Goleta, California

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Goleta, California
Aerial photo of the Goleta area from offshore.
Goleta city seal.jpg
The Good Land
Santa Barbara County California Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Goleta Highlighted 0630378.svg
Location of Goleta in Santa Barbara County, California.
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Location in the United States
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Goleta (the United States)
Coordinates: 34°26′26″N119°48′49″W / 34.44056°N 119.81361°W / 34.44056; -119.81361 Coordinates: 34°26′26″N119°48′49″W / 34.44056°N 119.81361°W / 34.44056; -119.81361
Country Flag of the United States.svg  United States
State Flag of California.svg  California
County Flag of Santa Barbara County, California.png Santa Barbara
Incorporated February 1, 2002 [1]
  Type Council–Manager [2]
   Mayor Paula Perotte [3]
  Mayor Pro Tem Stuart Kasdin [4]
   City council Roger S. Aceves [5]
Michael T. Bennett [6]
Tony Vallejo [7]
   State legislators Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D)
Asm. Monique Limón (D)
   U. S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D) [8]
  Total7.92 sq mi (20.53 km2)
  Land7.85 sq mi (20.33 km2)
  Water0.07 sq mi (0.19 km2)  0.90%
Elevation20 ft (6 m)
 (2010) [11]
(2017) [12]
  Density3,929.44/sq mi (1,517.15/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific Time Zone)
  Summer (DST) UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
93111, 93116–93118, 93160, 93199
Area code 805
FIPS code 06-30378
GNIS feature ID 1660687, 2015546
Website www.cityofgoleta.org

Goleta ( /ɡəˈltə/ ; Spanish: [ɡoˈleta] , "schooner" [13] ) is a city in southern Santa Barbara County, California, USA. It was incorporated as a city in 2002, after a long period as the largest unincorporated populated area in the county. As of the 2000 census, the 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 population was 29,888 at the 2010 census. It is known for being near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus, although the CDP of Isla Vista is closer to the campus.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish, known in the Middle Ages as Castilian, is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Santa Barbara County, California County in California

Santa Barbara County, California, officially the County of Santa Barbara, is a county located in the southern region of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 423,895. The county seat is Santa Barbara, and the largest city is Santa Maria.

A municipal corporation is the legal term for a local governing body, including cities, counties, towns, townships, charter townships, villages, and boroughs. The term can also be used to describe municipally owned corporations.



Early history

The area of present-day Goleta was populated for thousands of years by the native Chumash people. Locally they became known by the Spanish as Canaliños because they lived along the coast adjacent 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 Airport. [14]

Goleta Slough

The Goleta Slough is an area of estuary, tidal creeks, tidal marsh, and wetlands near Goleta, California, United States. It primarily consists of the filled and unfilled remnants of the historic inner Goleta Bay about 8 miles (13 km) west of Santa Barbara. The slough empties into the Pacific Ocean through an intermittently closed mouth at Goleta Beach County Park just east of the UCSB campus and Isla Vista. The slough drains the Goleta Valley and watershed, and receives the water of all of the major creeks in the Goleta area including the southern face of the Santa Ynez Mountains.

The first European visitor to the Goleta area was the Spanish mariner Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who spent time around the Channel Islands in 1542, and died there in 1543. 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. Goleta is one of many alternative locations (and the one farthest south) proposed for Drake's "New Albion", generally believed to be today's Drake's Bay, north of San Francisco.

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo Portuguese explorer

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo was a Spanish explorer born in Palma del Rio, Córdoba, Spain, although he is also claimed by tradition as a native of Portugal. Among other things he was a maritime navigator known for exploring the West Coast of North America on behalf of the Spanish Empire. Cabrillo was the first European to navigate the coast of present-day California. He is best known for his exploration of the coast of California in 1542–1543. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo served under the command of Pánfilo de Narváez and aided him in the conquest of Cuba about 1518.

Francis Drake Elizabethan era historical figure

Sir Francis Drake was an English sea captain, privateer, slave trader, naval officer and explorer of the Elizabethan era. Drake carried out the second circumnavigation of the world in a single expedition, from 1577 to 1580, and was the first to complete the voyage as captain while leading the expedition throughout the entire circumnavigation. With his incursion into the Pacific Ocean, he claimed what is now California for the English and inaugurated an era of conflict with the Spanish on the western coast of the Americas, an area that had previously been largely unexplored by western shipping.

In 1602, another sailing expedition, led by Sebastian Vizcaino, visited the California Coast. Vizcaino named the channel Santa Barbara. Spanish ships associated with the Manila Galleon trade probably stopped in the area intermittently during the next 167 years, but no permanent settlements were established.

