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Bell, California

Bell, California
Images, from top and left to right: James George Bell House, Bell Public Library, City of Bell Police sign
Location of Bell in California
Location of Bell in California
Bell, California is located in USA
Bell, California
Location in the United States
Country  United States of America
State  California
County Los Angeles
Incorporated November 7, 1927[1]
 • Mayor Ali Saleh[2]
 • Total 2.620 sq mi (6.783 km2)
 • Land 2.501 sq mi (6.476 km2)
 • Water 0.119 sq mi (0.307 km2)  4.53%
Elevation[4] 141 ft (43 m)
Population (April 1, 2010)[5]
 • Total 35,477
 • Estimate (2013)[5] 35,948
 • Density 14,000/sq mi (5,200/km2)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP Code 90201–90202, 90270[6]
Area code(s) 323[7]
FIPS code 06-04870
GNIS feature IDs 1660322, 2409816
Website .org.cityofbellwww

Bell is an incorporated city in Los Angeles County, California, near the center of the former San Antonio Township (abolished after 1960). Its population was 35,477 at the 2010 census, down from 36,664 in the 2000 census.[8] Bell is located on the west bank of the Los Angeles River and is a suburb of the city of Los Angeles. At 2.5 square miles (6.5 km2), Bell is the thirteenth[9] smallest city in the United States with a population of at least 25,000.[8]

In 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau ranked Bell's land area at 1245 out of 1257 cities (defined as incorporated areas) and two unincorporated areas that had a population of at least 25,000 in year 2000. Ten cities in the list of 1267 cities had no land area data (e.g., Goleta, California).

City residents voted to become a charter city in a special municipal election on November 29, 2005. Fewer than 400 voters turned out for that special election.[10] More than half of those votes were dubiously obtained absentee votes.[11] Being a charter city meant that city officials were exempt from state salary caps.[12] A scandal ensued, in which several city officials were indicted for giving themselves extraordinarily high salaries.[13]


  • History 1
    • Early history 1.1
    • Cityhood 1.2
    • Oscar controversy 1.3
    • 2010 city official corruption scandal 1.4
  • Geography 2
  • Demographics 3
    • 2010 3.1
    • 2000 3.2
    • Income data 3.3
  • Economy 4
  • Government and infrastructure 5
    • State and federal representation 5.1
    • City government 5.2
  • Education 6
    • Schools 6.1
      • Public schools 6.1.1
      • Private schools 6.1.2
    • Public libraries 6.2
  • Parks and recreation 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Early history

The area comprising the city of Bell has a Native American history dating back thousands of years. The Gabrieliño Indians migrated to the place now called Bell in 500 B.C.. Spaniards have been living in this area of California since the mid-16th century. Among the early Spanish settlers was one of California’s first families, the [16]

Between 1870 and 1890, settlers arrived to the area and among those was the city’s founder. In 1876, the pioneer residents for whom the city is named, [16] On April 6, 2000, the Bell House was dedicated as a California State Historical Resource.[14]

James George Bell House

They acquired about 360 acres (145.7 ha) of land and in the next decade, helped in its development as a small farming and cattle raising community. The Bell Family lived at the [16]

At the turn of the 20th century, the Bell area was a sparsely settled countryside with a scattering of houses, including the Bell family's home. Between 1900 and 1915, more people settled into the area. More homes, schools, churches and a library were built, and several small businesses were established by 1913. The citizens agreed to provide all facilities and services for the library, except for the books.

Between 1920 and 1935, an explosive growth in population occurred in the Bell area. Old and new residents built new businesses, established schools, and founded community organizations, such as the Bell Cudahy and Maywood. In 1925, the Alcazar Theater to show "talking pictures", was opened. It has since been demolished.[17] In 1926, Bell High School was opened.[18]


Bell was incorporated as a city in 1927. Since its incorporation, the City of Bell has acquired land for public parks and the recreational program. The city also has constructed an adequate sewer system, widened all major streets, built a city hall, and provided fire department buildings, with the cooperation of the city of Maywood and the County of Los Angeles, the city of Bell constructed an indoor public swimming pool at Bell High School.

