The City of Lakewood is located in southern Los Angeles County, about 23 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The area of the city is 9.5 square miles. Lakewood’s population was estimated by the State Department of Finance to be 81,601 in January 2015.
Lakewood has about 150 miles of streets and 300 miles of sidewalks. More than 36,000 trees line city streets and shade city parks. About 150 acres of the city are devoted to parks and other landscaped open space.
Lakewood Park sales office, circa 1950
Lakewood is a general law city, governed under the general laws of the state of California. (Charter cities are formed on the basis of a city charter adopted by the state legislature. Today, there is very little difference between a charter city and general law city.)
Lakewood's five city council members are elected for overlapping four-year terms. The city council appoints the city manager and the city attorney. The city manager is responsible to the city council for the day-to-day management of the city’s workforce and development of the city’s budget.
The city council appoints the members of Community Safety Commission, the Planning and Environment Commission, and the Recreation and Community Services Commission. Commissioners are Lakewood residents who serve without compensation. Each commission has five members.
Lakewood was incorporated on April 16, 1954. The first city council members were Angelo M. Iacoboni and Gene Nebeker (elected to four-year terms) and William J. Burns, George Nye, Jr., and Robert W. Baker (elected to two-year terms).
Lakewood's first council (seated, from left): Gene Nebeker, Robert W. Baker, Angelo M. Iacoboni, George Nye, Jr. and William J. Burns.
The arrangement of the first terms of council members ensured that city council elections would occur every two years and terms would overlap.
The office of mayor in Lakewood was originally held for a two-year term. Beginning in 1976, the office of mayor changed to a one-year term.
The mayor is chosen from among the five council members. The position is mostly ceremonial, although the mayor does preside at council meetings.
All council members are elected at large. There are no council districts in Lakewood.
Contract services represent about 40 percent of the city’s operating budget. Lakewood contracts with private firms for trash collection, signal maintenance, and street sweeping. By contract, Los Angeles County provides law enforcement, road repair, building inspection, and street light maintenance. Parks, recreation and cultural activities, community development programs, parkways, medians and tree maintenance, the water utility and general administrative services are provided directly by the city.
The economic base of the city is primarily commercial/retail. Almost 3,000 businesses are located in Lakewood.
Lakewood is predominantly owner-occupied (about 72 percent in 2010). In Los Angeles County, less than half of the total housing units were owner-occupied in 2010. Lakewood is predominantly a single-family community with 85 percent of its housing units being single-family detached structures.
Additional demographic information is available from a Census.gov QuickFacts summary.