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

1,768 sq mi (4,579 km²)
1,576 sq mi (4,082 km²)
192 sq mi (497 km²), 10.88%
Population
 - (2000)
 - Density

458,614
290/sq mi (112/km²)
Founded 1850
Website www.sonoma-county.org

Sonoma County, located on the northern coast of California, is one of the northernmost counties of the nine county Greater San Francisco Bay Area, U.S. Its population as of July 2008 is estimated at 466,741 by the United States Census Bureau's American Community Survey. Its population at the 2000 census was 458,614. Its largest city and county seat is Santa Rosa.

Sonoma is the southwestern county of California's Wine Country region, which also includes Napa, Mendocino, and Lake counties. It has thirteen approved American Viticultural Areas and over 250 wineries. In 2002 Sonoma County ranked as the thirty-second county in the United States in agricultural production.[1] As early as 1920 Sonoma County was ranked as the eighth most agriculturally productive U.S county and a leading producer of poultry products, hops, grapes, prunes, apples, and dairy products,[2] largely due to the abundance of high quality irrigation water. More than 7.4 million tourists visit each year, spending more than $1 billion in 2006. Sonoma County is the home of Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College.

Sonoma County was once home to several Native American tribes; by 1850, European settlement had set a new direction that would prove to radically alter the course of land use and resource management of this region. As of 2007, Sonoma County has rich agricultural land, albeit now largely divided between two nearly monocultural uses: grapes and pasturage. The voters have twice approved open space initiatives[3] that have provided funding for public acquisition of natural areas, preserving forested areas, coastal habitat, and other open space.

Contents

History

The Pomo, Coast Miwok and Wappo peoples were the earliest human settlers of Sonoma County, between 5000 to 8000 BC, effectively living within the natural carrying capacity of the land. Archaeological evidence of these First people includes a number of occurrences of rock carvings, especially in southern Sonoma County; these carvings often take the form of Pecked curvilinear nucleated design. Spaniards, Russians, and other Europeans claimed and settled in the county from the late 16th to mid 19th century, seeking timber, fur, and farmland.

The Russians were the first newcomers to establish a permanent foothold in Sonoma County, with the Russian-American Company establishing Fort Ross on the Sonoma Coast in 1812. This settlement and its outlying Russian settlements came to include a population of several hundred Russian and Aleut settlers and a stockaded fort with artillery. However, the Russians abandoned it in 1841 and sold the fort to John Sutter, settler and Mexican land grantee of Sacramento.

Fort Ross, Sonoma County, established by the Russians in 1812.

The Mission San Francisco Solano, founded in 1823 as the last and northernmost of 21 California missions, is in the present City of Sonoma, at the northern end of El Camino Real. El Presidio de Sonoma, or Sonoma Barracks (part of Spain's Fourth Military District), was established in 1836 by Comandante General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. His duties included keeping an eye on the Russian traders at Fort Ross, secularizing the Mission, maintaining cooperation with the Native Americans of the entire region, and doling out the lands for large estates and ranches. The City of Sonoma was the site of the Bear Flag Revolt in 1846.

Sonoma was one of the original counties formed when California became a state in 1850 with its county seat originally the town of Sonoma. However, by the early 1850s the town of Sonoma had declined in importance in terms of both commerce and population, its county buildings were crumbling, and it was relatively remote. As a result, elements in the newer, rapidly growing towns of Petaluma, Santa Rosa, and Healdsburg began vying to move the county seat to their towns. The dispute ultimately was between the bigger, richer commercial town of Petaluma and the more centrally located, growing agricultural center of Santa Rosa. The fate was decided following an election for the state legislature in which James Bennett of Santa Rosa defeated Joseph Hooker of Sonoma and introduced a bill that ultimately resulted in Santa Rosa being confirmed as county seat in 1854.[4] Allegedly, several Santa Rosans, not caring to wait, decided to take action and, one night, rode down the Sonoma Valley to Sonoma, took the county seals and records, and brought them to Santa Rosa.[5]

Early post-1847 settlement and development focused primarily on the city of Sonoma, then the region's sole town and a common transit and resting point in overland travel between the region and Sacramento and the gold fields to the east. However, after 1850, a settlement that soon became the city of Petaluma began to grow naturally near the farthest navigable point inland up the Petaluma River. Originally a hunting camp used to obtain game to sell in other markest, by 1854 Petaluma had grown into a bustling center of trade, taking advantage of its position in the river near a region of highly productive agricultural land that was being settled. Soon, other inland towns, notably Santa Rosa and Healdsburg began to develop similarly due to their locations along riparian areas in prime agricultural flatland. However, their development initially lagged behind Petaluma which, until the arrival of railroads in the 1860s, remained the primary commercial, transit, and break-of-bulk point for people and goods in the region. After the arrival of the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad in 1870, Santa Rosa began to boom, soon equalling and then surpassing Petaluma as the region's population and commercial center. The railroad bypassed Petaluma for southern connections to ferries of San Francisco Bay.

Six nations have claimed Sonoma County from 1542 to the present:

Flag of New Spain.svg Spanish Empire, 1542, by sea, voyage of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo as far as the Russian River. Later validated by voyage of Sebastián Vizcaíno, 1602.
Flag of England.svg Kingdom of England, June 1579, voyage of the Golden Hind under Captain Francis Drake at Bodega Bay (exact location disputed).
Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg Spanish Empire, October 1775, the Sonora at Bodega Bay, under Lt. Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra until 1821, when Mexico gained Independence from Spain.
Flag of Russia.svg Russian Empire, by Russian-American Company expedition led by Ivan Alexandrovich Kuskov, the founder of Fort Ross and, from 1812 to 1821, its colonial administrator. Note: There is an overlap of rule with the Mexican Empire (next item), until the Russians sold Fort Ross in 1841 to John Sutter, before leaving the area in 1842.
Flag of Mexico (1821-1823).svg First Mexican Empire, 24 August 1821, under Emperor Agustin Iturbide (October 1822, probable time new flag raised in California) until 1823.
Flag of Mexico (1823-1864, 1867-1893).svg Mexican Republic, 1823 until June 1846.
1stBearFlag.svg California Republic, 14 June 1846 until 9 July 1846.
Flag of the United States.svg United States of America, 9 July 1846 to present.

Sonoma County was severely shaken by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The displacements along the faultline averaged 15 feet (4.6 m).[6]

Etymology

Pomo girl photographed by Edward S. Curtis in 1924.

According to the book California Place Names, "The name of the Indian tribe is mentioned in baptismal records of 1815 as Chucuines o Sonomas, by Chamisso in 1816 as Sonomi, and repeatedly in Mission records of the following years."[7]

According to the Coast Miwok and the Pomo tribes that lived in the region, Sonoma translates "valley of the moon" or "many moons". Their legends detail this as a land where the moon nestled, hence the names Sonoma Valley and the "Valley of the Moon."[8] This translation was first recorded in an 1850 report by General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo to the California Legislature.[9] Jack London popularized it in his 1913 novel The Valley of the Moon.

In the native languages there is also a constantly recurring ending tso-noma, from tso, the earth; and noma, village; hence tsonoma, "earth village."[10] Other sources say Sonoma comes from the Patwin tribes west of the Sacramento River, and their Wintu word for "nose". Per California Place Names, "the name is doubtless derived from a Patwin word for 'nose', which Padre Arroyo (Vocabularies, p. 22) gives as sonom (Suisun)."

Bowman (CFQ 5:300-302 [1946]) theorized that Spaniards found an Indian chief with a prominent protuberance and applied the nickname of Chief Nose to the village and the territory (cf. Alfred L. Kroeber, AAE 29:354 [1932]). Beeler believes the name applied originally to a nose-shaped geographic feature (WF 13:268-72 [1954]).[7]

Geography and environment

Hood Mountain with vineyards in foreground.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Sonoma County has a total area of 1,768 sq mi (4,580 km²). 1,576 sq mi (4,082 km²) is land, and 192 sq mi (498 km²) (10.88%) is water. Adjacent counties are Marin (to the south), Mendocino (to the north), Lake (northeast), Napa (to the east), and Solano and Contra Costa (to the southeast).

The county lies in the North Coast Ranges of northwestern California. Its ranges include the Mayacamas and the Sonoma Mountains, the southern peak of the latter being the prominent landform, Sears Point. The highest peak in the Mayacamas within the county is Hood Mountain. It has uncommon occurrences of pygmy forest, dominated by Mendocino Cypress. The highest peak of the Sonoma Mountains is Sonoma Mountain itself, which boasts two significant public access properties: Jack London State Historic Park and Fairfield Osborn Preserve.

