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Santa Maria, California

Santa Maria is the largest city in Santa Barbara County, California. According to the California State Department of Finance, Santa Maria's estimated population of 90,333 has surpassed that of Santa Barbara, making it the largest city in the county. The 2000 census had indicated Santa Maria's population to be 77,423. The estimated population of the area is about 140,000, which includes the Santa Maria Valley, the city of Guadalupe and the unincorporated township of Orcutt. An additional 12,000 people live in Nipomo, in San Luis Obispo County and adjacent to Santa Maria on the north. Santa Maria is probably most notable for its ever-expanding wine country and the creation of tri-tip and Santa Maria Style barbecue.

Geography and climate

Santa Maria is located at (34.951377, -120.433373).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.8 square miles (51.2 km²), of which, 19.3 square miles (50.1 km²) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.1 km²) of it (2.23%) is water.

Santa Maria is generally situated north of the unincorporated township of Orcutt, California, south of the Santa Maria River (which serves as the line between Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County), and it is surrounded on the west and east by agricultural areas. The city of Guadalupe, California is approximately to the west of Santa Maria.

Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °F 86 89 95 103 100 116 104 103 103 108 93 90
Norm High °F 63.9 64.8 64.8 67.6 68.6 71.4 73.5 74.2 74.9 74 69.2 64.9
Norm Low °F 39.3 41.4 42.7 43.4 46.9 50.4 53.5 54.2 52.9 48.2 41.8 38.2
Rec Low °F 5 22 24 31 31 36 43 43 36 26 25 20
Precip (in) 2.64 3.23 2.94 0.91 0.32 0.05 0.03 0.05 0.31 0.45 1.24 1.84


As of the census of 2000, there were 77,423 people, 22,146 households, and 16,653 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,005.8 people per square mile (1,546.5/km²). There were 22,847 housing units at an average density of 1,182.1/sq mi (456.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 58.07% White, 1.87% African American, 1.76% Native American, 4.74% Asian, 0.18% Pacific Islander, 28.02% from other races, and 5.36% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 59.67% of the population.

There were 22,146 households out of which 42% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.4% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.8% were non-families. 20.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.40 and the average family size was 3.85.

In the city the population was spread out with 31.6% under the age of 18, 11.6% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 15.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 103.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,541, and the median income for a family was $39,277. Males had a median income of $28,700 versus $22,364 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,780. About 15.5% of families and 19.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.5% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.

Law and government


Santa Maria is home to one of the main two court locations of the Santa Barbara County Superior Court - the other is at Santa Barbara. From 2003 until 2005 the court in Santa Maria handled a felony complaint against Michael Jackson (see Michael Jackson: 2005 trial), including the trial January 2005 until verdict day June 13, 2005. Santa Maria was selected because the nearest courthouse was deemed to be too small to accommodate the trial and media. Also since the offense took place in northern Santa Barbara County, the District Attorney chose to have it in the small town of Santa Maria. Neverland Ranch is closer to Santa Maria compared to Santa Barbara.


Santa Maria seems to be split nearly down the middle of the political spectrum, a very different condition from its county seat city Santa Barbara - which seems to be quite liberal. This was made evident in 2006 when a measure to split the county in half was on the ballot, but this proved to be unsuccessful.

Police Department

As the primary law enforcement agency for the City of Santa Maria, the department operates on a 24-hour basis and handles approximately 75,700 calls for service each year. The Department has 106 sworn officers and 38 full-time support personnel. The Police Department is administratively divided into the three divisions, Administration, Operations, and Support.



U.S. Route 101 runs through the middle of Santa Maria and is the main expressway connecting all West Coast cities. It has been improved to freeway status (meaning all at-grade intersections have been eliminated) within the town of Santa Maria itself. There is currently a widening project that will expand the freeway from four to six lanes between Santa Maria Way and the Route 135 overcrossing. The $32 million project is due for completion in mid-2008.

State Route 1 runs around the western edge of the town and connects it to nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc. The section of 101 in the town is a freeway, and a small part of a nearby section of Highway 1 that runs between the town and the base is also a freeway, but the two freeway segments do not directly connect to each other.

State Route 135 is considered to be the major artery through the city. It comes from Los Alamos, a town to the south of Santa Maria, and it enters Orcutt and Santa Maria as an expressway. The expressway runs all the way to Santa Maria Way. Highway 135 then turns into Broadway and runs through the heart of the city and all the way up to the Santa Maria River and U.S. 101.


Santa Maria Public Airport offers regular commercial flights to Los Angeles by United, Las Vegas by Allegiant Air. Alternative airports are found at San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Municipal Airport in Goleta.


The Santa Maria Valley Railroad (SMVRR) is a shortline freight railroad to Guadalupe. Main business includes storage of railroad cars when northern California and southern California storage area are full.

The nearest train station with long-distance Amtrak service is in Guadalupe, to which Amtrak provides bus service from Santa Maria. Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner provides twice daily service in each direction, running to Paso Robles to the north and to San Diego via Los Angeles to the south.


SMAT, Santa Maria Area Transit, is a local bus service provided by both city and county-run lines, it has recently expanded its services during the evening that stretch to 10:15 P.M.

San Luis Obispo RTA also runs the line 10 that travels between Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo primarily on weekdays, with three trips in each direction on Saturdays & Sundays. It costs $1.75.

The Breeze Bus provides service to Lompoc, Vandenberg Air Force Base, and Santa Maria.

Long-distance intercity bus service is provided by Greyhound Lines.


Santa Maria-Bonita School District (SMBSD) educates grades K-8. The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District (SMJUHSD) runs the 3 primary public high schools in the area including Santa Maria High School, Pioneer Valley High School, and Ernest Righetti High School. There are also two notable private high schools in the valley, St. Joseph High School, a private Catholic high school, and Valley Christian Academy. Delta High School is a continuation school also overseen by the high school district,and Peter.B Fitzgerald Community school which is run by the Santa Barbara County Board of Education. Allan Hancock College is a two year community college located in the city. There is also a Freshman Academy for students who do not do well in a big environment or who need extra help. In the southern unincoroporated area Orcutt Union School District operates six elementary schools and two junior high schools. In August of 2008, Orcutt Academy Charter School will open with two campuses; a Kindergarten through 8th grade school located in Casmailia and a high school in old Orcutt. Allan Hancock College also has an excellent Computers and You series of classes for Seniors.


Tri-Tip and Santa Maria Style BBQ

Santa Maria is most notable for its wine and barbecue. The tri-tip steak has its roots in Santa Maria, and is often still known simply as "Santa Maria steak." The tri-tip is a cut of beef from the bottom sirloin. It is a small triangular muscle, usually 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. (675 to 1,150g) per side of beef. In the United States, this cut was typically used for ground beef or sliced into steaks until the late 1950s, when it became a local specialty in Santa Maria. "Santa Maria Style" barbecue is usually used in reference to the seasoning of tri-tip or other meats (most notably top sirloin, or "top block") when rubbed with salt, pepper, and spices and cooked whole on a rotisserie or grilled over local red oak wood. The side dishes complimenting a typical Santa Maria Style barbecue generally consist of linguica sausage, garlic bread, pinquito beans, and a salad.


Santa Maria, along with neighboring Lompoc, Los Alamos and Santa Ynez Valleys, combine to create one of the nation's largest wine-producing regions. This northern Santa Barbara County enclave, which has recently been in the spotlight with the production of 2004's movie Sideways, is often referred to as "Santa Barbara" wine country because it is in Santa Barbara County.

Notable residents


Filming location

Films shot in the Santa Maria Valley:

External links

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