Letter From the Publishers
The San Gabriel Valley Market Report is meant to give business owners, CEOs and marketing executives an understanding of the potential within Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley, a vast region with a dynamic and thriving economy.
Both an objective and subjective examination is performed on the region. Raw data and statistics provide an objective snapshot, quantifying the potential that lies within. Active insight on various segments of the economy is given by two leading business consultants using profiles and knowledge of the marketplace.
A narrower and similar scope is taken on a unique population segment: Asian-Americans. Largely originating from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea, these residents have established successful business ventures and settled their families into the many cities within San Gabriel Valley. This report offers for consideration a demographic and psychographic exploration of this population.
Overall, a case is constructed as to why the San Gabriel Valley and its unique DNA result in the opportunity for serious business growth. Readers will be given the information necessary to contemplate the potential of expanding into or growing within this market.
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- The San Gabriel Valley is now Asian-majority, and holds the largest concentration of Asian-Americans in the United States.
- Many residents are affluent and educated entrepreneurs and corporate executives. Major sectors of the San Gabriel Valley economy include real estate, commercial development and retail/consumer goods.
- Exceptional public schools are a driving force to this region. Consistently ranked the top public school districts in both California and the US, Asian families first seek homes and estates in San Marino, La Cañada Flintridge, Arcadia, and Walnut.
The Arrival of Today’s Asian Population
Like European immigrants a century ago, Asian immigrants do not represent one country or one language. But unlike European immigrants that mostly came to the shores of America on boats with meager belongings and possessions, many new Asian arrivals are arriving via jetliners to LAX, well-educated and well-financed.
The political shift on the Asian continent in the 1970s created an exodus of the well-educated and affluent class from Taiwan to Monterey Park and the nearby communities of Alhambra and Rosemead. Since the 1970s, immigrants and investors from various Asian countries continue to come to the United States with San Gabriel Valley as the hub of entry and settlement. Taiwanese immigrants were followed by affluent Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese families, who all together in the 1990s established what is termed an “ethnoburb” of 22 San Gabriel Valley cities. The San Gabriel Valley now maintains the largest concentration of Asian-Americans in the United States.
These well-educated and affluent families and businesses came to the San Gabriel Valley based on existing relatives, friends and familiarity. Foreign immigration was made easy by the American EB-5 visa program, which offers a U.S. green card in exchange for an investment of at least $1 million in a job creating venture.
Chinese and Korean companies have wanted to expand and tap into America’s real estate, consumer and luxury markets, and in the last decade, the Asian-American population of LA County grew 20%. The San Gabriel Valley is now the capital of Asia-America.
Where do LA’s Asian Residents Live?
Los Angeles by all demographic data is now one of the top 5 cosmopolitan regions in the world. Los Angeles has an abundance of communities and enclaves that cater to every global millionaire and billionaire. These options range from the glamorous, world famous Beverly Hills and West LA, to the sprawling secluded San Gabriel Valley, all the way down through the majestic Pacific Ocean coastal region. But San Gabriel Valley remains the priority and ultimate status residence for Asian immigrants.
The San Gabriel Valley of approximately 2 million residents is comprised of 32 independent cities and school districts, unlike the San Fernando Valley and West LA that are controlled by the City of LA and its school district. These once predominantly European-American, well-educated and affluent communities in San Gabriel Valley such as San Marino, Arcadia, La Cañada Flintridge, Bradbury Estates, Diamond Bar, Walnut, and other surrounding Foothill communities are now Asian-American with many residents born in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and China.
Los Angeles County
Established February 18, 1850, Los Angeles County is one of California’s original 27 counties and is the most populous county in the United States with more than 10 million residents. It has 88 incorporated cities and many other unincorporated areas. In 2015, LA County claimed the country’s largest GDP at a staggering $663 billion – a total that would make the county the 20th largest economy in the world if it were a nation.
San Gabriel Valley
The San Gabriel Valley of 2 million residents has become majority Asian with high net-worth families residing in the once predominant white/conservative affluent communities of San Marino, Bradbury Estates, La Cañada Flintridge, South Pasadena and several west SGV communities. In addition to the social and cultural pull, exceptional public schools along with historical estates are the driving force to this region. Additionally, the close proximity to DTLA has been another factor as evidenced by the nearly $20 billion in foreign investment and construction in this region.
San Gabriel Valley Communities
Of the ten cities in the United States with the highest proportions of Chinese-Americans, the first eight are located in the San Gabriel Valley.
