Cerritos, California

From Academic Kids

Cerritos, California
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Official flag of Cerritos, California

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Official seal of Cerritos, California

City seal
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Cerritos, California

County Los Angeles County, California
Mayor John F. Crawley
City Council Paul W. Bowlen
Gloria A. Kappe
Laura Lee
Jim Edwards
Mottos "A city with vision"
"Progress through commitment"
"A history in progress"
 - Land
 - Water
8.9 sq. miles / 22.3 kmē
8.9 sq. miles / 22.3 kmē
0 sq. miles / 0 kmē
Elevation 34 feet above sea level
 - Total (2000)
 - Density

Time zone
 - summer (DST)
33°51' N
118°5' W
Official website: http://www.ci.cerritos.ca.us/

Cerritos is a city located in Los Angeles County, California. Cerritos in Spanish means "Little Hills." Cerritos is part of the 39th Congressional District. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 51,488.



The city now known as Cerritos was incorporated on April 24, 1956 as Dairy Valley, its name symbolizing the more than 400 farms and 10,000 cows found within its limits. 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 unattractive in southern Los Angeles County, and development pressures increased dramatically. In a special election held on July 16, 1963, residents voted to permit large-scale residential development. As a reflection of its newly suburban orientation, the city's name formally changed to "Cerritos" on January 10, 1967.

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Dairy Valley, now Cerritos, California in the mid-1960s.

Cerritos is a prime example of the "fiscalization" of California politics after the tax revolt of the 1970s and the passage of Proposition 13. With property tax increases effectively banned by Prop. 13, and most citizens already feeling that their income taxes and payroll taxes were too high, the only way for California cities to raise long-term tax revenue was to create as many commercial zones as possible to take advantage of the portion of county sales tax revenue allocated to municipalities. Cerritos was one of the first cities in the Los Angeles area to embark on a program of large-scale retail development, and achieved stunning success. (Economists and game theoreticians would identify Cerritos' success as a prime example of first mover advantage.) As part of this strategy, in the early 1980s the city developed the Cerritos Auto Square (still one of the largest auto malls in Los Angeles County), which generates more than $10 million in annual sales tax revenue.

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The north end of the corner of Pioneer Boulevard and South Street in the 1910's.

Cerritos' tradition of intelligent, progressive government is reflected in its civic facilities. In 1978, Cerritos dedicated the nation's first solar-heated City Hall complex. In 1993, the world-class Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts first opened its doors, attracting well-heeled patrons of the arts to the city (and generating a great deal of business for the city's increasingly upscale retail sector). In 1997, the city opened the state-of-the-art Cerritos Sheriff's Station/Community Safety Center to provide public safety services to residents 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. In 2001, the city opened an architecturally acclaimed public library costing more than $40 million. (The original reinnovation contract with the contractors was 22.4 million.)

In recent years, Cerritos has attracted a large population of upper-middle-class Filipino, Korean and Chinese immigrants. The "A-B-C" (Artesia-Bellflower-Cerritos) region, including the neighboring cities of Hawaiian Gardens and Lakewood, is considered one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the world.

Cerritos City Government

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In front of the City Hall is an open dolphin water fountain that kids play in during the summer.

Cerritos operates under a Council/Manager form of government, established by the Charter of the City of Cerritos which was drafted in 1958. The five-member City Council acts as the City's chief policy-making body. In March of odd numbered years, Councilmembers are elected by the citizens of Cerritos to serve four-year, overlapping terms. Councilmembers who serve two consecutive four-year terms are not eligible, for a period of two years, to seek reelection or be appointed to the Cerritos 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 Tem assumes his or her responsibilities.

A City Manager is appointed by the City Council. The City Manager ensures the City’s policies are implemented and oversees the City’s five departments: Administrative Services, Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, Community Development, Community & Safety Services and Public Works.

Two other positions are appointed by the City Council: the City Attorney and the City Clerk/Treasurer. The City Attorney’s responsibilities include representing and advising the City in legal matters. The City Clerk/Treasurer is the Election Official, custodian of the City’s records and serves as Clerk of the Council.

Advisory boards, made up of individuals appointed by the Council, provide guidance in determining how to meet the City’s needs and include the following: Economic Development Commission, Fine Arts and Historical Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, Planning Commission, Property Preservation Commission, Community Safety Committee and the Let Freedom Ring Committee.

City Services and Local Landmarks

The City of Cerritos offers many city services. From the Senior Center, to the Cerritos Library, to the Cerritos Olympic Swim Center, there are many services that one can enjoy in Cerritos. Visitors can take full advantage of any of the Cerritos' services, just merely at a higher cost.

Cerritos On Wheels

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The new Cerritos On Wheels public transportation system. The rear of the buses depict an abstract image of local landmarks. (Taken from the Cerritos web site).

