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Capitola, California
City of Capitola
Colorful Venetian Hotel on the Beach in Capitola (8038026675) (cropped).jpg
Capitola, CA (14903761658) (cropped).jpg
Capitola on Labor Day (cropped).JPG
Capitola (4728816063) (cropped).jpg
Clockwise: Venetian Court; view towards Capitola Wharf; view of Capitola towards the Pacific Ocean; restaurants on the Soquel Creek waterfront.
Location of Capitola in Santa Cruz County, California.
Location of Capitola in Santa Cruz County, California.
Capitola, California is located in the United States
Capitola, California
Capitola, California
Location in the United States
Country United States
State California
County Santa Cruz
Incorporated January 11, 1949
 • Total 1.68 sq mi (4.34 km2)
 • Land 1.59 sq mi (4.13 km2)
 • Water 0.08 sq mi (0.21 km2)  4.92%
13 ft (4 m)
 • Total 9,938
 • Density 6,234.63/sq mi (2,406.54/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (PST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
95010, 95062
Area code(s) 831
FIPS code 06-11040
GNIS feature IDs 1658216, 2409981

Capitola is a small seaside town in Santa Cruz County, California. Capitola is located on the northern shores of Monterey Bay, on the Central Coast of California. The city had a population of 9,938 at the 2020 census. Capitola is a popular tourist destination, owing to its beaches and restaurants.


Beach scene at Capitola, California
Beach scene at Capitola, 1905

The original settlement now known as Capitola grew out of what was then called Soquel Landing. Soquel Landing got its name from a wharf located at the mouth of Soquel Creek. This wharf, which dates back to the 1850s, served as an outlet for the produce and lumber grown in the interior. In 1865, Captain John Pope Davenport, a whaleman at Monterey, moved his operations to be near the wharf. Unable to capture any whales, he moved his operations the following year to Point Año Nuevo.

In 1869, Frederick A. Hihn, who owned the property in the vicinity of the wharf, decided to develop it as a seaside resort. At first he leased the area to Samuel A. Hall and the area became known as Camp Capitola. Most authorities believe that it was Hihn who chose the name of Capitola, but they are unsure as to why he did so. Several possibilities have been asserted, one being that it was named for the heroine of The Hidden Hand, a novel by the popular author E.D.E.N. Southworth, favored by Hall's daughter Lulu. Capitola is known as the oldest beach resort on the West Coast.

Capitola is a popular tourist town because of its trendy shops and restaurants on the shore directly connecting to a fishing wharf and its large, sandy beach.

Capitola lies west of the census-designated area of Aptos and east of the census-designated place of Live Oak.

Geography and soils

Capitola smt
Capitola Venetian Court

Capitola is located at 36°58′35″N 121°57′17″W / 36.97639°N 121.95472°W / 36.97639; -121.95472 (36.976250, −121.954750).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.7 square miles (4.4 km2), of which 1.6 square miles (4.1 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (4.92%) is water.

Capitola sits on the northeast shore of Monterey Bay. Steep cliffs mark access to several popular beaches, including New Brighton Beach, or drop directly to the rocky shoreline of the bay. Downtown Capitola sits in a depression among the cliffs so that the popular tourist and shopping area leads directly to Capitola Beach. Colorful houses and hotels line the slopes of the town leading back up to the clifftops.

There have been a number of historic fuel releases to the soil in Capitola; among these the following locations have been identified by the County of Santa Cruz or the California Regional Water Quality Control Board: 819 Bay Avenue, 1649 41st Avenue, 2210 41st Avenue and 1700 41st Avenue.

The historic Venetian Court (shown in photo to the right) that sits on the beach just east of the pier is on the Register of National Historic Places as "The first Condominium Beach Community in the United States, built in 1924".


Capitola has mild weather throughout the year, enjoying a Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb) characterized by cool, wet winters and warm, mostly dry summers. Due to its proximity to Monterey Bay, fog and low overcast are common during the night and morning hours, especially in the summer.

Climate data for Capitola, CA
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 60.6
Average low °F (°C) 40.8
Average precipitation inches (mm) 6.40
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.6 10.9 10.0 5.9 3.3 1.3 0.3 0.7 1.5 3.5 7.5 10.7 66.2
Source: NOAA


Historical population
Census Pop.
1950 1,848
1960 2,021 9.4%
1970 5,080 151.4%
1980 9,095 79.0%
1990 10,171 11.8%
2000 10,033 −1.4%
2010 9,918 −1.1%
2020 9,938 0.2%
U.S. Decennial Census


Capitola wharf
Historic Capitola Wharf, built 1857.

The 2010 United States Census reported that Capitola had a population of 9,918. The population density was 5,919.0 people per square mile (2,285.3/km2). The racial makeup of Capitola was 7,963 (80.3%) White, 123 (1.2%) African American, 59 (0.6%) Native American, 424 (4.3%) Asian, 10 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 869 (8.8%) from other races, and 470 (4.7%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,957 persons (19.7%).