James George Bell House

The city's Chamber of Commerce is located at the historic

  • Official website
  • Bell High School
  • Bell Library, County of Los Angeles Public Library
  • City of Bell Ringers
  • Watch Our City
  • Timeline of Bell, California

External links

  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date" (Word). California Association of  
  2. ^ "City Council". City of Bell. Retrieved May 5, 2015. 
  3. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files – Places – California".  
  4. ^ "Bell".  
  5. ^ a b c d "Bell (city) QuickFacts".  
  6. ^ "USPS - ZIP Code Lookup - Find a ZIP+ 4 Code By City Results". Retrieved January 17, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Number Administration System - NPA and City/Town Search Results". Retrieved January 18, 2007. 
  8. ^ a b "Cities with 25,000 population or more: C-1. Area and Population". County and City Data Book: 2007. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 23, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Smallest Cities in the United States". Retrieved July 26, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b c d Vives, Ruben (July 21, 2010). "Bell council seeks resignations of 3 city officials". Archived from the original on July 24, 2010. Retrieved July 26, 2010. 
  11. ^ "AG Jerry Brown subpoenas Bell officials, sets up voter fraud hotline | Los Angeles Wave - Community News, Sports & Entertainment | News". August 10, 2010. Retrieved August 17, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Charter Cities". League of California Cities. May 9, 2007. Retrieved April 17, 2008. 
  13. ^ a b CNN Wire Staff (September 15, 2010). "California AG sues over California town's municipal salaries". CNN. Archived from the original on September 18, 2010. Retrieved September 16, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b c "Timeline". Archived from the original on August 22, 2010. Retrieved July 29, 2010. 
  15. ^ On April 6, 2000, the Bell House was dedicated as a California State Historical Resource.ts/Files/lugo_era_history.htm
  16. ^ a b c
  17. ^ "Cinemas Around the World - United States - California". CinemaTour. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  18. ^ a b "LAUSD School Profile". September 16, 2009. Retrieved July 26, 2010. 
  19. ^ Bell CA election, 2007: Web Search Results from
  20. ^ "Waiting For Oscar". CBS News. March 25, 2000. 
  21. ^ Rogers, John (July 27, 2010). "DA probes voter fraud allegations in Calif. city". Retrieved July 29, 2010. 
  22. ^ Gottlieb, Jeff; Vives, Ruben (August 8, 2010). "Former Bell city manager's compensation totaled $1.5 million a year, records show". Archived from the original on August 11, 2010. Retrieved August 8, 2010. 
  23. ^ "L.A. Now". Los Angeles Times. July 22, 2010. 
  24. ^ Winton, Richard; Jeff Gottlieb and Andrew Blankstein. "L.A. County D.A. expands probe into Bell government", Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2010.
  25. ^ Gelinas, Nicole (August 16, 2010). "Bell stuck in a money rut". Retrieved August 30, 2010. 
  26. ^ "Rizzo faces 53 counts; Bell was 'corruption on steroids,' D.A. Cooley says", The Los Angeles Times, September 21, 20101]
  27. ^ "8 current, former Bell, California officials arrested". CNN. September 21, 2010. Archived from the original on September 23, 2010. Retrieved September 21, 2010. 
  28. ^ Allen, Sam (July 29, 2010). "California's city officials scramble to limit damage from Bell scandal". Los Angeles Times ( Archived from the original on July 29, 2010. Retrieved July 29, 2010. 
  29. ^ "Bell mayor in corruption case",; November 11, 2010; accessed October 1, 2014.
  30. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  32. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Bell city". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  33. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  34. ^ Winton, Richard (July 28, 2010). "Bell city scandal: L.A. County D.A. expands probe into Bell city government". Retrieved August 3, 2010. 
  35. ^ Bell must downsize budget,, December 2012; accessed October 1, 2014.
  36. ^
  37. ^ "L.A. County: Bell, Compton Should Not Have Own Police Departments", Los Angeles News - The Informer]
  38. ^ "Hometown Fire Stations". Los Angeles County Fire Department. Retrieved on December 6, 2008.
  39. ^ "Whittier Health Center". Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Retrieved on March 18, 2010.
  40. ^ "Post Office Location - BELL". United States Postal Service. Retrieved on December 6, 2008.
  41. ^ "Post Office Location - BANDINI STATION". United States Postal Service. Retrieved on December 6, 2008.
  42. ^ "Statewide Database".  
  43. ^ "California's 40th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. 
  44. ^
  45. ^ "Project Details". February 26, 2010. Retrieved July 26, 2010. 
  46. ^
  47. ^ Corona Avenue Elementary School in Bell, CA |
  48. ^
  49. ^ Nueva Vista Elementary School in Bell, CA |
  50. ^ You are about to leave the LAUSD Domain
  51. ^ "Bell city, California". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on July 2, 2010.
  52. ^ "Proposed Changes to South East HS Area Schools". Los Angeles Unified School District. Retrieved on June 24, 2010.
  53. ^ "Official Bell High School Page". Retrieved July 26, 2010. 
  54. ^ "School History". Maywood Academy High School. Retrieved on July 2, 2010.
  55. ^ "Project Details". 2010-02-26. Retrieved July 26, 2010. 
  56. ^ "Our Location". Al-Hadi School. Retrieved on October 4, 2010.
  57. ^ "Bell Library". County of Los Angeles Public Library. Retrieved on December 6, 2008.
  58. ^ "Bell Community Center". City of Bell. Retrieved on March 23, 2010.
  59. ^ "Camp Little Bear Park and Lodge". City of Bell. Retrieved on March 23, 2010.
  60. ^ "Debs Park". City of Bell. Retrieved on March 23, 2010.
  61. ^ "Veterans Memorial Park". City of Bell. Retrieved on March 23, 2010.
  62. ^ "Y.O.T.L.O.T. Teen Center". City of Bell. Retrieved on March 23, 2010.