In fact, the City of Cerritos has its own shuttle service called Cerritos On Wheels (COW). The COW is a tribute to the city's origins as Dairy Valley, and in addition, the fare for the COW is fairly generous: now $.50, a recent increase from the original $.25 a trip. The COW has two routes, providing visitors and citizens access to all of Cerritos' popular destinations. Additionally, the COW also connects to Long Beach Transit, Orange County Transportation Authority, Norwalk Transit or MTA Buses at various stops. The COW vans run on propane fuel, providing an environmentally sound way to move citizens and visitors.

Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts

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A picture of the Performing Arts Center.

The City-owned Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts features world-class performances in music, dance and theater. The centerpiece of the Cerritos Towne Center, the 154,000 square foot (14,300 m²) arts center is recognized as one of the most sophisticated theaters of our time. With moveable seats, floors, ceilings and stage areas, the theater can be transformed into six distinctive seating configurations, ranging in capacity from 921 to 1,800 seats, ideal for dance, theater, jazz, classical and popular music events. The Sierra Theater features a small, intimate setting that is perfect for fashion shows, guest speakers and presentations. In addition, the facility houses three elegant meeting and banquet areas ideal for meetings, receptions, banquets and weddings.

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The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.

Cerritos Museum

In 2004, in an attempt to underscore the importance of arts and education, the City of Cerritos began work on a world-class Cerritos Museum with an emphasis on civilization, history and art. The Museum has artwork from famous painters such as Degas and Rembrandt. In association with the Smithsonian Institute, part of the Cerritos Museum's exhibits are rotating and seasonal while housing a permanent city collection. It is located in the same vibrant Civic Center as the Cerritos Library, Cerritos Towne Center, Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, Cerritos City Hall, Cerritos Sheriff Station, and Cerritos High School and adds another jewel in Cerritos "triple-jeweled" crown as a leader in state-of-the-art and high quality public facilities in the country.

Cerritos Pat Nixon Senior Center

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The Pat Nixon Senior Center. (Image taken from City web site).

The Senior Center pays tribute to the late Patricia Nixon. The City of Cerritos undertook this project in 1993 to create a state-of-the-art public facility dedicated to its seniors with social events and life enriching programs. In addition, the Senior Center provides many public services to Cerritos' senior community. The Cerritos Senior Center offers special events, recreation, educational and enrichment workshops, special interest classes, fitness and wellness programs and human services, including a daily congregate meal, to seniors, age 50 and older. The Senior Center also provides intergenerational activities, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and a variety of club opportunities. The Center also hosts an annual citywide Holiday Boutique, a Senior Health Fair, Grandparents Week and Monte Carlo Night.

Cerritos Auto Square

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A picture of the Cerritos Auto Square sign, marking the entrance to all the auto dealers
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The Cerritos Auto Square

Many residents of Southern California remember the advertising jingle of "Take the 605 to South Street, Cerritos Auto Square!" Some may remember the character "Ernest" played by late actor Jim Varney in Cerritos Auto Square commercials, and was replaced with motorcyclist stuntsman Super Dave, until they brought Varney back in digital form in the most recent commericals. In 1988, the City of Cerritos took it upon itself to beautify the Auto Square, adding a New Orleans theme and making improvements to the landscape and road, and adding rocky waterfalls and public fountains. The Cerritos Auto Square, the world's largest with its 27 dealerships, earns the city approximately $10 million a year in sales tax, which is the single largest source of revenue for Cerritos. In 2004, the Auto Square sold 52,856 automobiles.

Los Cerritos Center Mall

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One of the entrances to the Cerritos Mall
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The Grand Hall in the Cerritos Mall.

The Los Cerritos Center is an integral part of the City's revenue plans, enabling the city to beautify its streets and maintain the City's public services and parks. In addition, the mall is the City's second largest revenue source, producing $485,000 per square foot in sales a year. This classifies the Los Cerritos Center as a "mega mall." It was last remodelled in 1996 and includes three themes to add to the shopping experience. "The Avenue" houses mainly more affordable fashion apparel and services, "The Grand Hall" holds the more upscale stores and boutiques, and "The Garden" offers a wide array of specialty shops as well as the Palms Court Cafe food court. Presently, the City is in the talks with the Center for a complete restoration of the mall which will include a new department store and a parking structure as well. In 2004, some 13 million shoppers visited the mall with the December 23rd marking the biggest day of the year with some 96,956 visitors. Offering a highly diverse choice of shops and deparment stores, the Los Cerritos Mall attracts thousands of people a day and is considered the best mall in the area by many.

Cerritos Towne Center

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"Luminaire" is one of many sculptures at the Cerritos Towne Center.
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The Towne Center has special traffic light gantries.

