in 1970. The mayor of Irvine, Sukhee Kang, was born in Korea, making him the first Korean-American to run a major American city. “We have 35 languages spoken in our city,” Kang observed.[16] The population is diverse age-wise, with 27.0% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 33.2% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 9.9% 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there were 99.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.7 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $61,899, and the median income for a family was $75,700 (these figures had risen to $71,601 and $81,260 respectively as of a 2007 estimate[17]). Males had a median income of $45,059 versus $34,026 for females. The per capita income for the county was $25,826. About 7.0% of families and 10.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.2% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.

Residents of Orange County are known as "Orange Countians".[18]

Average household income by community

Unincorporated communities are included if their population is greater than 15,000. These numbers are estimates from the 2005 Census updates for these locales. Numbers are approximate until a new Census occurs.

  1. Villa Park: $203,091
  2. Anaheim Hills: $157,938
  3. Coto de Caza: $153,118
  4. Laguna Beach: $141,916
  5. Yorba Linda: $138,910
  6. Newport Beach: $137,226
  7. North Tustin: $122,685
  8. Laguna Niguel: $112,241
  9. Irvine: $111,455
  10. Laguna Hills: $103,419
  11. Ladera Ranch: $99,537
  12. Dana Point: $97,615
  13. San Clemente: $94,576
  14. Rossmoor: $93,972
  15. Rancho Santa Margarita: $92,671
  16. Mission Viejo: $84,934
  17. Aliso Viejo: $83,002
  18. San Juan Capistrano: $78,638
  19. West Garden Grove: $78,112
  20. La Palma: $77,177
  1. Cypress: $76,312
  2. Huntington Beach: $75,900
  3. Fountain Valley: $73,504
  4. Lake Forest: $73,293
  5. Los Alamitos: $71,112
  6. Brea: $70,009
  7. Costa Mesa: $69,918
  8. Seal Beach: $66,131
  9. Placentia: $66,083
  10. Orange: $62,760
  11. Fullerton: $61,462
  12. Anaheim: $60,881
  13. Tustin: $60,319
  14. Buena Park: $57,695
  15. Westminster: $57,172
  16. Garden Grove: $50,038
  17. La Habra: $49,612
  18. Santa Ana: $44,505
  19. Stanton: $37,840
  20. Laguna Woods: $31,212



The developing urban core in the City of Irvine.

Orange County is the headquarters of many Fortune 500 companies including Ingram Micro (#69) and First American Corporation (#312) in Santa Ana, Western Digital (#439) in Lake Forest and Pacific Life (#452) in Newport Beach. Irvine is the home of numerous start-up companies and also is the home of Fortune 1000 headquarters for Allergan, Broadcom, Edwards Lifesciences, Epicor, Standard Pacific and Sun Healthcare Group. Other Fortune 1000 companies in Orange County include Beckman Coulter in Brea, Quiksilver in Huntington Beach and Apria Healthcare Group in Lake Forest. Irvine is also the home of notable technology companies like PC-manufacturer Gateway Inc., router manufacturer Linksys, and video/computer game creator Blizzard Entertainment. Also, the prestigious Mercedes-Benz Classic Center USA is located in the City of Irvine. Many regional headquarters for international businesses reside in Orange County like Mazda, Toshiba, Toyota, Samsung, Kia Motors, in the City of Irvine, Mitsubishi in the City of Cypress, and Hyundai in the City of Fountain Valley. Fashion is another important industry to Orange County. Oakley, Inc. is headquartered in Lake Forest. Hurley International is headquartered in Costa Mesa. The shoe company Pleaser USA, Inc. is located in Fullerton. St. John is headquartered in Irvine. Wet Seal is headquartered in Lake Forest. PacSun is headquartered in Anaheim.[19] Restaurants such as Del Taco, Taco Bell, El Pollo Loco, In-N-Out Burger, Claim Jumper, Marie Callender's, Wienerschnitzel, have headquarters in the City of Irvine as well.


Orange County contains several notable shopping malls. Among these are South Coast Plaza (the largest mall in California, and the third largest in the United States) in Costa Mesa and Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Other significant malls include the Brea Mall, MainPlace Santa Ana, The Shops at Mission Viejo, The Block at Orange, the Irvine Spectrum Center, and Downtown Disney.


Tourism remains a vital aspect of Orange County's economy. Anaheim is the main tourist hub, with the Disneyland Resort's Disneyland being the second most visited theme park in the world. Also Knotts Berry Farm which gets about 7 million visitors annually located in the city of Buena Park. The Anaheim Convention Center receives many major conventions throughout the year. Resorts within the Beach Cities receive visitors throughout the year due to their close proximity to the beach, biking paths, mountain hiking trails, golf courses, shopping and dining.

