Santa Paula, California

Santa Paula, California

City of Santa Paula
Official seal of City of Santa Paula
Location in Ventura County and the state of California
Location in Ventura County and the state of California
Country  United States
State  California
County Ventura
Incorporated April 22, 1902[1]
 • State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D)[2]
 • CA Assembly Das Williams (D)[2]
 • U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley (D)[3]
 • Total 4.707 sq mi (12.189 km2)
 • Land 4.593 sq mi (11.895 km2)
 • Water 0.114 sq mi (0.294 km2)  2.41%
Elevation[5] 279 ft (85 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 29,321
 • Density 6,200/sq mi (2,400/km2)
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 93060-93061
Area code 805
FIPS code 06-70042
GNIS feature IDs 1652793, 2411826

Santa Paula is a city within Ventura County, California, United States. It has been dubbed the "Citrus Capital of the World." As the initial headquarters of the Union Oil Company of California, Santa Paula was one of the early centers of California's petroleum industry. The population was 29,321 at the 2010 census, up from 28,598 at the 2000 census.


The city of Santa Paula, according to the United States Census Bureau, has a total area of 4.7 square miles (12 km2), 4.6 square miles (12 km2) of it land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (2.41%) water.


The vicinity of Santa Paula was originally inhabited by the Chumash, a Native American people. In 1769, the Spanish Portola expedition, first Europeans to see inland areas of California, came down the Santa Clara River Valley from the previous night's encampment near Fillmore and camped in the vicinity of Santa Paula on August 12, near one of the creeks coming into the valley from the north (probably Santa Paula Creek). Fray Juan Crespi, a Franciscan missionary travelling with the expedition, had previously named the valley Cañada de Santa Clara. He noted that the party traveled about 9 to 10 miles (14 to 16 km) that day and camped near a large native village, which he named San Pedro Amoliano.[6] The arrival of the expedition has been designated California Historical Landmark No. 727.[7][note 1][note 2]

Franciscan missionaries, led by Father Junipero Serra, became active in the area after the founding of the San Buenaventura Mission and established an Asistencia; the town takes its name from the Catholic Saint Paula. Santa Paula is located on the 1843 Rancho Santa Paula y Saticoy Mexican land grant.

In 1872 Nathan Weston Blanchard purchased 2,700 acres (10.9 km2) and founded the town of Santa Paula. Several small oil companies owned by Wallace Hardison, Lyman Stewart and Thomas R. Bard were combined and became the Union Oil Company in 1890.

In April 1911, Gaston Méliès moved his Star Film Company from San Antonio, Texas to a site just north of Santa Paula.

The large South Mountain Oil Field southeast of town, just across the Santa Clara River, was discovered by the Oak Ridge Oil Company in 1916, and developed methodically through the 1920s, bringing further economic diversification and growth to the area. While the field peaked in production in the 1950s, Occidental Petroleum continues to extract oil through its Vintage Production subsidiary and remains a significant local employer.

In 1928, the town was devastated by a flood caused by the failure of the St. Francis Dam in the middle of the night. The loss of life would have been greater if it were not for two motorcycle police officers that noisily warned as many people as possible. A sculpture called "The Watchers" in downtown Santa Paula depicts this act of heroism.[8]

Mission Incident

A [14]

The incident evolved into a disaster when later in the morning additional materials began to burn and explode, which resulted in a three-mile-long plume of toxic smoke (4.8 km) and the closing of oxygen together with hydrogen and carbon in the same molecule and ignites easily and then burns rapidly and intensely. While field testing was performed on the reactive material for initial identification, the county hazardous materials manager found that laboratories would not test the chemicals over concerns that lab personnel could be injured or their equipment damaged. Three weeks after the incident, the substance was still highly susceptible to friction and seemed to react to something as slight as wind.[18] The Ventura County Sheriff declared a local emergency so the Ventura County Board of Supervisors could ratify the action and allow the county to seek reimbursement for its costs from state disaster relief funds.[19]

