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About San Bernardino


The City of San Bernardino is a community rich in history and cultural diversity. Influences of Native Americans, Mexican settlers, Spanish missionaries and Mormon emigrants can still be seen throughout the City today. From the day in 1810 when Franciscan missionary Father Dumetz named the area San Bernardino to the present, San Bernardino – nestled south of the San Bernardino Mountains and west of the lower desert – has been recognized for its scenic beauty and strategic location. Today, the City of San Bernardino serves as the county seat and is the largest city in the County of San Bernardino with a population of over 213,000. 


Vision Statement

Our vision for the City of San Bernardino is for it to be strong and prosperous.  The City of San Bernardino will be the hub of economic growth in the Inland Empire.  San Bernardino will offer a wide range of housing, recreation, cultural, education, and employment opportunities for all who come live and work here.  A strong sense of community will continue to grow and thrive within our city limits.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide quality and cost effective services to the people of San Bernardino.  We will provide excellence in leadership through the allocation of public resources to City programs that are responsive to community priorities and maximize opportunities for economic, educational and cultural viability.

HISTORY (History Index)

San Bernardino’s colorful history begins in the early years of the 19th century when Spanish missionaries were the first settlers to the region. Mission “San Bernardino” was established in 1810 and the missionaries, along with the American Indians native to the area, diverted water to the valley from Mill Creek for irrigation purposes. As a result, the area flourished. 

In 1822, California became a Mexican territory. Gradually the mission period came to a close and soon came the rise of the “Great Spanish Rancheros.” The abandoned Mission San Bernardino did not stay vacant for long. “San Bernardino Rancho” was granted to the Lugo Brothers in 1842 and eventually became an important post on the trading route known as the “Spanish Trail”, where pioneer trailblazers like Kit Carson and Jedediah Strong often traveled. 
In 1848, California joined the United States. By this time, many rancheros, discouraged by Indian raids and horse and cattle stealing, left the area. The Lugo brothers eventually sold San Bernardino Rancho to a party of 500 Mormon settlers in 1852 who built a stockade around the ranch and named it “Fort San Bernardino.” The community thrived and was officially incorporated as a City in 1854 with a population of 1,200. At that time, San Bernardino was strictly a temperance town, with no drinking or gambling allowed. 

As the last years of the 19th century waned, the giant railway companies eventually found their way to San Bernardino, changing it from a sleepy town into an enterprising city. Santa Fe, Union Pacific and Southern Pacific all made San Bernardino the hub of their Southern California operations. When the Santa Fe Railway established a transcontinental link in 1886, the already prosperous valley exploded. Even more settlers flocked from the East and population figures doubled between 1900 and 1910. 

Today San Bernardino has emerged into a modern urban community with a bright future. The enduring spirit and vitality of yesterday’s pioneers are still evident and reflected in the pride of community. 


San Bernardino City Opera House 1882

Downtown San Bernardino 1927


The City of San Bernardino has adopted the shared values of Integrity, Accountability, Respect for Human Dignity, Honesty and Fairness. The vision for the City is to be strong and prosperous. City residents can expect quality, cost effective services as well as an excellent public safety program, which is dedicated to providing the highest level of police and emergency services. 
The two hospitals within the City limits, San Bernardino Community Hospital and St. Bernardine’s Medical Center are both state of the art facilities. City residents also have access to the nearby Arrowhead Regional Medical Center and the world renowned Loma Linda University Medical Center. 

With 35 parks and 11 community centers, residents can enjoy playgrounds, swimming, youth sports, adult sports, senior activities, and special interest classes. The City’s menu of programs and services includes a public library system comprised of one main and three library branches which provide life-long learning to the world of ideas, information and creative experience for all citizens of San Bernardino. 

Enhancing public safety is also a key part of improving quality of life. In late 2015, the Mayor and Common Council approved a five-year Police Resources Plan focused on rebuilding sworn staffing levels and provide the sworn staff with the tools (largely technology, equipment and vehicles) needed to do the job. The Police Resources Plan also seeks to increase community engagement in strategies to reduce crime and increase economic development opportunities. 
Portions of the Plan are financially supported by voter-approved Measures YY and Z that have been in place since November 2006. These measures established an additional 0.25 percent sales tax that took effect in April 2007. Use of Measure Z funds are reviewed by a Measure Z Oversight Committee and will be reported on by the Committee annually. To date, funds have been spent primarily to hire the Police Department personnel as high vacancy rates continue to be an countywide challenge.