Located 13 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, Arcadia was ranked the 5th most expensive housing market in the United States by Business Insider, with an average list of $1,748,680 for a four-bedroom home.
In 2014, San Marino was ranked as the 3rd most expensive area to live in Los Angeles County, topping Beverly Hills and Malibu, among others. There are no homes priced under $1,000,000 in this affluent community.
With a highly ranked public school system, quality housing, and low crime rate, Walnut is the choice for many Asian residents seeking a high-quality life in LA County.
Located 19 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, West Covina is a bustling city located in the San Gabriel Valley.
Rowland heights is an unincorporated community in the San Gabriel Valley located off the 60 and 57 freeways.
An unincorporated primarily suburban residential community in the eastern San Gabriel Valley, Hacienda Heights borders City of Industry, West Covina, Whittier, and Rowland Heights.
Asian brides come from distant China and New York City to visit Temple City’s elaborate “Bridal District” and specialty sector along Las Tunas Boulevard.
San Gabriel is a city northeast of downtown Los Angeles. The 12-acre San Gabriel Square mall, once dubbed “Chinese Disneyland” and “the great mall of China”, features a wide-array of restaurants, shops, markets and services.
At the southeastern corner of the San Gabriel Valley 27 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles lies the affluent community of Diamond Bar.
Located in western San Gabriel Valley eight miles from downtown Los Angeles, Alhambra plays host to one of the largest Lunar Chinese New Year celebrations in the country which includes a parade along Valley Boulevard.
In the 1990’s, Rosemead’s population changed significantly with the influx of Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants. Renowned Panda Restaurant Group and the manufacturer of popular Sriracha red chili sauce Huy Fong Foods, Inc. are headquartered here.
South Pasadena is a city located in the West San Gabriel Valley and lies between Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles, and is adjacent to San Marino and Alhambra. The South Pasadena Unified School District is held in high regard.
New Areas of Asian Population Growth
Pasadena is one of the best known cities in the San Gabriel Valley. With a large and diverse population Pasadena is considered a cultural hub, and hosts many renown events such as The Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl football game. Pasadena is home to institutions such as Caltech, JPL, ArtCenter College of Design and the USC Pacific Asia Museum.
La Canada Flintridge
La Canada Flintridge is an affluent suburb located to the northwest of Pasadena. An exceptional public and private school system features nationally ranked schools. La Canada Flintridge is also home to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories.
The prestigious gated enclave Bradbury Estates is home to titans of industry, and in 2010 Forbes named Bradbury’s 91008 ZIP code as the most expensive in the country.
Why San Gabriel Valley
As with any other immigrant population, location is based on several factors: Family, friends, education, social culture, and business. People want to be around others that share the same family and cultural values, and who mirror their exchanges in social and business settings. To understand why the Asian population has made the San Gabriel Valley home, one simply needs to reflect upon their core values.
Understand the Asian culture’s primary focus on these two core values and you will see why affluent Asian families have selected the San Gabriel Valley as their permanent residence.
1. Education is a priority
Exceptional public schools are a driving force to this region. Consistently ranked the top public school districts in both California and the US, Asian families first seek homes and estates in San Marino, La Cañada Flintridge, Arcadia, Walnut and South Pasadena. The more than 30 top colleges and universities in and surrounding SGV including Caltech, Claremont Colleges, ArtCenter, Occidental College, and USC, exert a constant gravitational pull on those who prioritize education and academia.
2. Work hard and you will succeed
Work ethic and integrity are held in high regard. Hard work at school by children, association with other reputable families, and the maximum pursuit of business opportunities drive behaviors.
Over the last 40 years, the new wealthy Asian population has arrived in Los Angeles with many wielding double-digit million and billion-dollar investment funds to invest and establish deep roots in the United States. Chinatown in Downtown LA has been replaced with San Gabriel Boulevard as the center of business and culture with easy access to the 32 cities of the SGV.
The global wealth investments in the LA region have dramatically changed the economic and lifestyles of our region in real estate, investments, luxury/exotic autos, fashion, travel, entertainment, rare collections and education. The following will cover these three major business segments:
- Residential Real Estate
- Commercial Development
- Consumer Goods/Retail
Residential Real Estate
The transformation of the San Gabriel Valley to native Angelenos is significant when it comes to real estate prices. Competing for homes and estates in the most prestigious neighborhoods no longer takes place between fellow Angelenos, but with global buyers. San Marino represents and remains the Chinese dream for many wealthy buyers. In recent years, Arcadia has seen the demolition of smaller families homes for the development of new mega-mansions which better suit the affluent Chinese buyer.