The facility at 815 Mission Rock Road, Santa Paula, provided service to over 30,000 waste generators and has received and processed over two billion US gallons (7.6×109 l) since it opened in 1959.[20] The company says they treat about 100 different streams of waste.[18] The owner of facility said that they never had a major problem such as this since the plant only takes non-hazardous waste.[21] The capacity of the facility was increased to handle up to 100-US-gallon-per-minute (380 l; 83 imp gal) or 140,000-US-gallon-per-day (530,000 l; 120,000 imp gal) by 2014.[22] The facility provides an environmentally safe and legal means of treating, disposing and recycling of contaminated but non-hazardous waste as an alternative to dumping untreated wastes into municipal sewer systems or into the environment. Treated waste water is sent through a pipeline to the city of Oxnard municipal treatment plant. A consortium of six major oil companies (Chevron, Exxon, Mobil, Shell, Texaco and Unocal) established Santa Clara Waste Water about 2 miles (3.2 km) southwest of the Santa Paula city limits to service their internal disposal needs. Eventually the site became a full-service disposal facility for most non-hazardous wastewater.[20] Green Compass that operates the facility also operates a Class II injection well in Kern County that is tailored toward oilfield production and completion fluids. The only other commercial facility for disposal of oil field waste in the county, operated by Anterra Corp. in Oxnard, temporarily expanded operations after the incident.[23]



The 2010 United States Census[24] reported that Santa Paula had a population of 29,321. The population density was 6,230.3 people per square mile (2,405.5/km²). The racial makeup of Santa Paula was 18,458 (63.0%) White, 152 (0.5%) African American, 460 (1.6%) Native American, 216 (0.7%) Asian, 24 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 8,924 (30.4%) from other races, and 1,087 (3.7%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 23,299 persons (79.5%).

The Census reported that 29,188 people (99.5% of the population) lived in households, 44 (0.2%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 89 (0.3%) were institutionalized.

There were 8,347 households, out of which 4,087 (49.0%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 4,767 (57.1%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1,267 (15.2%) had a female householder with no husband present, 650 (7.8%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 540 (6.5%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 45 (0.5%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 1,331 households (15.9%) were made up of individuals and 678 (8.1%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.50. There were 6,684 families (80.1% of all households); the average family size was 3.85.

The population was spread out with 8,722 people (29.7%) under the age of 18, 3,295 people (11.2%) aged 18 to 24, 8,012 people (27.3%) aged 25 to 44, 6,193 people (21.1%) aged 45 to 64, and 3,099 people (10.6%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31.1 years. For every 100 females there were 101.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.5 males.

There were 8,749 housing units at an average density of 1,859.1 per square mile (717.8/km²), of which 4,694 (56.2%) were owner-occupied, and 3,653 (43.8%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.0%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.1%. 15,528 people (53.0% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 13,660 people (46.6%) lived in rental housing units.


As of the census of 2000, there were 28,598 people, 8,137 households, and 6,435 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,214.6 inhabitants per square mile (2,400.4/km²). There were 8,341 housing units at an average density of 1,812.6 per square mile (700.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 35.2% White, 5.41% African American, 1.02% Native American, 0.70% Asian, 0.19% Pacific Islander, .37% from other races, and 4.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 61.2% of the population.[25]

There were 8,136 households out of which 44.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.1% were married couples living together, 13.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.9% were non-families. 17.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.49 and the average family size was 3.86.

In the city the population was spread out with 31.4% under the age of 18, 10.9% from 18 to 24, 29.7% from 25 to 44, 17.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 103.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $41,651, and the median income for a family was $45,419. Males had a median income of $32,165 versus $25,818 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,736. About 12.2% of families and 14.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.4% of those under age 18 and 9.1% of those age 65 or over.


Orange grove outside of Santa Paula, California.

Santa Paula's economy is primarily agriculturally based, originally focusing on the growing of oranges and lemons. Santa Paula's mediterranean climate combined with an estimated 20 feet (6.1 m) of topsoil have made it a prime location for growing citrus. Avocado has also become a major crop and an avocado was added to the city's official seal (Calavo Growers, Inc. is headquartered here).

Santa Paula has very few large retail stores but residents often travel to neighboring cities to purchase hard goods. Santa Paula's Main Street area consists mostly of clothing shops, specialty shops, novelty shops, dollar stores, restaurants, service-oriented businesses and office space. The city also has neighborhood stores and small grocery markets. Many of these small shops and markets have a distinct Latin-American flavor, often selling myriad imported items. In addition some markets also have a meat department which sells a variety of beef, poultry, and seafood.

Quality of life

Union Oil's original headquarters, now the California Oil Museum.

Santa Paula has often been described as a quaint town, boasting a main street reminiscent of Middle America but with a Mexican flavor. In contrast to many Southern California cities which have grown into massive metropolitan areas teeming with people, highways, and buildings, Santa Paula is a small town within large greenbelts of citrus and avocado orchards. Unlike neighboring cities such as Oxnard and Ventura, city roads are free of congestion, and drivers on the Santa Paula Freeway (SR 126) only experience traffic in the event of a major accident. However, despite the city's lower population and semi-rural setting, Santa Paula is generally bustling with life. People are always out and about, walking, socializing, or playing sports at the city's public parks.

The California Oil Museum,[26] within the historic Union Oil building, is located downtown, and the Santa Paula Art Museum and Museum of Ventura County Agriculture Museum are just up the street. The Santa Paula Mural Project has completed numerous murals depicting the city's history.[27]

Popular media

Santa Paula was the early film capital of California. Gaston Méliès brought his Star Film Company to the city in 1911, filming movies such as The Ghost of Sulphur Mountain.

The city has been featured in Hollywood media on numerous occasions. Some examples include:

On the television drama The West Wing, Santa Paula is the hometown of fictional presidential candidate Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda). In early 2005, Santa Paula Mayor Mary Ann Krause began a lobbying campaign to have Santa Paula declared Vinick's hometown. In a publicity move for the town, city officials officially "claim[ed] Senator Arnold Vinick as a resident of Santa Paula," in April 2005, and opened an official campaign headquarters for the fictional Republican Senator in the town's train depot. (Santa Paula for Vinick) On October 14, 2005, NBC released Vinick's official biography and revealed Santa Paula as the town in which he was raised. [1]

The Santa Paula train depot has been a location for various productions. It was one of the locations for the miniseries The Thorn Birds (1983), starting Richard Chamberlain. Dennis DeYoung, former lead singer of the popular 1970s rock group Styx, filmed the music video for Desert Moon, also the title of his first solo album, at the depot in 1984. The depot was used in the season 3 finale of Glee (2012).

Parts of the movie Fred Gwynne of the Munsters, was filmed downtown on Main Street.

Main Street and other locations featured prominently in the 1990 Winona Ryder film Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael.

Chaplin (1992) filmed throughout the surrounding area and held a casting call in town for background actors.

Santa Paula also served as one of the locations for the motion picture Mr. Woodcock (2007), starring Billy Bob Thornton.

A good portion of Joe Dirt (2001) starring David Spade was filmed downtown as well as at the popular restaurant Mary B's.

The Georgia Rule (2007) was filmed in Santa Paula.

The majority of the 1997 film Leave It to Beaver was filmed in Santa Paula, with many Santa Paula residents being cast in minor character roles and as extras. The famous scene of Beaver trapped in the giant coffee cup had Main Street blocked off for almost a week while filming continued.

Parts of the Brian De Palma movie Carrie (1976), starring Sissy Spacek, were filmed in Santa Paula.

Other movies that were filmed partially in Santa Paula include The Philadelphia Experiment (1984), the Chinatown sequel The Two Jakes (1990), the Martin Short/Danny Glover buddy comedy Pure Luck (1991), For Love of the Game (1999), Bubble Boy (2001), starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and Bedtime Stories (2008) starring Adam Sandler .

After a 1994 fire destroyed their sets in nearby Fillmore, the TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles filmed in various locations including Santa Paula's Ebell Mansion.

The James M. Sharp House is an historical Italian villa-style house built in 1890. It is located on West Telegraph Road, just outside of Santa Paula, and has been the setting for several movies including Amityville 4 (1989) and The Black Gate (1995), and How To Make An American Quilt (1995).

Various commercials, including a Super Bowl Budweiser commercial, have been filmed in downtown Santa Paula.

Parts of The Rockford Files episode "Coulter City Wildcat" were filmed in Santa Paula.

Notable natives and residents

  • Jim Colborn: Former Major League Baseball pitcher and current pitching coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Laura Diaz: Southern California newscaster. Most notably with KABC-TV from 1983–2002, KCBS-TV from 2002–2011, and KTTV-TV from 2012–Present.
  • Dana Elcar: Actor, played Pete Thornton in the MacGyver television series from 1985-1992. Spent his later years at his home on Laurel Road in Santa Paula.
  • Nola Fairbanks: Born Nola Jo Modine, had a notable singing career on Broadway.
  • Eric Fleming: Actor, born as Edward Heddy, Jr., July 4, 1925.
  • Danny Flores: Musician, a.k.a. Chuck Rio, wrote and played sax on the 1958 song “Tequila”. Also became known as the "Godfather of Latino Rock ‘n’ Roll".
  • Steve McQueen: Actor, spent the last two years of his life (1979–1980) in Santa Paula where he spent some of his time flying his biplane from the Santa Paula Airport. He and his soon-to-be wife Barbara lived in his airplane hangar at the Santa Paula Airport for a time until they moved into a home on South Mountain Road[28] just outside of town.[29]
  • William Lucking: Actor, played Piney on Sons of Anarchy. Spent much of his early career as a resident, raising two daughters and serving on the school board.
  • Charles M. Teague: U.S. Representative from California, was born in Santa Paula and is buried in the local cemetery. He served as director of McKevett Corp. and Teague-McKevett Co.
  • Grupo Bryndis: is an internationally known Mexican musical group. Originated in Santa Paula, California, U.S.A . by their leader, guitarist and song-writer Mauro Posadas in 1983. Grupo Bryndis is also a Latin Grammy Award winner for best album in 2007.