The City’s elevation is 1,049 feet above sea level and encompasses the area of approximately 62.24 square miles. San Bernardino is located approximately 60 miles east of Los Angeles, 120 miles northeast of metropolitan San Diego, and 55 miles northwest of Palm Springs. 

For more than 100 years, the City of San Bernardino has been a major transportation link between the east and west coasts. With rail, freeway, two nearby International Airports and the Port of Los Angeles within an hour’s drive, San Bernardino is the link to national markets, Mexico, and the Pacific Rim. In 2015, a new Transit Center opened further connecting the City to more than ten cities in a two county area and provides access to transcontinental bus connections. 

The Metrolink commuter rail service, available at the Santa Fe train station, provides long distance transportation to commuters from the San Bernardino area to major centers of employment, such as downtown Los Angeles, and Orange County, within 90 minutes. Further enhancing commuter connectivity, a new light rail program is in development  extending service through San Bernardino to Redlands, California. The two San Bernardino stops are strategically located in the civic center and hospitality corridors.  Three stops are slated for the City of Redlands; ESRI, downtown Redlands and the University of Redlands.


The City of San Bernardino has a labor force of 84,400 with 77,500 employed resulting in a 8.2 percent unemployment rate. For the past five years, the City has seen a steady 2 percent annual decrease in unemployment. Below is table showing the major employers within the city.

Major Employer (1,000-4,999) Industry
BNSF Railway Company Railroads
California State University, San Bernardino Schools-Universities & Colleges
Community Hospital – San Bernardino Hospitals
 San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools  Schools
 San Bernardino County Sheriff  County Government - General Offices
 California Department of Transportation  Government Offices – State
1. Source: State of California Employment Development Department Annual and June 2016 report.


Providing quality education and programs to providing quality education and programs to San Bernardino’s youth is an important priority to City residents. High standards and emphasis on mastering the fundamentals resulted in the district’s steady improvement on standardized test scores and graduation rates. Many schools in the San Bernardino Unified School District have been named California Distinguished Schools. If private schooling is a preference, San Bernardino has many private schools, from kindergarten to high school. 

San Bernardino Valley College (SBVC)

San Bernardino Valley College (SBVC), now in its 90th year, is a comprehensive community college offering a full range of degrees, transfer programs to four-year institutions, and certificates in a wide range of careers. As the original and largest of two colleges in the San Bernardino Community College District, SBVC is a regional leader in career and technical education with programs in nursing, human services, computer information technology, welding, electrical and dozens more. The SBVC mission is to provide quality education and services that support a diverse community of learners. San Bernardino Valley College serves 12,000 students every semester.

California State University, San Bernardino

California State University, San Bernardino is a preeminent center of intellectual and cultural activity in inland Southern California. Opened in 1965 and set at the foothills of the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, the university serves more than 20,000 students each year and graduates about 4,000 students annually. The university offers more than 70 traditional baccalaureate and master's degree programs, education credential and certificate programs, and a doctoral program. In recent years, CSUSB added its first doctorate (educational leadership), engineering program (computer science and engineering) and M.F.A. programs in creative writing and studio art/design.

Loma Linda University San Bernardino Campus
San Manuel Gateway College

New to the City is the multi-faceted 150,000 square foot Loma Linda University Health – San Bernardino complex. The campus is home to San Manuel Gateway College, a multi-specialty medical clinic operated by Social Action Community Health System (SACHS) and a vegetarian restaurant designed to showcase the longevity-enhancing benefits of a plant-based diet. The facility will also house a downtown pharmacy. As a first of its kind, San Manuel Gateway College will integrate training programs in health careers with clinical experience, allowing students to benefit from hands-on training and mentoring by Loma Linda University Health faculty and students.

Recreation, Sports & Culture

San Bernardino has a wide variety of recreational and entertainment attractions. From playing golf at one of San Bernardino’s three public and private golf courses, to a 30 to 45 minute drive to mountains, skiing, deserts, beaches, resorts, and world-class cultural and sporting events, a variety of activities for all ages is available to residents and visitors. 

San Bernardino is home to the Inland Empire 66ers, a Class A-Advanced Minor League affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim competing in the California League. The Inland Empire 66ers, named after historic Route 66, play at the multi-use San Manuel Stadium which regularly seats 5,000 people and can be expanded to seat 10,000. 

San Bernardino is also home to the Little League Western Region Headquarters and hosts the regional playoffs each year, with 14 teams from 13 western states playing for the chance to advance to the Little League World Series for the national title. 