See also

Ernest Debs Park, also referred to as the "Casa de Fútbol" ("House of Soccer" in Spanish), has a soccer field with sport turf and a shaded outdoor fitness area with cardio, resistance, and strengthening equipment. The park also has one full and two half basketball courts, benches, pavilions, picnic tables, and table games.[60] Veterans Memorial Park has one junior (half) and two full-court basketball courts, batting cages, a baseball diamond with stadium seating and scoreboards, tree-shaded benches, a clubhouse with computer access, large picnic pavilions, tree-shaded picnic tables, a playground for ages 2 through 12, a rose garden in honor of U.S. soldiers, and a snack bar.[61] The Y.O.T.L.O.T. ("Youth of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow") Teen Center is a facility for teenagers. The center has air hockey, computer access, foosball, game systems, a pool table, a snack bar, and a stage. The Bell SK8 ("Skate") Park is located adjacent to the teen center.[62]

The city of Bell has several recreational facilities. The Bell Community Center hosts many events such as anniversaries, baptisms, birthdays, conferences, company parties, receptions, and seminars. Treder Park, located at the community center, has a gazebo, a pavilion with barbecues, and picnic tables.[58] Camp Little Bear Park and Lodge is a park designed for children 12 and under. The park includes a three-in-one area for junior players with basketball, handball, and four square courts. The park also has an outdoor amphitheater for films, a miniature golf course, an indoor lodge with classrooms and computers, picnic pavilions, play equipment, rock climbing, and a small soccer (football) turf field.[59]

Parks and recreation

County of Los Angeles Public Library operates the Bell Library at 4411 East Gage Avenue.[57]

Bell California Public Library
Bell Library

Public libraries

Al-Hadi School is located in Bell.[56]

Private schools

South Region Middle School 2 opened in Bell in 2010.[55]

Any student who lives in the Bell or Huntington Park zones may apply to Maywood Academy High School, which opened in 2005 and moved into its permanent campus in 2006. Maywood does not have its own attendance boundary because it lacks American football, track and field, and tennis facilities.[54]

