California Valley, California

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 northwest of Los Angeles
*69.1 miles west of Bakersfield
*56.1 miles east of San Luis Obispo
*55.6 miles east of Atascadero
*52.5 miles southeast of Paso Robles
*44.1 miles 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 earthquake 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.Fact|date=February 2008


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.

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, a number of old cars and refuse 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 remove accumulated trash.


California Valley is located along State Route 58. The community is served by a school and community center with library, open only on Wednesdays. Other than State Route 58 and Bitterwater Road, the only access is through the Carrizo Plain up Soda Lake Road, which is a seasonal improved dirt road, or other seasonal dirt roads to the east. No buses serve the community, and there are no rail lines.

The even smaller town of Simmler is nearby along Highway 58.

Electricity is available in parts of California Valley. Telephone service is available through SBC. The local prefix is (805) 475-XXXX. There is strong analog mobile phone coverage and limited ("backscatter") GSM mobile phone coverage, as well as limited Nextel coverage.

The local zip code is 93453. Mail is delivered to drop boxes at the Community Center. Main roads (Belmont Trail, Soda Lake Road, Seven Mile Road) are paved. Others are packed dirt.

Community services are provided by the California Valley Community Service District (CSD). This includes road maintenance and limited trash service. The Community Center includes a fire station, small library, and community assembly hall. The address is 13084 Soda Lake Road, on the south side of Soda Lake Road, approximately convert|2|mi|km south of Highway 58, in the village of California Valley.

Water, a porta-potty and a pay phone are available at the Community Center. The quality of the water is in dispute. Many California Valley residents consider the water potable, but signage to the contrary has been posted in the past.

The local school is Carrisa Plains Elementary School, built in 1953 with about 46 students in attendance. The few high school students are bused to Atascadero, California, which had one of the last high school dormitories in California until the 1990s for their use. The nearest community college is in Taft. The nearest four year university is Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Blue "No Services" signs are posted at major intersections leading into the California Valley area. No gas stations exist in the California Valley area. The nearest gasoline stations are in Taft/Maricopa, Atascadero/Santa Margarita, and on the outskirts of Paso Robles. This has led to stranded travelers on a number of occasions. Tow truck service is available but may be delayed for several hours.

Law enforcement is provided by the County Sheriff, but there is no local office or assigned unit. The California Highway Patrol infrequently patrols Highway 58. No medical services (doctors, clinics, hospitals) are available in the California Valley area. Fire and rescue services are provided by San Luis Obispo County Fire Station #42 located at the Community Center. Helicopter MEDEVAC service from the Central Coast and Bakersfield, and occasionally Vandenberg Air Force Base is available.

A private airport with a Class II-C, 2,500 ft (760 m) runway exists in California Valley and is marked on aeronautical

A small general store and sandwich shop along Soda Lake Road is open 6 days a week from 11am to 5pm.

Natural resources and climate

California Valley is on the Carrizo Plain, which is an arid grassland. Only limited drinkable groundwater is available, and the existing aquifer is rumored by local residents to be overdrawn. 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.

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.

Industry and uses

Most residents are retirees or have other outside incomes. Neighboring ranches raise cattle. Some of the empty residential-zoned lands are used for animal grazing under contract with the Community Service District. The legality of this practice is disputed by some. Other unusual uses in California Valley have included an Indian sweat lodge, hot air ballooning, bird-watching, and astronomy, due to clear skies and no light pollution. In particular, Highway 58 is a popular route for car and motorcycle touring enthusiasts due to very low traffic and winding roads.


This is a remote area and only limited services are available. As of 2005, there were no gasoline stations and no lodging open to the passing public.

Rental cabins are sometimes available, and other services are advertised on the posting board at the Community Center. Travelers are advised to top off gas tanks and procure potable water and food appropriate to their travel plans in advance.

External links

* [ Carrisa Plains School]
* [ Shandon/Carrizo Area Plan, Land Use and Circulation Element, General Plan, County of San Luis Obispo]
* [ Carrizo Plain National Monument]
* [ California Valley zoning standards supplement]
* [ SLO County Grand Jury investigation into California Valley CSD]
* [ California Valley CSD contact information]
* [ Atascadero Chamber of Commerce page]
* [] Deadline To Run For Election

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