Tallest buildings

City Structure Height (feet) Stories Built
Santa Ana One Broadway Plaza 497 37 Under Construction
Anaheim Platinum triangle tower 1 N/A 35 Proposed
Santa Ana Broadway plaza condominium tower 476 34 Proposed
Anaheim Platinum triangle tower 2 N/A 24 Proposed
Anaheim Platinum triangle tower 3 N/A 24 Proposed
Anaheim Platinum triangle tower 4 N/A 23 Proposed
Anaheim Platinum triangle tower 5 N/A 23 Proposed
Anaheim Platinum triangle tower 6 N/A 23 Proposed
Costa Mesa Center Tower 285 21 1985
Costa Mesa Plaza Tower 282 21 1992
Costa Mesa Bristol and Sunflower 282 21 Proposed
Irvine Park Place Tower N/A 20 2007
Costa Mesa The Californian at Town Center 1 N/A 20 Proposed
Costa Mesa The Californian at Town Center 2 N/A 20 Proposed
Santa Ana Macarthur Skyline Tower 1 278 25 2009
Santa Ana Macarthur Skyline Tower 2 278 25 2009
Santa Ana Macarthur Skyline Tower 3 278 25 Proposed
Orange City Tower 269 21 1988
Irvine Jamboree Center - 5 Park Plaza 263 19 1990
Irvine Jamboree Center - 4 Park Plaza 263 19 1990
Irvine Jamboree Center - 3 Park Plaza 263 19 1990
Irvine Edison International Tower 263 19 N/A
Costa Mesa Two Town Center III N/A 18 Proposed
Santa Ana Cabrillo tower 1 N/A 18 Proposed
Santa Ana Cabrillo tower 2 N/A 18 Proposed
Irvine Opus Center Irvine II 246 14 2002
Irvine Wells Fargo Center 230 18 1990
Orange Doubletree Hotel Anaheim N/A 20 1986
Newport Beach The Island Hotel (Formerly the Four Seasons) N/A 20 1986
Orange City Plaza N/A 18 N/A
Newport Beach 610 Tower N/A 18 N/A
Costa Mesa Park Tower 240 17 1979
Irvine Waterfield Tower (formerly Tower 17) 220 17 1987
Newport Beach 660 Tower N/A 17 N/A
Newport Beach 620 Tower N/A 17 1970
Irvine Irvine Marriott (Koll Center Irvine) N/A 17 N/A
Anaheim Anaheim Marriot - Palms Tower N/A 19 N/A
Costa Mesa Westin South Coast Plaza N/A 17 N/A
Orange 1100 Executive Tower 210 16 N/A
Santa Ana Xerox Centre N/A 16 1988
Newport Beach Marriott Newport Beach Hotel N/A 16 N/A
Irvine 2600 Michelson N/A 16 N/A
Garden Grove Hyatt Regency Orange County N/A 16 1987
Anaheim Anaheim Marriott - Oasis Tower N/A 16 N/A
Costa Mesa Tower (Two Town Center) 213 15 N/A
Costa Mesa Comerica Bank Tower (Two Town Center) 213 15 N/A
Buena Park Supreme Scream (amusement ride) 312 N/A N/A
Anaheim The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (amusement ride) 183 --- 2004
Anaheim Anaheim Convention Center

Arts and culture

Points of interest

1965 aerial photo of Anaheim Disneyland, Disneyland Hotel with its Monorail Station. The Disneyland Heliport, surrounding orange groves, Santa Ana Freeway (now I-5) and the Melodyland Theater "in the round," and part of the City of Anaheim. Anaheim Stadium can be seen under construction near the upper left.

The area's warm Mediterranean climate and 42 miles (68 km) of year-round beaches attract millions of tourists annually. Huntington Beach is a hot spot for sunbathing and surfing; nicknamed "Surf City, U.S.A.", it is home to many surfing competitions. "The Wedge", at the tip of The Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, is one of the most famous body surfing spots in the world.

Other tourist destinations include the theme parks Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in Anaheim and Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park. Since the 2011 closure of Wild Rivers in Irvine, the county is home to just one water park: Soak City in Buena Park. The Anaheim Convention Center is the largest such facility on the West Coast. The old town area in the City of Orange (the traffic circle at the middle of Chapman Ave. at Glassell) still maintains its 1950s image, and appeared in the That Thing You Do! movie.

Little Saigon is another tourist destination, being home to the largest concentration of Vietnamese people outside of Vietnam. There are also sizable Taiwanese, Chinese, and Korean communities, particularly in western Orange County. This is evident in several Asian-influenced shopping centers in Asian American hubs like the city of Irvine.

Historical points of interest include Mission San Juan Capistrano, the renowned destination of migrating swallows. The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum is in Yorba Linda and the Richard Nixon Birthplace home, located on the grounds of the Library, is a National Historic Landmark. John Wayne's yacht, the Wild Goose or USS YMS-328, is in Newport Beach. Other notable structures include the home of Madame Helena Modjeska, located in Modjeska Canyon on Santiago Creek; Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse in Santa Ana, the largest building in the county; the historic Balboa Pavilion[20] in Newport Beach; and the Huntington Beach Pier. The county has nationally known centers of worship, such as Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, the largest house of worship in California; Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, one of the largest churches in the United States; and the Calvary Chapel.

