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California Valley, California facts for kids

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California Valley
Country United States
State California
County San Luis Obispo
 • Total 37.6 sq mi (97.5 km2)
1,970 ft (600 m)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
California Wildflowers off Bitterwater Rd 23Mar2010
Wildflowers off Bitterwater Road, California Valley, March 2010.
California Valley

California Valley is an unincorporated community located in the eastern part of San Luis Obispo County, California, in the northern portion of the Carrizo Plain. Located (all mileage is driving distances)

  • 168.3 miles (270.9 km) northwest of Los Angeles
  • 69.1 miles (111.2 km) west of Bakersfield
  • 56.1 miles (90.3 km) east of San Luis Obispo
  • 55.6 miles (89.5 km) east of Atascadero
  • 52.5 miles (84.5 km) southeast of Paso Robles
  • 44.1 miles (71.0 km) northwest of Taft


California Valley is located at approximately 35.32° North, 120.01° West. The zoned area of the valley is 24,083 acres (97.5 square kilometers) and it is approximately 1,970 feet (600m) above sea level. The valley is very nearly flat, bordered to the west by mountains (part of the Los Padres National Forest) and to the east by a major fault, the San Andreas Fault (part of the Temblor Range). Immediately south of California Valley is Soda Lake, which is part of the Carrizo Plain National Monument.


Fewer than 500 people live in California Valley. Residents are attracted to the area by its dry climate and seclusion. Farming, ranching, petroleum development, solar energy projects, and BLM work related to the Carrizo Plain are among current, recent and planned activities in the area.


California Valley is believed to have been visited by Native Americans passing through to the sacred site at Painted Rock, but no permanent Indian settlement existed due to a lack of easily accessible water. California Valley was originally a Spanish land grant, the El Chicote Ranch, that was used for seasonal cattle raising.

Local newspaper archives suggest that outlaws hid in California Valley from time to time up until the 1930s. The original Spanish land grant was parceled out in 1960 into over 7,200 2.5 acre (10,000 m2) sections by optimistic real estate developers. According to their own advertising fliers, these 1960 developers believed that the California State Water Project might bring water to the area. After a more northerly route (closer to Highway 41/46) for the State Water Project was selected, many buyers lost heart, many properties were abandoned and the original developers went bankrupt. Several ranches and other developments built dirt or gravel airstrips and at least one paved runway was built and was at one time listed on aeronautical charts.

A few hundred people have built homes in this isolated area since, but the mass growth once promised never materialized. A Community Services District (CSD) was formed to deliver services to these residents, which includes trash collection, improvement of roads and the upkeep of a Community Center with a small public library.

Between 1960 and 2000, refuse and a number of old cars were dumped in the California Valley area, much of it by local residents, posing serious environmental issues. In 2006, a combined effort by the California Highway Patrol, California Department of Motor Vehicles, San Luis Obispo County Code Enforcement, and local businesses worked together to remove abandoned vehicles and accumulated trash.

Natural resources and climate

California Valley is on the Carrizo Plain, which is an arid grassland. Only limited drinkable groundwater is available. Nearby Soda Lake is an alkali lake and undrinkable. "The future development of California Valley is anticipated to be limited by water availability"—San Luis Obispo County General Plan. Alkaline soils hinder attempts at agricultural development.

Planned development
Future development

The Carrizo Plain National Monument, administered by the United States Bureau of Land Management, was established to protect elements of native history and the undeveloped ecology of the southern part of the valley.

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