See also


  1. ^ Registered on February 5, 1960 at Harding Park, Santa Paula Boys and Girls Club Recreation Center, 1400 block of East Harvard Blvd
  2. ^ Coordinates of plaque


  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date" (Word). California Association of  
  2. ^ a b "Statewide Database". UC Regents. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  3. ^ "California's 26th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  4. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer File - Places - California".  
  5. ^ "Santa Paula".  
  6. ^ Bolton, Herbert E. (1927). Fray Juan Crespi: Missionary Explorer on the Pacific Coast, 1769-1774. HathiTrust Digital Library. p. 157. Retrieved April 2014. 
  7. ^ Calfornia State Parks "PORTOLÁ EXPEDITION" Office of Historic Preservation
  8. ^ (March 12, 2008) "St. Francis Dam disaster: A tale of failure, tragedy and heroism" Ventura County Star
  9. ^ The Associated Press (November 19, 2014) "Crews try to ID substance in Calif. plant fire" Miami Herald
  10. ^ Wenner, Gretchen (November 26, 2014) "Oxnard shuts out Santa Clara Waste Water from sewer system" Ventura County Star
  11. ^ Von Quednow, Cindy (November 21, 2014) "Truck explosion near Santa Paula draws scrutiny" Ventura County Star
  12. ^ Von Quednow, Cindy (November 18, 2014) "Santa Paula chemical explosion causes injuries, evacuations, road closures" Ventura County Star
  13. ^ Rocha, Veronica (November 18, 2014) "2 dozen treated after truck explodes; chemical hits air, ignites" Los Angeles Times
  14. ^ Von Quednow, Cindy (November 19, 2014) "Officials work to identify, clean up chemical in Santa Paula explosion" Ventura County Star
  15. ^ Kelly, Peggy (November 27, 2014) "‘3-mile plume of toxic smoke’: VC Sheriff declares emergency in wake of SCWW blasts, fires" Santa Paula Times
  16. ^ Aguilar, Mercedes (Nov 22, 2014) "Evacuation order lifted near Santa Paula explosion site" Ventura County Star
  17. ^ Von Quednow, Cindy (November 20, 2014) "Businesses take stock after Santa Paula chemical explosion" Ventura County Star
  18. ^ a b Wilson, Kathleen (December 5, 2014) "Cleanup of spill slow as county shuts plant indefinitely" Ventura County Star
  19. ^ Staff (November 27, 2014) "Local emergency declared for Santa Paula explosion, fire" Ventura County Star
  20. ^ a b "About Us" Green Compass Environmental Solutions website Accessed 19 November 2014
  21. ^ Moreno, John A.; Pascucci, Christina; Pamer, Melissa; and Chambers, Rick (November 18, 2014) "Dozens Injured When Vacuum Truck Explodes in Santa Paula Area" KTLA
  22. ^ "Santa Clara Waste Water using Electrocoagulation" Santa Barbara, California Natural Systems Accessed 21 November 2014
  23. ^ Wilson, Kathleen (November 20, 2014) "Oil field waste diverted to Anterra in wake of Santa Paula explosion" Ventura County Star subscription may be required for this article
  24. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Santa Paula city". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  25. ^ Santa Paula city, California - Fact Sheet - American FactFinder.
  26. ^ California Oil Museum.
  27. ^ Nash, Bill (January 17, 2008) "Giant murals on Santa Paula walls are visions of city's vibrant past" Ventura County Star
  28. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: South Mountain
  29. ^ Johnson, Brett (January 13, 2008) "Steve McQueen turned to quiet life in Santa Paula before 1980 death" Ventura County Star

External links

  • Official website
  • Santa Paula @ The Official Conejo Valley Website, a Web site with local history, events, and community information.
  • Santa Paula city profile