High schools:
All residents are zoned to Bell High School in Bell.[51][52] The high school population is 98% Hispanic, .02% Black, and a small population of Lebanese, and Asian and Pacific Islanders.[18] The Mission of Bell High School is to: educate all students to the highest degree of their abilities socially, academically, and technologically so that they become contributing members of society. It is the home of the "Mighty Eagles".[53]

Orchard Academy Middle Schools K-8 schools:

Middle schools:

  • Corona Avenue Elementary School, K-5[46][47]
  • Nueva Vista Elementary School, K-5[48][49]
  • Woodlawn Avenue Elementary School, K-5

Elementary schools:

Kindergarten schools:

Bell is served by Los Angeles Unified School District.

Public schools



After a special election in March 2011, lifelong Bell resident Ali Saleh was named mayor by his fellow council members. Danny Harber, a retired baker and 40-year resident of Bell, was elected vice mayor.[44] Saleh vowed to remake the city whose name had become synonymous with municipal corruption into a model of good government.

City government

In the United States House of Representatives, Bell is in California's 40th congressional district, represented by Democrat Lucille Roybal-Allard.[43]

In the California State Legislature, Bell is in the 33rd Senate District, represented by Democrat Ricardo Lara, and in the 63rd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Anthony Rendon.[42]

State and federal representation

The United States Postal Service operates the Bell Post Office at 6327 Otis Avenue and the Bandini Station Post Office at 5555 Bandini Boulevard.[40][41]

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services operates the Whittier Health Center in Whittier, serving Bell and surrounding areas.[39]

Fire protection in Bell is provided by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The LACFD operates Station #163 at 6320 Pine Avenue in Bell as a part of Battalion 3.[38]

The Bell Police Department provides law enforcement for the tiny city of Bell. Police Chief Randy Adams resigned under pressure and was replaced. Patrol is part of the Department's Field Services Division using marked police vehicles. There are 47 members in Bell Police Department.[36] The city of Bell said they were negotiating with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department to take over the policing contract, however, Sheriff Lee Baca's spokesman says that L.A. County Auditor-Controller Wendy L. Watanabe, who had suggested that the Sheriff's Department providing policing by contract with the City of Bell, had made no contact with him regarding that possibility.[37]

Government and infrastructure

Bell is in a financial crisis due to the above-referenced public embezzlement scandals. Due to the actions of the former city's manager (Robert Rizzo) and the council in squandering the taxes of their constituents for their own benefit, there is a deficit of several million dollars in the general fund. An audit by the Los Angeles County auditor-controller concluded that the city must significantly downsize its budget, including the possibility of disbanding its police department and contracting with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.[35]


During 2009–2013, Bell had a median household income of $35,985, with 30.2% of its residents living below the federal poverty line.[5]

Income data

The median household income was $29,946 and the median family income was $30,504.

35.3% of the population were under the age of 18, 12.9% were from 18 to 24, 32.2% from 25 to 44, 14.1% from 45 to 64, and 5.4% 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 102.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.3males.

There were 8,918 households out of which 57.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.0% were married couples living together, 18.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 14.6% were non-families. 11.0% 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 4.05 and the average family size was 4.27.

At the 2000 census,[33] there were 36,664 people, 8,918 households and 7,615 families residing in the city. The population density was 14,802.5 per square mile (5,708.1/km²). There were 9,215 housing units at an average density of 3,720.4 per square mile (1,434.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 48.45% White, 1.28% Black or African American, 1.28% Native American, 1.07% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 43.09% from other races, and 4.78% from two or more races. Bell also has a small Lebanese community.[34] 90.90% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.


There were 9,217 housing units at an average density of 3,519.2 per square mile (1,358.8/km²), of which 2,570 (29.0%) were owner-occupied, and 6,300 (71.0%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.6%; the rental vacancy rate was 3.3%. 11,333 people (31.9% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 23,565 people (66.4%) lived in rental housing units.