The county includes the City of Sonoma and the Sonoma Valley, in which the City of Sonoma is located. However, these are not synonymous. The City of Sonoma is merely one of several incorporated cities in the county. The Sonoma Valley itself makes up only the southeastern portion of the county, which includes many other valleys and geographic zones. Moreover, the Sonoma Valley itself includes not only the City of Sonoma, but a portion of the City of Santa Rosa and the unincorporated communities of Kenwood, Agua Caliente, Boyes Hot Springs, and Fetters Hot Springs. Other regions of the county beyond the Sonoma Valley include, among others, the Petaluma Valley, the Santa Rosa Plain, the Russian River, the Alexander Valley, and the Dry Creek Valley.

Distinct habitat areas within the county include oak woodland, redwood forest, northern coastal scrub, grassland, marshland, oak savanna and riparian woodland. The California oak woodland in the upper Yulupa Creek and Spring Creek watersheds in Annadel State Park is a relatively undisturbed ecosystem with considerable biodiversity. These forested areas have been characterized as some of the best examples of such woodlands.[11] An unusual characteristic of these forests is the high content of undisturbed prehistoric bunch grass understory, testifying to the absence of historic grazing or other agriculture.

Trees of the oak woodland habitat include Pacific Madrone, Douglas fir, Coast Live Oak, Garry oak and California laurel. Common understory plants are toyon, poison oak, and at the fringes coast silk-tassel.

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Climate

Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley

Sonoma County, as is often the case with coastal counties in California, has a great degree of climatic variation and numerous, often very different, microclimates.[12][13] Key determining factors for local climate are proximity to the ocean, elevation, and the presence and elevation of hills or mountains to the east and west. This is in large part due to the fact that, as throughout California, the prevailing weather systems and wind come normally from the Pacific Ocean, blowing in from the west and southwest so that places closer to the ocean and on the windward side of higher elevations tend to receive more rain from autumn through spring and more summer wind and fog. This itself is partly a result of the presence of high and low pressures in inland California, with persistent high summer temperatures in the Central Valley, in particular, leading to low pressures, drawing in air moist air from the Pacific, cooling into damp cool breezes and fog over the cold coastal water. Those places further inland and particularly in the lee of significant elevations tend to receive less rain and less, in some cases no, fog in the summer.

The coast itself is typically cool and moist throughout summer, often foggy, with fog generally blowing in during the late afternoon and evening until it clears in the later morning to be sunny, before repeating. Coastal summer highs are typically in the mid to high 60s, warming to the low 70s further from the ocean.

Certain inland areas, including the Petaluma area and the Santa Rosa Plain, are also prone to this normal fog pattern in general.[13] However, they tend to receive the fog later in the evening, the fog tends to be more short-lived, and mid-day tempertatures are significantly higher than they are on the coast, typically in the low 80s F. This is particularly true for Petaluma, Cotati and Rohnert Park, and, only slightly less so, Santa Rosa, Windsor, and Sebastopol. In large part this results from lower elevations and the prominent Petaluma Gap in the hills between the ocean to the west and the Petaluma Valley and Santa Rosa Plain to the east.

Areas north of Santa Rosa and Windsor, with larger elevations to the west and further from the fog path, tend to receive less fog and less summer marine influence. Healdsburg to the north of Windsor is less foggy and much warmer, with summer highs typically in the higher 80s to about 90 °F (32 °C). Sonoma and the Sonoma Valley, east of Petaluma, are similar, with highs typically in the very high 70s F to 80 °F (27 °C). This is in part due to the presence of the Sonoma Mountains between Petaluma and Sonoma. Cloverdale far to the north out of the Santa Rosa Plain, is significantly hotter than any other city in the county, with rare evening-morning fog and highs often in the 90s, reaching 100 much more frequently than the other cities. Notably, however, the temperature differences among the different areas of the county are greatest for the highs during mid-day, with the diurnal lows much more even throughout the entire county. The lows are closely tied to the evening-morning cooling marine influence, in addition to elevation, bringing similarly cool temperatures to much of region.

These weather patterns contribute to high diurnal temperature fluctuations in much of the county. In summer, daily lows and highs are typically 30-40 degress F apart in land, with highs for Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Windsor, and Sebastopol typically being in the very low 80s F and lows at or near 50 °F (10 °C). Healdsburg and Sonoma, with similar lows, have even greater diurnal fluctuations due to their significantly warmer highs. On the other hand, the coast, with strong marine influence, tends to have low diurnal temperature fluctuation, with summer highs much cooler than the inland towns, typically 65-75 F, yet lows in the high 40s to low 50s F, fairly comparable to most inland towns.

These microclimates are evident during the rainy seasons as well, with great variation in the amount of rainfall throughout the county. Generally, all of Sonoma County receives a fair amount of rain, with much of the county receiving between about 25 inches, comparable to areas such as Sonoma and Petaluma, and roughly 30 inches (760 mm) normal for Santa Rosa. However, certain areas, particularly in the north-west portion of the county around the Russian River, receive significantly more rainfall. The Guerneville area, for example, typically receives about 50 inches of rain a year, with annual rain occasionally going as high as 70 inches (1,800 mm). Nearby Cazadero typically receives about 72 inches of rain a year, many times has reached over 100 inches (2,500 mm) a year, and sometimes over 120 inches (3,000 mm) of rain a year. The Cazadero region is the second wettest place in California after Gasquet.[14]

Snow is exceedingly rare in Sonoma County except in the higher elevations on and around the Mayacamas Mountains, particularly Mount Saint Helena, and Cobb Mountain in nearby Lake County.[15]

Ocean, bays, rivers and streams

Goat Rock Beach as viewed from the Jenner Cliffs looking south, showing the mouth of the Russian River at the Pacific Ocean.

Sonoma County is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, and has 76 miles (122 km) of coastline. The major coastal hydrographic features are Bodega Bay, the mouth of the Russian River, and the mouth of the Gualala River, at the border with Mendocino County.

Six of the county's nine cities, from Healdsburg south through Santa Rosa to Rohnert Park and Cotati, are in the Santa Rosa Plain. The northern Plain drains to the Russian River, or a tributary; the southern Plain drains to the Russian River via the Laguna de Santa Rosa.

Russian River

Much of central and northern Sonoma County is in the watershed of the Russian River and its tributaries. The river rises in the coastal mountains of Mendocino County, north of the city of Ukiah, and flows into Lake Mendocino, a major flood control reservoir. The Russian flows south from the lake through Mendocino to Sonoma County, paralleled by Highway 101. It turns west at Healdsburg, receiving water from Lake Sonoma via Dry Creek, and empties into the Pacific Ocean at Jenner.

Laguna de Santa Rosa

The Laguna de Santa Rosa is the largest tributary of the Russian River.[16] It is 14 miles (23 km) long, running north from Cotati to the Russian River near Forestville. Its flood plain is more than 7,500 acres (30 km²). It drains a 254 square mile (658 km²) watershed, including most of the Santa Rosa Plain.

The Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation says:[17]

"The Laguna de Santa Rosa is Sonoma County's richest area of wildlife habitat, and the most biologically diverse region of Sonoma County (itself the second-most biologically diverse county in California)... It is a unique ecological system covering more than 30,000 acres (120 km²) and comprised of a mosaic of creeks, open water, perennial marshes, seasonal wetlands, riparian forests, oak woodlands and grasslands... As the receiving water of a watershed where most of the county's human population lives, it is a landscape feature of critical importance to Sonoma County's water quality, flood control, and biodiversity."

The Laguna's largest tributary is Santa Rosa Creek, which runs through Santa Rosa. Its major tributaries are Brush Creek, Mark West Creek, Matanzas Creek, Spring Creek and Piner Creek. Matanzas creek was shown to be polluted in Sonoma county first flush results.[citation needed]

Other water bodies

The boundary with Marin County runs from the mouth of the Estero Americano at Bodega Bay, up Americano Creek, then overland to San Antonio Creek and down the Petaluma River to its mouth at the northwest corner of San Pablo Bay, which adjoins San Francisco Bay. The southern edge of Sonoma County comprises the northern shore of San Pablo Bay between the Marin County border at the Petaluma River and the border with Solano County at Sonoma Creek. Sonoma County has no incorporated communities directly on the shore of San Pablo Bay. At the present there is only a private marina with related facilities called Port Sonoma near the mouth of the Petaluma River. However, the Petaluma River which flows into San Pablo Bay, is navigable up to the city of Petaluma.