The Cerritos Towne Center 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 a Wal-Mart, Edwards Cerritos 10 Cinemas, Best Buy and several shops and restaurants. The project is bounded by 183rd Street, Bloomfield Avenue and the Artesia (91) Freeway. In the summer of 2005, the City will complete a new Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill restaurant as well as a new Border's bookstore and a Linen & Things that will replace the former site of the Barnes & Noble. A Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Chipotle Mexican Restaurant, located in the new Bloomfield Place, will be completed by summer as well. Also, construction on a grand office building on the site of the current Farmer's Market is scheduled for the summer.

Cerritos Sheriff's Station/Community Safety Center

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The Cerritos Community Safety Center
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Fountains in front of the sheriff station.

The high-tech Cerritos Sheriff's Station/Community Safety Center provides law enforcement services to Cerritos residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 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 vote of its concerned citizens back in 1996. In 2004, an extension of the Cerritos Sheriff opened in the Los Cerritos Center mall in order to increase a presence in the increasingly popular shopping destination.

Cerritos Millienium Library

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Cerritos Public Library on Christmas Day.
The Cerritos Library looks like a theme park for books. However, historically, the Cerritos Library has not always been this way.

The Cerritos Library originally opened for the public in September 17, 1973. 8 years later, the city made its first renovation to the library for 6.6 million dollars. 21 thousand square feet (2,000 m²) were added for 5.4 million dollars, and the remaining 1.2 million dollars was spent on furniture and equipment. The 1981 renovation also included a multipurpose room, which the local school district used to bring elementary children to learn about the local history of Cerritos, in addition to holding educational field trips.

In the late 1990s, Cerritos recognized the emergence of the Internet and its importance. Thus, plans for a second renovation were developed and approved; Cerritos was flush with sales tax revenue from its thriving commercial zones.

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The Cerritos Public Library.

To ensure that the renovated library would be built to the highest standards, the city sought advice from a team of top library experts, including librarians at Harvard University. During the reconstruction of the library, all materials were moved offsite to a parking lot near the Towne Center. For several years, the library and its collection, resided in rented portable structures. The second renovation and expansion was completed in March 16, 2002.

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"Main Street" inside the Cerritos Millienium Library.

At the time of its second re-opening, the Library was the first building in North America to be coated in titanium panels (like the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao). It features an elaborate interior design, with reading rooms decorated in a variety of old-fashioned and ultramodern styles. A third floor was added, and several conference rooms were created on the second and third floor.

The library has been redecorated with a very futuristic outlook utilizing neon, stainless steel, and glass. Computers for basic Web surfing and catalog access are everywhere, and a large set of full-service computer workstations (with Microsoft Office) has been set up on the third floor.

The Cerritos Library currently holds a Smithsonian Affliation. Additionally, it has been awarded American Library Association/American Institute of Architects "Award of Excellence" back in 1989.

Cerritos Olympic Swim & Fitness Center

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The Cerritos Olympic Swim and Fitness Center. (Taken from the City web site).
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The Swim Center seen from the outside.

The Cerritos Olympic Swim & Fitness Center provides year-round, indoor recreational, instructional and competitive swimming for the citizens of Cerritos. The Fitness Center offers a multi-max station, treadmills, stair climbers, lifecycles and more. The Swim and Fitness Center is equipped with complete locker room facilities as well.


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The newly redeveloped Libery Park. (Taken from the Cerritos web site.)

Cerritos is home to many parks. In fact, many of the Cerritos neighborhoods are centered or are next to a small or large park. The central park of the City is Cerritos Park East, where the yearly "Let Freedom Ring" Independence Day celebration takes place, attracting many non-residents in addition to the locals. The City of Cerritos also has a county park, Cerritos Regional Park (referred as Regional by local residents), which is substantially larger than the Cerritos Park East. Liberty Park recently underwent massive renovation and reopened to the public in February 2005.

Local schools

The local school district of Cerritos is the ABC Unified School District (http://www.abcusd.k12.ca.us/). In 1965 Artesia, Bloomfield, and Carmenita School Districts unified and became known as the ABC Unified School District. Artesia, Bloomfield, and Carmentia are street names in the local area. It is commonly mistaken that the ABC School District stands for Artesia, Bellflower, and Cerritos.

Cerritos High School

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A picture of the front of Cerritos High School

Originally, Cerritos High School (http://www.cerritoshs.com) used part of its rival school, Gahr High School, while it was being still constructed. Cerritos High School is located next to the Cerritos Civic Center, where the City of Cerritos' City Hall, Public Library and Sheriff's Station resides.

Gahr High School

Gahr High School (http://www.gahronline.org) is located on Artesia Blvd.

Whitney High School

Whitney High School (http://www.whitneyhs.net/) is the local public magnet school around the area located on Shoemaker Avenue. The school has a Gym Facility that was paid by the City of Cerritos. The agreement between the city and the school is that the city has a right to reserve events at the gym facility when it needs to, but otherwise the facility can be primarily used by the school. A similar agreement was made with the new Gym extension at Cerritos High School.

