Lake Forest is a city in Orange County, California, United States. The population was 78,344 as of January 1, 2009. With 6,282 inhabitants per square mile (2,425 /km2), it is currently the most densely populated city in South Orange County.
Lake Forest incorporated as a city on December 20, 1991. Since being incorporated, it has expanded its limits to include the communities of Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills. Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills are master planned developments that brought new homes and commercial centers to the Eastern boundary of Lake Forest throughout the 1990s. Lake Forest (along with its neighboring cities Mission Viejo and Irvine) is ranked as one of the safest cities in the country. The private research firm Morgan Quitno ranked Lake Forest as the 15th safest city and another firm later ranked Lake Forest 10th in 2007 in the United States.
The city has two lakes from which the city gets its name. The lakes are man-made, and condominiums and custom homes ranging from large to small line their shores. The Lake Forest Beach and Tennis Club and Sun and Sail Club feature tennis courts, gyms, basketball courts, barbecue pits, volleyball courts, multiple swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs and club houses for social events. The "forest" for which the city is also named lies in the area between Ridge Route, Jeronimo, Lake Forest and Serrano roads, and consists mostly of Eucalyptus trees. It began in the 1900s when a local landowner, Dwight Whiting, planted 400 acres of Eucalyptus groves in the vicinity of Serrano Creek as part of a lumber operation. In the late 1960s, the Occidental Petroleum company developed a residential community in and around the Eucalyptus groves which had long since expanded and grown much more dense.
El Toro Road at the Interstate 5 Freeway was the epicenter of the Saddleback Valley from the late 1800s to the end of the twentieth century. However, the area gradually deteriorated, and most of the shops closed or moved to other cities. After years of planning, the City has worked with the property owners of some ageing strip malls and developed the "Arbor at Lake Forest" commercial district. The new center can now compete with large shopping centers in cities that surround Lake Forest.
The city is home to the headquarters of eyewear manufacturer Oakley, Inc.; in-flight entertainment provider Panasonic Avionics; hard-drive maker Western Digital; Karem Aircraft an aircraft company developing UAV's with major aircraft companies; telecommunications software developer Greenlight Wireless Corp.; barbecue retailer Barbeques Galore; medical equipment maker Apria Healthcare; and skateboarding companies Sole Technology, Inc., Etnies, and Tilly's; among others. It is also the home of the corporate headquarters for Eagle Community Credit Union, a credit union focused on serving postal and federal employees who live or work in Orange County. In addition, one of the country's most famous churches and the largest independent church in California, Saddleback Church (pastor, Rick Warren), is located in Lake Forest.
Lake Forest is also home to two county parks. Whiting Ranch in the eastern part of the city was the site of an infamous mountain lion mauling in 2004 that captured the attention of the West Coast news media.
Heritage Hill historical park is home to some of the oldest buildings in the county, including the Serrano Adobe, the old El Toro School House, and St. Georges Episcopal Church.
Lake Forest has one high school, El Toro High School. The high school was opened in 1973. It has established itself as one of the top schools in Southern California, along with the other three comprehensive high schools in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District. The mascot is a bull and its teams are known as the Chargers. School colors are blue and gold.
Lake Forest is served by two libraries of the Orange County Public Library.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 32.7 km² (12.6 mi²). 32.3 km² (12.5 mi²) of it is land and 0.3 km² (0.1 mi²) of it (0.95%) is water.
El Toro/Lake Forest/Portola is located in the heart of the Saddleback Valley. It is also in the northern section of South Orange County.
It has two man-made lakes identified by the clubhouses on the lakes — the Beach and Tennis Club (Hidden Lakes, formerly Lake I) and the Sun and Sail Club (Lake II).
As of the census of 2000, there were 58,707 people, 20,008 households, and 14,745 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,814.8/km² (4,698.8/mi²). There were 20,486 housing units at an average density of 633.3/km² (1,639.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 76.02% White, 1.83% African American, 0.50% Native American, 9.70% Asian, 0.20% Pacific Islander, 7.51% from other races, and 4.24% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 18.59% of the population.
There were 20,008 households out of which 39.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.1% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.3% were non-families. 19.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.89 and the average family size was 3.31.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.0% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 33.3% from 25 to 44, 23.2% from 45 to 64, and 8.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 96.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.6 males.
According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $86,285, and the median income for a family was $96,133. Males had a median income of $52,019 versus $37,100 for females. The per capita income for the city was $28,583. About 3.2% of families and 5.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.0% of those under age 18 and 4.4% of those age 65 or over.
Marine Corps Air Station El Toro was located one mile (1.6 km) from the city of Lake Forest in the city of Irvine. At one time, El Toro was considered a military town, but the city blossomed independently in the 1980s and 1990s and the base closed in 1999.
Of the 40,352 registered voters in Lake Forest; 25.8% are Democrats and 53.4% are Republicans. The remaining 20.8% either declined to state political affiliation or are registered with one of the many minor political parties. Richard Dixon serves as Lake Forest's mayor and Mark Tettemer is Mayor Pro Tem. The three other city council members are Kathryn McCullough, Marcia Rudolph, and Peter Herzog.
In the state legislature Lake Forest is located in the 33rd Senate District, represented by Republican Dick Ackerman, and in the 70th Assembly District, represented by Republican Chuck DeVore. Federally, Lake Forest is located in California's 48th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +8 and is represented by Republican John Campbell.