The Petaluma River, Tolay Creek, and Sonoma Creek enter the bay at the county's southernmost tip. The intertidal zone where they join the bay is the vast Napa Sonoma Marsh.

Americano Creek, the Petaluma River, Tolay Creek, and Sonoma Creek are the principal streams draining the southern portion of the county. The Sonoma Valley is drained by Sonoma Creek, whose major tributaries are Yulupa Creek, Graham Creek, Calabazas Creek, Schell Creek and Carriger Creek; Arroyo Seco Creek is tributary to Schell Creek.Other creeks include Foss, Felta,and Mill creeks.

Lakes and reservoirs in the county include Lake Sonoma, Tolay Lake, Lake Ilsanjo, Santa Rosa Creek Reservoir, Lake Ralphine, and Fountaingrove Lake.

Threatened/endangered species

A number of endangered plants and animals are found in Sonoma County including the California clapper rail, Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse, Northern Red-legged Frog, Sacramento splittail, California freshwater shrimp, Showy Indian clover and Hickman's potentilla.

Species of special local concern include the California Tiger Salamander and some endangered plants, including Burke's Goldfields (Lasthenia burkei), Sebastopol Meadowfoam (Limnanthes vinculans), and Sonoma Sunshine or Baker's Stickyseed (Blennosperma bakeri).

Endangered species that are endemic to Sonoma County include Sebastopol Meadowfoam, Sonoma Sunshine, and Pitkin Marsh lily, Lilium pardalinum subsp Pitkinense.

The Sonoma County Water Agency has had a Fisheries Enhancement Program since 1996. Its website says:[18]

"The primary focus of the FEP is to enhance habitat for three salmonids: Steelhead, Chinook salmon, and Coho salmon. These three species are listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The California Department of Fish and Game considers the Coho salmon endangered."

Cities and towns

Sonoma County has nine incorporated municipalities.

Downtown Santa Rosa, county seat of Sonoma County since 1854.
Downtown Petaluma.
Incorporated communities Population[19]
City of Cloverdale 8,129
City of Cotati 7,170
City of Healdsburg 10,961
City of Petaluma 54,660
City of Rohnert Park 41,083
City of Santa Rosa 154,212
City of Sebastopol 7,557
City of Sonoma 9,897
Town of Windsor 25,294
Unincorporated communities A-E Unincorporated communities F-K Unincorporated communities L-P Unincorporated communities R-Z

Adjacent counties

National protected area

Transportation infrastructure

Major highways

U.S. Route 101

U.S. Route 101 is the westernmost Federal highway in the U.S.A. Running north/south through the states of California, Oregon, and Washington, it generally parallels the coastline from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. Highway 101 links seven of the county's nine incorporated cities: Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Windsor, Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, and Petaluma. It is a freeway for almost its entire length within the county, except for a section south of Petaluma.

The four-lane sections of the highway have been heavily congested during peak commute hours for many years. The part of the highway between Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park was widened to six lanes, with the section within Santa Rosa (between Highway 12 and Steele Lane) being completed in late 2008. The two new inner lanes are designated for vehicles with two or more occupants during commute hours. The next section due to be expanded from four to six lanes is between Santa Rosa and Windsor.

State Route 1

Within Sonoma County, Highway 1 follows the coastline from the Mendocino County border, at the mouth of the Gualala River, to the Marin County border, at the Estero Americano (Americano Creek), east of Bodega Bay.

State Route 12

Highway 12 runs eastward from its intersection with Highway 116 in Sebastopol to Santa Rosa. There it turns south through the Valley of the Moon to Sonoma, then east into Napa County. The four-lane freeway section within Santa Rosa, between Fulton Road and Farmers Lane, is called the Luther Burbank Memorial Highway. That section, especially where it crosses Highway 101, is severely congested during peak commute hours.

The two-lane Bodega Highway runs west from the intersection of Highways 12 and 116 in Sebastopol, through the coastal hills to its intersection with Highway 1, east of Bodega Bay. East of Santa Rosa, Highway 12 is also called Sonoma Highway; and east of Sonoma, Carneros Highway.

State Route 37

Highway 37 connects Highway 101 at Novato, in Marin County, with Interstate 80 in Vallejo, in Solano County, at the top of San Pablo Bay. Within Sonoma County, it is also called Sears Point Road.

State Route 116

Highway 116 is a winding, two-lane rural route that runs from Jenner, at the mouth of the Russian River on the coast, southeast to Arnold Drive near Sonoma. It is also called Guerneville Highway, between Guerneville and Forestville; Gravenstein Highway North, between Forestville and Sebastopol; and Gravenstein Highway South, between Sebastopol and Stony Point Road, west of Rohnert Park. East of Petaluma it is Lakeville Highway, then Stage Gulch Road.

State Route 121

Highway 121 is a two-lane rural route running from Highway 37 near Sears Point Raceway to Highway 128 in Lake Berryessa.

State Route 128

The northernmost section of Highway 128 is a two-lane rural route running southeast from Highway 101 at Geyserville, north of Healdsburg, through the Alexander Valley into Napa County.

Public transportation

  • Sonoma County Transit is the countywide transit operator, providing service to all cities in Sonoma County.
  • Santa Rosa Transit provides bus routes in and near the city of Santa Rosa.
  • The cities of Healdsburg and Petaluma also provide their own local bus service.
  • Golden Gate Transit connects Santa Rosa and points south with Marin County and San Francisco.
  • Mendocino Transit Authority runs north from Santa Rosa to Ukiah (via US 101) and to the coast (via California Routes 12 and 1).

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit/SMART is a commuter rail system planned to go between Larkspur in Marin County and Cloverdale in Sonoma County. A sales tax surcharge measure to finance it narrowly failed in the 2006 election, but passed in 2008.

Airports

  • The Charles M. Schulz - Sonoma County Airport is at 2290 Airport Boulevard, west of Highway 101, between Santa Rosa and Windsor. Its main runway is 5,115 feet (1559 m) long and 150 feet (46 m) wide, and can accommodate planes up to 95,000 pounds (43,000 kg) maximum gross take off weight. It offers fuel, major maintenance, hangar space, and tie-downs for local and transient aircraft. Horizon Air, of Seattle, Washington, offers regular daily commercial flights.

Railroads

Historical railroads of Sonoma County
Mesa Grande train station, about 1910

The Petaluma and Haystack Railroad connected the city of Petaluma to a ferries of San Francisco Bay landing at the head of navigation on the Petaluma River in 1864.

The San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad (SF&NP) connected the City of Santa Rosa to ferry connections at Donahue landing on the Petaluma River in 1870. Rail service was extended north to Healdsburg in 1871 and Cloverdale in 1872. In 1884 the railroad was extended south to an alternate ferry connection in Tiburon. This rail line will be used by the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit.

The 3-foot-gauge North Pacific Coast Railroad extended northward in 1876 from a ferry connection at Sausalito through Valley Ford, Freestone and Occidental to Monte Rio on the lower Russian River. Service was extended to Duncan Mills in 1877 and Cazadero in 1885. The standard gauge Fulton and Guerneville Railroad left the SF&NP at Fulton to reach Korbel in 1876 and Guerneville in 1877. Standard-gauge rails were extended down-river to Duncan Mills in 1909 after the Northwestern Pacific Railroad merger, and narrow-gauge service was discontinued in 1930.

The unique Sonoma Valley Prismoidal Railway linked the city of Sonoma to bay ferries in 1876, and was replaced in 1879 by the 3-foot-gauge Sonoma Valley Railroad to a ferry landing near the mouth of the Petaluma River. Service was extended from Sonoma to Glen Ellen in 1882. The southern end of the line was extended westward in 1888 to a connection with the SF&NP at Ignacio. This line was converted to standard-gauge in 1890 and remains (in 2009) as Sonoma County's connection to the national rail system at Schellville.

Southern Pacific subsidiary Santa Rosa and Carquinez Railroad extended eastward in 1888 to link Santa Rosa with the national rail system.

A SF&NP branch line from Santa Rosa brought rail service to Sebastopol in 1890. The Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad extended interurban service north from a ferry connection in Petaluma to reach Sebastopol in 1904, Santa Rosa in 1905, and Forestville in 1906.

Demographics

At the 2000 census[20], there were 458,614 people, 172,403 households, and 112,406 families in Sonoma County. The population density was 291/sq mi (112/km²). There were 183,153 housing units at an average density of 116/sq mi (45/km²).

The racial makeup was 81.60% White, 1.42% Black or African American, 1.18% Native American, 3.07% Asian, 0.20% Pacific Islander, 8.44% of other races, and 4.09% of two or more races. 17.34% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 12.1% were of German, 10.6% Irish, 9.8% English and 8.9% Italian ancestry according to Census 2000. 80.4% spoke English and 13.8% Spanish as their first language.

Of the 172,403 households, 50.30% were married couples living together, 34.80% were non-families, and 10.40% had a female householder with no husband present. 31.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 25.70% were individuals, and 10.00% were 65 years of age or older living alone. The average household size was 2.60, and the average family size was 3.12.

The median age was 38 years. 24.50% were under 18, 8.80% from 18 to 24, 29.20% from 25 to 44, 24.90% from 45 to 64, and 12.60% were 65 years of age or older. For every 100 females there were 97 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94 males.

The median household income was $53,076, and the median family income was $61,921. Males had a median income of $42,035, females $32,022. The per capita income for the county was $25,724. About 4.70% of families and 8.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.40% of those under age 18 and 5.70% of those age 65 or over.

Government

Sonoma County's governing board and legislative body is a five-member Board of Supervisors.[21] Supervisors are elected by district[22] at the Consolidated Primary Election, and serve for four years. The Supervisors also sit as directors of several local jurisdictions, such as the Water Agency,[23] and Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District.[24]

Three current Supervisors were elected in 2008: Valerie Brown (1st District), Shirlee Zane (3rd District), and Efren Carrillo (5th District); and two in 2006: Mike Kerns (2nd District) and Paul L. Kelley (4th District), both of whom have indicated they will not seek re-election in 2010. Supervisor Brown is the current Chair (2010). The Supervisors appoint the members of 59 boards, commissions, and committees.[25]

The County Administrator[26] is the county's chief executive officer, reporting to the Board of Supervisors. The administrator manages the county's departments, such as the regional parks department.

On December 15, 2009, the Board announced[27] the appointment of Veronica Ferguson to be the first woman County Administrator. She assumed office on February 1, 2010.

Places of interest

Economy

Forbes Magazine ranked the Santa Rosa metropolitan area—essentially the entire county—185th out of 200, on its 2007 list of Best Places For Business And Careers.[29] It was second on the list five years before. Sonoma County was downgraded because of an increase in the cost of doing business, and reduced job growth, both blamed on increases in the cost of housing.

Viticulture

Vineyard on northwest flank of Sonoma Mountain.

Winemaking—both the growing of the grapes and their vinting—is an important part of the economic and cultural life of Sonoma County. In 2004, growers harvested 165,783 tons (150,396 tonnes) of wine grapes worth US$310 million. In 2006 the Sonoma County grape harvest amounted to over 185,000 tons, exceeding Napa County's harvest by over 30 percent.[30] About 80 percent of non-pasture agricultural land in the county is for growing wine grapes—59,973 acres (242.70 km²) of vineyards, with over 1100 growers. The most common varieties planted are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir, though the area is also known for its Merlot and Zinfandel.

Sonoma County is home to more than 250 wineries with eleven distinct and two shared American Viticultural Areas, including the Sonoma Valley AVA, Russian River Valley AVA, Alexander Valley AVA, Bennett Valley AVA and Dry Creek Valley AVA, the last of which is known for the production of high-quality zinfandels.

Tourism

In addition, the county's tolerant political environment have made the Guerneville area along the Russian River the home of a number of gay and lesbian resorts, which have catered to the San Francisco LGBT weekend-getaway community since the 1970s.

Politics

Presidential election results
Year DEM GOP Others
2008 74.0% 144,399 24.1% 47,184 2.1% 4,097
2004 67.2% 148,261 30.9% 68,204 1.9% 4,225
2000 59.5% 117,295 32.3% 63,529 8.2% 16,182
1996 55.6% 100,738 29.5% 53,555 14.9% 27,004
1992 52.8% 104,334 24.1% 47,619 23.1% 45,738
1988 56.5% 91,262 41.9% 67,725 1.6% 2,596
1984 47.6% 71,295 51.1% 76,447 1.3% 1,915
1980 36.2% 45,596 48.2% 60,722 15.6% 19,667
1976 47.5% 50,353 47.7% 50,555 4.8% 5,044
1972 41.5% 43,746 54.7% 57,697 3.8% 3,991
1968 43.0% 33,587 48.8% 38,088 8.2% 6384
1964 61.5% 44,354 38.4% 27,677 0.2% 105
1960 45.5% 29,147 54.1% 34,641 0.4% 244

Sonoma is a strongly Democratic county in Presidential and congressional elections. The last Republican to win a majority in the county was Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Sonoma is part of California's 1st and 6th congressional districts, which are held by Democrats Mike Thompson and Lynn Woolsey, respectively. In the State Assembly, Sonoma is in the 1st 6th, and 7th districts, which are held by Democrats Wes Chesbro, Jared Huffman, and Noreen Evans, respectively. In the State Senate, Sonoma is part of the 2nd and 3rd districts, which is held by Democrats Pat Wiggins and Mark Leno, respectively.

On Nov. 4, 2008 Sonoma County voted 66.1 % against Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.

According to the California Secretary of State, as of April, 2008, there are 235,175 registered voters in Sonoma County. Of those, 121,067 (51.5%) are registered Democratic, 58,410 (24.8%) are registered Republican, 4,871 (5.5%) are registered with other political parties, and 42,647 (18.1%) declined to state a political party. Every city, town, and the unincorporated areas of Sonoma County have more registered Democrats than Republicans.

Education

Elementary and secondary

Higher education

The educational system of Sonoma County is similar to that of other counties in California.

Library system

The Sonoma County Library System offers a Central Library in downtown Santa Rosa, as well as ten branch libraries, two rural stations and bookmobile service. The system is also a member of the North Bay Cooperative Library System. More than half of Sonoma County's residents have library cards. They borrow over 2.5 million items a year. Expert reference librarians answer nearly half a million reference questions annually for individuals, businesses and government agencies. They offer instruction in the use of Library resources in such fields as genealogy, grant writing, and use of the Internet. During a typical school year over 750 classes, more than half the county total, either visit a library or are visited by a children's librarian. The Library operates an adult literacy program, training volunteers to tutor individuals who lack basic reading ability. Computer terminals are made available for free Internet access.

Law enforcement and crime

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Department is the law enforcement agency for the unincorporated area of the county. It also contracts to provide the police forces of the City of Sonoma and the Town of Windsor. The department has more than 1,000 employees, including more than 275 Deputy Sheriffs, in four Bureaus. More than 300 Correctional Officers and staff work in two jail facilities, with a total daily population of nearly 1,200 inmates.[31] Police shootings in 2007 have led to calls for an independent civilian police review board.[32]

Film locations

Due to the varied scenery in Sonoma County and proximity to the city of San Francisco, a large number of motion pictures have been filmed using venues within the county. Some of the earliest U.S. filmaking occurred in Sonoma County such as Salomy Jane (1914) and one of Broncho Billy Anderson's 1915 Westerns. Many of these films are classics in American cinematography such as the 1947 film The Farmer's Daughter (starring Joseph Cotten and Loretta Young) and two Alfred Hitchcock films, Shadow of a Doubt of 1943, filmed and set in Santa Rosa and The Birds of 1963, filmed largely in Bodega Bay and Bodega. Many other modern classics have used Sonoma County as a filming venue, including American Graffiti, filmed largely in Petaluma.

A few other representative films produced partially in Sonoma County are:

Sonoma County

  • 1965 The Third Day
  • 1986 Peggy Sue Got Married - Petaluma, including a 1950s makeover of Washington St., the diner "Millie's Chili Bar" (rechristened as "The Donut Hole"), and exterior and interior shots of Santa Rosa High School.
  • 1993 Nowhere to Run - Coleman Valley Road, Occidental, for farmhouse and pond scenes.
  • 2001 The Man Who Wasn't There
  • 2001 Bandits - Flamingo Hotel, Clover milk truck featuring local icon "Clo the cow", and rural county roads.

