Brea, California

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Brea, California
Market City Cafe in Brea downtown
Market City Cafe in Brea downtown
Official seal of Brea, California
Location of Brea in Orange County, California.
Location of Brea in Orange County, California.
Brea, California is located in the US
Brea, California
Brea, California
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 33°55′24″N 117°53′20″W / 33.92333°N 117.88889°W / 33.92333; -117.88889Coordinates: 33°55′24″N 117°53′20″W / 33.92333°N 117.88889°W / 33.92333; -117.88889
Country  United States
State  California
County Orange
Incorporated February 23, 1917[1]
 • City Council[4] Mayor Marty Simonoff
Mayor Pro Tem Christine Marick
Steven Vargas
Glenn Parker
Cecilia Hupp
 • City treasurer Rick Rios [2]
 • City manager Tim O'Donnell[3]
 • Total 12.22 sq mi (31.66 km2)
 • Land 12.19 sq mi (31.58 km2)
 • Water 0.03 sq mi (0.08 km2)  0.26%
Elevation[6] 361 ft (110 m)
Population (2010)[7]
 • Total 39,282
 • Estimate (2017)[8] 42,777
 • Density 3,509.19/sq mi (1,354.56/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (PST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes 92821–92823
Area codes 657/714, 562
FIPS code 06-08100
GNIS feature IDs 1660373, 2409897

Brea (meaning "oil" or "tar" in Spanish) is a city in Orange County, California. The population as of the 2010 census was 39,282. It is located 33 miles (53 km) southeast of Los Angeles.

The city began as a center of crude oil production, was later propelled by citrus production, and is now an important retail center because of the large Brea Mall and the recently redeveloped Brea Downtown. Brea is also known for its extensive public art program which began in 1975 and continues today with over 140 artworks in the collection placed and located throughout the city. Brea's public art program has been used as a model and inspiration for many public art programs across the United States.[citation needed]


The area was visited on July 29, 1769 by the Spanish Portolá expedition – the first Europeans to see inland parts of Alta California. The party camped in Brea Canyon, near a large native village and a small pool of clean water.[9] A historical marker dedicated to his visit stands in Brea Canyon just north of town.

Oil fields of the Brea area, early 1900s

The village of Olinda was founded in present-day Carbon Canyon at the beginning of the 19th century and many entrepreneurs came to the area searching for "black gold" (petroleum). In 1894, the owner of the land, Abel Stearns, sold 1,200 acres (4.9 km2) to the west of Olinda to the newly created Union Oil Company of California, and by 1898 many nearby hills began sporting wooden oil-drilling towers on the newly discovered Brea-Olinda Oil Field. In 1908 the village of Randolph, named for railway engineer Epes Randolph, was founded just south of Brea Canyon for the oil workers and their families. Baseball legend Walter Johnson grew up in Olinda at the start of the 20th century where he worked in the surrounding oil fields as a youth.[10]

The villages of Olinda and Randolph grew and merged as the economy boomed, and on January 19, 1911, the town's map was filed under the new name of Brea, from the Spanish language word for natural asphalt (also called bitumen, pitch or tar). With a population of 752, Brea was incorporated on February 23, 1917, as the eighth official city of Orange County.

As oil production declined, some agricultural development took place, especially lemon and orange groves. In the 1920s, the Brea Chamber of Commerce promoted the city with the slogan “Oil, Oranges, and Opportunity.”[11] In 1950 Brea had a population of 3,208. The citrus groves gave way gradually to industrial parks and residential development. In 1956, Carl N. Karcher opened the first two Carl's Jr. restaurants in Anaheim, California and Brea, California. The opening of the Orange Freeway (57) and the Brea Mall in the 1970s spurred further residential growth, including large planned developments east of the 57 Freeway in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. In the late 1990s, a 50-acre (200,000 m2) swath of downtown Brea centered on Brea Boulevard and Birch Street was heavily redeveloped into a shopping and entertainment area with movie theaters, sidewalk cafes, a live comedy club from The Improv chain, numerous shops and restaurants, and a weekly farmer's market. It is locally known and signed as Downtown Brea.

