Is Santa Monica part of Los Angeles?

officepierA new ad for Microsoft Office claims a computer that doesn’t use their software, “is like Los Angeles without Santa Monica Pier.” Besides being a really poor metaphor – you’d think Microsoft could think of a more essential asset than the pier to compare their product to, such as the freeway – the ad also seemed to bring up an constant debate among Metblogs readers and writers: should any area outside of the City of Los Angeles be referred to as L.A.?

When I think Los Angeles, my mind is on anything within county limits. The Los Angeles of popular fiction and of the national mindset never bothers to take into account the borders of the 88 different cities of Los Angeles County, including Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and Santa Monica.

Street sign colors may change, certain parking restrictions may be different, real estate taxes may fluctuate, but there’s little practical reason to distinguish between what is the City of Los Angeles and what happens to be another city, or incorporated part of, Los Angeles. As in County.

Except for the City of Long Beach, which really should be annexed into Orange County. Really, please, take it. But I digress…

What say you, Angelenos (county folk, city folk, all!) – is there any value in having city pride instead of boldly claiming stake as a member of the great metropolis called Los Angeles?

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16 Replies to “Is Santa Monica part of Los Angeles?”

  1. Usually I refer to “the Los Angeles area” when talking about nearby county areas or cities such as Santa Monica, or when friends ask me “how are things in Los Angeles?” when incorrectly referring to my location outside the City. So I guess I do make an effort to recognize existing lines.

  2. Where is it the Angels play again? LA right? :) Don’t even get me started on the Disneyland debate.

    Oh and orange COunty will take Long Beach if we can also have Catalina too.

  3. I there is a useful distinction to be made between adjacent areas and areas within the boundaries of “LA” that have incorporated in order to buy more policemen, etc. I tend to think of the latter as “LA” even if it harder for the Kogi truck to park there.

  4. I consider LA as LA County — the wide expanse of the greater LA area. When telling people directions or where some place is specifically, then I name smaller cities and neighborhoods. “Have you tried that new restaurant in Culver City?” “We live in Rancho Park (or) West LA” etc.

  5. Ugh, what’s with the LBC bashing? I live in Santa Monica now, but my heart is still in Long Beach. Perhaps we and Pedro should form our own autonomous region.

  6. Office is an add-on to the PC (implied, Windows), just as Santa Monica is an add-on to Los Angeles. Makes perfect sense to me.

  7. I don’t care about city pride (or any other group-oriented pride) but I do care about accuracy and metaphors that make sense. so I think this ad is stupid.

    I’d be interested in what Open Office users in the Los Angeles area think about it. :)

  8. Although I’ve resided in Glendora, Duarte, West Covina, Pasadena, South Pasadena and Silver Lake, I’ve always lived in Los Angeles.

  9. As a longtime Euro-transplant to Santa Monica, I consider myself as an angeleno. But it is true that angelenos — and the local blogosphere in general — distinguish themselves from Santa Monica. So does the bureaucracy: we recently looked at the opportunity of becoming disaster relief volunteers, and it turned out that Santa Monica has zero programs on the subject (whether it’s the City, the fire department, or the Red Cross.) So we’re getting all our training, and volunteer opportunities, through L.A. County.

    Back to the Microsoft ad, it just shows how clueless the company is to L.A. dynamics. There are many, more appropriate landmarks they could have chosen to make their point — if only the Hollywood sign, or LAX’s Encounter.

    Yet, the ad shows how iconic, and internationally renowned, the Santa Monica pier has become. It is celebrating its centennial this year, and historian James Harris wrote a great little book about it: http://www.smdp.com/Articles-c-2009-03-20-51313.113116_Santa_Monica_Pier_A_Century_on_The_Last_Great_Pleasure_Pier.html

  10. Obviously if the general practice by so many people has been to consider all of the LA County area “Los Angeles,” it’s going to be an ingrained and long-term habit. But in some ways that is no different from other cities. People from the areas surrounding New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and may other cities would tell someone they were from that city if asked, because usually nobody would have heard of the particular suburb or small town that they might be from.

    LA is sort of unique in that it actually surrounds so many small cities which are quite famous in their own right: Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Culver City, West Hollywood. But it is also important to understand why they are actually different cities. Usually it was over resources, real estate, or worse, class or race issues.

    Unlike other places, though, there is no county in the US as large as Los Angeles County, or with as many cities (88) within its borders. Los Angeles County is also larger in size and population (11 million) than all of New York City. The division of political responsibilities between local city government and county government binds the cities of Los Angeles County together in ways unlike any other metropolitan area anywhere that I know of. San Francisco is a city and a county. That makes it significantly distinct from the surrounding area, which includes about 5 counties for a total population of about half that of LA County. New York City has 5 counties (boroughs) within city limits.

    Los Angeles City does not have control over County politics, unlike other large cities. That actually makes LA City weaker than other cities (politically), and give a lot of advantages to the suburbs as far as policy goes. It’s a complicated identity.

  11. Forget whether or not Santa Monica is part of LA, the main thing wrong with this ad is that they left out the word “The” from in front of “Santa Monica Pier”.

  12. We all realize that Palmdale is in LA County now, don’t we? Because of that, I really consider only southern LA County part of the LA area (and some of the neighboring areas). If someone says LA, I think about the city, and only the city.

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