|Santa Barbara > Community > Local Statistics|
Barbara is a medium sized city with an official population of about
90,000. However, surrounding communities, including Carpinteria,
Summerland, Montecito, and Goleta combined give the metro region a
population closer to 400,000.
Our population is diverse and a rich representation of our history. Spanish and English are both spoken by a large percentage of our population. Mexican and American customs and cultures have blended together very closely here, giving our city a unique flavor all its own.
This has happened, in large part, because Santa Barbara has traditionally been isolated from most of its California neighbors.
Santa Barbara is located 90 miles north of Los Angeles and 350 miles south of San Francisco. The entire metro area is sandwiched between the Santa Ynez mountains to the north and the Santa Barbara Channel to the south. This gives us an area of about 30 miles long and maybe 3 miles wide on which to live. The city limits of Santa Barbara are contained with 18 square miles.
Getting in and out of Santa Barbara has always been tricky. There was a time when the only way in and out of town was by boat over the ocean, by rail or by stage coach over the mountains. The gorgeous stretch of 101 through the Rincon didn't exist until 1920. Even now, the only major highway that services our city is 101. Fortunately, the Santa Barbara Airport and frequently rail service assist in moving people in and out of the city.
Another unique feature of our coastline is the fact it actually faces south rather than west. This has lead to the local saying, "Santa Barbara makes its own rules - the sun even sets in the north here."
The physical limitations of our geography actually contribute to a higher than average cost of living. There are fewer and fewer parcels of land on which to build. As a result, the homes that do exist become more and more valuable.
Fortunately for us, the community also has an active economic base built around high-tech, education, agriculture, medicine, government, and, of course, tourism.
Tourism thrives in this town for three major reasons.
1. Santa Barbara is a beautiful city. Local zoning codes created after the devastating earthquake of 1925 have given us abundant Spanish colonial architecture. Civic pride and the fact that just about anything planted in our soil will grow, gives us tons of flowers and lush plants everywhere you turn. Our geography has given us many wonderful vistas. After all, the city is practically clinging to the side of a mountain. How can we not have great views!
2. Our climate is referred to as "Mediterranean," which really means "mild weather." In the summer the temperatures rarely climb above 80° F and in the winter they rarely drop below 50° F. On an 80° F summer day you can leave Santa Barbara, drive your car 20 minutes over the mountains and find 110° in the valley. Santa Barbara is blessed to see about 300 sunny days in a year. Of course, that doesn't count the mornings. All summer long, there is usually a bank of fog that burns off just before noon. Ask any Santa Barbarian - we're very spoiled, but we don't usually have dark California tans! The best months for sun worshippers are, believe it or not, September and October. The worst are May and June. The humidity also tends to be low. The rainy season is usually January through March.
3. There is a lot to do here. There is Fiesta, Summer Solstice and First Night for your big parties. Our downtown area is famous for its shopping and restaurants. The mountains provide hiking. Our active arts community provides music and theatre. We also have a busy waterfront. Around the turn of the 20th century, a wealthy local built the harbor and its break water giving us a busy and productive fishing and sporting fleet. It is common to see beautiful sail boats and yachts slipping in and out of the harbor's mouth.