San Luis Obispo County, California

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from San Luis Obispo County)
Jump to: navigation, search
San Luis Obispo County
SLO County
County of San Luis Obispo
Cerro San Luis.JPG Justin vineyard.jpg
Pismo.jpg MissionSanMiguelArches.JPG
Hearst Castle pool.jpg Morro Rock 1.jpg
Images, from top down, left to right: Cerro San Luis (Mountain) in San Luis Obispo, a vineyard in Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, Mission San Miguel Arcángel, Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle, Morro Rock
Official seal of San Luis Obispo County
Motto: "Not For Ourselves Alone"
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
California's location in the United States
California's location in the United States
Country  United States
State  California
Region California Central Coast
Incorporated February 18, 1850[1]
County seat San Luis Obispo
 • Total 3,616 sq mi (9,370 km2)
 • Land 3,299 sq mi (8,540 km2)
 • Water 317 sq mi (820 km2)
Highest elevation[2] 5,109 ft (1,557 m)
Population (April 1, 2010)[3]
 • Total 269,637
 • Estimate (2014)[3] 279,083
 • Density 75/sq mi (29/km2)
Time zone Pacific Time Zone (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)
The entrance lobby and belfry of the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. A statue of Fray Junípero Serra stands outside the church.
Robert Jack House, built circa 1882

San Luis Obispo County, officially the County of San Luis Obispo, is a county located in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 269,637.[3] The county seat is San Luis Obispo.[4]

San Luis Obispo County (locally, SLO County) comprises the San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county is located along the Pacific Ocean in Central California, between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The county's distance from the large metro areas of San Francisco and Los Angeles has helped it to retain its rural character and reminders of old California abound. Commonly referred to as "the Central Coast," the area is more rural and agricultural than many other coastal regions in California. Father Junipero Serra founded the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in 1772 and the Mission is today an active part of downtown San Luis Obispo (popularly referred to as SLO or SLO-town). The small size of the county's communities, scattered along the beaches, coastal hills, and mountains of the Santa Lucia range, provides a wide variety of coastal and inland hill ecologies to support many kinds of fishing, agriculture, and tourist activities.

The mainstays of the economy are California Polytechnic State University with its almost 20,000 students, tourism, and agriculture. San Luis Obispo County is the third largest producer of wine in California, surpassed only by Sonoma and Napa Counties. Wine grapes are the second largest agricultural crop in the county (after strawberries),[5] and the wine production they support creates a direct economic impact and a growing wine country vacation industry.

The town of San Simeon is located at the foot of the hill where newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst built the famed Hearst Castle. Other coastal towns (listed from North to South) include Cambria, Cayucos, Morro Bay, and Los Osos (Baywood Park is considered to be Los Osos by the majority of locals). The city of Morro Bay and the village of Los Osos share the bay that has been made famous by Morro Rock. Surprisingly, the Village of Los Osos has a bigger population by roughly 4 thousand residents. These cities and villages are located northwest of San Luis Obispo city, and Avila Beach and the Five Cities to the south: Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Oceano, Pismo Beach and Shell Beach. Nipomo, just south of the Five Cities, borders northern Santa Barbara County. Inland, the cities of Paso Robles, Templeton, and Atascadero lie along the Salinas River, near the Paso Robles wine region. San Luis Obispo lies south of Atascadero and north of the Five Cities region. Just south of Cambria lies Harmony, one of the smallest towns in California with a population of 18.


The prehistory of San Luis Obispo County is strongly influenced by the Chumash people who had significant settlement here at least as early as the Millingstone Horizon thousands of years before the present age. Important settlements existed, for example, in many coastal areas such as Morro Bay and Los Osos.[6][7]

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was founded on September 1, 1772 in the area that is now the city of San Luis Obispo. The namesake of the mission, city and county is Saint Louis of Toulouse, the young bishop of Toulouse (Obispo and Tolosa in Spanish) in 1297.

San Luis Obispo County was one of the original counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood.

The Salinas River Valley, a region that figures strongly in several Steinbeck novels, stretches north from San Luis Obispo County. The remote California Valley near Soda Lake is the region most untouched by modernity. Travels through this area and the hills east of highway 101 during wildflower season are very beautiful and can be incorporated with wine tasting at local vineyards.

On December 7, 1987, Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 1771 crashed in San Luis Obispo County after a passenger shot 5 people on board, including the pilots, then intentionally crashed the plane. All 43 on board, including the gunman, were killed.