Since the premiere in fall 2003 of the hit Fox series The O.C., and the 2007 Bravo series "The Real Housewives of Orange County" tourism has increased with travelers from across the globe hoping to see the sights seen in the show.

Orange County has some of the most exclusive and expensive neighborhoods in the U.S., many along the Orange Coast, and some in north Orange County.


Orange County is the base for several significant religious organizations:


A number of novels by best-selling fiction and horror author Dean Koontz, a resident of Newport Beach, are set in the area.

Several of the stories in Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon's collection, A Model World, are set in Orange County. Chabon studied creative writing at UC Irvine.

Orange County is the place in which Kim Stanley Robinson's Three Californias Trilogy is set. These books depict three different futures of Orange County (survivors of a nuclear war in The Wild Shore, a developer's dream gone mad in The Gold Coast, and an ecotopian utopia in Pacific Edge). Philip K. Dick's novel A Scanner Darkly was also set in Orange County.

From his first novel, "Laguna Heat," to more recent books such as "California Girl," mystery-writer T. Jefferson Parker has set many of his novels in Orange County.

The modern fantasy novel "All the Bells on Earth" by James P. Blaylock is set in Orange.

The classic novel "Two Years Before the Mast" by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. describes journeys along the California coast in the early 19th century and the trading of goods for cow hides with the local residents. The south Orange County city of Dana Point takes its name from the author, as the cliffs around the harbor were a favorite location of his.

San Juan Capistrano is also the home of the first Zorro novellas. It was first called Curse of Capistrano, but was later changed to the Mask of Zorro due to the popularity of the movie.

In popular culture

Orange County has been the setting for numerous films and television shows:

  • The movie "Beaches" starring Bette Midler and Barbra Hershey was filmed at Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Coast.
  • The opening scene of Gilligan's Island that shows the S.S. Minnow leaving the harbor was in Newport Beach.
  • The best known portrayal is as the setting of the popular 2003 Fox Network television drama The O.C. which is set in the Orange County coastal harbor town of Newport Beach.
  • It is the subject and setting of the eponymous 2002 movie Orange County. However, the film was not actually filmed in Orange County.
  • It is also the setting of the 2003 sitcom Arrested Development. Most of the series was not filmed in Orange County, but in Culver City and Marina del Rey in Los Angeles County. A running joke in the series that pokes fun at The O.C. is that characters will frequently refer to Orange County as "The O.C.," followed by another character's saying, "Don't call it that" (mirroring the fact that Orange County residents rarely if ever use the term "The O.C.", but rather just, "O.C.").
  • The closing scene in Rain Man with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise was shot at the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center.
  • The film Better Luck Tomorrow was shot and set in the cities of Cypress and Anaheim
  • The University of California, Irvine, has been used in many films, most notably Ocean's Eleven (2001 film); others include Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Poltergeist (film)
  • The film Accepted had Harmon University shot in Chapman University in Orange.
  • The film Life as a House was set in Laguna Beach, although it was filmed in Los Angeles County.
  • The film Brick was shot and set in San Clemente
  • MTV's Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County was filmed in the Orange County coastal town of Laguna Beach, California.
  • MTV's Newport Harbor: The Real Orange County was filmed in the Orange County coastal town of Newport Beach, California.
  • MTV's Life of Ryan is a reality[1] show following the life of pro skateboarder Ryan Sheckler. The title of the show is a play on Monty Python's Life of Brian, filmed in and around the Sheckler household in San Clemente, California.
  • A key scene in the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was shot and set at The Block at Orange in the city of Orange.
  • The Christian Slater film Gleaming the Cube was set in Orange County and filmed in several cities, such as Anaheim, Woodbridge High School in Irvine, and John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana.
  • A plot line in the television drama The West Wing involved a dead liberal Democrat unexpectedly winning a Congressional seat from an Orange County district.
  • Orange County is the home of the late Republican President Teddy Bridges on the (now canceled) ABC drama Commander in Chief.
  • Sayid Jarrah from the ABC drama Lost was bound to go to Irvine, where his longtime friend Nadia lives. John Locke, another castaway from the series, is said to have lived most of his life in Tustin. Also Libby told Desmond that she is from Newport Beach.
  • Orange County was the location of the 1994 Charlie Sheen movie The Chase; the movie, however, was mostly filmed in Houston.
  • The Park Place, Irvine corporate mall was the location for futuristic scenes in the 1993 film Demolition Man starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes.
  • The 2006 film A Scanner Darkly was set in the city of Anaheim. A freeway scene was shot along the Northbound I-5 in Tustin.
  • The show The Real Housewives of Orange County is filmed in Coto De Caza.
  • Costa Mesa is the setting for The X-Files episode "Hungry".
  • In the 2001 film The Fast and the Furious, the scene when the Johnny Tran and his gang catch up with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker blowing up their car was filmed in Little Saigon, Westminster.
  • In season six of the HBO drama The Sopranos while in a coma Tony Soprano dreams he is a businessman in Costa Mesa.
  • The chase scene at the beginning of the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Kindergarten Cop was filmed at Main Place Mall in Santa Ana.
  • In "The Incredible Mr. Brisby" episode of The Venture Bros., Hank and Dean Venture Travel to the fictional theme park Brisby Land, a spoof on Disney Land. During the episode, radical Orange County Natives known as the Orange County Liberation Front launch a full-scale assault on the Brisby Land compound out of revenge for the ever increasing size of the Park. Members of the OCLF are easily identified by their helmets that resemble enormous oranges.
  • The shuttle bay scenes for the 2009 Star Trek movie were shot in the Tustin MCAF Blimp Hangars.
  • A Skanner Darkly The main Character is portrayed as an Undercover Narcotics Agent for Orange County
  • Scenes from Starship Troopers were filmed at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley
  • A majority of the 2002 Nickelodeon Film "Clockstoppers" was shot in Old Town Orange, CA.
  • The moon walk scenes of the 1998 HBO mini-series "From The Earth To The Moon", were shot in the Tustin MCAF Blimp Hangers.
  • The opening scene for the movie Hancock with Will Smith was shot in Costa Mesa