Sunset magazine named Brea one of the five best suburbs to live in the Western United States in early 2006.[12]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.1 square miles (31 km2). 12.1 square miles (31 km2) of it is land and 0.26% is water.

It is bordered by unincorporated Orange County and Los Angeles County to the north and east, La Habra to the west, Fullerton to the southwest, Placentia to the south, and Yorba Linda to the southeast.


According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Brea has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csa" on climate maps.[13]

Climate data for Brea, California
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 18
Average low °C (°F) 5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 64
Source: [14]


Brea City Hall, Civic & Cultural Center


Brea is governed by a council-manager system. The five member City Council is elected for four-year terms in elections every two years to fill alternately two and three seats.[15] The Council is made up of the Mayor, the Mayor Pro Tem and three Councilmembers.[16] The Council elects a Mayor from the current councilmembers to serve a one-year term as Mayor. The City Council hires a City Manager to direct the city's departments and advise the Council. The Council appoints members of the Planning Commission; Parks, Recreation and Human Services Commission; Cultural Arts Commission and Traffic Committee.[15]

City services

Fire protection for Brea is provided by the Brea Fire Department[17] and law enforcement is provided by the Brea Police Department. In Carbon Canyon[18] in Olinda neighborhood of Brea[19] is situated Olinda Landfill,[20] a major waste management facility serving a large part of Orange County.[21]

Management of the city and coordination of city services is provided by:[22]

Office Responsible
City Manager Bill Gallardo
Administrative Services Director Cindy Russell
Community Development Director David Crabtree
Community Services Director Chris Emeterio
Fire Chief Wolfgang Knabe
Police Chief Jack Conklin
Public Works Director Eric Nicoll

State and federal representation

In the California State Legislature, Brea is in the 29th Senate District, represented by Republican Ling Ling Chang, and in the 55th Assembly District, represented by Republican Phillip Chen.[23]

In the United States House of Representatives, Brea is in California's 39th congressional district, represented by Republican Ed Royce.[24]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201742,777[8]8.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[25]


The 2010 United States Census[26] reported that Brea had a population of 39,282. The population density was 3,243.9 people per square mile (1,252.5/km²). The racial makeup of Brea was

26,363 (67.1%) White (52.7% Non-Hispanic White),[27]

549 (1.4%) African American,

190 (0.5%) Native American,

7,144 (18.2%) Asian,

69 (0.2%) Pacific Islander,

3,236 (8.2%) from other races, and

1,731 (4.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9,817 persons (25.0%).

The Census reported that 39,213 people (99.8% of the population) lived in households, 69 (0.2%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.

There were 14,266 households, out of which 5,043 (35.3%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 8,132 (57.0%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1,605 (11.3%) had a female householder with no husband present, 632 (4.4%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 569 (4.0%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 100 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 3,070 households (21.5%) were made up of individuals and 1,265 (8.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75. There were 10,369 families (72.7% of all households); the average family size was 3.23.

The population was spread out with 9,057 people (23.1%) under the age of 18, 3,654 people (9.3%) aged 18 to 24, 10,669 people (27.2%) aged 25 to 44, 10,952 people (27.9%) aged 45 to 64, and 4,950 people (12.6%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.7 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.9 males.

There were 14,785 housing units at an average density of 1,221.0 per square mile (471.4/km²), of which 9,266 (65.0%) were owner-occupied, and 5,000 (35.0%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.3%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.3%. 26,889 people (68.5% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 12,324 people (31.4%) lived in rental housing units.

According to the 2010 United States Census, Brea had a median household income of $82,055, with 5.6% of the population living below the federal poverty line.[27]


There were 13,067 households out of which 34.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.6% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.8% were non-families. 23.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.21.

