Los Alamitos ("The Little Cottonwoods" in Spanish) is a small city in Orange County, California. The city was incorporated in March 1960. The population was 11,449 at the 2010 census, down from 11,536 at the 2000 census. It is often mistakenly thought to include the adjacent but unincorporated community of Rossmoor (population just under 11,000), which uses Los Alamitos as its mailing address. Although Rossmoor is not part of Los Alamitos, it is speculated that it may be annexed to the city, or Rossmoor, Seal Beach, and Los Alamitos will combine to form one city. The Los Alamitos Race Course is also widely believed to be in the city; although it does have a Los Alamitos postal address and zip code, it actually lies in the neighboring city of Cypress.
|City of Los Alamitos|
Los Alamitos City Hall
The clusters of cottonwood trees Spanish explorers saw more than 200 years ago inspired Los Alamitos' name, but it is the sugar beet that figured most prominently in the area's later history. The history of the area during the Californio period and after U.S. annexation is detailed in the article on Rancho Los Alamitos.
Many former military personnel chose to stay on in Los Alamitos after the war, living in such neighborhoods as Carrier Row, where streets are named for World War II aircraft carriers. Other than "the base" the area remained unchanged until 1956 when builder Ross Cortese purchased land to build the walled community of Rossmoor just southwest from the townsite of Los Alamitos. Rossmoor, still the largest single development in Orange County, was the first walled community in the United States and quickly became home to over 10,000 upper middle class professionals. Rossmoor's homes were designed initially by Earle G. Kaltenbach (who also designed Disneyland's original Tomorrowland) and then by Chris Choate, who achieved much fame as the frequent partner of Cliff May. Together the two men were among the most responsible for designing and popularizing the "ranch" style homes which dominated the suburban explosion of the 1950s.
Although Rossmoor never officially became part of Los Alamitos proper, it has become inextricably linked to the town. When Los Alamitos incorporated in 1960 its population was only about 3,400, while still-growing Rossmoor was nearing 10,000. Now they are fairly equal with Los Alamitos being slightly larger than 11,000, and Rossmoor just below that. Rossmoor, still an unincorporated part of Orange County, doesn't pay taxes to Los Alamitos, but the city virtually treats Rossmoor residents as if they were residents. In exchange, the city's many youth programs benefit from the overwhelming number of Rossmoor residents who volunteer for those programs.