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City of South Pasadena
Official seal of City of South Pasadena
Location of South Pasadena in Los Angeles County, California
Location of South Pasadena in Los Angeles County, California
CountryUnited States
CountyLos Angeles
Incorporated (city)March 2, 1888[1]
 • City Council[2]David Sifuentes, Mayor
Richard D. Schneider, MD
Michael A. Cacciotti
Philip C. Putnam
Mike Ten
 • City TreasurerVictor Robinette, CCMT, CPA
 • City AttorneyRichard L. Adams II
 • City ClerkSally Kilby
 • Total3.44 sq mi (8.91 km2)
 • Land3.44 sq mi (8.91 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)  0.00%
659 ft (201 m)
 • Total24,292
 • Density7,064.4/sq mi (2,727.6/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
91030/91031 (PO box)[4]
Area code323/626[5]
FIPS code06-73220
GNIS feature ID1661479
South Pasadena City Hall

South Pasadena is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. As of the 2000 census, it had a population of 24,292. Centrally located in the West San Gabriel Valley, South Pasadena is known for its tree-lined streets, historic California Craftsman-style homes, unique small businesses and its outstanding public schools. South Pasadena prides itself on its small town character. Less than three and one-half square miles in area, South Pasadena lies between the far larger City of Pasadena, of which it was once part, and the metropolis of Los Angeles. Small, proud and independent, the City of South Pasadena has battled for a hundred years to preserve its status as a distinct community.[6]


South Pasadena is located at the western end of the San Gabriel Valley, north of the San Rafael Hills, east of the Arroyo Seco seasonal river, and on the south of and adjoining the separate and independent city of Pasadena, California.


The original inhabitants of South Pasadena and surrounding areas were members of the Native American Hahamog-na tribe, a branch of the Tongva Nation (part of the Shoshone language group) that occupied the Los Angeles Basin. Tongva dwellings lined the Arroyo Seco (Los Angeles County) in South Pasadena and south to where it joins the Los Angeles River and along other natural waterways in the city. They lived in thatched, dome-shape lodges. For food, they lived on a diet of acorn meal, seeds and herbs, venison, and other small animals. They traded for ocean fish with the coastal Tongva. They made cooking vessels from steatite soapstone from Catalina Island. South Pasadena also has a strong claim to having the oldest and most historic sites in the San Gabriel Valley. For many centuries, its adjacency to a natural fording place along the Arroyo Seco had served as a gateway to travel and commerce for aboriginal peoples here and along the coast. It was here that Hahamognas greeted Portola and the missionaries who later established the San Gabriel Mission a few miles to the west. When the Spanish occupied the Los Angeles Basin they built the San Gabriel Mission and renamed the local Tongva people "Gabrielino Indians," after the name of the mission. Today, several bands of Tongva people live in the Los Angeles area.[7]

The initial buildings on the Rancho San Pascual, were built on the land which eventually gave birth to the Cities of Pasadena, South Pasadena and Altadena. The first of these adobe structures became headquarters for General Flores and his staff in 1847 where they agreed to surrender to American forces, ending Mexican Colonial rule in California.In 1875 the landowners of the area encompassing present-day Pasadena and South Pasadena voted to rename their association, Pasadena. In February 1888, members of the southern portion of Pasadena attempted to gain more control over their own property and a vote for incorporation was made. In 1888, South Pasadena incorporated the southern portion of the Indiana Colony and land south and eastward to the Los Angeles border. On 2 March 1888, the city of South Pasadena was incorporated with a population slightly over 500 residents, becoming the sixth municipality in Los Angeles County. It was chartered with roughly the same area as the current South Pasadena, about 3.44 square miles (8.91 square kilometers).

South Pasadena's first mayor was William Collier, whose sister, Margaret(a local socialite), later moved with him in the early 1890s to move to what's now south-central Riverside County(and the Lake Elsinore Valley) to establish a small town with her husband, local businessman Donald Collier;thus the Wildomar area was founded, now the 25th(and newest) incorporated City in Riverside County(the name "Wildomar" comes from an anagram of their first names:WIL(liam) Collier, DO(nald) Graham and (MAR)garet Collier Graham).

South Pasadena's history is commonly associated with that of the Cawston Ostrich Farm, Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, and the Rialto Theatre, as they played major roles in the past of the city. With completion of the Pacificd Electric Short Line, putting the entire city within easy walking distance of the “red car” stations, South Pasadena also became a one of the first suburbs of Los Angeles.