The first land expedition to California, led by Gaspar de Portolà, spent several days in the area in 1769, on its way to Monterey Bay, and spent the night of August 20 near a creek (possibly San Pedro Creek) to the north of the Goleta estuary. At that time, the estuary was a very large open-water lagoon that covered most of what is now the city of Goleta, and extended as far north as Lake Los Carneros (adjacent to Stow House). [15] There were at least five native towns in the area, the largest on an island in the middle of the lagoon. For that reason, expedition engineer Miguel Costanso called the group of towns Pueblos de la Isla. [16] Some of the soldiers called the island town Mescaltitlan, after a similar Aztec island town in Mexico. Franciscan missionary Juan Crespi, who accompanied the expedition, gave the towns the name Santa Margarita de Cortona. [17]

Monterey Bay bay of the Pacific Ocean in California, United States

Monterey Bay is a bay of the Pacific Ocean located on the coast of the U.S. state of California. The bay is south of the major cities of San Francisco and San Jose. The county-seat city of Santa Cruz is located at the north end of the bay. The city of Monterey is on the Monterey Peninsula at the south end. The Monterey Bay Area is a local colloquialism sometimes used to describe the whole of the Central Coast communities of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

Stow House place in California listed on National Register of Historic Places

The Stow House is a U.S. historical landmark in Goleta, California. Formerly the headquarters of Rancho La Patera, the Stow House, in the Carpenter Gothic style, is now the headquarters of Goleta Historical Society which preserves and interprets the history of the Goleta Valley.

The island retained the name Mescalitan Island (dropping the extra Aztec "t") until it was bulldozed flat in 1941 to provide fill for the military airfield that is now Goleta airport. The Wastewater Treatment Plant of the Goleta Sanitary District is located on what used to be the island. [18]

Mescalitan Island island in the United States of America

Mescalitan Island was a mesalike island located about 10 miles west of Santa Barbara near the outlet of the Goleta Slough into the Pacific Ocean.

Cabrillo Business Park, a business park in Goleta CabrilloBusinessPark-1.png
Cabrillo Business Park, a business park in Goleta

Portola returned to San Diego by the same route in January 1770, and mounted a second expedition to Monterey that year. A second Spanish expedition came to the Santa Barbara area of Alta California in 1774, led by Juan Bautista de Anza. De Anza returned the next year, and the road along the coast of Santa Barbara County (today's Highway 1) soon became the El Camino Real, connecting the string of Spanish missions.

An expedition in 1782, led by military governor Felipe de Neve, founded the Presidio of Santa Barbara and, soon thereafter, the Santa Barbara Mission. The Goleta area, along with most of the coastal areas of today's Santa Barbara County, was placed in the jurisdiction of the presidio and mission.

Sometime after the De Anza expeditions, a sailing ship ("goleta") was wrecked at the mouth of the lagoon, and remained visible for many years, giving the area its current name. After Mexico became independent of Spain in 1821, most of the former mission ranch lands were divided up into large grants. The Goleta area became part of two adjacent ranchos. To the east of today's Fairview Avenue was Rancho La Goleta, named for the shipwreck and granted to Daniel A. Hill, the first American resident of Santa Barbara. An 1840s diseño (claim map) of the rancho shows the wrecked ship. [19]

The parts of Goleta to the west of Fairview Avenue were in Rancho Dos Pueblos, granted in 1842 to Nicholas Den, son-in-law of Daniel Hill. Rancho Dos Pueblos included the lagoon, airport, UCSB and Isla Vista, extending to the west as far as the eastern boundary of today's El Capitan State Beach.

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. Several areas, especially the Ellwood Mesa, were developed for oil and natural gas extraction. In the 1920s, 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 necessity for an airport – or at least a military airfield – became more apparent after a Japanese submarine shelled the Ellwood Oil Field in 1942. This was one of the few direct-fire attacks on the U.S. continent during WWII. The Marine Corps undertook completion of the airport and established Marine Corps Air Station Santa Barbara on the site of the current airport and University of California, Santa Barbara campus. [20]

After the war, Goleta Valley residents supported the construction of Lake Cachuma, 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 cities of Goleta and 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 facilitate approval of incorporation). There has been some discussion of annexation of this area (sometimes dubbed "Noleta") by the city of Santa Barbara.