Another sports venue is the San Bernardino Soccer Complex, one of only a few premier soccer facilities in Southern California. Currently under a million dollar renovation, the 50-acre complex offers 17 full sized soccer fields including 4 lighted championship fields. Operated by the Elmore Sports Group as of November 2015, the complex hosts home games of the newly formed soccer team, the Southern California Sports Club. SoCal SC is a member of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) and competes in the West Region's Southwest Conference. The complex provides increased revenue to the local economy from use of the local restaurants and hotels. The arts and entertainment scene continues to thrive in San Bernardino.

The arts and entertainment scene continues to thrive in San Bernardino. There are multiple art, performing art and

California Theater
San Bernardino Theater District

concert venues in the City such as, the historic California Theater, Sturges Center for the Arts, Roosevelt Bowl, National Orange Show Events Center, San Manuel Amphitheater and the Garcia Center for the Arts. 
The City’s historic California Theater, which opened its doors in 1928, hosts Broadway plays and musicals that light up the stage each year.   The theater is also the home of the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra. Today, the Orchestra, one of the oldest and most prestigious in the region, consistently reaches unmatched standards of musical performance under the dynamic leadership of Music Director and Conductor Frank Fetta.

One of the city’s most popular events is the annual Return to the Route 66 Rendezvous. In the 1930s, Historic Route 66, which runs through downtown San Bernardino, was the first highway to link Chicago and the Midwest to Southern California. Today, the event coordinated by the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce, unites the region’s car culture community and draws thousands of people. This event is complete with exhibits, vendors, food booths, live entertainment and a Cruisin’ Hall of Fame.   

SBD Fest
San Bernardino International Airport
New to the City is SBD Fest, coordinated by the San Bernardino International Airport, the one-day festival offers a thrilling airshow, nationally known country music performers, large aircraft displays, nostalgic car show, and a variety of food trucks, beverage and merchants. The event attracts more than 10,000 attendees to the city annually.


San Bernardino, a charter city, operates under a hybrid Mayor-Council-City Manager form of government. The Mayor is elected by the voters at large, and is the City’s Chief Executive Officer. Each of the seven members of Council is elected by voters within their respective wards. The Mayor and Council members serve four-year terms. Under the supervision of the Mayor, the City Manager is the Chief Administrative Officer. The City Manager directs most City Departments, other than those governed by separate boards (Water Department, Civil Service, Library) and the offices of elected officials. The City Manager’s office, in addition to assisting the Mayor and Council in policy formulation, focuses on special projects. The City of San Bernardino also has an elected City Attorney, City Treasurer and City Clerk.

However, in March 2014, the Mayor and Common Council appointed a volunteer-based Citizen Charter Committee for the purpose of reviewing the City’s existing charter and making recommendations for improvement, if any, to be placed on the November 2016 ballot. After two years of conducting public committee meetings, initiating community forums and studying other charter cities, on May 16, 2016, the Committee proposed replacing the city charter, in its entirety, and moving to a council-manager form of government. On August 4, 2016, the Mayor and Common Council, voted six-to-one in favor of moving forward with a special municipal election on a new proposed city charter. The special election was consolidated with the November 8, 2016 statewide general election conducted by the County of San Bernardino. On November, 8, 2016, voters approved Measure L, 60-percent to 40-percent, adopting a new city charter and council-manager form of government.


From a budgetary standpoint, the City of San Bernardino continues to make strides to exit bankruptcy. The City initially filed for bankruptcy protection in August 2012 due to the depressed economy, a multimillion dollar deficient, and the loss of redevelopment funding. Through the process, the Federal Bankruptcy Court required the City to develop a long- term recovery plan expected to return the city to service and fiscal solvency. Judge Meredith Jury encouraged the city to begin implementing service-oriented portions of the plan. Hence in the last 18 months, a bankruptcy team has negotiated new agreements with employee labor groups and creditors, generated new revenues through a refuse franchise agreement, and annexed into the County Fire District to rebuild services. These significant steps to restore municipal services and become service and fiscally solvent have only begun, more is to come. A focus on rebuilding public safety, economic development and improving the quality of life for stakeholders is at the center of the plan to recovery.

From a community standpoint, the City of San Bernardino has a bright future, with new exciting projects, special events and new ways of doing business  just over the horizon.

San Bernardino is, now more than ever, a city of opportunity. As the City rests in the heart of inland Southern California it offers affordable housing, a pathways-focused public education system, an innovative Cal-State university, low-cost of doing business, a large labor force, and a multifaceted transportation hub. Opportunities for first-time homebuyers, entrepreneurs, investors and employers are vast; one only needs to see the potential.