San Luis Obispo
Sand dunes - Oceano CA
Morro Bay Docks

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 3,616 square miles (9,370 km2), of which 3,299 square miles (8,540 km2) is land and 317 square miles (820 km2) (8.8%) is water.[8]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Counties and bodies of water adjacent to San Luis Obispo County, California

National protected areas[edit]

Marine Protected Areas[edit]



Places by population, race, and income[edit]


The 2010 United States Census reported that San Luis Obispo County had a population of 269,637. The racial makeup of San Luis Obispo County was 222,756 (82.6%) White, 5,550 (2.1%) African American, 2,536 (0.9%) Native American, 8,507 (3.2%) Asian (1.0% Filipino, 0.6% Chinese, 0.4% Japanese, 0.3% Indian, 0.3% Korean, 0.2% Vietnamese), 389 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 19,786 (7.3%) from other races, and 10,113 (3.8%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 55,973 persons (20.8%); 17.7% of San Luis Obispo County is Mexican, 0.3% Puerto Rican, and 0.2% Salvadoran.[16]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 336
1860 1,782 430.4%
1870 4,772 167.8%
1880 9,142 91.6%
1890 16,072 75.8%
1900 16,637 3.5%
1910 19,383 16.5%
1920 21,893 12.9%
1930 29,613 35.3%
1940 33,246 12.3%
1950 51,417 54.7%
1960 81,044 57.6%
1970 105,690 30.4%
1980 155,435 47.1%
1990 217,162 39.7%
2000 246,681 13.6%
2010 269,637 9.3%
Est. 2014 279,083 3.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[17]
1790–1960[18] 1900–1990[19]
1990–2000[20] 2010–2014[3]

As of the census[21] of 2000, there were 246,681 residents, 92,739 households, and 58,611 families in the county. The population density was 75 people per square mile (29/km²). There were 102,275 housing units at an average density of 31 per square mile (12/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 84.6% White, 2.0% Black or African American, 1.0% Native American, 2.7% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 6.2% from other races, and 3.4% from two or more races. 16.3% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 13.9% were of German, 11.4% English, 9.7% Irish, 6.1% American and 5.7% Italian ancestry according to Census 2000. 85.7% spoke English and 10.7% Spanish as their first language.

There were 92,739 households out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.40% were married couples living together, 9.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.8% were non-families. 26.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the county the population was spread out with 21.7% under the age of 18, 13.6% from 18 to 24, 27.0% from 25 to 44, 23.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 105.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.2 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,428, and the median income for a family was $52,447. Males had a median income of $40,726 versus $27,450 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,864. About 6.8% of families and 12.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.4% of those under age 18 and 5.9% of those age 65 or over.


Voter registration[edit]

Cities by population and voter registration[edit]


San Luis Obispo County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year GOP DEM Others
2012 48.0% 59,967 49.0% 61,258 3.0% 3,741
2008 46.1% 61,055 51.4% 68,176 2.0% 3,924
2004 52.7% 67,995 45.5% 58,742 1.8% 2,313
2000 52.2% 56,859 40.9% 44,526 6.9% 7,501
1996 46.5% 46,733 40.2% 40,395 13.3% 13,372
1992 34.7% 36,384 38.4% 40,136 26.9% 28,099
1988 55.9% 46,613 42.7% 35,667 1.4% 1,187
1984 63.7% 49,035 35.0% 26,946 1.3% 969
1980 55.6% 38,631 29.5% 20,508 14.9% 10,388
1976 51.2% 27,785 45.9% 24,926 2.9% 1,587
1972 56.0% 28,566 40.7% 20,779 3.3% 1,688
1968 51.3% 19,420 41.8% 15,828 7.0% 2,633
1964 40.1% 14,906 59.8% 22,252 0.1% 28
1960 54.0% 17,862 45.3% 14,975 0.7% 218
1956 58.5% 16,223 41.1% 11,407 0.4% 118
1952 65.4% 17,716 33.9% 9,174 0.8% 213
1948 53.5% 10,325 42.1% 8,135 4.4% 844
1944 48.9% 7,793 50.6% 8,068 0.5% 75
1940 45.3% 7,204 53.4% 8,499 1.4% 217
1936 37.3% 4,812 61.1% 7,889 1.6% 205
1932 28.6% 3,449 65.8% 7,933 5.6% 680
1928 60.8% 5,425 37.4% 3,336 1.8% 159
1924 49.0% 3,804 9.4% 731 41.6% 3,226
1920 61.3% 4,123 23.9% 1,606 14.8% 996

