Laguna Woods is both one of California’s newest and oldest cities. Incorporated in 1999 as Orange County’s 32nd city, the average age of Laguna Woods residents is 78. Ninety percent of the City’s 4 square miles is contained within the senior citizen gated community of Laguna Woods Village (formerly Leisure World, Laguna Hills). The balance of the City contains three additional senior residential communities and several thriving commercial centers.
Development of the Leisure World community began in the 1960s on 2,095 acres formerly known as the Moulton Ranch. It was designed to offer a full range of cultural and recreational experiences for active adults within a safe and garden-like setting.
Incorporation efforts were initiated unsuccessfully – independently and in conjunction with surrounding communities – on several occasions. In 1996, threatened with the development of a major commercial airport on its borders, the Leisure World community hired a consultant to explore future governance options. The final report convinced community leaders to pursue cityhood once again.
On June 22, 1998, the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission approved the community’s application for incorporation; local voters ratified the proposal on March 2, 1999 and on March 24, 1999, Laguna Woods became Orange County’s 32nd city.
Laguna Woods is a general law city, operating with a “council-manager” form of government. The council-manager form of government blends five elected City Council citizen representatives, who set policies and adopt local laws, with a City Manager and team of professional staff and consultants who carry out these policies.