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Santa Cruz County, California
Seal of Santa Cruz County, California
Map of California highlighting Santa Cruz County
Location in the state of California
Map of the U.S. highlighting California
California's location in the U.S.
Seat Santa Cruz
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

607 sq mi (1,572 km²)
445 sq mi (1,153 km²)
162 sq mi (420 km²), 26.67%
 - (2008)
 - Density

569/sq mi (220/km²)
Founded 1850

Santa Cruz County is a county located on the Pacific coast of the U.S. state of California, just south of the San Francisco Bay Area. The county forms the northern coast of the Monterey Bay. (Monterey County forms the southern coast). As of 2008, its population was 253,137.[1] The county seat is Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz County is a member of the regional governmental agency, Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments.



Santa Cruz County was one of the original counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood.

In the original act, the county was given the name of "Branciforte" after the Spanish pueblo founded there in 1797; a major watercourse in the county, Branciforte Creek, bears this name. Less than two months later, the name was changed to "Santa Cruz" ("Holy Cross"). Mission Santa Cruz, established in 1791 and completed in 1794, was destroyed by an earthquake in 1857, but a smaller-scale replica was erected in 1931.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 607 square miles (1,573 km²), of which, 445 square miles (1,153 km²) of it is land and 162 square miles (419 km²) of it (26.67%) is water. Of California's counties, only San Francisco is physically smaller.

The county is a strip about ten miles wide between the coast and the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains at the northern end of the Monterey Bay. It can be divided roughly into four regions: the rugged "north coast"; the urban City of Santa Cruz, Soquel, Capitola, and Aptos; mountainous Bonny Doon, San Lorenzo River Valley; and fertile "south county", including Watsonville. Agriculture is concentrated in the coastal lowlands of the county's northern and southern ends. Most of the coastline is flanked by cliffs.


Cities and towns

Incorporated Cities:

Unincorporated Towns:

Adjacent counties

Santa Cruz
Counties and bodies of water adjacent to Santa Cruz County, California

Transportation infrastructure

Major highways

County routes

Public transportation

Santa Cruz County is served by the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District bus system. A "Highway 17 Express" bus between Santa Cruz and San Jose is jointly operated by the SCMTD and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. Greyhound Lines bus service also serves Santa Cruz County.



According to the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program (PEP), the population of Santa Cruz County on on July 1, 2006 was 249,705. This is a 2.3% drop from the recorded number of people on April 1, 2000; the PEP builds this estimate from such year-by-year information as births, deaths, domestic and international immigration.

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 255,602 people, 91,139 households, and 57,144 families residing in the county. The population density was 574 people per square mile (222/km²). There were 98,873 housing units at an average density of 222 per square mile (86/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 75.09% White, 0.97% Black or African American, 0.96% Native American, 3.44% Asian, 0.15% Pacific Islander, 15.02% from other races, and 4.37% from two or more races. 26.79% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 10.0% were of German, 8.9% English, 8.2% Irish and 6.3% Italian ancestry according to Census 2000. 72.5% spoke English and 22.3%Spanish as their first language. About 6,000 residents as Jewish, or about 2.3% of the population; this is the 91st highest percentage of Jews in the United States (see American Jews).

There were 91,139 households out of which 31.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.00% were married couples living together, 10.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.30% were non-families. 25.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.25.

In the county the population was spread out with 23.80% under the age of 18, 11.90% from 18 to 24, 30.80% from 25 to 44, 23.50% from 45 to 64, and 10.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 99.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $53,998, and the median income for a family was $61,941. Males had a median income of $46,291 versus $33,514 for females. The per capita income for the county was $26,396. About 6.70% of families and 11.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.50% of those under age 18 and 6.30% of those age 65 or over.

Santa Cruz county residents tend to be well-educated. 38.3% of residents age 25 and older hold a bachelor's degree at least, significantly higher than the national average of 27.2% and the state average of 29.5%.[3] [4]

Environmental features

Santa Cruz County is home to the following endangered species:

Colleges and universities

Four-year universities:

Two-year colleges:


Presidential election results
Year DEM GOP Others
2008 77.8% 78,495 19.9% 20,063 2.3% 2,331
2004 73.0% 89,102 24.9% 30,354 2.2% 2,628
2000 61.5% 66,618 27.3% 29,627 11.2% 12,105
1996 56.5% 58,250 26.9% 27,766 16.5% 17,046
1992 58.1% 66,183 21.9% 24,916 20.1% 22,893
1988 61.5% 63,133 36.8% 37,728 1.7% 1,750
1984 53.3% 49,091 45.2% 41,652 1.5% 1,404
1980 37.7% 32,346 43.5% 37,347 18.8% 16,111
1976 51.1% 37,772 43.1% 31,872 5.9% 4,325
1972 46.4% 32,336 49.9% 34,799 3.8% 2,624
1968 41.0% 20,492 50.8% 25,365 8.2% 4,087
1964 58.5% 26,714 41.3% 18,836 0.2% 94
1960 40.0% 16,659 59.6% 24,858 0.5% 187

Santa Cruz is a strongly Democratic county in presidential and congressional elections. The last Republican to carry the county was Ronald Reagan in 1980, and the last Republican to win a majority in the county was Richard Nixon in 1968. In 2008, residents voted nearly four to one for Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain. All of the cities, towns, and unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County have more registered Democrats than Republicans. [5]

Santa Cruz is part of California's 14th and 17th congressional districts, which are held by Democrats Anna Eshoo and Sam Farr, respectively. In the State Assembly Santa Cruz is in the 27th and 28th Assembly districts, which are held by Democrats Bill Monning and Anna Caballero, respectively. In the State Senate, Santa Cruz is part of the 11th and 15th districts, which are held by Democrat Joe Simitian and Republican Abel Maldonado, respectively.

In 2008, 71.4% of voters in Santa Cruz County voted against Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.

Santa Cruz County winemaking and wineries

Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains

Winemaking—both the growing of the grapes and their vinting—is an important part of the economic and cultural life of Santa Cruz County. The wines of the David Bruce Winery and Ridge Vineyards were selected for tasting in the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 (Tabor, p.167-169).

See also


  • Taber, George M. Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine. NY: Scribner, 2005.


External links

Coordinates: 37°02′N 122°01′W / 37.03°N 122.01°W / 37.03; -122.01


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