San Benito County, California

San Benito County
County of San Benito
San Benito County Courthouse 1-May-2015.jpg
New Idria grounds.jpg
Images, from top down, left to right: San Benito County Courthouse, Mission San Juan Bautista, New Idria grounds
Flag of San Benito County
Official seal of San Benito County
Location in the U.S. state of California
Location in the U.S. state of California
California's location in the United States
California's location in the United States
Country United States
State California
RegionCentral Coast
CSASan Jose-San Francisco-Oakland
MetroSan Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara
Named forSaint Benedict of Nursia
County seatHollister
Largest cityHollister
 • Total3,600 km2 (1,390 sq mi)
 • Land3,600 km2 (1,389 sq mi)
 • Water5 km2 (1.8 sq mi)
Highest elevation1,599 m (5,245 ft)
 • Total55,269
 • Estimate 
 • Density15/km2 (40/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Area code831
FIPS code06-069
GNIS feature ID277299

San Benito County, officially the County of San Benito, is a county located in the Coast Range Mountains of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 55,269.[2] The county seat is Hollister.[4]

San Benito County is included in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.

El Camino Real passes through the county and includes one mission in San Juan Bautista.


San Benito County was formed from parts of Monterey County in 1874.

The county is named after the San Benito Valley. Father Juan Crespí, in his expedition in 1772, named a small river in honor of San Benedicto (Saint Benedict), the patron saint of the married, and it is from the contraction of this name that the county took its name.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,390 square miles (3,600 km2), of which 1,389 square miles (3,600 km2) is land and 1.8 square miles (4.7 km2) (0.1%) is water.[5]

Sharing a border with Santa Clara County, San Benito County lies adjacent to the San Francisco Bay Area and is sometimes considered a part of that region. Frequently, the county is associated with the Monterey Bay Area through governmental organizations such as the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments as well as the Pajaro River, which flows from northern San Benito County into the Monterey Bay. However, the United States Census Bureau includes the county in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara MSA and the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland CSA, which the Census uses as a statistical definition of the San Francisco Bay Area.

The county also borders Merced County and Fresno County in the east, which lead onto California's San Joaquin Valley.

The county is also the location of the Mount Harlan and San Benito American Viticultural Areas. The latter contains the Cienega Valley, Lime Kiln Valley, and Paicines AVAs.

Fauna and flora

There are a number of plant communities that occur in San Benito County including grasslands and chaparral; however, one of the more unusual is the Sargent cypress forest.[6] Benitoite, the official gem of the State of California, was discovered in San Benito County.[7] The county is also home to the San Benito evening primrose (Camissonia benitensis);[8] and Illacme plenipes, a millipede having more legs than any other millipede species, discovered in the county in 1926.[9] The plant genus Benitoa was named for San Benito County.[10]

Tumey Hills BLM recreation area, near Interstate 5

National protected area

In October 2019, the Bureau of Land Management ended a five-year moratorium on leasing federal land in California to fossil fuel companies, opening 725,000 acres (1100 sq. miles; 29,000 ha) to drilling in San Benito, Monterey, and Fresno counties.[11]



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
Est. 201861,537[3]11.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[19]
1790–1960[20] 1900–1990[21]
1990–2000[22] 2010–2015[2]

The 2010 United States Census reported that San Benito County had a population of 55,269. The racial makeup of San Benito County was 35,181 (63.7%) White, 483 (0.9%) African American, 895 (1.6%) Native American, 1,443 (2.6%) Asian, 94 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 14,471 (26.2%) from other races, and 2,702 (4.9%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 31,186 persons (56.4%).[23]


As of the census[24] of 2000, there were 53,234 people, 15,885 households, and 12,898 families residing in the county. The population density was 38 people per square mile (15/km²). There were 16,499 housing units at an average density of 12 per square mile (5/km²). The racial makeup of the county in 2010 was 38.3% non-Hispanic White, 0.6% non-Hispanic Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 2.3% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.1% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. 56.4% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 7.6% were of German, 6.3% Irish and 5.4% Italian ancestry according to Census 2000. 62.8% spoke English and 35.3% Spanish as their first language. As of the 2010 United States Census, San Benito County was the only county in the greater San Francisco Bay Area with a Hispanic majority and where a minority race formed the largest race composition.

