Placentia, California

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Placentia, California
Citrus groves in Placentia, 1961
Citrus groves in Placentia, 1961
Flag of Placentia, California
Official seal of Placentia, California
"A pleasant place to live."[1]
Location of Placentia within Orange County, California
Location of Placentia within Orange County, California
Placentia, California is located in the United States
Placentia, California
Placentia, California
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 33°52′57″N 117°51′18″W / 33.88250°N 117.85500°W / 33.88250; -117.85500Coordinates: 33°52′57″N 117°51′18″W / 33.88250°N 117.85500°W / 33.88250; -117.85500
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedDecember 2, 1926[2]
 • TypeCouncil-Administrator
 • MayorRhonda Shader
 • Mayor Pro TemWard Smith
 • City councilCraig Green
Chad P. Wanke
Jeremy B. Yamaguchi[3]
 • TreasurerKevin Larson[4]
 • City AdministratorDamien Arrula[5]
 • Total6.63 sq mi (17.16 km2)
 • Land6.61 sq mi (17.12 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.04 km2)  0.22%
Elevation272 ft (83 m)
 • Total50,533
 • Estimate 
 • Density7,748.49/sq mi (2,991.71/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
Area code714
FIPS code06-57526
GNIS feature IDs1661237, 2411432

Placentia (/pləˈsɛnʃə/) is a city in northern Orange County, California. The population was 51,233 during the 2020 census, up from 46,488 in the 2000 census. This includes the community of Atwood, which is included in the city of Placentia, and is located in its southeastern quadrant. Primarily referred to as a bedroom community, Placentia is known for its quiet neighborhoods.

In 1971, Placentia was honored with the prestigious "All America City" Award, given out annually by the National Civic League[10] to ten cities in the United States.[11]


In 1837, the Mexican government granted the area that is now Placentia to Juan Pacifico Ontiveros as part of the Rancho San Juan Cajón de Santa Ana land grant. In 1865, American pioneer Daniel Kraemer arrived and purchased 3,900 acres (1,600 ha) Many other American pioneers soon followed and the community developed. The local school district was originally named the Cajon School District. In 1878, the school district's name was changed to Placentia School District, Placentia being derived from a Latin word meaning "pleasant place to live." The town eventually took its own name after the school district. In July 2020, Placentia Organized and established their own Fire Department, Placentia Fire & Life Safety Department, Leaving The Orange County Fire Authority, The first city to ever disband from the OCFA.[12]


Placentia is located in Orange County at 33°52′57″N 117°51′18″W / 33.88250°N 117.85500°W / 33.88250; -117.85500 (33.882364, -117.855130).[13] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.6 square miles (17 km2). 6.6 square miles (17 km2) of it is land and 0.22% is water. State Route 57 (the Orange Freeway) runs through the southwest section of Placentia. State Route 91 (the Riverside Freeway) passes directly south of the city. Districts in Placentia include the neighborhood of La Jolla and the formerly unincorporated community of Atwood.


According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Placentia has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csa" on climate maps.[14]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)51,233[9]1.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[15]


The 2010 United States Census[16] reported that Placentia had a population of 50,533. The population density was 7,677.0 per square mile (2,964.1/km2). The racial make-up of Placentia

The census reported that 50,196 people (99.3% of the population) lived in households, 253 (0.5%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 84 (0.2%) were institutionalized.

There were 16,365 households, of which 6,310 (38.6%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 9,399 (57.4%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 2,070 (12.6%) had a female householder with no husband present, 897 (5.5%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 747 (4.6%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 91 (0.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 2,880 households (17.6%) were made up of individuals, and 1,274 (7.8%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.07. There were 12,366 families (75.6% of all households); the average family size was 3.44.

12,445 people (24.6%) were under the age of 18, 5,202 people (10.3%) aged 18 to 24, 13,945 people (27.6%) aged 25 to 44, 12,598 people (24.9%) aged 45 to 64, and 6,343 people (12.6%) were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.7 males.

There were 16,872 housing units at an average density of 2,563.2 per square mile (989.7/km2), of which 10,681 (65.3%) were owner-occupied and 5,684 (34.7%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 0.8%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.7%. 31,761 people (62.9% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 18,435 people (36.5%) lived in rental housing units.

The median household income was $75,693, with 12.2% of the population living below the federal poverty line.[17]


At the 2000 census,[18] there were 46,488 people, 15,037 households and 11,683 families residing in the city. The population density was 7,051.3 per square mile (2,722.5/km2). There were 15,326 housing units at an average density of 2,324.6 per square mile (897.5/km2). The racial make-up was 67.76% White, 1.77% African American, 0.83% Native American, 11.16% Asian, 0.18% Pacific Islander and 13.58% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 31.10% of the population.