Orange County has also been used as a shooting location for several films and television programs. Examples of movies at least partially shot in Orange County are Tom Hanks' That Thing You Do, the Coen Brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There, and the Martin Lawrence movie Big Momma's House. All three of which were filmed in or around the Old Towne Plaza in the City of Orange. The Reality Television show The Real Housewives of series started in Orange County.


Huntington Beach annually plays host to the U.S. Open of Surfing, AVP Pro Beach Volleyball and Vans World Championship of Skateboarding.[22] It was also the shooting location for Pro Beach Hockey.[23] USA Water Polo, Inc. has moved its headquarter offices to Huntington Beach.[24] Orange County's active outdoor culture is home to many surfers, skateboarders, mountain bikers, cyclists, climbers, hikers, kayaking, sailing and sand volleyball.

Sports teams

Street banners promoting the county's two major league teams, the Ducks and the Angels.

The Major League Baseball team in Orange County is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In 2005, new owner Joey Deal wanted to change the name to "Los Angeles Angels" in order to better tap into the Los Angeles media market, the second largest in the country. However, the standing agreement with the city of Anaheim demanded that they have "Anaheim" in the name, so they became the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This name change was hotly disputed by the city of Anaheim, but the change stood and still stands today, which prompted a lawsuit by the city of Anaheim against Angels owner Arte Moreno, won by Moreno. It has been widely unpopular in Orange County,.[25]

The county's National Hockey League team, the Anaheim Ducks, won the 2007 Stanley Cup beating the Ottawa Senators. They also came close to winning the 2003 Stanley Cup finals after winning three games in a seven-game series against the New Jersey Devils.

The Orange County Flyers are a North American League Baseball team based in Fullerton, California. The league is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. The Flyers were sold on March 21, 2007 to an Orange County investment group, making them the first Golden Baseball League team to ever be sold. Before their sale, the Flyers were called the Fullerton Flyers, but on March 28, 2007 they became the Orange County Flyers; they kept their team colors (blue and orange) and home games are still played at Cal State Fullerton's Goodwin Field.

The Orange County Blue Star is a USL Premier Development League soccer club. They play at Orange Coast College. Among those who have played for OCBS are Jürgen Klinsmann, the former German star and Germany's 2006 World Cup coach, who played under an assumed name.

Orange County Roller Girls [3] - Since 2006, this flat track league has been competing against teams from up and down the great state of California and across the Country. In 2010 they built the 9th banked track to compete at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena.

The Orange County Outlaws are a rugby league team formed in 2010, they play their home games at LeBard Stadium, Costa Mesa. They are a developing team in the USA Rugby League[26] and will become a full member team in 2012.[27]

The Sacramento Kings basketball team of the NBA are widely believed to be planning a move to Anaheim in the near future.[28][29]

Former and defunct sports teams

Professional baseball made a brief appearance in Orange County during the post World War II boom in minor league ball when the Anaheim Valencias of the Class C Sunset League played the 1947 and 1948 seasons with La Palma Park as their home field. Future Fullerton High School baseball coach Bud Dawson was the Vals' shortstop.

In the late 1950s (c.1957-59) the Orange County Rhinos, a semi-pro football team, played their home games at La Palma Park in Anaheim.

The National Football League football left the county when the Los Angeles Rams relocated to St. Louis in 1995. Anaheim city leaders are in talks with the NFL to bring a Los Angeles-area franchise to Orange County, though they are competing with other cities in and around Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Clippers played some home games at The Arrowhead Pond, now known as the Honda Center, from 1994 to 1999, before moving to Staples Center, which they share with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The California Surf played in the North American Soccer League from 1978 to 1981. The club called Anaheim Stadium home.