In addition, the student community of Isla Vista directly to the south was excluded from the new city of Goleta. Whether or not to include Isla Vista was a subject of debate during incorporation planning, including Goleta residents concerned about impacts on tax revenue and the voting patterns of students. [21] A Local Agency Formation Commission report supported excluding Isla Vista because of differences in "community identity", but considered both including and excluding Isla Vista to be viable choices. [22]

Postal shooting

On January 30, 2006, Jennifer San Marco shot and killed seven people, including six postal workers, before committing suicide at the postal processing facility where she had been previously employed. In addition to Charlotte Colton, 44, and Beverly Graham, 54, the dead included Ze Fairchild, 37, and Maleka Higgins, 28, both of Santa Barbara; Nicola Grant, 42, and Guadalupe Swartz, 52, both of Lompoc; and Dexter Shannon, 57, of Oxnard. This incident is believed to be the deadliest workplace shooting ever carried out in the United States by a woman. [23] [24]


Goleta is about 8 miles (13 km) 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.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 26.4 square miles (68 km2), of which 26.3 square miles (68 km2) are land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.38%) is water.

Goleta occupies the coastal plain between the Santa Ynez Mountains, the principal mountain range of southern Santa Barbara County, and the Pacific Ocean. [25] The mountains form a scenic backdrop to the town, covered by chaparral and displaying prominent sandstone outcrops. The range exceeds 4,000 feet in height to the northwest of Goleta, at Broadcast and Santa Ynez Peaks. Sundowner winds occur in both Goleta and Santa Barbara.


The “Goleta Valley” is a coastal plain between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the ocean, approximately three miles across. It consists of Holocene and Pleistocene alluvium, colluvium, estuarine deposits, as well as marine terraces created during interglacial high sea level episodes. The area has been subject to rapid geologic uplift, as evidenced by its coastal bluffs and narrow beaches. [25] Between the flattest part of the Goleta Valley and the ocean is an area of uplift paralleling the shore which includes, from west to east, Isla Vista, Mescalitan Island, More Mesa, and the Hope Ranch Hills. The elevation of this block of land relative to Goleta Valley increases from 40 to 300 feet along this length. [26] [27] The uplift was caused by motion along the More Ranch Fault, one of the most geologically active faults in the area. The More Ranch Fault roughly follows a line along El Colegio Road, through the southern part of the airport, along Atascadero Creek, and then continues east into Santa Barbara as the Mission Ridge Fault Zone. [28] Soils in Goleta are mostly well drained brown fine sandy loam of the Milpitas series. [29]

Underneath the alluvial units of the coastal plain are three prominent bedrock units: the Monterey Formation, the Sisquoc Formation, and the Santa Barbara Formation. This latter unit is the principal groundwater aquifer for the region, and its freshwater wells are protected from seawater intrusion by the uplift along the More Ranch Fault, which has placed relatively impermeable rock units between it and the ocean. [30]

Some of the underlying sedimentary units contain economically recoverable quantities of oil and gas. The Ellwood Oil Field was worked beginning in the 1920s, with its onshore portions only being dismantled in the 1970s. The La Goleta Gas Field was formerly productive on the bluffs west of More Mesa, and is now used for gas storage by the Southern California Gas Company. [31]

The Santa Ynez Mountains form a scenic backdrop to Goleta. They consist of multiple layers of sandstone and conglomerate units dating from the Jurassic Age to the present, uplifted rapidly since the Pliocene. Rapid uplift has given them their craggy, scenic character, and numerous landslides and debris flows, which form some of the urban and suburban lowland area, are testament to their geologically active nature. [27] [28]


Monarch butterflies on the Ellwood Mesa. GoletaMonarchCluster.jpg
Monarch butterflies on the Ellwood Mesa.

Opossums, skunks, raccoons, and coyotes can be seen in the Goleta and Santa Barbara area. [32] Bobcats can also be seen. [33] Coyotes sometimes prey on small domestic pets. [34] Skunks sometimes spray, and often fall prey to cars, owls, dogs, and coyotes. [35] Raccoons can become neighborhood pests. [36] Opossums commonly inhabit neighborhoods. [37] Dogs and cats sometimes kill small animals. Coyotes prey on these smaller predators. [38] Monarch butterflies spend the winter in several eucalyptus groves on the Ellwood Mesa. [39]

Urban environment

Goleta has several significant parks, including Stow Park, Girsh Park, Lake Los Carneros and Coronado Butterfly preserve, the largest [40] over-wintering grove of the Monarch butterfly, providing street access to the Ellwood Mesa Open Space [41] on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean with beach access from UCSB. [42] Goleta Beach County Park is just outside of the city limits. [43] Notable among its historic sites and museums are Stow House and the South Coast Railroad Museum.


Goleta has a mild climate with high temperatures normally within ten degrees of 70°F (21°C) year-round; temperatures rarely fall below 40°F (5°C). However, Goleta experienced one of the highest temperatures ever recorded in the United States. The city's geography at the base of the Santa Ynez Mountains sometimes subjects Goleta to sudden hot winds locally called "sundowners", similar to the 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 on the city's side.

