Santa Barbara County
Cities and Towns
Goleta is a city located in southern
Santa Barbara County, California, USA. It was incorporated as a
new city in 2002, after a long time as being the largest
unincorporated, populated area in the county. As of the 2000
census, the CDP (Census-designated place) had a total population
of 55,204, however, a significant portion of the census territory
of 2000 did not incorporate into the new city. The Census
Bureau's official estimate as of July 1, 2006 was 29,182
inhabitants within city limits.
It is known for being close to the University of California, Santa Barbara campus, although the CDP of Isla Vista is closer.
The area of present-day Goleta was
populated for thousands of years by the native Chumash people;
locally they were known by the first European settlers as
Canaliños (for the canoes they built to travel to the Channel
Islands). One of the largest villages, S'axpilil, was north of
the Goleta Slough, not far from the present-day Santa Barbara
The first European visitor was Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who sailed past in 1542. During the 1980s, discovery of some 16th-century cannon on the beach led to the advancement of a theory that Sir Francis Drake sailed into the Goleta Slough in 1579, where he may have spent several weeks repairing his ship.
In the 18th century, two Spanish expeditions came to the area; the second founded the Presidio of Santa Barbara and Mission to the east, and began the work of converting the Chumash to Roman Catholicism. During the 19th century most of the area, formerly covered with oak trees, was deforested; ranching was the principal land use during this time. The two main local ranchers, Nicolas A. Den and Daniel Hill, Americans married to the daughters of Spanish ranchers, became wealthy in the late 1840s by selling locally-grown beef to the thousands of miners who came to the California Gold Rush.
19th and 20th centuries
The Goleta Valley was a prominent
lemon-growing region during the late 19th and early 20th
centuries, and was largely agricultural. In addition, several
areas, especially the Ellwood Mesa, were developed for oil and
natural gas extraction. In the 1920's aviation pioneers started
using portions of the Goleta Slough that had silted in due to
agriculture to land and takeoff. As former tidelands, the title
to these lands was unclear. Starting in 1940, boosters from the
City of Santa Barbara lobbied and obtained federal funding and
passed a bond measure to formally develop an airport on the
Goleta Slough; the airport development was accelerated by U.S.
response to an attack on the Ellwood Oil Field by a Japanese
submarine, see Attacks on North America during World War II. The
Marine Corps undertook completion of the airport and established
living quarters on the site of the current University of
California, Santa Barbara campus.
After the war, Goleta Valley residents supported the construction of Cachuma Lake, which provided water enabling a housing boom and the establishment of research and aerospace firms in the area. In 1954 the University of California, Santa Barbara moved to part of the former Marine base. Along with the boom in aerospace, the character changed from rural-agricultural to high-tech. Goleta remains a center for high-tech firms, and a bedroom community for neighboring Santa Barbara.
Goleta was incorporated as a city in
2002 after several unsuccessful attempts. A significant urbanized
area remains unincorporated between the town of Goleta and the
city of Santa Barbara, largely consisting of the area which
polled against incorporation prior to the 2002 election (this
area was excluded from the city boundaries to make passage of
incorporation more likely). There has been some discussion of
annexation of this area, sometimes dubbed informally
"Noleta", by the City of Santa Barbara. The current
boundaries of Goleta are shown in the city's map.[citation
The 2000 census figures reflect the census-designated place of Goleta, which was somewhat larger than the incorporated city. The city's population was estimated in 2002 at around 30,904 according to the CA Governor's Office of Planning and Research.
Much of Goleta is considered to be a
quiet community while Santa Barbara tends to attract most of the
tourists and the area's residents. Goleta has successfully
combatted suburban sprawl although it does exist .
In 2008, a wildfire that consumed more than 9,000 acres (36 km2) over a period of several weeks was finally contained on July 29. 
Cabrillo Business Park, a business park in Goleta
Goleta contains a mix of land uses,
lacking only heavy industrial zones. North of the U.S. Route 101
freeway is a region of predominantly tract housing built between
the late 1950s and the 1970s, intermingled with newer condominium
developments, a few gated communities, and adjacent to a
lower-density residential zone in the lower foothills of the
Santa Ynez Mountains which contains larger homes. A commercial
strip along Calle Real is one of the town's several business
districts. South of the freeway is Old Town Goleta, centered on
the stretch of Hollister Avenue between Fairview Avenue and the
Highway 217 overpass; adjacent to this commercial area is a
region of older, and occasionally substandard housing; some of
the south county's least affluent people live in this zone.