In the city, the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 30.4% from 25 to 44, 24.1% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $64,820, and the median income for a family was $68,423. Males had a median income of $50,500 versus $35,674 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,307. About 3.4% of families and 5.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.7% of those under age 18 and 5.2% of those age 65 or over.


As of June 25, 2009 there were 23,859 registered voters in the city of Brea:[28]


Top employers

According to the City's 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[29] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of employees
1 Bank of America 3,000
2 Mercury Insurance Group 1,800
3 Beckman Coulter 1,000
4 Albertsons 900
5 Kirkhill-TA 650
6 Brea Olinda Unified School District 500
7 Harte-Hanks 500
8 VPI Pet Insurance 463
9 The Hartford 450
10 Avery Dennison 392


The city is served by the Brea Olinda Unified School District which operates six elementary schools, one junior high school (), one high school (Brea Olinda High School) and one continuation high school. A small portion of Brea is also directed to Sonora High School in La Habra in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District. In addition, students can also take an assessment to place in nearby in Fullerton, also part of the Fullerton High School District.

There are many private schools in Brea, the Brea Head Start (Pre) Brea Olinda Friends School (Pre-6), Brea Congregational Pre-School, Brea Foursquare Church (Pre-5), Brea United Methodist Pre-School ("BUMPS"), Carbon Canyon Christian School (K-12), Christ Lutheran School (Pre-8), St. Angela Merici Parish School (TK-8), and Montessori of Brea (K-6). Brea is also home to the Southern California College of Business and Law and the Southern California extension of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.

School awards

Edwards Cinemas movie theater in Brea downtown.

Local schools have won several awards. Brea Olinda High School and Olinda Elementary School have been named Blue Ribbon Schools. Additionally, Arovista Elementary, Country Hills Elementary, Fanning Elementary, Mariposa Elementary, Olinda Elementary, Brea Junior High and Brea Olinda High schools have been named California Distinguished Schools. Laurel Elementary received a Title I Academic Achievement Award.

Notable people

Sister Cities

Brea, California is twinned with:


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  2. ^ "City Treasurer". Brea, CA. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  3. ^ "City Manager's Office". Brea, CA. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  4. ^ "City Council". Brea, CA. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  5. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jul 19, 2017.
  6. ^ "Brea". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  7. ^ "Brea QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved October 9, 2018.
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  11. ^ "Brea Chamber History". Brea Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
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  13. ^ "Brea, California Travel Weather Averages (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  14. ^ "Brea, California".
  15. ^ a b "City Council". City of Brea. Retrieved October 27, 2006.
  16. ^ "Brea City Council - 2005-2006". City of Brea. Retrieved October 27, 2006.
  17. ^ "Fire Services". City of Brea. Retrieved October 27, 2006.
  18. ^ Hills For Everyone - Friends of Puente-Chino Hills Wildlife Corridor. "Olinda Landfill at Hills For Everyone". Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  19. ^ City of Brea. "Olinda Landfill at City of Brea official website". Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  20. ^ California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). "Olinda Landfill at CalRecycle". Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  21. ^ Orange County Waste & Recycling Department. "Olinda Landfill at Orange County Waste & Recycling Department". Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  22. ^ City of Brea Website. Retrieved August 26, 2015
  23. ^ "Statewide Database". UC Regents. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  24. ^ "California's 39th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC.
  25. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  26. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Brea city". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  27. ^ a b Missing or empty |title= (help)
  28. ^ From the Orange County Registrar Archived February 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  29. ^ "City of Brea CAFR" (PDF).
  30. ^ Chawkins, Steve (June 25, 2015). "JoAnn Dean Killingsworth dies at 91; Disneyland's first Snow White". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  31. ^ Green, Harold (2017). "Harold Green Biography". The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  32. ^ "Lagos de Moreno, Mexico". City of Brea. Archived from the original on May 10, 2016. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  33. ^ "Hanno, Japan". City of Brea. Archived from the original on May 10, 2016. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  34. ^ "Anseong, Republic of Korea". City of Brea. Archived from the original on May 10, 2016. Retrieved May 10, 2016.

External links