The City of Laguna Woods occupies approximately three square miles of land that was once a part of South Orange County’s expansive Moulton Ranch. Prior to the 1960s, dry farming and cattle grazing dominated the area, with a few scattered ranch dwellings and barns.
On March 24, 1999, the City of Laguna Woods was incorporated as Orange County’s 32nd city. It is a general law city with a Council-Manager form of government and 10 full-time equivalent employees. In addition to being one of California’s safest and fiscally healthiest cities, the City of Laguna Woods is unique in that the average age of its 17,644 residents is greater than 75.
The City of Laguna Woods is bordered by the cities of Aliso Viejo, Irvine, Laguna Beach, and Laguna Hills, as well as the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and other open space areas. Nearby transportation corridors include Interstate 5, State Route 73, and State Route 133. The Pacific Ocean is located approximately five miles to the west. Notable land uses include the private gated community of Laguna Woods Village, several senior-oriented residential communities, a number of commercial centers, and three public parks.
The City of Laguna Woods is a general law city with a Council-Manager form of government, meaning that it operates within the parameters of California municipal law with an elected City Council as its legislative body. The City Council appoints and supervises a professional City Manager who is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the City and implementation of the City Council’s ordinances, regulations, and policy direction. The City Council also appoints a City Attorney to serve as the City’s legal counsel.
The five members of the City Council are residents of Laguna Woods who are elected by registered voters to four-year terms. Elections occur “at-large” (citywide) in even-numbered years with two and then three members of the City Council elected at subsequent elections. All five offices are nonpartisan.
The City Council appoints a Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem from amongst its membership to preside over City Council meetings, execute certain legal instruments and authorizations, and attend to various representative and ceremonial matters. The Mayor Pro Tem serves as the Mayor in their absence.
The City has 10 full-time equivalent employees who are responsible for delivering a full range of municipal services. The City operates as a “contract city,” meaning that its small staff leverage the resources of a variety of contract, franchise, and joint powers agencies to provide efficient, effective, and economical services. If the City were a “full service city,” those services would be provided by City employees, often at higher costs and with considerably greater liability. While contract service providers may charge the City for current year liabilities, the City’s contract service arrangements do not result in the assumption of any other agency’s long-term retirement or other post-employment benefit liabilities.