• Email
  • Print

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. 



  • WE ENVISION a world class city which capitalizes on its location, the diversity of its people and its economy to create a broad range of choices for its residents in how they live, work, and play.
  • WE ENVISION a thriving city possessing a sustainable system of high-quality education, community health, public safety, housing, retail, recreation, arts and culture and infrastructure.
  • WE ENVISION a vibrant economy with a skilled workforce that attracts employers who seek the unique opportunities the city has to offer and provide jobs that create citywide prosperity.
  • WE ENVISION a model community which is governed in an open and ethical manner, where all sectors work collaboratively to reach shared goals.
  • WE ENVISION a city that is recognized as the county's business and government center and a home for those seeking a sense of community and the best life has to offer.


1.  Implement the City Vision

  • Ensure that all staff members are aware of the direction provided by the Mayor and City Council through the City Vision, Goals and Objectives, Paradigm and Job Statement.
  • Develop programs and operating systems to publicize, promote, support and implement the guidance provided by the Mayor and City Council.

2.  Provide for the Safety of City Residents and Businesses 

  • Utilize City programs to reduce crime and ensure that neighborhoods and business areas are safe.
  • Recruit and retain the highest caliber public safety personnel.
  • Maintain or improve emergency response times.

3.  Create, Maintain, and Grow Jobs and Economic Value in the City 

  • Provide clear policy direction, predictable decision-making, and efficient processing and program delivery to inspire confidence in investors and trust in the community.
  • Emphasize business retention and expansion.
  • Utilize City resources to support the local economy and maximize job creation.

4.  Ensure Development of a Well-Planned, Balanced, and Sustainable City 

  • Provide infrastructure designed for long term economic growth.
  • Support a wide range of housing types and levels of affordability.
  • Ensure that the City is clean and attractive.

5.  Improve City Government Operations 

  • Implement the City Charter by maintaining clear roles and lines of authority.
  • Develop and maintain consistent messaging.
  • Ensure that employees know that they and their work are valued.
  • Encourage collaboration by breaking down silos within the organization.
  • Evaluate operations and performance through investment in the resources, technology and tools needed to continually
  • improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness.

6.  Operate in a Fiscally Responsible and Business-Like Manner 

  • Continue to implement the Plan of Adjustment.
  • Develop a long-term budget plan and assessment of the City’s built environment which brings City operations into both fiscal and programmatic balance, including funding of reserves for infrastructure and equipment maintenance and replacement.
  • Invest City resources in ways which create more ongoing revenue to reinvest in maintaining
    and improving services.

7.  Pursue City Goals and Objectives by Working with other Agencies 

  • Work with Federal, State and regional governments and organizations to ensure San Bernardino receives its fair share of resources.
  • Maintain close working relationships with the county, tribes and other governmental agencies.


The job of the City of San Bernardino is to create, maintain, and grow economic value in the community.


  • The City of San Bernardino is a municipal corporation.
  • The City Council functions as the elected Board of Directors of the corporation, the Mayor as the Chair of the Board, and the City Manager as the appointed CEO.
  • The City needs revenue to pay for services and amenities and maintain the built environment.
  • Income for the corporation comes directly or indirectly from anyone spending money in the City. They are investing in San Bernardino.
  • Each of those investors has a choice whether to spend their money in the City of San Bernardino or another jurisdiction.
  • Therefore, the City is in competition for that investment.
  • The level of service, the amenities, the breadth of choices of lifestyle and the quality of life help to determine where investors will choose to spend their money.
  • Every single interaction we have is an opportunity to win or lost that investment.

The Mayor and City Council and City staff are dedicated to adhering to these established systems and practices when addressing policy, planning, and program implementation to create a framework for comprehensive leadership in rebuilding the City of San Bernardino.

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, Community Hospital of San Bernardino 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 are reported on by the Committee annually. To date, funds have been spent primarily to hire 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 the works  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), 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 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.

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 also features a downtown pharmacy. As a first of its kind, San Manuel Gateway College integrates 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, the complex serves as the training center for the Southern California Sports Club, a member of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) competing in the West Region's Southwest Conference.

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

concert venues in the City such as, the historic California Theater, Sturges Center for the Arts, Roosevelt Bowl, National Orange Show Events Center, Glen Helen 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 and live entertainment.   

Entering its third year SBD Fest, coordinated by the San Bernardino International Airport, offers a thrilling airshow, nationally known music performers, large aircraft displays, a nostalgic car show, and a variety of food trucks, beverage and merchants. The event attracts more than 10,000 attendees to the city annually.


In the 2016 general election, City of San Bernardino voters approved a new city charter providing for a Council-Manager form of government. Under this governance plan, which is common to most California cities, the elected Mayor and City Council appoints a full-time professional City Manager responsible for the day-to-day administration of city government.

The Mayor and City Council (the legislative branch) are responsible for setting City policy and allocating resources. The City Manager and staff (the executive branch) are tasked with recommending policy and implementing the Mayor and Council’s direction. Each City department, office and agency is administered by an executive appointed by and subject to the direction and supervision of the City Manager, except the Offices of the Council, Mayor, the Library Board of Trustees, and the Water Board, which are administered by their respective executive officers.


The City of San Bernardino continues to make strides having just exited bankruptcy. The City initially filed for bankruptcy protection in August 2012 due to the depressed economy, a multi-million dollar deficient, and the loss of redevelopment funding. 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. With a citywide operating budget of $130.7M for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020-21, reserves have been reestablished, revenues enhanced and the City continues to move forward fiscally. The FY 2020-21 Budget can be found here. 

 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 home buyers, entrepreneurs, investors and employers are vast; one only needs to see the potential.