Modern South Pasadena

South Pasadena's streets are lined with numerous species of native California trees. These include redwood, sequoia, ash, walnut, and sycamore. Some non-native trees, such as sweetgum, are also seen. Because there are very few stucco-clad Spanish Colonial houses and virtually no palm trees in some parts of the city, South Pasadena is a popular stand-in for Midwestern and Northeastern towns in motion picture and television productions. South Pasadena sits less than 10 miles (16 km) from Downtown Los Angeles; substantial numbers of residents work either in Bunker Hill or as professors and staff at the University of Southern California.

"Mom and Pop" merchants populate the business district, and the Mission West area is a part of the original U.S. Route 66. Of note are the historic Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain and the Rialto Theater in downtown South Pasadena; the theater is a unique blend of Spanish Baroque and Egyptian stylings and was built in 1925. It is one of the last remaining single screen cinemas in the country. The Rialto was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, having narrowly missed the wrecking ball that year. Unfortunately, it went out of business on August 19, 2007 because of low profits. It has been featured in many films and commercials, most notably Robert Altman's The Player and more recently in Scream 2.

On the first Saturday of December every year, South Pasadena hosts an annual 5K/10K run around South Pasadena known as the Tiger Run. The 5K has no elevation changes and the 10K has elevation changes on the second half.

South Pasadena can often be seen in motion picture productions with its beautiful tree-lined streets and "anywhere in America" feel. Such movies as Freaky Friday The Terminator, Gone with the Wind, Halloween, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, American Pie,The Girl Next Door (2004 film) Legally Blonde, 13 Going on 30, Back to the Future, Mr. Deeds, Bruce Almighty,The Ugly Truth and License to Wed are just a few of the notable films shot on location in South Pasadena. Notable television series that have been filmed there include Family, Boston Public, Nip/Tuck, Desperate Housewives, Cold Case, Bones, and Big Love.

South Pasadena is the oldest self-builder of floats in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

The house used in the film Halloween on Mission Street in South Pasadena.

Opposition to freeway

South Pasadena, together with a broad coalition of national, state and local organizations, has opposed the 710 Freeway extension since it was proposed more than 40 years ago. The now nullified route would have sliced through the middle of the city, as well as through neighborhoods in El Sereno and Pasadena, destroying nearly 1,000 homes in its path. On July 19, 1999, United States District Court Judge Pregerson issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting defendants Caltrans, et al., from proceeding with the 710 Freeway Project[8]that would decimate South Pasadena. The City of South Pasadena has filed a federal lawsuit citing failure to protect clean air, the environment and historic properties, and until the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) completes a comprehensive new environmental study, bringing an immediate halt to the 40-year-old project.[9] Moral and financial support for the fight against a major highway project through the city has come from all across the country[citation needed]; however, the bulk of it comes from the residents themselves, who pay legal bills incurred by the city in the freeway fight from their general fund (no special taxes are used), making the fight an ongoing local election issue. South Pasadena has been cited five times on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of "Most Endangered Places."[10]

Arroyo Seco

The Arroyo Seco offers a diverse range of experiences for walkers and more experienced hikers. From the escape-it-all ruggedness of the mountain watershed to uncompromisingly urban adventures next to freeways, there is a rich array of experiences.

The Arroyo Seco begins at Red Box near Mount Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains and proceeds through steep mountain canyons for eleven miles until it enters the urban plain of Southern California at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Arroyo Seco stream, largely channelized south of Devil's Gate Dam, proceeds for eleven miles more through Pasadena, South Pasadena and Northeast Los Angeles to the confluence with the Los Angeles River near Elysian Park, Chinatown and downtown Los Angeles. [11]


Fair Oaks Avenue, Huntington Drive, and Mission Street are the main thoroughfares through South Pasadena.

The Pasadena Freeway has two exits in South Pasadena--Orange Grove Avenue and Fair Oaks Avenue.

LACMTA operates six bus lines (79, 176, 256, 260, 485, 762) through South Pasadena. The Metro Gold Line Mission Station is in the heart of South Pasadena, located at the corner of Mission and Meridian.

South Pasadena operates their own public transportation system. Since 2003, South Pasadena has been operating the City of South Pasadena Community Transit to connect with the Mission Gold Line Station, it schedule is linked to the Gold Line schedule. The system was originally called "South Pasadena Gold Link."[12] Additionally South Pasadena has a transit shuttle that operates around the city.

