Santa Paula is a city within Ventura County, California, United States. The population was 28,598 at the 2000 census. 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 enormous petroleum industry.
The vicinity of Santa Paula was originally inhabited by the Chumash, a Native American people. Father Junipero Serra became active in the area during the Spanish mission period; 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 Santa Paula. Several small oil companies owned by Wallace Hardison, Lyman Stewart and Thomas R. Bard combined to become the Union Oil Company in 1890. In 1928, the town was devastated by the failure of William Mulholland's St. Francis Dam.
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 2,400.4/km² (6,214.6/mi²). There were 8,341 housing units at an average density of 700.1/km² (1,812.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 10.2% White, 0.41% 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 71.2% of the population.
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.
Santa Paula's economy is primarily agriculturally based, originally focusing on the growing of oranges and lemons. Recently, however, avocados have also been grown, and an avocado was added to the city's official seal (Calavo Growers, Inc. is headquartered here.) Santa Paula's mediterranean climate combined with an estimated 20 feet (6.1 m) of topsoil have made it one of the best locations for growing citrus.
Santa Paula has very few large retail stores, the largest of which are Kmart and Vons. Many residents travel to neighboring cities to purchase hard goods. Santa Paula's Main Street area consists mostly of clothing shops, specialty shops, novelty shops, 99-cent stores, restaurants, service-oriented businesses and office space. The city is home to a smattering of 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.
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 an oasis of tranquility nestled between large greenbelts of citrus and avocado orchards. Unlike neighboring cities such as Oxnard and Ventura, Santa Paula suffers from very little traffic. 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, within the historic Union Oil building is located downtown, and the Santa Paula Museum of Art and Farm Heritage Museum are in the planning stages in the same area. The Santa Paula Mural Project has completed numerous murals depicting the city's history.
On the television drama The West Wing, Santa Paula is the hometown of fictional Presidential candidate Arnold Vinick. 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.
A good portion of "Joe Dirt" (2001) was filmed downtown as well as at the popular restaurant Mary B's.
The Lindsay Lohan movie flop 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 Santa Paula blocked off for almost a week while filming continued.
Also, parts of the Brian De Palma movie "Carrie" (1976) were filmed in the small town.