San Luis Obispo County, California
San Luis Obispo County
|County of San Luis Obispo|
"Not For Ourselves Alone"
Location in the state of California
California's location in the United States
|Region||California Central Coast|
|Incorporated||February 18, 1850|
|Named for||Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse|
|County seat||San Luis Obispo|
|Largest city||San Luis Obispo|
|• Body||San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors|
|• Assemblymember||Jordan Cunningham (R)|
|• State senator||Bill Monning (D)|
|• Total||3,616 sq mi (9,370 km2)|
|• Land||3,299 sq mi (8,540 km2)|
|• Water||317 sq mi (820 km2)|
|Highest elevation||5,109 ft (1,557 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||86/sq mi (33/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-8 (Pacific Time Zone)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-7 (Pacific Daylight Time)|
San Luis Obispo County, officially the County of San Luis Obispo, is a county located in the southern region of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 269,637; the county seat is San Luis Obispo.
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.
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), 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 ridge where newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst built Hearst Castle. Other coastal towns (listed from North to South) include Cambria, Cayucos, Morro Bay, and Los Osos -Baywood Park; these cities and villages are located northwest of San Luis Obispo city, and Avila Beach and the Five Cities Region to the south which were originally: Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach (then known as Grover City), Oceano, Fair Oaks and Halcyon. Today, the Five Cities Region consists of Pismo Beach, Grover Beach and Oceano (County), basically the area from Pismo Beach to Oceano. 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Politics
- 5 Crime
- 6 Economy
- 7 Transportation
- 8 Communities
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 Footnotes
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
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.
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.
National protected areas
- Carrizo Plain National Monument (part)
- Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge (part)
- Los Padres National Forest (part)
Marine Protected Areas
- Piedras Blancas State Marine Reserve and Marine Conservation Area
- Cambria State Marine Conservation Area
- White Rock (Cambria) State Marine Conservation Area
- Morro Bay State Marine Recreational Management Area and Morro Bay State Marine Reserve
- Point Buchon State Marine Reserve and Marine Conservation Area
|Population, race, and income|
|Black or African American||5,882||2.2%|
|American Indian or Alaska Native||2,625||1.0%|
|Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander||280||0.1%|
|Some other race||16,666||6.2%|
|Two or more races||8,925||3.3%|
|Hispanic or Latino (of any race)||54,537||20.4%|
|Per capita income||$30,204|
|Median household income||$58,630|
|Median family income||$74,841|
Places by population, race, and income
|Places by population and race|
|Asian||Black or African
|Hispanic or Latino|
(of any race)
|El Paso de Robles (Paso Robles)||City||29,270||76.6%||15.1%||2.0%||4.5%||1.8%||35.1%|
|San Luis Obispo||City||45,130||83.2%||8.4%||6.4%||1.6%||0.6%||16.6%|
|Places by population and income|
|Place||Type||Population||Per capita income||Median household income||Median family income|
|El Paso de Robles (Paso Robles)||City||29,270||$26,547||$57,927||$63,864|
|San Luis Obispo||City||45,130||$25,775||$42,528||$80,560|
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.
|Population reported at 2010 United States Census|
(of any race)
|San Luis Obispo County||269,637||222,756||5,550||2,536||8,507||389||19,786||10,113||55,973|
(of any race)
|San Luis Obispo||45,119||38,117||523||275||2,350||65||1,973||1,816||6,626|
(of any race)
(of any race)
|All others not CDPs (combined)||47,973||39,400||2,854||462||1,422||40||2,250||1,545||7,659|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census 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.
|Population and registered voters|
|Registered voters[note 3]||156,516||58.4%|
|Peace and Freedom||327||0.2%|
|No party preference||32,762||20.9%|
Cities by population and voter registration
|Cities by population and voter registration|
|Democratic||Republican||D–R spread||Other||No party preference|
|El Paso de Robles (Paso Robles)||29,270||52.1%||29.6%||45.3%||-15.7%||8.2%||19.9%|
|San Luis Obispo||45,130||59.2%||40.0%||29.1%||+10.9%||9.0%||24.6%|
San Luis Obispo County leaned toward the Republican Party in presidential and congressional elections during the 20th century; it has, however, become more Democratic during the 2000s and 2010s. In 2008, Barack Obama won the county with 51.2 percent of the vote. 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 Salud Carbajal. 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 Lois 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, the county is in the 35th Assembly District, represented by Republican Jordan Cunningham.