Another soccer franchise, the California Sunshine of the Major League Soccer in the late 1970s played games in Orange and Anaheim (Anaheim Stadium). Their team office was in Villa Park.

The Los Angeles Salsa played at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium in 1993–94 in the American Professional Soccer League (APSL), at the time the top soccer league in the U.S. The Salsa, whose general manager was former Cosmos star Ricky Davis and its coach former Brazil star Rildo Menezes, also played some games at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park, California, and Trabuco Hills High School, Mission Viejo, California attempting a season in Mexico's second-tier Primera A Division. That attempt was cancelled after several games when FIFA and CONCACAF ruled a club could not play in two leagues in separate countries. The Salsa lost to the Colorado Foxes in the 1993 APSL final at Cal State Fullerton.

The Orange County Zodiac, affiliated with MLS's Los Angeles Galaxy, played soccer at Santa Ana Stadium (also known as Santa Ana Bowl) and Orange Coast College from 1997 to 2000.

The Anaheim Arsenal are an NBA D-League expansion team for the 2006–2007 season. They play their home games at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The Orange County Gladiators are an American Basketball Association (ABA) expansion team starting in November 2007. They played their home games at Fieldhouse Gym at JSerra in San Juan Capistrano.

The county was also the home of the Orange County Buzz basketball team of the American Basketball Association (ABA). Both the Buzz and Gladiators have ceased operations.

Anaheim was also the home of the prior American Basketball Association franchise known as the Anaheim Amigos in the mid-sixties.

Teams that played in the Arrowhead Pond/Honda Center:

The Anaheim Storm was a member of the National Lacrosse League. They folded in 2005 due to low attendance.

The Anaheim Piranhas were an Arena Football League team in 1996-97, but folded due to team board financial problems.

The Anaheim Bullfrogs were a Roller Hockey International team that lasted from 1993–99 and were briefly revived in 2001.

The Anaheim Splash was a soccer team that played in the Continental Indoor Soccer League from 1993 to 1997.

The Southern California Sun was an American football team based out of Anaheim that played in the World Football League in 1974 and 1975. Their records were 13–7 in 1974 and 7–5 in 1975. Their home stadium was Anaheim Stadium.

The Orange County Ramblers were a professional football team that competed in the Continental Football League from 1967-68. The Ramblers played their home games in Anaheim (Anaheim Stadium). The team was coached both seasons by Homer Beatty, who had won a small college national title at Santa Ana College in 1962.

The Santa Ana Winds, a women’s professional football team played in Santa Ana College and later Chapman College in Orange in the 2000s.

A semi-pro Mexican Soccer franchise, the Santa Ana-Anaheim Aztecas played in Santa Ana College in the 2000s.

And finally, the Orange County Pioneers and California Mariners/Sharks/Storm of Irvine and Newport Beach, were semi-pro collegiate baseball teams in the 1990s and 2000s.


Orange County is a chartered county of California; its seat is Santa Ana. Its legislative and executive authority is vested in a five-member Board of Supervisors. Each Supervisor is popularly elected from a regional district, and together the board oversees the activities of the county's agencies and departments and sets policy on development, public improvements, and county services. At the beginning of each year the Supervisors select a Chairman and Vice Chairman, but the administration is headed by a professional municipal manager, the County Executive. The current supervisors are Janet Nguyen, John Moorlach, Bill Campbell, and Patricia C. Bates, with a vacancy in the Fourth District, which was previously occupied by Chris Norby until he resigned to become a member of the California State Assembly.

Seven other public officials are elected at-large: the County Assessor, Auditor-Controller, Clerk-Recorder, District Attorney, Sheriff-Coroner, Treasurer-Tax Collector and Public Administrator. Since 2008, the Orange County Sheriff's Department has been led by Sheriff-Coroner Sandra Hutchens. Her predecessor, Mike Carona, resigned earlier in the year to defend himself against corruption charges.

VA loan limit

The maximum $0 down VA home loan limit for Orange County is $700,000 as of 01/01/2011.[30]

Pension scandal

On July 12, 2010, it was revealed that Carona received over $215,000 in pension checks in 2009, despite his felony conviction, as the county's retirement system faces a massive shortfall totaling $3.7 billion unfunded liabilities. He is one of approximately 400 retired Orange County public servants who received more than $100,000 last year in benefits. Also on the list of those receiving extra-large pension checks is former treasurer-tax collector Robert Citron, whose investments, which were made while consulting psychics and astrologers, led Orange County into bankruptcy in 1994.[31]

Citron funneled billions of public dollars into questionable investments, and at first the returns were high and cities, schools and special districts borrowed millions to join in the investments. But the strategy backfired, and Citron's investment pool lost $1.64 billion. Nearly $200 million had to be slashed from the county budget and more than 1,000 jobs were cut. The county was forced to borrow $1 billion.

