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The South Bay and surrounding regions in Southern California

The South Bay is a region of the southwest peninsula of Los Angeles County, California, United States. The name stems from its geographic features stretching along the southern shores of Santa Monica Bay (covering the coastal regions on Los Angeles County south of LAX) which forms its western border.

The picture at right uses the broadest definition of the region, including all communities south of the 105 and west of Long Beach (with the exception of Compton, which is generally considered South LA). Inglewood, while sometimes referred to be in South LA, is part of the South Bay. A more restrictive definition of the South Bay includes only the Beach Cities (Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach), El Segundo, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Hawthorne, Lawndale and Torrance. This definition is more commonly found near the ocean, while not as accepted in the inland portions of the South Bay. The region is bordered on the north by the Westside, on the northeast by South Los Angeles, on the east by the Gateway Cities, and on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean.

The Harbor (I-110), San Diego (I-405), Gardena (SR 91), and Century (I-105) Freeways provide the region with its principal transportation links. The Los Angeles MTA's Green Line light rail line also serves the South Bay. Several ports and harbors in the South Bay provide access to Santa Catalina Island, a popular resort. In addition, Los Angeles International Airport borders El Segundo to the north in the neighborhood of Westchester, Los Angeles.

Note that in San Diego, "South Bay" may also refer to the South Bay of the San Diego Area. This area includes cities such as Chula Vista and National City, California. In Northern California, "South Bay" refers to the South Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area.



The South Bay is one of the most culturally, economically, and ethnically diverse areas in the United States, with a largely even distribution of the population across European, Asian/Pacific Islander, African, and Latino ancestry. However, the racial and economic makeup varies widely across the region. The Beach Cities and the Palos Verdes Peninsula are very affluent, with mostly white and Asian-American populations. Manhattan Beach and Palos Verdes are two of the wealthiest communities in the United States with some of the most expensive real estate in the United States [1]. The city of Carson has a sizable population of wealthy African-Americans. Hawthorne and Gardena are diverse communities with pluralities of blacks and Latinos. Gardena is home to one of America's oldest Japanese communities. Hermosa Beach is the scene of many film and television recordings.

Major employers

Port of Los Angeles

The Port of Los Angeles, sprawling across the shorelines of San Pedro and Wilmington, is the busiest in the United States. When combined with the Port of Long Beach, it is the fifth-busiest in the world. Traditionally, most of the populations of Wilmington and San Pedro have worked for the port in some capacity. It is increasingly the primary driver of the Southern California economy: industrial growth in the Inland Empire is almost entirely attributable to increased port traffic since the 1980s. Unfortunately, the massive increase in cargo volume has created significant air pollution (especially of particulate matter resulting from the combustion of low-grade marine diesel fuel) in neighboring communities.


The South Bay is the traditional home of Southern California's aerospace industry. While considerably shrunken from its Cold War peak, it still represents a major economic force, employing thousands in high-skill, high-wage engineering positions and generating enormous amounts of tax revenue. Northrop Grumman has a major facility in El Segundo where the F/A-18 Hornet fuselage is manufactured, as well as the headquarters of the Space Technology division in Redondo Beach and a facility at the Hawthorne Municipal Airport. Boeing and Lockheed Martin also maintain extensive production facilities throughout the South Bay, and Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems business unit is based in El Segundo. The Los Angeles Air Force Base, in El Segundo, is the locus of much of this aerospace research activity, as it is the primary development facility for military satellites and other space programs. DirecTV, a former subsidiary of Hughes Aircraft, is also headquartered in El Segundo for this reason.

Oil Refining

View of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Los Angeles in the distance.

Petroleum refining is another important component of the South Bay's economy. Major South Bay refiners include BP (ARCO facility in Carson), Chevron (El Segundo), ConocoPhillips (Wilmington), ExxonMobil (Torrance), Tesoro (Wilmington), and Valero (Wilmington). These refiners supply the lion's share of petroleum products for Southern California, as well as for Nevada and Arizona. As the Los Angeles region's oil fields are mostly exhausted, most of the crude oil that feeds the refineries is brought in from terminals at the port.

Local politicians and activists have long denounced the refineries for the amount of air pollution they generate, but in recent years these protests have been muted as the Port of Los Angeles has become the region's dominant polluter. The controversial practice of residue flaring returned to the forefront during the September 12, 2005 Los Angeles Department of Water and Power outage; facing dangerous pressure buildups, refinery operators in Wilmington were forced to flare, resulting in dangerously bad air quality throughout the southeastern South Bay. The incident has renewed calls for restrictions on flaring in non-emergency situations.


Japanese automobile manufacturers Toyota and Honda maintain their North American headquarters in the South Bay, in the city of Torrance. (Nissan was also headquartered in the South Bay until late 2005. The company then relocated to Tennessee, citing the high cost of running a business in California.) While these locations are largely the legacy of the region's historical importance as a Japanese-American population center, it has proven fortuitous for two reasons: first, it enables closer oversight of vehicle import operations at the nearby ports; and second, it gives them proximity to the automobile customization culture that is prominent in nearby South Los Angeles.



In addition to the Los Angeles Times, the South Bay cities are served by their own daily paper, the Daily Breeze. The Daily Breeze is usually center-right in terms of its political stance. The main reference online for South Bay residents is South Bay, which is a weekly activities guide and business listing reference. The Beach Cities are also served by two free weekly papers, The Beach Reporter and the Easy Reader. The Palos Verdes Peninsula is served by the local semi-weekly paper, the Palos Verdes Peninsula News. San Pedro, Wilmington, Carson and Lomita are served by Random Lengths News, a liberal bi-weekly, which began publication as a quarterly in late 1979. Gardena is served by a weekly local paper, "The Gardena Valley News".


The South Bay has produced a number of significant rock bands beginning with Hawthorne natives The Beach Boys in the early 1960s, and continuing particularly in the punk/hardcore genres. Notable South Bay-based artists include:

Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn's SST record label, one of the most important alternative rock labels of the 1980s, maintained its headquarters in Lawndale.

Communities in the South Bay

Unincorporated Los Angeles County communities
Harbor Area communities in the City of Los Angeles

See also


  1. ^ "The Most Expensive Zip Codes". Forbes. Retrieved 2006-10-03.  

External links

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