There were 15,885 households out of which 46.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.7% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.8% were non-families. 14.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.32 and the average family size was 3.64.

In the county, the population was spread out with 32.2% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 8.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 102.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.6 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $57,469, and the median income for a family was $60,665. Males had a median income of $44,158 versus $29,524 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,932. About 6.7% of families and 10.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.4% of those under age 18 and 8.5% of those age 65 or over.

Government and policing

County government is overseen by a five-member elected Board of Supervisors, who serve four-year terms of office. Other elected county leaders include:

  • Assessor
  • Clerk-Auditor-Recorder
  • District Attorney
  • Sheriff-Coroner
  • Treasurer-Tax Collector-Public Administrator

San Benito County has the last elected Marshal in California. Shasta and Trinity Counties still have appointed Marshals.

State and federal representation

In the United States House of Representatives, San Benito County is part of California's 20th congressional district, represented by Democrat Jimmy Panetta.[25]

In the California State Legislature, San Benito County is in the 12th Senate District, represented by Democrat Anna Caballero, and in the 30th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Robert Rivas.[26]


The San Benito County Sheriff provides court protection, jail management, and coroner service for the entire county. It provides patrol and detective services for the unincorporated areas of the county. Hollister (the County Seat) has a municipal police department.


San Benito is a Democratic-leaning county in Presidential and congressional elections. The last Republican to win a majority in the county was George H.W. Bush in 1988. San Benito is also considered a bellwether county for California in presidential elections; since 1904 the solitary candidate to carry the state without winning this county has been Harry S. Truman in 1948.[27] Before 1904, however, it was a solidly Democratic county whilst the state leaned Republican, voting Democratic in every election from its creation in 1876 up to and including 1900, although California only voted Democratic in 1880 and 1892.[27]

Presidential elections results
San Benito County vote
by party in presidential elections
201635.44% 7,84156.60% 12,5217.96% 1,760
201238.48% 7,34359.10% 11,2762.42% 462
200837.52% 7,42560.22% 11,9172.25% 446
200446.45% 8,69852.61% 9,8510.94% 176
200041.68% 7,01554.25% 9,1314.07% 685
199638.72% 5,38450.55% 7,03010.73% 1,492
199232.28% 4,11242.03% 5,35425.69% 3,273
198854.11% 5,57844.23% 4,5591.66% 171
198460.71% 5,69537.89% 3,5541.40% 131
198053.33% 4,05436.16% 2,74910.51% 799
197650.87% 3,39846.74% 3,1222.40% 160
197257.56% 3,96137.52% 2,5824.91% 338
196847.54% 2,96145.10% 2,8097.37% 459
196439.19% 2,44460.59% 3,7790.22% 14
196051.40% 3,05648.38% 2,8760.22% 13
195659.53% 3,25240.29% 2,2010.18% 10
195265.23% 3,73334.39% 1,9680.38% 22
194855.64% 2,77542.03% 2,0962.33% 116
194452.80% 2,25346.82% 1,9980.37% 16
194049.29% 2,40749.99% 2,4410.72% 35
193636.58% 1,51561.93% 2,5651.50% 62
193233.89% 1,26960.98% 2,2835.13% 192
192858.87% 1,97140.80% 1,3660.33% 11
192453.54% 1,44313.40% 36133.06% 891
192065.00% 1,96529.77% 9005.23% 158
191644.19% 1,44051.80% 1,6884.02% 131
19120.51% 1348.70% 1,25350.79% 1,307
190853.57% 93739.11% 6847.32% 128
190454.51% 88839.59% 6455.89% 96
190046.71% 72450.71% 7862.58% 40
189642.48% 72955.71% 9561.81% 31
189236.97% 61645.56% 75917.47% 291

As of May, 2010, the California Secretary of State reports that San Benito County has 34,562 eligible voters.[citation needed] Of those 24,736 (71.57%) are registered voters. Of those, 11,959 (48.35%) are registered Democratic, 7,477 (30.23%) are registered Republican, 565 (2.28%)are registered American Independent, and 116 (0.47%) are Green Party. The two incorporated municipalities of Hollister and San Juan Bautista have Democratic majorities on their voter rolls, whereas the unincorporated areas of San Benito County have a small Republican plurality in voter registration.