The Census reported that 9,770 people (98.5% of the population) lived in households, 25 (0.3%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 123 (1.2%) were institutionalized.

There were 4,626 households, out of which 1,011 (21.9%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,515 (32.7%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 539 (11.7%) had a female householder with no husband present, 232 (5.0%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 339 (7.3%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 55 (1.2%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 1,735 households (37.5%) were made up of individuals, and 608 (13.1%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11. There were 2,286 families (49.4% of all households); the average family size was 2.78.

The population was spread out, with 1,643 people (16.6%) under the age of 18, 930 people (9.4%) aged 18 to 24, 2,801 people (28.2%) aged 25 to 44, 3,005 people (30.3%) aged 45 to 64, and 1,539 people (15.5%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.9 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.4 males.

There were 5,534 housing units at an average density of 3,302.7 per square mile (1,275.2/km2), of which 2,152 (46.5%) were owner-occupied, and 2,474 (53.5%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.3%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.8%. 4,430 people (44.7% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 5,340 people (53.8%) lived in rental housing units.


As of the census of 2000, there were 10,033 people, 4,692 households, and 2,280 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,220.2 people per square mile (2,406.1/km2). There were 5,309 housing units at an average density of 3,291.5 per square mile (1,273.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 83.84% White, 1.17% African American, 0.57% Native American, 4.00% Asian, 0.20% Pacific Islander, 5.53% from other races, and 4.69% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 12.63% of the population.

There were 4,692 households, out of which 22.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.1% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.4% were non-families. 37.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.79.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 18.4% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 32.8% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $46,048, and the median income for a family was $59,473. Males had a median income of $47,879 versus $35,444 for females. The per capita income for the city was $27,609. About 2.0% of families and 7.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.8% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.


Capitola Jr. Lifeguards

The Capitola Jr. lifeguard summer camp has been using Capitola beach during the summer months since its founding in 1980. The Capitola Jr. Guards program provides instruction in the fundamentals of ocean water safety, first aid, lifesaving, fitness, and good sportsmanship. Activities include mock rescues, beach and water games, fun work-outs, and competitions. The program consists of Little Guards, aged 6–8, Jr. Guards aged 9–15, and a Captains Corp., aged 16–17.


In the summer of 1961 hundreds of birds attacked the town. Most of the birds were sooty shearwaters, a normally non-aggressive species that rarely comes to shore. Alfred Hitchcock was a regular visitor to nearby Santa Cruz and read about this episode. He went on to direct a film—The Birds—based on the idea of hundreds of birds attacking humans. The reason for this attack remained unknown for over 25 years until it was discovered that the birds had been affected by domoic acid, a toxin produced by red algae.

Capitola Classic

The Capitola Classic was a skateboarding event held in Capitola village in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Starting in 2009 efforts were made to revive the event.


On March 24, 2011, a drainage pipe burst following heavy rains, sending a surge of water through the historic village area. A mobile home park and many businesses suffered damage. Two days later cleanup operations were interrupted when the area was flooded again.


Capitola, CA 2012-10-07 - panoramio (5) (cropped)
Waterfront restaurants on Soquel Creek near Capitola Beach.
Capitola, California (12996757753) (cropped)
Shops on the Esplanade.

Capitola Village and Esplanade is the heart of Capitola Retail and Tourism hub being a drawn for tourist and locals alike with a variety of boutiques and restaurants. 41st Ave is the retail and business corridor for a majority of larger national and regional business serving the community as a whole. The Capitola Mall, the only enclosed regional shopping center in Santa Cruz County is slated for redeveloped into a mixed use project with the increasing pressure due to the failure of the traditional mall concept.

Top employers

According to Capitola's 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the principal employers in the city are;

# Employer # of Employees
1 Subaru, Toyota, Kia of Santa Cruz 205
2 Target 173
3 Gayle's Bakery & Rosticceria 161
4 Whole Foods Market 144
5 Shadowbrook Restaurant 140
6 Pacific Coast Manor 115
7 City of Capitola 115
8 Macy's 111
9 Trader Joe's 106
10 Kohl's 103

Notable people

  • Harry Hooper (1887-1974), major-league baseball player, was the postmaster in Capitola for 24 years after he retired from baseball.
  • Ralph Peduto (1942–2014), actor and playwright.
  • Derek Sherinian (born 1966), rock keyboardist (Alice Cooper, KISS, Dream Theater, Billy Idol), went to Capitola Elementary and Capitola Junior High School. His mother and sister still reside and own a dress store in Capitola Village.
  • Skip Spence (1946–1999), the founding member of Moby Grape and former member of The Jefferson Airplane, resided in Capitola during the latter years of his life.
  • Robert Anton Wilson (1932–2007), author and philosopher.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Capitola (California) para niños

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