San Luis Obispo County, as a whole, leans toward the Republican Party in presidential and congressional elections; it has, however, become somewhat more Democratic during the 2000s and 2010s. In 2008, Barack Obama won the county with 51.2 percent of the vote.[23] Prior to 2008, the last Democrat to win a majority in the county was Lyndon Johnson in 1964, although Bill Clinton won a plurality in 1992. In 2012, Obama again won the county, this time with a slim plurality of the vote.

The county backed Democrat Jerry Brown during his 2014 re-election campaign after having supported his Republican opponent, Meg Whitman, in 2010. Prior to this, the last Democrat to carry the county in a gubernatorial election was Gray Davis in 1998.

With respect to the United States House of Representatives, San Luis Obispo County is in California's 24th congressional district, represented by Democrat Lois Capps.[24] From 2003 until 2013, the county was split between the Bakersfield-based 22nd district, which was represented by Republican Kevin McCarthy and included Paso Robles and most of the more conservative inland areas of the county, and Capps' 23rd district, a strip which included most of the county's more liberal coastal areas as well as coastal areas of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

With respect to the California State Senate, the county is in the 17th Senate District, represented by Democrat Bill Monning. With respect to the California State Assembly, it is split between the 35th Assembly District, represented by Republican Katcho Achadjian, and the 37th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Das Williams.

In April 2008, the California Secretary of State reported that there were 147,326 registered voters in San Luis Obispo County. Of those voters, 61,226 (41.6%) were registered Republicans, 52,586 (35.7%) were registered Democratic, 8,030 (5.4%) are registered with other political parties, and 25,484 (17.3%) declined to state a political preference. The cities of Grover Beach, Morro Bay, and San Luis Obispo had pluralities or majorities of registered Democratic voters, whereas the rest of the county's towns, cities, and the unincorporated areas have a plurality or majority of registered Republican voters.[citation needed]


The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.

Cities by population and crime rates[edit]


Clubhair mariposa lily near SLO city, 2014

San Luis Obispo County’s economy is primarily a service economy. Service jobs account for 38% of the County’s jobs, government jobs accounts for 20.7%, and manufacturing jobs represent 6% of the County's jobs.


Major highways[edit]

Public transportation[edit]

San Luis Obispo County is served by Amtrak trains and Greyhound Lines buses. The San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority provides countywide service along US 101 as well as service to Morro Bay, Los Osos, Cambria and San Simeon.

The cities of San Luis Obispo, Atascadero and Paso Robles operate their own local bus services; all of these connect with SLORTA routes.

Oceano County Airport in 2013

Intercity service is provided by Amtrak trains, Greyhound and Orange Belt Stages buses.




Census-designated places[edit]

Pair of Bat stars near Los Osos

Unincorporated communities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Other = Some other race + Two or more races
  2. ^ Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
  3. ^ a b Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.
  4. ^ Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.


  1. ^ "Chronology". California State Association of Counties. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Caliente Mountain". Retrieved March 18, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  5. ^ Settevendemie, Marty. "2012 Crop Report" (PDF). San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture. 
  6. ^ Terry L. Jones and Kathryn Klar (2007) California Prehistory: Colonization, Culture, and Complexity, Published by Rowman Altamira ISBN 0-7591-0872-2, 408 pages
  7. ^ C.Michael Hogan (2008) Morro Creek, ed. by A. Burnham
  8. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B02001. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  10. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B03003. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  11. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19301. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  12. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19013. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  13. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19113. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  14. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  15. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B01003. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  16. ^ "2010 Census P.L. 94-171 Summary File Data". United States Census Bureau. 
  17. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 4, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved October 4, 2015. 
  19. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 4, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved October 4, 2015. 
  21. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q California Secretary of State. February 10, 2013 - Report of Registration. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  23. ^ Map of Election Results, County-by-County: The New York Times
  24. ^ "California's 24th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved September 25, 2014. 
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice, State of California. Table 11: Crimes – 2009. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  26. ^ a b c United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, 2012, Table 8 (California). Retrieved 2013-11-14.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°23′N 120°27′W / 35.38°N 120.45°W / 35.38; -120.45