As of 2007, many old and outdated traffic signals are in the process of being replaced throughout South Pasadena.

Interstate 710 Extension Controversy

South Pasadena is known throughout the greater Los Angeles area for its opposition to the extension of the Long Beach Freeway (I-710) from Alhambra's Valley Blvd. to the Foothill Freeway (I-210) in Pasadena at California Blvd. For many years no politician could get elected in South Pasadena, unless they opposed the 710.

Litigation over the 710 extension has run for about three decades. Caltrans (the California Department of Transportation) is now[when?] exploring a compromise route of boring a tunnel beneath the city. Having purchased hundreds of properties along the proposed right-of-way in the 1960s, Caltrans proposed selling these in order to partially finance the tunnel. The Southern California real estate boom of the early 2000s caused those properties in South Pasadena alone to appreciate to a combined value of over $300 million.


The South Pasadena Unified School District includes five schools: three elementary schools (Monterey Hills, Marengo and Arroyo Vista), South Pasadena Middle School, and South Pasadena High School. Former elementary schools now closed or renamed are Lincoln (now Arroyo Vista), El Centro (now the School District headquartes, closed), Las Flores (limited grades, near Flores Adobe, historic landmark), & Oneonta (later a private Montessori school).

South Pasadena and the neighboring city of San Marino have had a long-standing rivalry. In the early 1900s, these two cities shared the same high school, which was adjacent to the South Pasadena Public Library. Every year, the schools meet during football season to struggle for a victor's plaque that has been passed back and forth for many years. As of 2007, the South Pasadena team has won 27 times and 7 of the last 9 meetings. San Marino has won 23 times, and there have been three ties.

SPEF (South Pasadena Educational Foundation) is a 501(c)(3) charity designated by the SPUSD as the official private fund-raising organization for the support of the district's educational programs.[13] They work to help keep the quality of the schools high. Many of SPHS team have won CIF titles over the years.


South Pasadena is located at 34°6′47″N 118°9′21″W / 34.11306°N 118.15583°W / 34.11306; -118.15583Invalid arguments have been passed to the ((#coordinates:)) function (34.112958, -118.155778).Template:GR

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.9 km² (3.44 mi²), all land.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there were 24,292 people, 10,477 households, and 6,003 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,726.5/km² (7,064.4/mi²). There were 10,850 housing units at an average density of 1,217.8/km² (3,155.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 60.32% White, 3.04% African American, 0.34% Native American, 26.58% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 5.17% from other races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 16.07% of the population. 4.47% from two or more races. (explaining why these percentages sum to about 116%)

There were 10,477 households out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.4% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female head of household, and 42.7% were non-related families. 34.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.6% under the age of 18, 6.8% from 18 to 24, 34.7% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 86.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $80,582 as of a 2008 estimate[14]). Males had a median income of $55,336 versus $40,304 for females. The per capita income for the city was $32,620. About 3.6% of families and 6.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.1% of those under age 18 and 5.7% of those age 65 or over. Approximately 21% of households in South Pasadena have an income over $100,000. [15]

Government and infrastructure

In the state legislature South Pasadena is located in the 22nd Senate District, represented by Democrat Gilbert Cedillo, and in the 44th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Anthony J. Portantino. Federally, South Pasadena is located in California's 29th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +12[16] and is represented by Democrat Adam Schiff.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services operates the Monrovia Health Center in Monrovia, serving South Pasadena.[17]

Famous residents

See also


  1. ^ "Incorporation Dates of California Cities". Retrieved 2007-01-18.
  2. ^ "City of South Pasadena: City Council". Retrieved 2008-12-15.
  3. ^ "South Pasadena city, California — Fact Sheet — American FactFinder". Retrieved 2007-01-18.
  4. ^ "USPS — ZIP Code Lookup — Find a ZIP+ 4 Code By City Results". Retrieved 2007-01-18.
  5. ^ "Number Administration System — NPA and City/Town Search Results". Retrieved 2007-01-18.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "City of South Pasadena: Gold Link". Retrieved 2010-08-04.
  13. ^ SPEF website
  14. ^ "South Pasadena city, California - Fact Sheet - American FactFinder". Retrieved 2010-08-04.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Will Gerrymandered Districts Stem the Wave of Voter Unrest?". Campaign Legal Center Blog. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
  17. ^ "Monrovia Health Center." Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Retrieved on March 27, 2010.