Laguna Hills is a city located in southern Orange County, California. Located Off El Toro Road in the northern most portion of the city is the new Laguna Hills Civic Center and City Hall. This area also is home to the Laguna Hills Mall, bringing vast wealth to the small city's finances by having a major mall in its borders. The mall is anchored by Sears, Macy's, and JC Penney, but suffers by being in between the more upscale Shops at Mission Viejo 5 minutes south and the Irvine Spectrum 5 minutes north, both offering more shops in a more modern design. The mall caters primarily to the community of senior citizens, Laguna Woods Village.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.5 km² (6.4 mi²). 16.4 km² (6.3 mi²) of it is land and 0.1 km² (0.04 mi²) of it (0.47%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 31,178 people, 10,895 households, and 7,942 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,895.7/km² (4,911.1/mi²). There were 11,303 housing units at an average density of 687.3/km² (1,780.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 76.83% White, 1.38% African American, 0.44% Native American, 10.20% Asian, 0.15% Pacific Islander, 7.19% from other races, and 3.81% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 16.40% of the population.
There were 10,895 households out of which 37.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.0% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.1% were non-families. 21.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.29.
In the city the population was spread out with 26.2% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 25.4% from 45 to 64, and 12.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 92.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.0 males.
According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $89,781, and the median income for a family was $102,191. Males had a median income of $59,144 versus $38,761 for females. The per capita income for the city was $36,133. About 3.6% of families and 5.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.3% of those under age 18 and 5.1% of those age 65 or over.
In the state legislature Laguna Hills is located in the 33rd Senate District, represented by Republican Mimi Walters, and in the 73rd Assembly District, represented by Republican Diane Harkey. Federally, Laguna Hills is located in California's 48th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +8 and is represented by Republican John Campbell.
Fire protection in Laguna Hills is provided by the Orange County Fire Authority with ambulance service by Doctor's Ambulance. Law enforcement is provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Department. There is also the Saddleback Memorial Medical Center, a hospital with an emergency room, where a 14-pound male baby boy was successfully delivered- setting a hospital record- in December 2008.
Laguna Hills is served by the Saddleback Valley Unified School District. Laguna Hills students attend a variety of high performing elementary schools, and for middle school attend either La Paz Intermediate School or Los Alisos Intermediate School in neighboring Mission Viejo. The city has its own high school, Laguna Hills High School, the smallest school in the district and one of the smallest in south Orange County with under 1,700 students.
The ranch sits on a promontory within the city and is a contrast to the higher density neighborhoods that surround it. It is one of the better-known upscale communities in the state and is not gated. Nellie Gail is a Planned Unit Development of 1407 lots on 1350 acres (5.5 km²) and consists of a mixture of tract and custom houses in an equestrian setting, with homes ranging from 1,700 to more than 10,000 square feet (160 to 930 m²). It is one of only a few communities left in Orange County zoned for large lots and equestrian trails, and joins only Anaheim Hills, Villa Park, and Orange Park Acres in their respective communities that limit the density of the homes in the county .
The community includes several large parks, miles of equestrian trails and arenas, as well as substantial open space with acres of trees.
Nellie Gail's reputation as an upscale California community is softened by its equestrian setting and residential focus, unlike that of the Beverly Hills or Newport Beach. The community also shuns what it perceives as the flashy, commercial "nouveau riche" reputation of other wealthy communities in the area.
The OC Weekly frequently pokes fun at Nellie Gail and Laguna Hills. Its October 19, 2001 issue gave Laguna Hills a tongue-in-cheek "Best of OC" award:
The Nellie Gail Ranch has also been mentioned in movies such as "Wild Things" (1998) and even newspaper comics like Bil Keane's "The Family Circus." Such references usually make fun of the wealth of the Ranch's inhabitants. Personal residences have also been featured in advertisements for Lexus and other luxury car brands.