Between Old Town Goleta and the airport, and running along south
Fairview Avenue, are some light industrial zones, some of
relatively few in southern Santa Barbara County. Farther west,
near the intersection of Storke Road and Hollister Avenue, is a
large shopping mall, including "big box" stores, which
draws business from outside the local area. This area is called
the "Camino Real Marketplace". There is also a new
business park called Cabrillo Business Park next to it. Adjacent
to the mall and extending more than a mile farther west is a
residential area, most of the housing in which dates back to the
1960s; it includes some high-density apartment blocks which
accept some of the overflow student population from nearby UCSB.
Goleta has several significant parks, including Stow Park, Lake Los Carneros, and the Coronado Butterfly Preserve providing street access to the Ellwood Mesa Open Space on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean with beach access from UCSB. Goleta Beach County Park is just outside of the city limits.
Detail of a Monarch Butterfly cluster at Ellwood Mesa Open Space
Goleta is about 8 miles west of the
city of Santa Barbara, along the coast (the coast runs east to
west in this portion of southern California). Nearby is the Santa
Barbara campus of the University of California and the student
community of Isla Vista.
The city's geography at the feet of the Santa Ynez Mountains has made it subject to sudden, extremely hot winds locally called "sundowners", similar to the more famous Santa Ana winds in the Los Angeles and San Diego regions. They are caused by high pressure drawing dry air from the inland side of the mountains, whereupon they can become superheated as they rush down the city's side. On June 17, 1859, a sundowner wind rushed through Goleta and rapidly raised the temperature to 133 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes. People were forced to take shelter immediately; when they emerged they saw that most animals and plants had been killed. It was the highest temperature recorded in the United States until 1913.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 26.4 square miles, of which, 26.3 square miles of it is land and 0.1 square miles of it (0.38%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were
55,204 people, 19,954 households, and 13,468 families residing in
the CDP. The population density was 2,102.1 people per square
mile. There were 20,442 housing units at an average density of
778.4/sq mi. The racial makeup of the CDP was 78.61% White, 1.27%
African American, 0.82% Native American, 6.43% Asian, 0.11%
Pacific Islander, 9.23% from other races, and 3.53% from two or
more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 22.33% of the
There were 19,954 households out of which 30.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.1% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.5% were non-families. 22.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.18.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 23.1% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 98.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.1 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $60,314, and the median income for a family was $67,956 (these figures had risen to $69,242 and $81,862 respectively as of a 2007 estimate. Males had a median income of $44,770 versus $32,127 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $28,890. About 2.9% of families and 6.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.8% of those under age 18 and 4.4% of those age 65 or over.
Most local students attend schools in
the Goleta Union School District and the Santa Barbara High
School District. There are also a host of smaller private
El Camino School
Isla Vista School
La Patera School
Mountain View School
Goleta Family School
Goleta Valley Junior High
Dos Pueblos High School
The five City Council members take turns as mayor. The City Council also serves at the Planning Agency. City Council meetings are televised, while Planning Agency meetings are not. There have also been prolonged delays in getting the first General Plan adopted, despite state mandates to do so in a reasonable period of time after incorporation, and this has led to delays in the consideration of planning and development applications.
All public transportation is provided
by the county. Multiple MTD bus lines run through the city.
The main artery for the city is the U.S. 101, with the main major streets being Hollister Avenue and Cathedral Oaks Road. Other significant streets include Calle Real (which is broken up into sections), Storke Road/Glen Annie Road, Los Carneros Road, Fairview Avenue, and Patterson Avenue.
Intercity transit is provided by Amtrak at the Goleta Amtrak Station.
Santa Barbara Airport is located in the central southwestern portion of Goleta, near the intersection of Hollister and South Fairview Avenues. The airport serves the greater Santa Barbara area and is serviced by seven airlines, to 10 non-stop destinations.
This page was last updated July 19, 2009.