Cloverdale

Glen Ellen

Petaluma

  • 1977 Heroes - Bus stop at corner of Kentucky and C streets. Walnut Street.

Russian River

  • 1925 Braveheart - Along the river.
  • 1942 Holiday Inn - Village Inn Lodge in Monte Rio as the "Holiday Inn" with tons of artificial snow.

Sebastopol

Sonoma

  • 1988 Tucker: The Man and His Dream.
  • 1996 Scream - Sonoma Community Center on East Napa Street.

The town of Sonoma in southeast Sonoma County hosts the annual Sonoma Valley Film Festival, a nationally recognized event.

See also

References

  1. ^ Sonoma county Indicators: 2007
  2. ^ Sonoma County Flood Control and Water Conservation District: History
  3. ^ Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District
  4. ^ Sonoma County History
  5. ^ History of Sonoma County
  6. ^ "Sonoma County General Plan - Public Safety Element". 2008-10-11. http://www.sonoma-county.org/prmd/docs/gp/98gp-07.htm. 
  7. ^ a b Gudde, Erwin Gustav; Bright, William (1998). California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names (Second Edition ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. g. 370. ISBN 0-520-21316-5. 
  8. ^ May, James (May 19, 2003). "Why Graton is trying to get into gaming". Indian Country Today. http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/archive/28216104.html. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  9. ^ Hanna, Phil Townsend (1951). The Dictionary of California Land Names. Los Angeles: The Automobile Club of Southern California. p. 311. 
  10. ^ Alfred Louis Kroeber, Handbook of the Indians of California, Dover Publications, New York City, N.Y. (1976)
  11. ^ Annadel State Park facts
  12. ^ "Sonoma County Climatic Zones" (PDF). University of California Cooperative Extension. http://cesonoma.ucdavis.edu/hortic/sonoma_county_climate.pdf. Retrieved 2007-11-30. 
  13. ^ a b Forrey, Rip. "Climate data for various locations in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Lake and Marin counties, California" (PDF). University of California Cooperative Extension Sonoma County. http://cesonoma.ucdavis.edu/hortic/pdf/climate_location_data.pdf. Retrieved 2007-11-30. 
  14. ^ Freedman, Wayne (2006-04-05). "Rainiest Town In The Bay Area Up For Sale". KGO-TV News. http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=local&id=4058640. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  15. ^ "Subsection M261Be Konocti Flows". USDA, Forest Service. http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/projects/ecoregions/m261be.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  16. ^ Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation
  17. ^ Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation
  18. ^ Sonoma County Water Agency Fisheries Enhancement Program
  19. ^ "Population Finder". U.S. Census. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFPopulation. Retrieved 2007-12-27. 
  20. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  21. ^ http://www.sonoma-county.org/board/index.htm
  22. ^ http://www.sonoma-county.org/board/district.htm
  23. ^ http://www.scwa.ca.gov/
  24. ^ http://www.sonomaopenspace.org/
  25. ^ http://www.sonoma-county.org/board/maddy/list.asp
  26. ^ http://www.sonoma-county.org/CAO/index.htm
  27. ^ http://www.sonoma-county.org/news/pdf/20091215_new_cao.pdf
  28. ^ Sonoma County Regional Parks Official Site
  29. ^ [1]
  30. ^ 2006 Sonoma County grape harvest statistics: Sonoma County Vintners associaiation
  31. ^ Sonoma County Sheriff's Dept.
  32. ^ Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 3/30/07: Fatal police shootings rekindle review debate/Recent cases raise decade-old concerns over agencies’ abilities to investigate each other

Further reading

  • California Gazetteer. Wilmington: American Historical Publications, 1985.
  • Finley, Ernest L. History of Sonoma County, California: Its People and Its Resources. Santa Rosa: Press Democrat Pub. Co., 1937
  • Gille, Frank H. ed. The Encyclopedia of California, 1999. St. Clair Shores: Somerset Publishers, Inc., 1999.
  • Gregory, Thomas Jefferson. History of Sonoma County, California, with Biographical Sketches of the Leading Men and Women of the County, Who Have Been Identified with Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present Time. Los Angeles: Historic Record Company, 1911.
  • Hansen, Harvey J. Wild Oats in Eden; Sonoma County in the 19th Century. Santa Rosa, 1962.
  • Historical Atlas Maps of Sonoma County, California. Oakland: Thos. H. Thompson & Co., 1877.
  • Taber, George M. Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine. NY: Scribner, 2005.
  • Thompson, Robert A. Historical and Descriptive Sketch of Sonoma County, California. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co., 1877.
  • Tuomey, Honoria. History of Sonoma County, California. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1926.

External links

Coordinates: 38°31′N 122°56′W / 38.51°N 122.93°W / 38.51; -122.93


Genealogy

Up to date as of February 01, 2010

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Sonoma County, California
Seal of Sonoma County, California
Map
File:Map of California highlighting Sonoma County.png
Location in the state of California
Map of the USA highlighting California
California's location in the USA
Statistics
Founded 1850
Seat Santa Rosa
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

 sq mikm²)
 sq mi ( km²)
 sq mi ( km²), 10.88%
wikipedia:Population
 - (2000)
 - Density

458614
Website: www.sonoma-county.org

Sonoma County is on the northwest coast of California, one of the northernmost parts of the greater San Francisco Bay Area, U.S. Its population at the 2000 census was 458,614. Its largest city and county seat is Santa Rosa.

Sonoma is the southwestern county of California's Wine Country region, which also includes Napa, Mendocino, and Lake counties. It has thirteen approved American Viticultural Areas, and over 250 wineries. In 2002 Sonoma County ranked as the thirty-second county in the United States in agricultural production.[1] As early as 1920 Sonoma County was ranked as the eighth most productive U.S county,[2] largely due to the abundance of high quality irrigation water. More than 7.4 million tourists visit each year, spending more than $1 billion in 2006. Sonoma County is the home of Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College.

In earlier times, Sonoma County was the home to several distinct Native American tribes, who lived within the carrying capacity of the land; by 1850, European settlement had set a new direction that would prove to radically alter the course of land use and resource management of this region. As of 2007, Sonoma County has rich agricultural land, albeit now largely divided between two nearly monocultural uses: grapes and pasturage. The voters have twice approved an open space initiative[3] that has provided considerable funding for public acquisition of natural areas, which has preserved forested areas, coastal habitat, and other open space.

Contents

Geography and environment

Hood Mountain with vineyards in foreground.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Sonoma County has a total area of 1,768 sq mi (4,580 km²). 1,576 sq mi (4,082 km²) is land, and 192 sq mi (498 km²) (10.88%) is water. Adjacent counties are Marin (to the south), Mendocino (to the north), Lake (northeast), Napa (to the east) and Solano (to the southeast).

The county lies in the North Coast Ranges of northwestern California. Its ranges include the Mayacamas and the Sonoma Mountains, the southern peak of the latter being the prominent landform, Sears Point. The highest peak in the Mayacamas within the county is Hood Mountain. It has uncommon occurrences of pygmy forest, dominated by Mendocino Cypress. The highest peak of the Sonoma Mountains is Sonoma Mountain itself, which boasts two significant public access properties: Jack London State Historic Park and Fairfield Osborn Preserve.

Distinct habitat areas within the county include oak woodland, redwood Forest, Northern coastal scrub, grassland, marshland, oak savanna and riparian woodland. The California oak woodland in the upper Yulupa Creek and Spring Creek watersheds in Annadel State Park is a relatively undisturbed ecosystem with considerable biodiversity. These forested areas have been characterized as some of the best examples of such woodlands.[4] An unusual characteristic of these forests is the high content of undisturbed prehistoric bunch grass understory, testifying to the absence of historic grazing or other agriculture.

Trees of the oak woodland habitat include Pacific Madrone, Douglas fir, Coast live oak, Garry oak and California laurel. Common understory plants are toyon, poison oak, and at the fringes Coast silk-tassel.

Threatened/endangered species

A number of endangered plants and animals are found in Sonoma County including the California clapper rail, Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse, Northern Red-legged Frog, Sacramento splittail, California freshwater shrimp, Showy Indian clover and Hickman's potentilla.

Species of special local concern include the California Tiger Salamander and some endangered plants, including Burke's Goldfields (Lasthenia burkei), Sebastopol Meadowfoam (Limnanthes vinculans), and Sonoma Sunshine or Baker's Stickyseed (Blennosperma bakeri).