- San Marino and Arcadia are top luxury home markets.
- Median home price in the SGV has increased significantly in the last two decades.
- Asian buyers want the top rated school districts and spacious family homes found in the SGV.
Top 5 Luxury Home Markets
Following the Great Recession there was a large influx of new Chinese investment into the San Gabriel Valley. This trend was driven by below market prices and a relaxation on money leaving China. Today, nearly every city in the San Gabriel Valley has shopping malls, hotels and mixed-use commercial and residential projects, many focused on the local Chinese consumers and foreign national tourists visiting the region.
- Hospitality: Hotels and Restaurants
- Shopping Malls & Retail Centers
- Mixed-Use Multi-Family Residential
Consumer Goods & Retail
Brands Have Tremendous Value
For most Americans achieving the American Dream means a certain lifestyle is reached. Enjoying and displaying that achievement is important. Asian families are no different.
The perceptions of what neighborhoods to live, the schools your children attend, the cars you drive, the fashion you wear, investments and collections that you have are driven first by “mirroring” other family members and business associates, and second by what other affluent non-Asians in the community display and embrace.
- The Chinese have an affinity for luxury brands, preferring to buy those that are currently in-style or that have a prestigious legacy.
- Luxury autos, high-end watches, designer clothes, handbags and cosmetics are major items.
- In the 1990s San Gabriel became a new focus with the building of the San Gabriel Square shopping mall. Arcadia is home to the upscale Westfield Santa Anita Mall, adjacent to the famous Santa Anita Racetrack.
Cars and Watches Dominate
Rusnak Auto Group: Arcadia. Pasadena.
According to Bain & Co., luxury-goods purchases by Chinese shoppers jumped 12% last year to $104 billion, accounting for 32% of sales globally.
Hing Wa Lee Jewelers: San Gabriel. Walnut.
Local consumers and international Chinese tourists seeking high-end watches and jewelry visit the San Gabriel Valley.
This report has provided you an objective and subjective overview of the San Gabriel Valley market. This booming sub-market of Los Angeles presents many opportunities for the growing business and smart investor. The residents are majority Asian; many whom are educated, affluent, and entrepreneurs or corporate executives. Real estate, commercial development and consumer goods are driving segments of the economy. Overall, the San Gabriel Valley is a prime location for business growth.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about market expansion or growing your business in the San Gabriel Valley, contact us today.
Ty Fischer, Managing Partner
Steve Tobia is Partner and Chief Strategist at TF West and is the Founder/CEO of DREAMS Global Network. He serves as Publisher of DREAMS Magazine that is distributed in Southern California, Las Vegas and China as the premier luxury lifestyle magazine and marketing networks. Over the last thirty-five years, he has been at the forefront of major business and civic initiatives in California, Nevada and Oregon.
Tobia began his career with the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, then was appointed Vice President of Coca-Cola Enterprises at the age of 29. He went on to found Pacific/West Communications Group Inc., the largest public relations and marketing firm on the West Coast with offices in three states representing Fortune 500 companies, major government agencies and industry associations.
His civic initiatives span across numerous areas including serving as the Assistant Commissioner for the 1984 Olympic Games Field Hockey Games in Monterey Park, where he began his long-time relationships in the Asian market.
He personally designed the internationally iconic logo, D.A.R.E. and the initial marketing campaign, chaired California’s landmark recycling system, co-authored “6X – The Tech Coast” with Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, as well the economic marketing plan for the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership, along with other business economic development initiatives for the private sector.
Tobia received the prestigious United States Congressional Record of Honor along with special honors from the California Governor, LA Mayor and LA County Board of Supervisors. A native of New York, he arrived in Los Angeles as a recipient of the prestigious CORO Foundation Fellowship in 1978 and received his Master of Arts in Urban Studies from Occidental College.
Ty Fischer is the Managing Partner of TF West. He oversees day-to-day operations and client servicing, bridging client strategy with tactical planning. He also serves as the Associate Publisher of DREAMS magazines in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, managing content, production and marketing for the media company. He has consulted on and developed campaigns for clients in media, real estate, consumer goods, ecommerce and retail.
PLEASE CONTACT TF WEST WITH ANY QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE.