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City Smart | Community Profile / Bradbury

July 19, 1996|CECILIA RASMUSSEN

His name may be better known for the eponymous Bradbury Building downtown, that landmark California Victorian edifice made famous in film and architecture lore. But Lewis Leonard Bradbury, silver- and gold-mining millionaire turned real estate developer, made his biggest mark on Southern California with the city of Bradbury.

A hillside sea of wealth, tranquillity and horseflesh against the San Gabriel Mountains, it is one of the county's few exclusively single-family residential cities, with a scant 282 homes, all of them expansive.

Housing prices are such that the tiny enclave is the 111th wealthiest city in the nation; it's known to have more horses than people, a few political embarrassments and only one imperfection--smog.

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Lewis Bradbury bought up 2,750 acres of rancho land in 1892 and built his hacienda-style estate. All that remains of that stately home is a converted caretaker's cottage where City Hall business is conducted--the only public building in the "City of Rural Tranquillity."

When the city hastily incorporated in 1957, a petition signed by residents reached Sacramento only minutes before another that would have made Bradbury part of Duarte.

Today the city is a bucolic and overwhelmingly white community, 23 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles and bordered by Monrovia, Duarte and the Angeles National Forest.

With about 900 residents, Bradbury has the third-smallest population of Los Angeles County's cities.

Bradbury residents are removed from most urban problems. The city has no stores, no gas stations, no apartments or condominiums. Neither is there a library, a post office or a school. Not even a newspaper rack. And, of course, no traffic lights or sidewalks. Bradbury is also virtually crime free.

One exception to the rule of peace is the still-unsolved 1988 assassination-style killing of racing magnate Mickey Thompson and his wife, Trudy, in front of their home. The city's first and only real crime of violence, the killing robbed Bradbury of its treasured privacy when reporters came calling.

The Thompsons lived in locked and gated Bradbury Estates, the city's creme de la creme real estate, about 100 homes that sit snugly--and smugly, some would say--on lots of at least five acres each.

Some fiscal fiascoes were unlocked in 1993 when a gadfly digging in the city's trash discovered that the city manager had spent $84,000 in taxpayer dollars on personal luxuries, including fine china, red shoes and designer sunglasses. The city promptly borrowed a shredder, but a subsequent recall effort ousted the mayor and a council member, and the city manager was later sentenced to two years in prison.

Bradbury Tidbits

* HORSEPLAY: The Silver Oaks Ranch, a luxurious horse-training farm valued at $11 million in 1989, is owned by flamboyant, cigar-smoking televangelist Gene Scott. Bradbury Estates is also home to Corey Nakatani and Kent Desormeaux, two of the nation's top jockeys.

* WILDFIRE: On Nov. 16, 1980, 14 Bradbury families lost their homes in a wind-whipped fire. But like most canyon and foothill dwellers, Bradbury residents seem willing to take the risk in return for the privacy and the views.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

By The Numbers

City Business

Incorporated: July 26, 1957

Area in square miles: 2

Number of parks: None

Ciy employees: 3

1995-96 budget: $388,000

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People

Population: 832

Households: 254

Average household size: 3

Median age: 36

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Ethnic Breakdown

Asian: 15%

Black: 2%

Latino: 14%

White: 69%

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Money and Work Median household income: $106,410

Median household income / L.A. County: $34,965

Median home value: $625,000

Employed workers (16 and older): 419

Percentage of women employed: 56%

Percentage of men employed: 82%

Self-employed: 72

Car- poolers: 36

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Retail Stores

Number of stores: 0

Number of employees: 0

Annual sales: $0

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Families:

Married couples with children: 40%

Married couples with no children: 37%

Non-family households: 13%

Other types of families: 10%

Source: Claritas Inc. Household expenses are averages for 1994. All other figures are for 1990. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

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