Climate data for Goleta, California (Santa Barbara) (1981–2010 Normals)
Record high °F (°C)89
Average high °F (°C)64.7
Average low °F (°C)46.4
Record low °F (°C)20
Average rainfall inches (mm)4.14
Average rainy days (≥ 0.01 in)
Source: Western Regional Climate Center [44]


The University of California Santa Barbara is the major center of economic activity in the area, both directly and through the numerous associated service industry activities which exist for the staff and students.[ citation needed ] Hispanic Business had its corporate headquarters in Goleta. [45]

Deckers Outdoor Corporation is based in Goleta. It is the parent company for UGG Australia, Teva, Sanuk, Ahnu and Hoka One One. Several technology sector businesses operate in the area due to the proximity to the university, including Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, LogMeIn, AppFolio, FLIR, Orbital ATK and InTouch.

The Bacara Resort also employs many residents.[ citation needed ]


Under the legalization of the sale and distribution of cannabis, local governments may not prohibit adults from growing, using or transporting marijuana for personal use but they can prohibit companies from growing, testing, and selling cannabis within their jurisdiction by licensing none or only some of these activities. The city began accepting retail applications on a first-come, first-served basis in August 2018. [46]


Historical population
2000 55,204
2010 29,888−45.9%
Est. 201731,116 [12] 4.1%
U.S. Decennial Census [47]


The 2010 United States Census [48] reported that Goleta had a population of 29,888. The population density was 3,747.9 people per square mile (1,447.1/km²). The racial makeup of Goleta was 20,833 (69.7%) White, 469 (1.6%) African American, 283 (0.9%) Native American, 2,728 (9.1%) Asian, 26 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 4,182 (14.0%) from other races, and 1,367 (4.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9,824 persons (32.9%).

The Census reported that 29,687 people (99.3% of the population) lived in households, 23 (0.1%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 178 (0.6%) were institutionalized.

There were 10,903 households, out of which 3,416 (31.3%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 5,265 (48.3%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1,069 (9.8%) had a female householder with no husband present, 472 (4.3%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 659 (6.0%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 88 (0.8%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 2,732 households (25.1%) were made up of individuals and 1,090 (10.0%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72. There were 6,806 families (62.4% of all households); the average family size was 3.23.

The population was spread out with 6,335 people (21.2%) under the age of 18, 3,790 people (12.7%) aged 18 to 24, 7,966 people (26.7%) aged 25 to 44, 7,749 people (25.9%) aged 45 to 64, and 4,048 people (13.5%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.5 years. For every 100 females, there were 101.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.2 males.

There were 11,473 housing units at an average density of 1,438.7 per square mile (555.5/km²), of which 5,844 (53.6%) were owner-occupied, and 5,059 (46.4%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.5%. 16,222 people (54.3% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 13,465 people (45.1%) lived in rental housing units.


Demographic data for 2000 is for the Goleta CDP, the Goleta Valley area, which is approximately twice the size of the City of Goleta.

As of the census [49] 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 (811.7/km²). There were 20,442 housing units at an average density of 778.4 per square mile (300.6/km²). 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 population.

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. [50] 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 schools. [51]



  • Brandon School (within City of Goleta) [52]
  • El Camino School
  • Ellwood School (within City of Goleta)
  • Foothill School
  • Isla Vista School
  • Kellogg School (within City of Goleta)
  • La Patera School (within City of Goleta)
  • Mountain View School
  • Goleta Family School



The five city council members take turns as mayor. The city council also serves as the planning agency. City council, planning commission, and design review board meetings are televised on the local government-access television channel and available on the city's website.


Several Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District bus lines run through the city. [55] The main artery of the city is U.S. 101, with the major streets being Hollister Avenue and Cathedral Oaks Road. Other significant streets include Calle Real (which is broken into sections), Storke Road/Glen Annie Road, Los Carneros Road, Fairview Avenue, and Patterson Avenue. [56]

Intercity transit is provided by Amtrak at the Goleta Amtrak Station.

Santa Barbara Airport is adjacent to the City of Goleta, near the intersection of Hollister and South Fairview avenues. The airport serves the greater Santa Barbara area with five airlines connecting to larger hubs.

Major highways

Notable people

See also

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The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office (SBSO) provides law enforcement for the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County, California, as well as several cities within the county. The cities that the Sheriff's Office provides police services for include Buellton, Carpinteria, Goleta and Solvang. In total the 640 full-time employees of the Sheriff's Office are responsible for 2,745 square miles (7,110 km2) of the county.

Whittier Fire

The Whittier Fire was a wildfire in the Santa Ynez Mountains, south of Lake Cachuma, along Highway 154 in Santa Barbara County, California in the United States. The fire was reported on July 8, 2017, at 1:43 pm. Upon containment on July 28, the fire had burned a total of 18,430 acres (75 km2) and destroyed 16 homes.


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