1. Donald Bren
Chairman, Irvine Co. // 74, Newport Beach
Simply put, Orange County looks like Orange County--much of it uniformly manicured and catering to the high life and high tech--because of the influence of one man. UC Irvine, Fashion Island, the Irvine Spectrum, University Research Park, Newport Coast, Orange County's thousands of acres of wilderness and parkland and its enviable public school systems all bear Bren's imprint. So does the New Majority, a growing coalition of wealthy, socially moderate Republicans who helped vault Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, an old skiing buddy of Bren, into office. He's the richest man in Orange County--worth an estimated $7.5 billion, according to the O.C. Business Journal--and has been snapping up property in Century City, San Diego and the Silicon Valley as well. He is publicity-shy and enigmatic but don't let his style fool you: Bren's involvement can mean life or death for a voter initiative, political campaign or philanthropic cause. His priorities are education, conservation (penance for a guy who has paved over a good chunk of the county?) and continuing to lift the O.C. out of L.A.'s long, but ever-shortening, shadow.
2. Eli Broad
Civic Leader // 73, Brentwood
It's one thing to be rich. It's another to use your money--in Broad's case, $5.6 billion, according to the L.A. Business Journal--to insert yourself into virtually every major decision affecting the civic life of a city. Broad's zeal for a renaissance in downtown L.A. saved Disney Hall when lagging donations threatened to turn it into an expensive underground garage. He has given us a serious high school for the arts while shaping the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Grand Avenue project. He's also expressed an interest in buying The Times. Broad has heaped a fortune on Caltech, UCLA, Pitzer and USC, which this year received $25 million to create a stem-cell research institute named for him. His foundation trains public school superintendents, he recruited Roy Romer to head the Los Angeles Unified School District and he now supports mayoral control of LAUSD--so strongly that he recently spanked Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for ceding too much power to the teachers unions. Before all this, Broad made his mark in other ways: His homebuilding company, Kaufman & Broad, sowed Greater L.A. with middle-class ranch houses--what some would call the region's signature sprawl.