The California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility filed a lawsuit against the pension system to get the list. The agency had claimed that pensioner privacy would be compromised by the release. A judge approved the release and the documents were released late June 2010. The release of the documents has reopened debate on the pension plan for retired public safety workers approved in 2001 when Carona was sheriff.[32]

Called "3 percent at 50," it lets deputies retire at age 50 with 3 percent of their highest year's pay for every year of service. Before it was approved and applied retroactively, employees received 2 percent.[33] "It was right after Sept. 11," said Orange County Supervisor John Morrlach. "All of a sudden, public safety people became elevated to god status. The Board of Supervisors were tripping over themselves to make the motion." He called it "one of the biggest shifts of money from the private sector to the public sector." Moorlach, who was not on the board when the plan was approved, led the fight to repeal the benefit. A lawsuit, which said the benefit should go before voters, was rejected in Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2009 and is now under appeal.[32]

Carona opposed the lawsuit when it was filed, likening its filing to a "nuclear bomb" for deputies.


Orange County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year GOP DEM Others
2008 50.4% 578,171 47.8% 548,246 1.8% 21,530
2004 59.7% 641,832 39.0% 419,239 1.3% 14,328
2000 55.8% 541,299 40.4% 391,819 3.9% 37,787
1996 51.7% 446,717 37.9% 327,485 10.5% 90,374
1992 43.9% 426,613 31.6% 306,930 24.6% 239,006
1988 67.7% 586,230 31.1% 269,013 1.2% 10,064
1984 74.7% 635,013 24.3% 206,272 1.0% 8,792
1980 67.9% 529,797 22.6% 176,704 9.5% 73,711
1976 62.2% 408,632 35.3% 232,246 2.5% 16,555
1972 68.3% 448,291 26.9% 176,847 4.8% 31,515
1968 63.1% 314,905 29.9% 148,869 7.0% 34,933
1964 55.9% 224,196 44.0% 176,539 0.1% 430
1960 60.8% 174,891 38.9% 112,007 0.2% 701
1956 66.8% 113,510 32.3% 54,895 0.9% 1,474
1952 70.3% 80,994 29.0% 33,397 0.7% 844
1948 60.9% 48,587 36.4% 29,018 2.8% 2,209
1944 56.9% 38,394 42.5% 28,649 0.6% 407
1940 55.5% 36,070 43.4% 28,236 1.1% 691
1936 43.3% 23,494 55.0% 29,836 1.7% 921
1932 45.9% 22,623 48.4% 23,835 5.7% 2,818
1928 79.4% 30,572 19.8% 7,611 0.9% 344
1924 67.4% 19,913 8.7% 2,565 24.0% 7,088
1920 71.5% 12,797 19.6% 3,502 8.9% 1,594

Orange County has long been known as a Republican stronghold and has consistently sent Republican representatives to the state and federal legislatures. Republican majorities in Orange County helped deliver California's electoral votes to Republican presidential candidates Richard Nixon (1960, 1968 and 1972), Gerald Ford (1976), Ronald Reagan (1980, 1984), and George H. W. Bush (1988). Orange County has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1936 landslide re-election for a second term. Although Democrats have made inroads in the northern end of the county since the mid-1980s, Orange County politics are still dominated by Republicans. Five of the county's six U.S. Representatives, four of its five State Senators and seven of its nine State Assemblymembers are Republicans, as are all five members of the County Board of Supervisors. Only four Democrats have carried the county in a statewide race in the last 50 years; Jerry Brown in his successful campaign for Governor in 1978, March Fong Eu for Secretary of State and Kenneth Cory for State Controller, both also in 1978 and Kathleen Connell for Controller in 1998.

In Congress, representatives whose districts are completely or partially in the county include Republicans Ed Royce (CA-40), Gary Miller (CA-42), Ken Calvert (CA-44), Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46), and John Campbell (CA-48), and Democrat Loretta Sanchez (CA-47). In the State Senate, Senators whose districts are completely or partially in the county include Republicans Bob Huff (SD-29), Mimi Walters (SD-33), Tom Harman (SD-35), and Mark Wyland (SD-38), and Democrat Lou Correa (SD-34). In the State Assembly, Assemblymembers whose districts are completely or partially in the county include Republicans Curt Hagman (AD-60), Jim Silva (AD-67), Van Tran (AD-68), Chuck DeVore (AD-70), Jeff Miller (AD-71), Chris Norby (AD-72), and Diane Harkey (AD-73), and Democrats Tony Mendoza (AD-56) and Jose Solorio (AD-69).

According to the Orange County Registrar of Voters, as of July 21, 2009, Orange County had 1,599,889 registered voters. Of these, 43.6% (698,140) are registered Republicans, and 32.1% (512,853) are registered Democrats. An additional 20.2% (324,669) declined to state a political party.[34]

Orange County has produced such notable Republicans as President Richard Nixon (born in Yorba Linda and lived in San Clemente), U.S. Senator John F. Seymour (previously mayor of Anaheim), and U.S. Senator Thomas Kuchel (of Anaheim). Former Congressman Christopher Cox (of Newport Beach), a White House counsel for President Ronald Reagan, is also a former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Orange County was also home to former Republican Congressman John G. Schmitz, a presidential candidate in 1972 from the ultra-conservative American Independent Party and the father of Mary Kay Letourneau. In 1996, Curt Pringle (currently mayor of Anaheim) became the first Republican-elected Speaker of the California State Assembly in decades.