City beautification

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A Cerritos Fountain, part of the city's beautification plans

The City of Cerritos takes pride in its beautification. Prime examples include:

  • All sidewalks in Cerritos have to be winding. Strolling is preferable to walking.
  • All business and commercial districts must have "little hills" so as to keep up with the park-like environment as well as the City's overall theme.
  • Store owners are taxed or required to have at least one piece of public art on their premises.
  • All dog owners must clean after their dogs.
  • Trash can not be taken out until the day before the specified trash day.
  • All home owners must keep their lawns and the exterior of their home beautiful.
  • A yearly competition is held for the city beautification home owners award.


Cerritos is located at 33°52'6" North, 118°4'3" West (33.868314, -118.067547)Template:GR.

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 is water. The total area is 3.04% water.

Local geography

Cerritos is shaped much like like a 'C' when seen on a map, with Artesia stuck in the middle. Its neighbors include Norwalk, Artesia, Hawaiian Gardens, Lakewood, La Mirada, La Palma, and Bellflower.

Cerritos is surrounded by three major California freeways: Highway 91, the 605 Freeway, and Interstate 5. The major streets in Cerritos are Bloomfield Avenue, Studebaker Road, Shoemaker Avenue, Norwalk Boulevard, Pioneer Boulevard, Artesia Boulevard and South Street. Bloomfield Avenue runs past the Cerritos Towne Center and the Cerritos Civic Center.

The zip code for Cerritos used to be 90701 and was shared with the City of Artesia; however, it was later changed to 90703 in order to minimize confusion between the two cities. Some people still mistake 90703 for the City of Artesia and vice versa for 90701.


As of the censusTemplate:GR 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 are 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. 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.

In the city 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. 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.

Tournament of Roses Parade

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Cerritos' 2005 float, "Families Makes A Community."

Since 2002, the City of Cerritos has participated in the Tournament of Roses Parade that is held every year in Pasadena, CA. 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.

Notable characteristics

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Public sculpture of Paul Revere commissioned by the City at Heritage Park.
  • Cerritos has an "Art in Public Places" program where the City commissions artists to create sculptures and fountains to be displayed in public points of interest.
  • In 2003, Cerritos was in the news for having the largest single deployment of a wireless Internet network in the world.
  • In 1978, Cerritos dedicated the nation's first solar-heated City Hall complex.
  • The assessed valuation of the City of Cerritos is nearing the $6 billion mark, which is remarkable for a city its size.
  • All utility lines have been placed underground to prevent unslightly blight and possible damage.
  • Troy Aikman a famous former football player, lived in Cerritos until the age of 12.
  • Patricia Nixon wife of the 37th president of United States, lived in Artesia. Due to boundary changes and agreements made long time ago, the site of her old home now resides in Cerritos. The site of her home is now where the Cerritos Senior Center resides.
  • The City has an ordinance that outlaws fast food drive through windows and convenience stores at service stations.
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    Public statue of Pat Nixon.
  • Frank Sinatra was the opening first performer for the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in 1994. Recently, the artist Jewel Kilcher performed in the Cerritos Performing Arts Center on November 16, 2000.
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    The Cerritos Towne Center Gore Area seen from the 91 Freeway at night.
  • A limited edition replica of the Statue of Freedom located on top of the US Capitol building is going to be placed in the City's new sculpture garden. The replica will be on an elaborate pedestal and is only one of three replicas that the artist will make. The artist will keep possession of one of the replicas.
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    The Cerritos air disaster in the summer of 1986.
  • An Aeromexico DC-9 on approach to Los Angeles International Airport collided with a small Piper aircraft over Cerritos on August 31, 1986. Over 80 people died, including 15 people on the ground. Four houses were initially flattened when the DC-9 fell backwards out of the sky, and then eight more were destroyed by the subsequent fire before firefighters could bring it under control. The other aircraft's pilot was inexperienced or may have been suffering a heart attack. The City is planning on building a memorial site of the Aeromexico incident to be located in a new sculpture garden at the Civic Center.
  • The City of Cerritos has received the title of "Tree City USA" for the seventh straight year by the National Arbor Day Foundation. The honor is given to select cities throughout the country for their outstanding community forestry programs and commitment to their urban forest. Among the program requirements are the existence of a tree commission, a current tree ordinance, a comprehensive forestry program and an Arbor Day observance.
  • The City of Cerritos has an active sister city relationship with the City of Loreto, Mexico, which is located in Baja California. The program is administered by the City Manager's Office.
  • The largest employer in Cerritos is UPS with some 4,000 employees.
  • Cerritos was named the most ethnically diverse city of its size according to a study by CSU Northridge.


External links


Template:Cities of Los Angeles County, Californiade:Cerritos


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