11,363 people (32.0% of the population) were under the age of 18, 4,124 people (11.6%) aged 18 to 24, 10,783 people (30.4%) aged 25 to 44, 6,811 people (19.2%) aged 45 to 64, and 2,396 people (6.8%) 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28.9 years. For every 100 females there were 101.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.5 males.

There were 8,870 households, of which 5,327 (60.1%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 4,659 (52.5%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1,879 (21.2%) had a female householder with no husband present, 1,019 (11.5%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 857 (9.7%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 31 (0.3%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 967 households (10.9%) were made up of individuals and 388 (4.4%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.93. There were 7,557 families (85.2% of all households); the average family size was 4.15.

The census reported that 34,898 people (98.4% of the population) lived in households, 490 (1.4%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 89 (0.3%) were institutionalized.

The 2010 United States Census[32] reported that Bell had a population of 35,477. The population density was 13,545.5 per square mile (5,229.9/km²). The racial makeup of Bell was 19,098 (53.8%) White (4.9% Non-Hispanic White),[5] 337 (0.9%) African American, 315 (0.9%) Native American, 259 (0.7%) Asian, 8 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 13,899 (39.2%) from other races, and 1,561 (4.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 33,028 persons (93.1%).



According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.6 square miles (6.7 km2), of which 2.5 square miles (6.5 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) is water.


On September 21, 2010, former city manager Robert Rizzo, Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former assistant city manager Angela Spaccia and council members George Mirabal, Teresa Jacobo, Luis Artiga, George Cole and Victor Bello were arrested and charged with misappropriation of public funds.[26][27] The mayor and council members all either resigned or were recalled. The revelations about the salary amounts paid to city officials in Bell led media inquires into salaries paid in other cities.[28] After a review, the L.A. Times found frequent failures in audits of public agencies in other municipalities in California.[29]

In September 2010, the California Attorney General's office filed a lawsuit against eight former and current City of Bell employees, requesting the return of what the suit calls "excessive salaries" as well a reduction in pension benefits accrued as a result of those higher salaries.[13] Allegations about irregularities in the 2009 election also were examined by the FBI and California Secretary of State office.[24] The city's high property taxes are also being investigated.[25]

In July 2010, when two Los Angeles Times reporters, Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives, were investigating possible malfeasance in the neighboring city of Maywood, it was revealed that Bell city officials were receiving unusually large salaries, perhaps the highest in the United States. The salaries came into the public eye after the newspaper's investigation, based on California Public Records Act requests, showed that the city payroll was swollen with six- to seven-figure salaries.[21] Robert Rizzo, the City manager, received $787,637 a year, almost double the salary of the President of the United States. Including benefits, he had received $1.5 million in the last year.[22] Rizzo's assistant, Angela Spaccia, was earning $376,288 a year, more than the top administrator for Los Angeles County.[10] The police chief, Randy Adams, was paid $457,000, 33% more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.[10] All three resigned following news reports and public outcry. All but one of the members of the city council were receiving $100,000 for their part-time work, salaries which were authorized by a sparsely attended special election,[23] giving the city "Charter" status. By comparison, council members in cities similar to Bell in size make an average of $4,800 a year, prosecutors have noted.[10]

2010 city official corruption scandal

In March 2000, Bell gained worldwide publicity, as the media announced that a shipment of 55 Oscar statuettes was stolen from a trucking company loading dock in Bell. In addition to the Los Angeles and Bell police departments, FBI art theft experts investigated. It was the second Oscar mishap within a short period, as earlier that month 4,000 Oscar ballots were misrouted. Coincidentally, the missing Oscar ballots were found by the post office in a Bell processing center. AMPAS Executive Director Bruce Davis was quoted as jokingly warning Billy Crystal, host of that year's Oscar ceremony, not to go near Bell because it "seems to be a Bermuda Triangle for Oscar things".[20]

Oscar controversy

The next election for City Council was held in March 2011, and included the recall of all the city council members save one, who was not re-elected. [19]

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