Endangered species that are endemic to Sonoma County include Sebastopol Meadowfoam, Sonoma Sunshine, and Pitkin Marsh lily, Lilium pardalinum subsp Pitkinense.

The Sonoma County Water Agency has had a Fisheries Enhancement Program since 1996. Its website says [1]:

"The primary focus of the FEP is to enhance habitat for three salmonids: Steelhead, Chinook salmon, and Coho salmon. These three species are listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The California Department of Fish and Game considers the Coho salmon endangered."

Ocean, bays, rivers and streams

File:Russian River mouth on California coast.jpeg
Goat Rock Beach as viewed from the Jenner Cliffs looking south, showing the mouth of the Russian River at the Pacific Ocean.

Sonoma County is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, and has 76 miles of coastline. The major coastal hydrographic features are Bodega Bay, the mouth of the Russian River, and the mouth of the Gualala River, at the border with Mendocino County.

Six of the county's nine cities, from Healdsburg south through Santa Rosa to Rohnert Park and Cotati, are in the Santa Rosa Plain. The northern Plain drains to the Russian River, or a tributary; the southern Plain drains to the Russian River via the Laguna de Santa Rosa.

Russian River

Much of central and northern Sonoma County is in the watershed of the Russian River and its tributaries. The river rises in the coastal mountains of Mendocino County, north of the city of Ukiah, and flows into Lake Mendocino, a major flood control reservoir. The Russian flows south from the lake through Mendocino to Sonoma County, paralleled by Highway 101. It turns west at Healdsburg, receiving water from Lake Sonoma via Dry Creek, and empties into the Pacific Ocean at Jenner.

Laguna de Santa Rosa

The Laguna de Santa Rosa is the largest tributary of the Russian River. It is 14 miles (23 km) long, running north from Cotati to the Russian River near Forestville. Its flood plain is more than 7,500 acres (30 km²). It drains a 254 square mile (658 km²) watershed, including most of the Santa Rosa Plain.

The Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation says [2],

"The Laguna de Santa Rosa is Sonoma County's richest area of wildlife habitat, and the most biologically diverse region of Sonoma County (itself the second-most biologically diverse county in California). ... It is a unique ecological system covering more than 30,000 acres (120 km²) and comprised of a mosaic of creeks, open water, perennial marshes, seasonal wetlands, riparian forests, oak woodlands and grasslands. ... As the receiving water of a watershed where most of the county's human population lives, it is a landscape feature of critical importance to Sonoma County's water quality, flood control, and biodiversity."

The Laguna's largest tributary is Santa Rosa Creek, which runs through Santa Rosa. Its major tributaries are Brush Creek, Mark West Creek, Matanzas Creek, Spring Creek and Piner Creek.

Other water bodies

The southwestern boundary with Marin County runs from the mouth of Americano Creek at Bodega Bay, to the northwestern corner of San Pablo Bay. The Petaluma River, Tolay Creek, and Sonoma Creek enter the bay at the county's southernmost tip. The intertidal zone where they join the bay is the vast Napa Sonoma Marsh.

Americano Creek, the Petaluma River, Tolay Creek, and Sonoma Creek are the principal streams draining the southern portion of the county. The Sonoma Valley is drained by Sonoma Creek, whose major tributaries are Yulupa Creek, Graham Creek, Calabazas Creek, Schell Creek and Carriger Creek; Arroyo Seco Creek is tributary to Schell Creek.

Lakes and reservoirs in the county include Lake Sonoma, Tolay Lake, and Fountaingrove Lake.

History

The Pomo, Coast Miwok and Wappo peoples were the earliest human settlers of Sonoma County, between 5000 to 8000 BC, effectively living within the natural carrying capacity of the land. Spaniards, Russians, and other Europeans claimed and settled in the county from the late 16th to mid 19th century, seeking timber, fur, and farmland. Sonoma was one of California's original counties, created at the time of statehood in 1850. It contains many historical monuments.

The Mission San Francisco Solano, founded in 1823 as the last and northernmost of 21 California missions, is in the present City of Sonoma, at the northern end of El Camino Real. El Presidio de Sonoma, or Sonoma Barracks (part of Spain's Fourth Military District), was established in 1836 by Comandante General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. His duties included keeping an eye on the Russian traders at Fort Ross, secularizing the Mission, maintaining cooperation with the Native Americans of the entire region, and doling out the lands for large estates and ranches. The City of Sonoma was the site of the Bear Flag Revolt in 1846.

Seven distinct nations have claimed Sonoma County from 1579 to the present:

St. George Cross of England, June 1579, voyage of the Golden Hind under Captain Francis Drake at Bodega Bay (exact location disputed)
Spanish Empire, 1602, by sea, voyage of the San Agustin under Vizcaino. October 1775, the Sonora at Bodega Bay, under Lt. Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra until 1821, when Mexico gained Independence from Spain
Russian-American Company, by Ivan Alexandrovich Kuskov, the founder of Fort Ross and, from 1812 to 1821, its colonial administrator. Note: There is an overlap of rule with the Mexican Empire (next item), until the Russians sold Fort Ross in 1841 to John Sutter, before leaving the area in 1842
Mexican Empire, 24 August 1821, Mexico under Emperor Agustin Iturbide (October 1822, probable time new flag raised in California) until 1823
Mexican Republic, 1823 until June 1846 at Sonoma
Bear Flag of the California Republic, June 1846, at Sonoma until 9 July 1846
United States of America/California, 9 July 1846

Etymology

Pomo girl photographed by Edward S. Curtis in 1924.

According to the book California Place Names, "The name of the Indian tribe is mentioned in baptismal records of 1815 as Chucuines o Sonomas, by Chamisso in 1816 as Sonomi, and repeatedly in Mission records of the following years." [5]

According to the Coast Miwok and the Pomo tribes that lived in the region, Sonoma translates "valley of the moon" or "many moons". Their legends detail this as a land where the moon nestled, hence the names Sonoma Valley and The Valley of the Moon. (May,Indian Country) This translation was first recorded in an 1850 report by General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo to the California Legislature. (Hanna, p. 311). Jack London popularized it in his 1913 novel The Valley of the Moon

In the native languages there is also a constantly recurring ending tso-noma, from tso, the earth; and noma, village; hence tsonoma, ‘earth village’.[6] Other sources say Sonoma comes from the Patwin tribes west of the Sacramento River, and their Wintu word for "nose". Per California place names, "the name is doubtless derived from a Patwin word for 'nose', which Padre Arroyo (Vocabularies, p. 22) gives as sonom (Suisun)."

Bowman(CFQ 5:300-302 [1946]) theorizes that Spaniards found an Indian chief with a prominent protuberance and applied the nickname of Chief Nose to the village and the territory (cf. Alfred L. Kroeber, AAE 29:354 [1932]). Beeler believes the name applied originally to a nose-shaped geographic feature (WF 13:268-72 [1954])[5]

Demographics

At the 2000 census², there were 458,614 people, 172,403 households, and 112,406 families in Sonoma County. The population density was 291/sq mi (112/km²). There were 183,153 housing units at an average density of 116/sq mi (45/km²).

The racial makeup was 81.60% White, 1.42% Black or African American, 1.18% Native American, 3.07% Asian, 0.20% Pacific Islander, 8.44% of other races, and 4.09% of two or more races. 17.34% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 80.4% spoke English and 13.8% Spanish as their first language.

Of the 172,403 households, 50.30% were married couples living together, 34.80% were non-families, and 10.40% had a female householder with no husband present. 31.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 25.70% were individuals, and 10.00% were 65 years of age or older living alone. The average household size was 2.60, and the average family size was 3.12.

The median age was 38 years. 24.50% were under 18, 8.80% from 18 to 24, 29.20% from 25 to 44, 24.90% from 45 to 64, and 12.60% were 65 years of age or older. For every 100 females there were 97 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94 males.

The median household income was $53,076, and the median family income was $61,921. Males had a median income of $42,035, females $32,022. The per capita income for the county was $25,724. About 4.70% of families and 8.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.40% of those under age 18 and 5.70% of those age 65 or over.

Government

Sonoma County's governing board and legislative body is a five-member Board of Supervisors [3]. Supervisors are elected by district [4], at the Consolidated Primary Election, and serve for four years. The Supervisors also sit as directors of several local jurisdictions, such as the Water Agency [5], and Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District [6].