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.
The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.
|Population and crime rates|
|Motor vehicle theft||375||1.40|
Cities by population and crime rates
|Cities by population and crime rates|
|City||Population||Violent crimes||Violent crime rate
per 1,000 persons
|Property crimes||Property crime rate|
per 1,000 persons
|San Luis Obispo||45,947||119||2.59||1,971||42.90|
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.
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.
- San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (SBP) is located just south of the City of San Luis Obispo. Commercial flights are available.
- Paso Robles Municipal Airport (PRB) is located north-east of the City of Paso Robles and is home to California Highway Patrol, CAL-FIRE and the Estrella Warbirds Museum.
- Oceano County Airport (L52) is located on the coast in the 5 Cities area.
- Arroyo Grande
- Grover Beach
- Morro Bay
- Paso Robles
- Pismo Beach
- San Luis Obispo (county seat)
The "Five Cities" as they are known today are: Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Oceano and Pismo Beach. Some people think that Shell Beach is separate from Pismo Beach, and while it was originally developed in the County, it was annexed into the City of Pismo Beach and is part of that City. Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Pismo Beach are the only incorporated cities. Oceano is a census-designated place, and Shell Beach is part of Pismo Beach.
† county seat
|Rank||City/Town/etc.||Municipal type||Population (2010 Census)|
|1||† San Luis Obispo||City||45,119|
|2||Paso Robles (El Paso de Robles)||City||29,793|
- San Luis Obispo County Search and Rescue
- List of museums in the California Central Coast
- List of school districts in San Luis Obispo County, California
- National Register of Historic Places listings in San Luis Obispo County, California
- San Luis Obispo Pioneer, the county's first newspaper
- Dalidio Ranch Project controversy, a controversy involving San Luis Obispo County
- Other = Some other race + Two or more races
- Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
- Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.
- "Chronology". California State Association of Counties. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
- "Statewide Database". UC Regents. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
- "Caliente Mountain". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
- "American FactFinder". Retrieved April 19, 2019.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
- Settevendemie, Marty. "2012 Crop Report" (PDF). San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture.
- Terry L. Jones and Kathryn Klar (2007) California Prehistory: Colonization, Culture, and Complexity, Published by Rowman Altamira ISBN 0-7591-0872-2, 408 pages
- C.Michael Hogan (2008) Morro Creek, ed. by A. Burnham
- "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
- U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B02001. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
- U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B03003. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
- U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19301. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
- U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19013. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
- U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19113. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
- U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
- U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B01003. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
- "2010 Census P.L. 94-171 Summary File Data". United States Census Bureau.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
- "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
- Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
- "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
- California Secretary of State. February 10, 2013 - Report of Registration Archived November 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
- Map of Election Results, County-by-County: The New York Times
- Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
- "California's 24th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
- Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice, State of California. Table 11: Crimes – 2009 Archived December 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
- Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.
- United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, 2012, Table 8 (California). Retrieved 2013-11-14.
- Charles Montville Gidney, Benjamin Brooks, and Edwin M. Sheridan, History of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties, California. In Two Volumes. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1917. Volume 1 | Volume 2
- Yda Addis Storke, A Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura, California... Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1891.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to San Luis Obispo County, California.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for San Luis Obispo County.|
- Economic Vitality Corp.
- Official website
- San Luis Obispo County Visitors & Conference Bureau website
- SLOweather.com has weather conditions, web cams, and weather forecasts for the County seat and surrounding areas