Voter registration

Cities by population and voter registration


The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.

Cities by population and crime ratable


The economy is statistically included in metro San Jose, though the dominant activity is agriculture. Agritourism is growing as the county has destination wineries, organic farms and quaint inns with views of cattle grazing. With concerns about how oil and gas operations could impact this sector of the economy and agriculture in general, the county voters approved a measure in 2014 that bans well stimulation techniques such as fracking, acidizing and steam injection, along with conventional drilling in some areas. In the 1950s, the oil drilling industry had many wells and the county is over the Monterey Shale formation but there is very little activity now.[33]

Top employers

According to the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce,[34] the top employers in the county are:

#Employer# of employees
1Earthbound Farm1000+
2Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital250-499
4Pacific Scientific250-499
5San Benito High School250-499
6True Leaf Farms250-499
7Nob Hill Foods100-249
11West Marine100-249
13Casa de Fruta100-249
14Cedar Valley Shingle Systems100-249
15Tanimura & Antle100-249
16El Modeno Gardens[35]100-249
18MC Electronics100-249
19San Benito Foods100-249



The principal newspaper of San Benito County is the Hollister Free Lance, founded in 1873 and published weekly on Thursdays.


CMAP TV - Community Media Access Partnership operates Channels 17, 18, 19 & 20 on Charter/Spectrum Cable as well as streaming online, offering public access and educational programming to Gilroy and San Benito County as well as offering live civic meetings, including county government.



Major highways

Public transportation

San Benito County Express provides fixed route service in the city of Hollister, and intercity service in the northern portion of the county. Service operates as far north as Gilroy, in Santa Clara County.


Hollister Municipal Airport

Hollister Municipal Airport is a general aviation airport located just north of Hollister.



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Ghost town

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of San Benito County.[36]

county seat

RankCity/Town/etc.Municipal typePopulation (2010 Census)

1 HollisterCity34,928
3Aromas (partially in Monterey County)CDP2,650
4San Juan BautistaCity1,862
5Tres PinosCDP476

See also


  1. ^ Other = Some other race + Two or more races
  2. ^ Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
  3. ^ a b Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.


  1. ^ "San Benito Mountain". Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  5. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  6. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2010. Leather Oak, Quercus durata. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and Environment. Wash.DC
  7. ^ Louderback, George Davis. 1907. "Benitoite, A New California Gem Mineral." Bulletin of the Department of Geology, Vol. 5, No. 9. University of California Publications.
  8. ^ Hickman, James C. (editor). 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press.
  9. ^ Sara Goudarzi (June 7, 2006). "666-Legged Creature Rediscovered". LiveScience.
  10. ^ Flora of North America: Benitoa
  11. ^ Jake Johnson (October 5, 2019), "Merging 'Loyalty to the Oil Industry' and 'Grudge Against California,' Trump Opens 725,000 Acres to Fossil Fuel Drilling", Common Dreams, retrieved October 5, 2019
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B02001. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  13. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B03003. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  14. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19301. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  15. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19013. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  16. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19113. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  17. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  18. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B01003. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  19. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  20. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  21. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  22. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  23. ^ "2010 Census P.L. 94-171 Summary File Data". United States Census Bureau.
  24. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  25. ^ "California's 20th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
  26. ^ "Statewide Database". UC Regents. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  27. ^ a b Menendez, Albert J.; The Geography of Presidential Elections in the United States, 1868-2004, pp. 152-155ISBN 0786422173
  28. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q California Secretary of State. February 10, 2013 - Report of Registration Archived July 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice, State of California. Table 11: Crimes – 2009 Archived December 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  31. ^ Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.
  32. ^ a b c United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, 2012, Table 8 (California). Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  33. ^ Cart, Julie (November 29, 2014). "Election win puts rural San Benito County on anti-fracking map". Los Angeles Times.
  34. ^ "San Benito County Chamber of Commerce-Economic Development".
  35. ^ Color Spot Buys El Modeno Assets. Greenhouse Grower.
  36. ^ CNMP, US Census Bureau,. "This site has been redesigned and relocated. - U.S. Census Bureau". maint: extra punctuation (link)

External links

Coordinates: 36°37′N 121°05′W / 36.61°N 121.08°W / 36.61; -121.08