Three current Supervisors were elected in 2004: Valerie Brown (1st District), Tim Smith (3rd District), and Mike Reilly (5th District); and two in 2006: Mike Kerns (2nd District) and Paul L. Kelley (4th District). Supervisor Brown is the current Chairwoman. The Supervisors appoint the members of 59 boards, commissions, and committees [7].

The County Administrator [8] is the county's chief executive officer, reporting to the Board of Supervisors manage the county's departments.; the current Administrator is Bob Deis.

Cities and towns

Sonoma County has nine incorporated cities, including the Town of Windsor. In order of population, they are: Santa Rosa (156,200), Petaluma (56,727), Rohnert Park (42,236), Windsor (22,744), Healdsburg (10,722), Sonoma (9,128), Sebastopol (7,774), Cloverdale (7,636), and Cotati (6,471).

Unincorporated Communities A-C Unicorporated Communities D-G Unincorporated Communities H-N Unincorporated Communities O-Z

Places of interest

Transportation infrastructure

Major highways

U.S. Highway 101

U.S. Route 101 is the westernmost Federal highway in the U.S.A. Running north/south through the states of California, Oregon, and Washington, it generally parallels the coastline from the Mexican to the Canadian border. Highway 101 links seven of the county's nine incorporated cities: Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Windsor, Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, and Petaluma. It is a freeway for almost its entire length within the county, except for the section south of Petaluma.

The four-lane highway has been heavily congested during peak commute hours for many years. The section between Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park was recently widened to six lanes; and widening within Santa Rosa, between Highway 12 and Steele Lane, is in progress in 2007. The two new inner lanes are designated for vehicles with two or more occupants during commute hours.

California State Route 1

Within Sonoma County, Highway 1 follows the coastline from the Mendocino County border, at the mouth of the Gualala River, to the Marin County border, at the Estero Americano (Americano Creek), east of Bodega Bay.

California State Route 12

Highway 12 runs eastward from its intersection with Highway 116 in Sebastopol to Santa Rosa. There it turns south through the Valley of the Moon to Sonoma, then east into Napa County. The four-lane freeway section within Santa Rosa, between Fulton Road and Farmers Lane, is called the Luther Burbank Memorial Highway. That section, especially where it crosses Highway 101, is severely congested during peak commute hours.

The two-lane Bodega Highway runs west from the intersection of Highways 12 and 116 in Sebastopol, through the coastal hills to its intersection with Highway 1, east of Bodega Bay. East of Santa Rosa, Highway 12 is also called Sonoma Highway; and east of Sonoma, Carneros Highway.

California State Route 37

Highway 37 connects Highway 101 at Novato, in Marin County, with Interstate 80 in Vallejo, in Solano County, at the top of San Pablo Bay. Within Sonoma County, it is also called Sears Point Road.

California State Route 116

Highway 116 is a winding, two-lane rural route that runs from Jenner, at the mouth of the Russian River on the coast, southeast to Arnold Drive near Sonoma. It is also called Guerneville Highway, between Guerneville and Forestville; Gravenstein Highway North, between Forestville and Sebastopol; and Gravenstein Highway South, between Sebastopol and Stony Point Road, west of Rohnert Park. East of Petaluma it is Lakeville Highway, then Stage Gulch Road.

California State Route 128

The northernmost section of Highway 128 is a two-lane rural route running southeast from Highway 101 at Geyserville, north of Healdsburg, through the Alexander Valley into Napa County.

Public transportation

  • Sonoma County Transit is the countywide transit operator, providing service to all cities in Sonoma County.
  • Santa Rosa Transit provides bus routes in and near the city of Santa Rosa.
  • The cities of Healdsburg and Petaluma also provide their own local bus service.
  • Golden Gate Transit connects Santa Rosa and points south with Marin County and San Francisco.
  • Mendocino Transit Authority runs north from Santa Rosa to Ukiah (via US 101) and to the coast (via California Routes 12 and 1).

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit/SMART [9] is a proposed commuter rail system between Larkspur in Marin County and Cloverdale in Sonoma. A sales tax surcharge measure to finance it narrowly failed in the 2006 election, and the SMART directors are considering a new measure sometime in 2008.

Airports

  • The Charles M. Schulz - Sonoma County Airport[10] is at 2290 Airport Boulevard, west of Highway 101, between Santa Rosa and Windsor. Its main runway is 5,115 feet (1559 m) long and 150 feet (46 m) wide, and can accommodate planes up to 95,000 pounds (43,000 kg) maximum gross take off weight. It offers fuel, major maintenance, hangar space, and tie-downs for local and transient aircraft. Horizon Air, of Seattle, Washington, began regular daily commercial flights from the Charles M. Schulz Airport to Los Angeles and Seattle March 21, 2007. Horizon is flying a 74-seat, Bombardier Q400 turboprop plane. There had been no commercial air service since United Express ceased flying to San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2001. The County has agreed to use $500,000 in federal funds to subsidize Horizon's flights for the first six months. Sponsored by the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, and Redwood Credit Union (formerly the Sonoma County Employees credit union), local businesses have spent more than $500,000 to buy tickets in advance. If revenues levels are unsatisfactory, Horizon can terminate service after 45 days.
  • Sonoma Skypark [9]
  • Sonoma Valley Airport[10]

Economy

Forbes Magazine ranked the Santa Rosa metropolitan area--essentially the entire county--185th out of 200, on its 2007 list of Best Places For Business And Careers [11]. It was second on the list five years before. Sonoma County was downgraded because of an increase in the cost of doing business, and reduced job growth--both blamed on increases in the cost of housing.

Viticulture

Vineyard on northwest flank of Sonoma Mountain.

See main article: Sonoma County AVA

Winemaking—both the growing of the grapes and their vinting—is an important part of the economic and cultural life of Sonoma County. In 2004, growers harvested 165,783 tons (150,396 tonnes) of wine grapes worth US$310 million. In 2006 the Sonoma County grape harvest amounted to over 185,000 tons, exceeding Napa County's harvest by over 30 percent.[11] About 80 percent of non-pasture agricultural land in the county is for growing wine grapes—59,973 acres (242.70 km²) of vineyards, with over 1100 growers. The most common varieties planted are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir, though the area is also known for its Merlot and Zinfandel.

Sonoma County is home to more than 250 wineries with eleven distinct and two shared American Viticultural Areas, including the Sonoma Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, Bennett Valley and Dry Creek Valley, the last of which is known for the production of high-quality zinfandels.

Tourism

See main article: Wine Country

In addition, the county's tolerant political environment have made the Guerneville area along the Russian River the home of a number of gay and lesbian resorts, which have catered to the San Francisco LGBT weekend-getaway community since the 1970s.

Politics

Presidential election results
Year DEM GOP Others
2004 67.2% 148,261 30.9% 68,204 1.9% 4,225
2000 59.5% 117,295 32.3% 63,529 8.2% 16,182
1996 55.6% 100,738 29.5% 53,555 14.9% 27,004
1992 52.8% 104,334 24.1% 47,619 23.1% 45,738
1988 56.5% 91,262 41.9% 67,725 1.6% 2,596
1984 47.6% 71,295 51.1% 76,447 1.3% 1,915
1980 36.2% 45,596 48.2% 60,722 15.6% 19,667
1976 47.5% 50,353 47.7% 50,555 4.8% 5,044
1972 41.5% 43,746 54.7% 57,697 3.8% 3,991
1968 43.0% 33,587 48.8% 38,088 8.2% 6384
1964 61.5% 44,354 38.4% 27,677 0.2% 105
1960 45.5% 29,147 54.1% 34,641 0.4% 244

Sonoma is a strongly Democratic county in Presidential and congressional elections. The last Republican to win a majority in the county was Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Sonoma is part of California's 1st and 6th congressional districts, which are held by Democrats Mike Thompson and Lynn Woolsey, respectively. In the State Assembly, Sonoma is in the 1st 6th, and 7th districts, which are held by Democrats Patty Berg, Jared Huffman, and Noreen Evans, respectively. In the State Senate, Sonoma is part of the 2nd and 3rd districts, which is held by Democrats Pat Wiggins and Carole Migden, respectively.















Education

Elementary and secondary

Higher education

The educational system of Sonoma County is similar to other counties in California.

