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People who know this area well sometimes refer to Tustin as "The City of the Trees." Although a variety of trees are responsible for this nickname, this is a distinctive quality of the area which dates back centuries, actually to the time of the early Spanish explorers.

Tustin is located in central Orange County and encompasses an area of 11.08 square miles. The City is bounded on the south by the cities of Irvine and Santa Ana, on the north by the unincorporated portions of the County of Orange and the City of Orange, and on the east by unincorporated County territory and the City of Irvine. Within the context of the larger Southern California region, Tustin is located approximately two miles north of Orange County's John Wayne Airport and is transected by two major regional freeways: the I-5 (Santa Ana) Freeway, divides the City into north and south; and the SR-55 (Costa Mesa) Freeway, divides westerly portions of the City.

The City continues to be a discernible entity, characterized physically by its strategic crossroads location, the former Marine Corps Air Station, Tustin, (closed in July 1999), hillside areas which offer sweeping panoramic views of the Pacific Coast and Saddleback Mountains, prime commercial, industrial, and residential development, and one of the oldest historical "old towns" in Orange County. These significant natural and man-made characteristics provide a commonly acknowledged basis for a "sense of place". Together, they act as a foundation for Tustin's Future...a functional desirable and attractive community to live, work or visit.

Incorporated in 1927, the City of Tustin is a General Law city.  The Constitution of the State of California establishes two types of cities: Charter and General Law. A General Law City, may exercise only those powers expressly given under State law. All cities begin as General Law cities, and the City of Tustin has chosen to remain such.

Tustin has a Council-Manager form of government which consists of an elected City Council responsible for policy making, and a professional City Manager, appointed by the Council. The City Manager provides policy advice, directs the daily operations of City government, handles personnel functions (including the power to appoint and remove employees) and is responsible for preparing the City budget. State law permits two basic forms of government in General Law Cities: the Mayor-City Council and Council-Manager system.