While the growth of the county's Hispanic and Asian populations in recent decades has significantly influenced the culture of Orange County, its conservative reputation has remained largely intact. Partisan voter registration patterns of Hispanics, Asians and other ethnic minorities in the county have tended to reflect the surrounding demographics, with resultant Republican majorities in all but the central portion of the county. When Loretta Sanchez, a Blue Dog Democrat, defeated veteran Republican Bob Dornan in the congressional contest of 1996, she was continuing a trend of Democratic representation of that district that had been interrupted by Dornan's 1984 upset of former Congressman Jerry Patterson. Until 1992, Sanchez herself was a Republican, and she is viewed as having moderate or conservative positions on many issues.

Republicans have responded to the influx of non-white immigrants by making more explicit efforts to court the Hispanic and Asian vote. In 2004, George W. Bush captured 60% of the county's vote, up from 56% in 2000, despite a higher Democratic popular vote compared with the 2000 election. Although Barbara Boxer won statewide, and fared better in Orange County than she did in 1998, Republican Bill Jones defeated her in the county, 51% to 43%. While the 39% that John Kerry received is higher than the percentage Bill Clinton won in both 1992 and 1996, the percentage of the vote George W. Bush received in 2004 (59.7% of the vote) is the highest any presidential candidate has received since 1988, showing a still-dominant GOP presence in the county. In 2006, Senator Dianne Feinstein won 45% of the vote in the county, the highest margin of a Democrat in a Senate race in over four decades, but Orange was nevertheless the only Coastal California county to vote for her Republican opponent Dick Mountjoy. In terms of voter registration, the Democratic Party has a plurality or majority of registrations only in the cities of Santa Ana, Stanton, and Buena Park.

The county is featured prominently in the book Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right by Lisa McGirr. She argues that the county's conservative political orientation in the 20th century owed much to its settlement by Midwestern transplants, who reacted strongly to communist sympathies, the civil rights movement, and the turmoil of the 1960s in nearby Los Angeles — across the "Orange Curtain".

In the 1970s and 1980s, Orange County was one of California's leading Republican voting blocs and a sub-culture of residents to hold "Middle American" values that emphasized a capitalist religious morality in contrast to West coast liberalism that well existed there.

Orange County has many Republican voters from culturally conservative Asian-American, Middle Eastern and Latino immigrant groups. Some of these came as refugees from wars and dictatorships, and are strongly loyal to Republican anti-communist policies[citation needed]. The large Vietnamese-American communities in Garden Grove and Westminster are predominantly Republican; Vietnamese Americans registered Republicans outnumber those registered as Democrats by 55% to 22%. Republican Assemblyman Van Tran was elected to become the first Vietnamese-American to serve in a state legislature and joined with Texan Hubert Vo as the highest-ranking elected Vietnamese-American in the United States prior to the 2008 election of Joseph Cao in Louisiana's Second Congressional District. In the 2007 special election for the vacant county supervisor seat following Democrat Lou Correa's election to the state senate, two Vietnamese-American Republican candidates topped the list of 10 candidates, separated from each other by only seven votes, making the Board of Supervisors entirely Republican.


Orange County is the home of many colleges and universities, including:



Some institutions not based in Orange County operate satellite campuses, including the University of Southern California, National University, and Pepperdine University.

The Orange County Department of Education oversees 28 school districts.


Television stations KOCE-TV and KDOC-TV are located in Orange County.

The county is primarily served by The Orange County Register. OC Weekly is an alternative weekly publication and Excélsior is a Spanish-language newspaper. The "hard news" online nonprofit began covering the county in 2010. A few communities are served by the Los Angeles Times' publication of the Daily Pilot, the Huntington Beach Independent and the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. OC Music Magazine is also based out of Orange County, serving local musicians and artists.

Orange County is served by radio stations from the Los Angeles area. There are a few radio stations that are actually located in Orange County. KJLL-FM 92.7 has an adult contemporary format. KSBR 88.5 FM airs a jazz music format branded as "Jazz-FM" along with news programming. KUCI 88.9FM is a free form college radio station that broadcasts from UC Irvine. KWIZ 96.7 FM, located in Santa Ana, airs a regional Mexican music format branded as "La Rockola 96.7". KWVE-FM 107.9 is owned by the Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. KWVE-FM is also the primary Emergency Alert System station for the county. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim also own and operate a sports-only radio station from Orange, KLAA.