Library system

The Sonoma County Library System offers a Central Library in downtown Santa Rosa, as well as ten branch libraries, two rural stations and bookmobile service. The Library is also a member of the North Bay Cooperative Library System. More than half of Sonoma County's residents have library cards. They borrow over 2.5 million items a year. Expert reference librarians answer nearly half a million reference questions annually for individuals, businesses and government agencies. They offer instruction in the use of Library resources in such fields as genealogy, grant writing, and use of the Internet. During a typical school year over 750 classes, more than half the county total, either visit a library or are visited by a children's librarian. The Library operates an adult literacy program, training volunteers to tutor individuals who lack basic reading ability. Computer terminals are made available for free Internet access.

Law enforcement and crime

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Department is the law enforcement agency for the unincorporated area of the county. It also contracts to provide the police forces of the City of Sonoma, and the Town of Windsor. The department has more than 1,000 employees, including more than 275 Deputy Sheriffs, in four Bureaus. More than 300 Correctional Officers and staff work in two jail facilities, with a total daily population of nearly 1,200 inmates. [12]. Police shootings in 2007 have led to calls for an independent civilian police review board. [12].

Film locations

see main article Film locations in Sonoma County, California

Due to the varied scenery in Sonoma County and proximity to the city of San Francisco, a large number of motion pictures have been filmed using venues within the county. Some of the earliest U.S. filmaking occurred in Sonoma County such as the 1914 production 1914 Salomy Jane and Bronco Billy Anderson produced in 1915. Many of these films are classics in American cinematography such as the 1947 film The Farmer's Daughter, starring Joseph Cotten and Loretta Young and Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds produced in 1963, which film was also partially filmed in adjacent Marin County. Many other more modern classics have used Sonoma County as a filming venue, including the 1990 production of the Flatliners and the 1992 film Basic Instinct. A few of the other representative films produced partially in Sonoma County are:

Sonoma County

  • 1965 The Third Day
  • 1972 Images - US/UK Filmed mostly in Ireland.
  • 1977 Heroes
  • 1993 Nowhere to Run - Coleman Valley Road, Occidental, for farmhouse and pond scenes.
  • 2001 The Man Who Wasn't There
  • 2001 Bandits - Flamingo Hotel; Clover milk truck featuring local icon "Clo the cow"; and rural County roads.

Cloverdale

Glen Ellen

  • 1982 Shoot the Moon - Glen Ellen and Jack London's Wolf House (also Marin County).

Petaluma

  • 1988 Peggy Sue - Many scenes of downtown Petaluma, especially a 1950s makeover of Washington St.

Russian River

  • 1925 Braveheart - Along the river.
  • 1942 Holiday Inn - Village Inn Lodge in Monte Rio as the "Holiday Inn" with tons of artificial snow.

Sebastopol

Sonoma

  • 1973 American Graffiti - Schellville along Highway 121 between Napa and Petaluma.
  • 1988 Tucker: The Man and His Dream - Sonoma (also Oakland, San Bruno, San Francisco, and Marin.
  • 1996 Scream - Sonoma Community Center on East Napa Street.
  • 2001 The Animal - Sonoma City Hall as Police Headquarters; Historic Plaza.

The town of Sonoma in southeast Sonoma County hosts the annual Sonoma Valley Film Festival, a nationally recognized event.

See also

References

  1. ^ Sonoma county Indicators: 2007
  2. ^ Sonoma County Flood Control and Water Conservation District: History
  3. ^ Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District
  4. ^ Annadel State Park facts
  5. ^ a b Gudde, Erwin Gustav; William Bright (1998). California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names, Second Edition, Berkeley: University of California Press, Pg. 370. ISBN 0-520-21316-5. 
  6. ^ Alfred Louis Kroeber, Handbook of the Indians of California, Dover Publications, New York City, N.Y. (1976)
  7. ^ Sonoma County Regional Parks Official Site
  8. ^ Petaluma Municipal Airport: United States Federal Aviation Administration Data
  9. ^ Sonoma Skypark LLC
  10. ^ Sonoma Valley Airport: United States Federal Aviation Administration Data
  11. ^ Year 2006 Sonoma County grape harvest statistics: Sonoma County Vintners associaiation
  12. ^ Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 3/30/07: Fatal police shootings rekindle review debate/Recent cases raise decade-old concerns over agencies’ abilities to investigate each other

Further reading

  • California gazetteer. Wilmington: American Historical Publications, 1985.
  • Finley, Ernest L. History of Sonoma County, California: Its People and Its Resources. Santa Rosa: Press Democrat Pub. Co., 1937
  • Gille, Frank H. ed. The encyclopedia of California, 1999. St. Clair Shores: Somerset Publishers, Inc., 1999.
  • Gregory, Thomas Jefferson. History of Sonoma County, California, with Biographical Sketches of the Leading Men and Women of the County, Who Have Been Identified with Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present Time. Los Angeles: Historic record company, 1911.
  • Gudde, Erwin Gustav. California place names: the origin and etymology of current geographical names. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
  • Hanna, Phil Townsend. The dictionary of California land names. Los Angeles: The Automobile Club of Southern California, 1951.
  • Hansen, Harvey J. Wild Oats in Eden; Sonoma County in the 19th Century. Santa Rosa, 1962.
  • Historical Atlas Maps of Sonoma County, California. Oakland: Thos. H. Thompson & Co., 1877.
  • May, James, 'Why Graton...' Indian Country - Legend Valley of the Moon, 2003.
  • Taber, George M. Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine. NY: Scribner, 2005.
  • Thompson, Robert A. Historical and descriptive sketch of Sonoma County, California. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co., 1877.
  • Tuomey, Honoria. History of Sonoma County, California. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1926.

External links


<tr><th style="white-space:nowrap;background:#FFEFD6;text-align:right;background:#ffc94b;">Cities and towns
100k-250k</th><td colspan="1" style="text-align:left;width:100%;font-size:95%;background:#FCFAE5;">Antioch • Berkeley • Concord • Daly City • Fairfield • Fremont • Hayward • Richmond • Santa Clara • Santa Rosa • Sunnyvale • Vallejo</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space:nowrap;background:#FFEFD6;text-align:right;background:#ffc94b;">Cities and towns
25k-99k</th><td colspan="1" style="text-align:left;width:100%;font-size:95%;">Alameda • Belmont • Benicia • Burlingame • Campbell • Castro Valley • Cupertino • Danville • Dublin • East Palo Alto • Foster City • Gilroy • Livermore • Los Altos • Los Gatos • Martinez • Menlo Park • Milpitas • Morgan Hill • Mountain View • Napa • Newark • Novato • Oakley • Pacifica • Palo Alto • Petaluma • Pittsburg • Pleasant Hill • Pleasanton • Redwood City • Rohnert Park • San Bruno • San Carlos • San Leandro • San Mateo • San Pablo • San Rafael • San Ramon • Saratoga • South San Francisco • Suisun City • Union City • Vacaville • Walnut Creek</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space:nowrap;background:#FFEFD6;text-align:right;background:#ffc94b;">Cities and towns
10k-25k</th><td colspan="1" style="text-align:left;width:100%;font-size:95%;background:#FCFAE5;">Alamo • Albany • Alum RockAshlandBay PointBlackhawk-Camino Tassajara • Brentwood • Cherryland • Clayton • Dixon • El Cerrito • El Sobrante • Half Moon Bay • Healdsburg • Hercules • Hillsborough • Lafayette • Larkspur • Millbrae • Mill Valley • Moraga • North Fair Oaks • Orinda • Piedmont • Pinole • San Anselmo • San LorenzoStanfordTamalpais-Homestead Valley • Windsor</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space:nowrap;background:#FFEFD6;text-align:right;background:#ffc94b;">Sub-regions</th><td colspan="1" style="text-align:left;width:100%;font-size:95%;">East Bay • North Bay • San Francisco Peninsula • Silicon Valley • South Bay</td></tr></table>

Coordinates: 38°31′N 122°56′W / 38.51, -122.93

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Sonoma County, California. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
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Simple English

Sonoma County, California
Map

Location in the state of California

California's location in the USA
Statistics
Founded 1850
Seat Santa Rosa
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

1,768 sq mi (4,579 km²)
1,576 sq mi (4,082 km²)
192 sq mi (497 km²), 10.88%
Population
 - (2000)
 - Density

458,614
290/sq mi (112/km²)
Website: www.sonoma-county.org

Sonoma County is a county in Northern California. The county seat is in Santa Rosa. To the south of Sonoma County is Marin County, to the north is Mendocino County, to the east is Napa County, and to the northeast is Lake County.


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