World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

San Luis Obispo County

County of San Luis Obispo
Official seal of County of San Luis Obispo
Motto: Not For Ourselves Alone

Location in the state of California
Country  United States
State  California
Region California Central Coast
Incorporated February 18, 1850[1]
County seat San Luis Obispo
 • Total 9,364.2 km2 (3,615.54 sq mi)
 • Land 8,558.1 km2 (3,304.32 sq mi)
 • Water 806.1 km2 (311.22 sq mi)
Population (2010)
 • Total 269,637
 • Density 29/km2 (75/sq mi)
Time zone Pacific Standard Time (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)

San Luis Obispo County is a county located along the Pacific Ocean in the Central Coast of the U.S. state of California, between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. As of the 2010 census its population was 269,637. The county seat is San Luis Obispo, with about 46,000 residents.

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

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

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


The prehistory of San Luis Obispo County is strongly influenced by the Chumash people who had significant settlement here at least as early as the Millingstone Horizon thousands of years before the present age. Important settlements existed, for example, in many coastal areas such as Morro Bay and Los Osos.[2][3]

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was founded on September 1, 1772 in the area that is now the city of San Luis Obispo.

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

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

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


According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 3,615.54 square miles (9,364.2 km2), of which 3,304.32 square miles (8,558.1 km2) (or 91.39%) is land and 311.22 square miles (806.1 km2) (or 8.61%) is water.[4]

Incorporated Cities

Unincorporated Census-designated places

Unincorporated Communities not Census Designated Places

Adjacent counties

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

National protected areas

Marine Protected Areas


Voter registration statistics

Cities by population and voter registration


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

San Luis Obispo County, as a whole, leans toward the Republican Party in presidential and congressional elections. In 2008, however, Barack Obama won the county with 51.2 percent of the vote.[7] Prior to 2008, the last Democrat to win a majority in the county was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. In 2012, Obama again won the county, this time with a slim plurality of the vote.

San Luis Obispo County is included in California's 24th congressional district and is represented by Democrat Lois Capps. In the state legislature, the county is part of the 35th Assembly district, which is represented by Republican Katcho Achadjian, and the 17th Senate district, represented by Democrat Bill Monning.

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.

Transportation Infrastructure

Major highways

Public transportation

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.

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



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.



Places by population, race, and income


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.[14]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2012274,8041.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[15]
2012 Estimate[16]

As of the census[17] 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.

See also

California portal



Further reading

  • 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 2
  • Yda Addis Storke, Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1891.

External links

  • Economic Vitality Corp.
  • Official San Luis Obispo County website
  • San Luis Obispo County Visitors & Conference Bureau website
  • has weather conditions, web cams, and weather forecasts for the County seat and surrounding areas

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

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.