The 2000 U.S. census counted 7,691 residents in the 6.37-square-mile (16.5 km2) Bel Air neighborhood; with 1,207 per square mile (466/km2) it has among the lowest population densities for the city and the county. In 2008, the city estimated that the population had increased to 8,253. In 2000 the median age for residents was 46, which was high for city and county neighborhoods. The percentages of residents aged 50 and older was among the county's highest. The median yearly household income in 2008 dollars was $207,938, the highest figure for any neighborhood or city in Los Angeles County. Renters occupied 14.5% of the housing stock, and house- or apartment-owners held 85.5%. The average household size of 2.4 people was considered typical for Los Angeles.
The 4.1% of families headed by single parents was considered low for city and county neighborhoods. The percentages of married people in Bel Air were among the county's highest—66.0% for men and 65.7% for women. There were 808 veterans, or 12.9% of the population.
The neighborhood was considered "not especially diverse" ethnically within Los Angeles, with a relatively high percentage of white people. The breakdown was whites, 83.0%; Asians, 8.2%; Latinos, 4.6%; blacks, 0.9%; and others, 3.2%. Iran (26.1%) and South Africa (8.2%) were the most common places of birth for the 24.1% of the residents who were born abroad—which was an average percentage for Los Angeles as a whole.
The community was founded in 1923 by Alphonzo Bell. Bell owned farm property in Santa Fe Springs, California, where oil was discovered. He bought a large ranch with a home on what is now Bel Air Road. He subdivided and developed the property with large residential lots. He also built the Bel-Air Beach Club in Santa Monica and the Bel-Air Country Club. His wife chose Italian names for the streets. She also founded the Bel-Air Garden Club in 1931.
Together with Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills, Bel Air forms the Platinum Triangle of Los Angeles neighborhoods.
Bel Air is situated about 12 miles (19 km) west of Downtown Los Angeles and includes some of the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. It lies across Sunset Boulevard from the northern edge of the main campus of the University of California, Los Angeles. At the heart of the community sits the Bel-Air Country Club and the Hotel Bel-Air.
Along with Beverly Hills and the Los Angeles community of Brentwood, it is one of the "Three Bs", a wealthy area in the Los Angeles Westside.
This region experiences warm and dry summers, with no average monthly temperatures above 71.6 °F (22.0 °C). According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Bel Air has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csb" on climate maps.
Of several entrances, there are two main ones: (1) the East Gate at Beverly Glen and Sunset Boulevards and (2) the West Gate at Bellagio Drive of UCLA and Sunset Boulevard, opposite an entrance to UCLA. Bel Air is generally subdivided into three distinct neighborhoods: East Gate Old Bel Air, West Gate Bel Air, and Upper Bel Air.
The Hannah Carter Japanese Garden is located in Bel Air. It was inspired by the gardens of Kyoto. Many structures in the garden—the main gate, garden house, bridges, and shrine—were built in Japan and reassembled here. Antique stone carvings, water basins and lanterns, as well as the five-tiered pagoda, and key symbolic rocks are also from Japan. Several hundred tons of local stones came from the quarries in Ventura County and the foot of Mt. Baldy, northeast of Los Angeles.
Television shows and movies have been filmed in Bel Air, or are said to take place in the community. Exterior shots for the Beverly Hillbillies were shot in and around 750 Bel Air Road, built by Lynn Atkinson (and later sold to hotelier Arnold Kirkeby after Atkinson's wife refused to move into a house she thought too ostentatious). After the exterior shooting was completed, the residents of that address forbade any more filming, as passers-by would wander onto the property and ask to see 'Granny'. Exterior scenes from movies such as Get Shorty have also been filmed in the area. Several episodes of the television show The Rockford Files were filmed in Bel Air. The television sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was set in the neighborhood, although the exterior shots used were filmed in nearby Brentwood. The Bel Air Film Festival, first held in 2008, is an annual international film festival held in Bel Air and the Los Angeles area.
The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services SPA 5 West Area Health Office serves Bel Air.
It lies within the 5th city council district, represented by Paul Koretz. It is located in the 90077 (Bel Air Estates & Beverly Glen) ZIP code, which is part of the city of Los Angeles. Stone Canyon Reservoir lies in the northeastern part of Bel Air. Established in 1994, it serves around 500,000 people. The Bel Air Association has been operational since 1942, dedicated to preserving the aesthetic appearance of the residential community. The Bel Air Association is located at the entrance of the East Gate of Bel Air at 100 Bel Air Road.
Los Angeles Fire Department Station 71 is in the area.
The Los Angeles Police Department operates the West Los Angeles Community Police Station at 1663 Butler Avenue, 90025, serving the neighborhood.
Almost two-thirds (66.1%) of Bel Air residents aged 25 and older had earned a four-year degree by 2000, a high percentage for the city and the county. The percentages of residents in that age range with a bachelor's degree or greater were high for the county. The community is within the Los Angeles Unified School District. The area is within Board District 4. As of 2009, Steve Zimmer represented the district.
The schools within Bel Air are as follows:Roscomare Road Elementary School, 2325 Roscomare Road
Community Magnet Charter Elementary School, 11301 Bellagio Road. Because the school's point-based admissions system does not favor area residents, children living in Bel Air generally do not attend the school. It is located in the former Bellagio Road School campus.
Roscomare Road and Warner Avenue Elementary School in Westwood are the zoned elementary schools serving Bel Air. Bel Air is within the attendance boundaries of Emerson Middle School in Westwood and University High School, West Los Angeles.
In April 1983 an advisory committee of the LAUSD recommended closing eight LAUSD schools, including Bellagio Road School. The committee did not target Fairburn Avenue School in Westwood, as a way of allowing it to preserve its ethnic balance, and so it can take children from Bellagio Road in the event that it closed. In August 1983 the board publicly considered closing Bellagio, which had 240 students at the time. The school's enrollment had been decreasing. In May 1983 the board voted to keep the school open. In February 1984, after the composition of the board had changed, the board voted to close the Bellagio Road School.
Bel Air previously housed the Bellagio Road Newcomer School, a 3rd-8th grade school for newly arrived immigrants. In 2002 it had 390 students from Armenia, China, El Salvador, Guatemala, Korea, Russia, and other countries. This program was housed in the former Bellagio Road school.Marymount High School, 10643 Sunset Boulevard
Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School/Milken Community Schools, K–12, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive
John Thomas Dye School, K–6, 11414 Chalon Road
The Mirman School
Westland School, 16200 Mulholland Drive, was founded in 1949. It moved to its current location in 1965, becoming the first school to locate in what has now developed into a major 'institutional corridor' in the area of the Sepulveda Pass.
Bel Air is home to the American Jewish University.Jennifer Aniston, actress
Warner Baxter, actor
Jack Benny, comedian
Wilt Chamberlain, Basketball Hall of Fame inductee
John Gilbert, actor
Alfred Hitchcock, film director
Mary Livingstone, actress and comedian
Joni Mitchell, singer-songwriter
Elon Musk, entrepreneur
Leonard Nimoy, American actor, film director, poet, singer and photographer
Chris Paul, basketball athlete
President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan
Darren Star, show and movie producer, writer
Elizabeth Taylor, actress