There were 15,037 households, of which 37.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.5% were married alternative couples living together, 50.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.3% were non-families. 16.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 4.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.07 and the average family size was 3.42.

27.0% of the population were under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 32.0% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64 and 9.1% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.0 males.

The median household income was $62,803 and the median family income was $68,976. These figures had risen to $77,496 and $83,674 respectively in a 2007 estimate.[19] Males had a median income of $46,956 and females $34,184. The per capita income was $23,843. About 5.7% of families and 8.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.2% of those under age 18 and 5.7% of those age 65 or over.


Placentia has a $20 million Metrolink project that started in the downtown area in 2013.[clarification needed] This project is in conjunction with the Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA), and will assist in the continued revitalization of the area, which is also scheduled for the building of more transit oriented housing to complement the train station, mixed use, retail and entertainment.[20] All designed to enhance Placentia's unique presence in Orange County. Placentia is also working with the OCTA on the OC Bridges project. The project, combined with the city of Fullerton, provides approximately $580 million in funding to build underpasses and/or overpasses at the major north-south roadways in the two cities. The roadways are Lakeview Avenue, Rose Drive/Tustin Avenue, Orangethorpe Avenue, Kraemer Boulevard, Placentia Avenue, State College Boulevard and Raymond Avenue. The underpasses and overpasses at Placentia, Kraemer, Rose/Tustin and Lakeview are complete.[21][22]

Top employers[edit]

According to Placentia's 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[23] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District 2,500
2 Placentia-Linda Hospital 390
3 Hartwell 300
4 Premedia 305
5 City of Placentia 215

Arts and culture[edit]

The George Key Ranch Historic District is a historic citrus ranch and Victorian ranch house in Placentia. It is now within the 2-acre (0.81 ha) George Key Ranch Historic Park, with the historic house museum, outdoor displays, and a citrus grove. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Placentia-Santa Fe District is in the southwest or downtown area. The town is home to the A. S. Bradford House, a historic house museum. It is also home to the 100 year old Berkenstock Mansion.[11]

In 1973, Chicano Park's "founding lead artist" Guillermo Aranda and "founding apprentice artist" Ernesto "Neto" Paul (San Diego, CA natives) collaborated with the art students of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) in painting a mural (approxitmately 8' x 36') on the walls of the Tlatepaque Restaurant. Aranda was invited by a Professor at UCI. The following year the chairman of Toltecas en Aztlan, and the board director of The Centro Cultural De La Raza, Guillermo Aranda, also invited these same Orange County artists referred to as the "Santa Ana Muralists/Santa Ana Artists," to come to Chicano Park and paint on one of the first pillars (2nd painted pillar) of Chicano Park.

Government and politics[edit]

Placentia city vote
by party in presidential elections
Year Democratic Republican Third Parties
2020[24] 51.81% 13,616 46.17% 12,135 2.02% 531
2016[25] 46.49% 9,828 46.43% 9,814 7.08% 1,497
2012[26] 42.08% 8,581 55.66% 11,348 2.26% 461
2008[27] 43.41% 9,022 54.51% 11,329 2.07% 431
2004[28] 35.82% 7,028 63.15% 12,390 1.03% 203
2000[29] 37.29% 6,674 59.12% 10,580 3.59% 643
1996[30] 35.94% 5,673 54.58% 8,615 9.48% 1,497
1992[31] 29.26% 5,097 48.01% 8,364 22.73% 3,959
1988[32] 28.62% 4,612 70.31% 11,328 1.07% 172
1984[33] 22.81% 3,396 76.39% 11,375 0.80% 119
1980[34] 22.06% 3,142 69.17% 9,853 8.78% 1,250


Placentia is a charter city with an elected city council, elected city clerk, and elected city treasurer and professional city manager.

Elected officials
  • Mayor Rhonda Shader[3]
  • Mayor Pro Tem Ward Smith[3]
  • Council Member Craig Green[3]
  • Council Member Chad P. Wanke[3]
  • Council Member Jeremy B. Yamaguchi[3]
  • City Clerk Patrick J. Melia[35]
  • City Treasurer Kevin A. Larson[4]
Appointed officials
  • City Administrator – Damien R. Arrula[5]
  • City Attorney – Christian L. Bettenhausen
Mayors since 1989

Unless otherwise noted, mayoral terms begin and end in December.

Mayor Term(s)
Norman Z. Eckenrode 1989–90, 1993–94, 1996–98
Arthur G. Newton 1990–91
John O. Tynes 1991–92
Maria Moreno 1992–93
Michael Maertzweiler 1994–95, 1999–2000
Carol Downey 1995–96
Constance Underhill 1998–99, 2006–07
Chris Lowe 2000–02
Scott P. Brady 2002–03, 2004–06
Judy Dickinson 2003–04
Gregory Sowards 2008–09
Joseph Aguirre 2009–10
Scott W. Nelson 2007–08, 2010–11, 2012–14
Jeremy Yamaguchi 2011–12, 2015–16
Chad Wanke 2014–15, 2017–18
Craig Green 2016–17
Rhonda Shader 2018–19

The voters of Placentia also elect the Boards of the Placentia Library District and the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District.

State and federal representation[edit]

In the California State Legislature, Placentia is in the 29th Senate District, represented by Democrat Josh Newman, and in the 55th Assembly District, represented by Republican Phillip Chen.[36]

In the United States House of Representatives, Placentia is in California's 39th congressional district, represented by Republican Young Kim.[37]

According to the California Secretary of State, as of February 10, 2019, Placentia has 27,328 registered voters. Of those, 10,285 (37.64%) are registered Republicans, 8,510 (31.14%) are registered Democrats, and 7,400 (27.08%) have no political party preference/are independents.[38]


Placentia Library District[edit]

Placentia is home to one of the 13 special district libraries in California. The Placentia Library District is a single-purpose library district governed by an elected Board of Trustees. Its principal source of income is property tax proration. The library's early history is much like other communities. Beginning in 1914, the Women's Christian Temperance Union established a reading and recreation room for boys in a storefront on Bradford Avenue.[39] After a successful petition and election by the residents, the Placentia Library District was officially formed on September 2, 1919. The new library district included seven square miles of the Placentia area: the north line was beyond Golden Avenue, the east line along Linda Vista through Hazard's subdivision,the south through Golden State Tract but not as far as Miraloma Avenue and the west line along the Fullerton boundary. The Library Board of Trustees hired Placentia's first Librarian, Sara Rideout, for $0.25 an hour, and the Women's Christian Temperance Union turned over their reading room and 193 books. The library officially opened to the public on January 15, 1920, from 2:00–5:00 p.m. and 7:00–9:00 p.m.[39] By 1926, a new library building was needed to meet the needs of the growing community. The building, designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style by renowned architect Carleton Monroe Winslow, features beautiful Talavera tiles created by Mexican potter, Pedro Sanchez. In March 1927, the grand opening was held for the new library building located at 143 S.Bradford Avenue.[39] In 1974, the library again become too small for its growing collection and was moved to its current location in the Civic Center Plaza. That same year the library boundaries expanded to reflect the same boundaries as the city.[39]

Today the Placentia Library District has over 330,000 visitors annually, with over 42,000 library cards issued. The Library holds over 102,000 materials. In September 2018 the Placentia Library began a major $2.3 million renovation/modernization project as part of the library’s centennial anniversary. The project was completed on September 14, 2019.[40][41]

Public schools[edit]

Placentia is a part of the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD). There are three high schools in the city:

In addition, Placentia supports three public middle schools: Kraemer Middle School, Valadez Middle School Academy, and Tuffree Middle School. The city houses numerous public elementary schools: Brookhaven Elementary, George Key Elementary, Golden Elementary, Morse Elementary, Melrose Elementary, Ruby Drive Elementary, Sierra Vista Elementary, Tynes Elementary, Van Buren Elementary, and Wagner Elementary.

Independent schools[edit]

The Parkview School provides an independent study K-12 school for students who are "homeschoolers, student actors, junior athletes, chronically ill, or in various other situations for which an alternative to classroom-based instruction is desirable."[42]


The Metrolink 91/Perris Valley Line passes through the southern portion of the city. The city has been preparing the area of a proposed new station located at Melrose Avenue and Crowther Avenue in Old Town Placentia. Placentia station is estimated to cost $35 million; the city will contribute $5.4 million. A tenative completion date was set for June 2022, but construction is now "on hold" pending further negotiations with BNSF.[43]

In 2007, the city became the first city to implement a quiet zone[44] for the cargo-carrying trains which pass through the city regularly every day, utilizing locomotive grade crossing predictors and inter-crossing ground-based radio communications to effect a corridor where crossing gate arms become actuated prior to the train's approach, enabling trains to not be required to announce their approach by sounding the Morse Code letter "Q" on its whistle which is otherwise mandated by the Federal Railroad Administration. The city's Quiet-Zone-Update web pages offer information on the Zone's scope and any temporary or long-term alterations to the Quiet Zone.

The city is served by the Orange County Transportation Authority with

  • Route 153 running along Placentia Avenue
  • Route 129 running also Kraemer Blvd
  • Route 71 running along Rose Drive
  • Route 26 running along Yorba Linda Blvd
  • Route 123 running along Chapman Avenue
  • Route 30 running along Orangethorpe Avenue.[45]

The 2002 Placentia train collision occurred on April 23, 2002, when a BNSF Railway freight train collided head-on with a Metrolink train in Placentia, near the Atwood Junction, at the intersection of Orangethorpe Avenue and Van Buren Street. Two people died in the crash and twenty-two were seriously injured.[46][47]

Notable people[edit]


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  2. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date". California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Archived from the original (Word) on November 3, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Mayor / City Council". City of Placentia. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "City Treasurer". City of Placentia. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Administration". City of Placentia. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  6. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  7. ^ "Placentia". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  8. ^ "Placentia (city) QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  10. ^ All America City Award
  11. ^ a b Schrader, Esther (September 30, 1997). "Placentia Looking Up in Quest for Landmarks". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  12. ^ "History of Placentia | Placentia, CA - Official Website".
  13. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  14. ^ Climate Summary for Placentia, California
  15. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  16. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA – Placentia city". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  17. ^ a b "Census Data". Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
  18. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  19. ^ "Fact Sheet: Placentia city, California: 2006–2008". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 11, 2020. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
  20. ^ Langhorne, Daniel (June 18, 2014). "Officials change tracks to fund Metrolink station in Placentia". The Orange County Register. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  21. ^ McRea, Heather (Published: October 19, 2011 Updated: August 21, 2013) "First bridge to start on $600 million project to eliminate train crossings" Orange County Register
  22. ^ Weikel, Dan (June 17, 2014) "Former Placentia official given deadline to repay salary" Los Angeles Times
  23. ^ "City of Placentia CAFR". Archived from the original on November 28, 2013. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
  24. ^ "Precinct results" (PDF). 2020. Retrieved November 27, 2020.
  25. ^[bare URL PDF]
  26. ^[bare URL PDF]
  27. ^[bare URL PDF]
  28. ^[bare URL PDF]
  29. ^[bare URL PDF]
  30. ^ California. Secretary of State (March 30, 1968). "Statement of vote". Sacramento, Calif. : The Secretary – via Internet Archive.
  31. ^ California. Secretary of State (March 30, 1968). "Statement of vote". Sacramento, Calif. : The Secretary – via Internet Archive.
  32. ^ Statement of the Vote. Sacramento, Calif. : The Secretary. 1968.
  33. ^ Statement of the Vote. Sacramento, Calif. : The Secretary. 1968.
  34. ^ Statement of the Vote. Sacramento, Calif. : The Secretary. 1968.
  35. ^ "City Clerk". City of Placentia. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  36. ^ "Statewide Database". UC Regents. Archived from the original on February 1, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  37. ^ "California's 39th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC.
  38. ^ "CA Secretary of State – Report of Registration – February 10, 2019" (PDF). Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  39. ^ a b c d Carpenter, Virginia L. (1977). Placentia, A Pleasant Place. Santa Ana, CA: Friis-Pioneer Press.
  40. ^ McRea, Heather (September 14, 2018). "$2.3 million renovation to Placentia library is expected to take a year". Orange County Register. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  41. ^ Truong, Hanh (September 17, 2019). "Community explores Placentia Library after year-long overhaul". Orange County Register. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  42. ^ "Homeschooling through Parkview School". Retrieved October 12, 2008.
  43. ^ Lenberg, Tatum (January 6, 2020). "Murals, construction are revitalizing Placentia's downtown and historic area". The Orange County Register. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  44. ^ Reyes, David (June 29, 2007). "Placentia likes the sound of quiet zone designation". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  45. ^ "OCTA North Orange County System Map" (PDF). Orange County Transportation Authority. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  46. ^ "Metrolink/BNSF Collision". TrainWeb. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  47. ^ National Transportation Safety Board (October 7, 2003). "Collision of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Freight Train With Metrolink Passenger Train". Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  48. ^ "Kevin Blankenship". The Baseball Cube. Retrieved September 25, 2010.
  49. ^ Dolan, Casey (February 27, 2002). "Peter Daut joins KESQ as anchor / reporter". Cactus Hugs. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  50. ^ "Janet EVANS - Olympic Swimming | United States of America". International Olympic Committee. February 2, 2017. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  51. ^ Seipel, Brooke (June 26, 2015). "Placentia musician's tuba tree is home bass". Orange County Register. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  52. ^ "Phil Nevin Stats". Retrieved September 13, 2019.

External links[edit]