Bonny Doon, California

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Bonny Doon, California
Location of Bonny Doon in Santa Cruz County, California.
Location of Bonny Doon in Santa Cruz County, California.
Bonny Doon, California is located in California
Bonny Doon, California
Bonny Doon, California
Position in California.
Coordinates: 37°02′37″N 122°08′13″W / 37.04361°N 122.13694°W / 37.04361; -122.13694Coordinates: 37°02′37″N 122°08′13″W / 37.04361°N 122.13694°W / 37.04361; -122.13694
CountryUnited States
CountySanta Cruz
 • Total16.56 sq mi (42.90 km2)
 • Land16.56 sq mi (42.90 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)  0%
Elevation1,476 ft (450 m)
 • Total2,868
 • Density173.16/sq mi (66.86/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP Code
GNIS feature ID2582948[4]
Aerial view of Bonny Doon Beach

Bonny Doon is a census-designated place in Santa Cruz County, California.[2] It is situated northwest of the city of Santa Cruz, considered part of the southern San Francisco Bay Area or northern Monterey Bay Area. Bonny Doon's population was 2,868, as reported by the 2020 United States Census.


It was founded in the 1850s as a logging camp. The current name can be attested back to 1902:[5] John Burns, a Scotsman living in Santa Cruz, named Bonny Doon after a line in the Robert Burns song "The Banks O' Doon". The line is: "Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon...", and refers back to the Doon River in Scotland. Evidence of 2,600 years of occupation by Native Americans has been found in the area.[citation needed]

Bonny Doon has no city center or commercial shops, but features several wineries including Bonny Doon Vineyard, a church, two fire stations, a lavender farm, the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve, an elementary school, and a private-use airport. A beach of the same name is nearby.

In 2020, Bonny Doon was popular with remote workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.[6]


At 2:54 p.m. on June 11, 2008, a fire broke out at the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve, a preserve with a number of hiking trails located on Martin Road. This Martin Fire burned 520 acres (2.1 km2), destroying three residences and eight outbuildings. About 1,500 residents of Bonny Doon were evacuated as a result of the fire. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency for Santa Cruz County. The blaze cost over $5.4 million to contain and was part of a busy summer of wildfires in California.[7]

Little more than one year later, on August 12, 2009 at 7:16 pm, a second fire started in Bonny Doon, near the Lockheed facility off Empire Grade. The Lockheed Fire burned 7,817 acres (31.63 km2), and destroyed 13 outbuildings. More than 2,000 residents were evacuated as the blaze spread from Swanton south toward Bonny Doon. The blaze cost over $26.6 million and took nearly 2 weeks to be fully contained. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.[8]

In August 2020, Bonny Doon was affected by the CZU complex of lightning-initiated fires, which joined together to form one of the top 10 largest fires ever in California. Many home structures, the local school, and lavender field farm were protected by local residents – and one neighbor’s (borrowed) fire equipment truck. This band of neighbors defied an evacuation order and worked together over 4 days and nights to save multiple properties in their community, with the help of CAL Fire at the very peak of the fire. {Stories of the heroic actions of community members who stayed behind to protect homes yet to be added by a local resident}


Bonny Doon Village Airport

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP covers an area of 16.7 square miles (43.2 km2), all of it land. The area sits at an elevation of 1,476 feet (450 m).[2]

The area is on a slope with higher elevations in redwood forest or maritime chaparral, and lower elevations descending into the coastal zone, which is occupied by grasslands. There are ocean views from parts of the area on days when fog is not present.

The road to Bonny Doon from State Route 1, named Bonny Doon Road, crosses an enclosed, unmarked conveyor belt, which carried limestone from a quarry 3 miles (4.8 km) east to the Cemex cement plant in Davenport. The Davenport plant had supplied cement for later stages of the Panama Canal and other large projects since its founding in 1906, but is now closed.[citation needed]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[9]

At the 2010 census Bonny Doon had a population of 2,678. The population density was 160.5 inhabitants per square mile (62.0/km2). The census reported that 99.0% of the population lived in households and 1.0% lived in non-institutionalized group quarters. The average household size was 2.44.[10]

There were 1,218 housing units at an average density of 73.0 per square mile (28.2/km2), of which 73.3% were owner-occupied and 26.7% were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.9%. 75.7% of the population lived in owner-occupied housing units and 23.3% lived in rental housing units.

There were 1,088 households, 268 (24.6%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 579 (53.2%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 59 (5.4%) had a female householder with no husband present, 49 (4.5%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 76 (7.0%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 17 (1.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 264 households (24.3%) were one person and 79 (7.3%) had someone living alone who was 65 or older. There were 687 families (63.1% of households); the average family size was 2.77.

The racial makeup of Bonny Doon was 2,474 (92.4%) White, 9 (0.3%) African American, 15 (0.6%) Native American, 51 (1.9%) Asian, 5 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 48 (1.8%) from other races, and 76 (2.8%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 168 people (6.3%).

The age of the population was spread out, with 447 people (16.7%) under the age of 18, 210 people (7.8%) aged 18 to 24, 579 people (21.6%) aged 25 to 44, 1,082 people (40.4%) aged 45 to 64, and 360 people (13.4%) who were 65 or older. The median age was 47.5 years.

There were more males than females. For every 100 females, there were 110.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 112.9 males.


In the California State Legislature, Bonny Doon is in the 17th Senate District, represented by Democrat John Laird, and in the 29th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Robert Rivas.[11]

In the United States House of Representatives, Bonny Doon is in California's 18th congressional district, represented by Democrat Zoe Lofgren.[12]


Internet and television service are available but mobile phone service is very limited due to the mountainous terrain and trees.

Notable people[edit]

Robert A. Heinlein (1907–1988), a noted science fiction author, and his wife Virginia, resided in Bonny Doon from 1965 until just before his death. They designed and built the house themselves.[13]

Bonny Doon was briefly in the spotlight in 2009 when model Jasmine Fiore was murdered. Jasmine grew up in Bonny Doon and attended the local elementary, where she was known as Jasmine Lepore.


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Bonny Doon, California
  3. ^ "Bonny Doon CDP, California". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  4. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Bonny Doon, California
  5. ^ Gudde, Erwin G. (1998). California place names : the origin and etymology of current geographical names (4th ed., rev. and enl. ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 42. ISBN 0520213165.
  6. ^ Hagemann, Hannah (August 29, 2020). "'Most Beautiful Place on Earth': The Citizens Who Stayed Behind to Save Their Santa Cruz Mountain Paradise". KQED-FM.
  7. ^ California, State of. "Martin Fire General Information". Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  8. ^ California, State of. "Lockheed Fire General Information".
  9. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  10. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Bonny Doon CDP". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  11. ^ "Statewide Database". UC Regents. Archived from the original on February 1, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  12. ^ "California's 18th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC.
  13. ^ The Heinleins' unique circular house can be seen on Google Maps on the east side of Bonny Doon Road, just south of where Shake Mill Road dead-ends into Bonny Doon Road from the west.

External links[edit]