See also:

Notable natives and residents

Due to Orange County's proximity to Los Angeles, many film and media celebrities have moved or bought second homes in the county. Actor John Wayne, who lived in Newport Beach, is the namesake for Orange County's John Wayne Airport. Orange County has also produced many homegrown celebrities, including golfer Tiger Woods, basketball player Kobe Bryant, a number of professional ballplayers, including retired slugger Mark McGwire, WWE Wrestler, Chavo Guerrero Jr. actor, Kevin Costner, John Stamos, actor and radio personality R.J. Adams a.k.a. Bob Shannon,[35] comedian/actors Steve Martin and Will Ferrell, actresses Michelle Pfeiffer and Diane Keaton, and singers Chester Bennington, Bonnie Raitt, Gwen Stefani, Jeff Buckley, Marc Cherry, Drake Bell and Major League Ballhawk John Witt. Ms. America Susan Jeske is also a resident. Sublime, Avenged Sevenfold, Lit, No Doubt, Reel Big Fish, Social Distortion, The Offspring, Project 86, Atreyu, Jeffree Star, and Leo Fender (the inventor of the first commercially successful solid body electric guitars) also call Orange County home. MMA fighter Tito Ortiz is a resident of Huntington Beach which is stated in his entrance as the "Huntington Beach Badboy."

The county's most famous resident was perhaps Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, who was born in Yorba Linda and lived in San Clemente for several years following his resignation. His presidential library is in Yorba Linda.

Orange County was also home to The Righteous Brothers: Bill Medley of Santa Ana, and Bobby Hatfield of Anaheim. The Santa Ana High School auditorium now bears Medley's name. Another less well-known sports figure from a previous era was Clifford C. Cravath, for many years judge of the Laguna Beach Municipal Court. Known as "Gavvy" Cravath as a professional baseball player from 1910 to 1920, he was the major league home run king prior to Babe Ruth's emergence as a slugger.

See also


  1. ^ "Orange County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  2. ^ "Study ranks America's most liberal and conservative cities". 2005-08-16. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  3. ^ "Losing your tail on the repo market: The story of Robert Citron". The Arbitrageur. Retrieved 1998-03-22. 
  4. ^ Spanish and Mexican Ranchos of Orange County
  5. ^ History of Rancho Mission Viejo in Orange County
  6. ^ Sleeper, Jim. "How Orange County Got Its Name". Included in: Orange County Historical Commission. (2004). A Hundred Years of Yesterdays: A Centennial History of the People of Orange County and Their Communities. pp. 23–26.
  7. ^ a b c "Orange County Goes Bust". Time Magazine. December 19, 1994. 
  8. ^ Guide to the Collection on the Development of the El Toro Airport. [1]. Online Archive of California. Retrieved on Jan 21, 2010.
  9. ^ "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  10. ^ "RP 1". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  11. ^ "Amtrak Surfliner Inaugural Celebration - June 1, 2000". Trainweb. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  12. ^ "City of Anaheim - Go Local - Transit Master Plan". 2008-11-03. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  13. ^ "2010 Census P.L. 94-171 Summary File Data". United States Census Bureau. 
  14. ^ 2006 American Community Survey: Orange County, CA
  15. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  16. ^ Adam Nagourney, "Orange County Is No Longer Nixon Country," New York Times, Aug. 30, 2010.
  17. ^ "Factfinder - Orange County, CA". Retrieved December 14, 2009. 
  18. ^ Dickson, Paul (2006). Labels for Locals: What to Call People from Abilene to Zimbabwe (Revised ed.). HarperCollins. p. 174. ISBN 9780060881641. Retrieved 2011-02-10. "Orange County, California. Orange Countian." 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "History Of The Balboa Pavilion (Est". Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  21. ^ "The History of the Diocese of Orange County". The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange. 
  22. ^ Huntington Beach, CA website
  23. ^ [2][dead link]
  24. ^ Inside USA Water Polo website
  25. ^
  26. ^ "USA Developing Regions". USA Rugby League LLC. Retrieved April 22, 2011. 
  27. ^ "Orange County Outlaws Make Official Announcement to Enter USA Rugby League". USA Rugby League LLC. March 21, 2011. Retrieved April 22, 2011. 
  28. ^ Marc Stein (February 20, 2011). "Sources: Kings consider relocation". ESPN. Retrieved 2011-03-24. 
  29. ^ Ryan Lillis and Tony Bizjak (March 4, 2011). "Kings move to Anaheim looking more likely, mayor says". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 2011-03-24. 
  30. ^ "Orange County, California VA Home Loan Info". Retrieved 2011-04-12. 
  31. ^ Martinez, Edecio (2010-07-12). "Disgraced Sheriff's Pension $215,000 After Witness Tampering Conviction - Crimesider". CBS News. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  32. ^ a b Esquivel, Paloma (2010-07-09). "Convicted Orange County sheriff collects $215,000 pension".,0,5477333.story. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  33. ^ "Peace Officers Research Association of California". Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  34. ^ Orange County Registrar of Voters - District Registration by Party
  35. ^ "R.J. Adams - IMDb". IMDb. Retrieved 2011-04-12. 

A History of Orange County: Twelve Decades of Extraordinary Change 1889 to 2010 by Mike Heywood 2011

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