“The Citrus Capital of the World”
The City of Santa Paula is located 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles and 14 miles east of Ventura. It is the geographical center of Ventura County and is situated in the rich agricultural Santa Clara Valley. The City is surrounded by rolling hills and rugged mountain peaks, in addition to orange, lemon, and avocado groves. It is a major distribution point for citrus fruits in the United States.
In the late 1800’s, the Limoneira Company was founded, and one of their first successes was a lemon orchard known as the “Teague Forty” – one of the most profitable and successful in citrus history due to the high quality and quantity of the fruit. During the next 50 years, Limoneira expanded into one of the largest lemon ranches in the world, and Santa Paula became the “Lemon Capital of the World”, and is now known as the “Citrus Capital of the World”.
Oil also played a significant role in Santa Paula’s history. In January of 1888, the Hardison & Stewart Oil Company’s well No. 16 “Wild Bill” was California’s first gusher, producing 500 barrels per day. On October 17th, 1890, Hardison & Stewart merged with two other companies to become Union Oil Company of California (Unocal 76). Unocal merged with Chevron Oil in 2005, and at that time, it was thought be valued between $16 billion and $18 billion. Although the oil industry has diminished in size and importance, tourism and film production have grown.
During the silent movie era, Santa Paula was home to the Star Film Stock Company, and such notable movies as the “Ghost of Sulphur Mountain”. For a few brief years, Santa Paula reigned as the Queen of the Silver Screen, however, Santa Paula quaint downtown is still a favorite for both TV and movies. Godzilla (2014), True Blood, NCIS, Glee, Georgia Rule, Mr. Woodcock, and almost all of the classic movie “Carrie” (1976) were filmed in Santa Paula.
Small Town Charm. Santa Paula has developed physically in a traditional style, with a grid-pattern street system, prominent buildings of architectural interest, an identifiable downtown, and tightly-knit surrounding residential neighborhoods. The community maintains a small town image, ideal climate, and reasonably-priced housing, all of which make it a desirable place to live. It has a dense development pattern compared to more sprawling suburban cities. Most buildings are 1-2 stories tall with a small number of 3-story buildings. Many old oak trees in town have been preserved, especially in the northeastern part of the city. The city has an ordinance to protect native oaks, sycamores and other trees of historic or cultural significance. These characteristics define the “urbane form,” which is the physical and aesthetic characteristic of the city.
Santa Paula is a relatively compact town. Policies to promote infill have been successful in minimizing sprawl, and are to be continued. Higher densities are allowed in certain areas and mixed-use should be uncharged (such as allowing new residences above shops). This land use pattern will help preserve the agricultural land surrounding the city. In higher density zones, smaller lots are allowed since this follows the historic development pattern and provides lower land costs for development, thereby encouraging affordable housing.