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Arroyo Grande is a city in San Luis Obispo Countymarker, Californiamarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 15,851 at the 2000 census.


Arroyo Grande is located at (35.120878, -120.586799).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.7 square miles (14.7 km²), all of it land.


As of the census of 2000, there were 15,851 people, 6,478 households, and 4,353 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,795.3 people per square mile (1,079.4/km²). There were 6,750 housing units at an average density of 1,190.3/sq mi (459.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.45% White, 0.62% African American, 0.45% Native American, 3.08% Asian, 0.18% Pacific Islander, 3.77% from other races, and 3.45% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.17% of the population.

There were 6,478 households out of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.0% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 27.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.3% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 24.6% from 45 to 64, and 20.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 88.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $48,236, and the median income for a family was $55,494. Males had a median income of $41,304 versus $30,688 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,311. About 4.3% of families and 6.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.8% of those under age 18 and 5.4% of those age 65 or over.


In the state legislature Arroyo Grande is located in the 15th Senate District, represented by Republican Abel Maldonado, and in the 33rd Assembly District, represented by Republican Sam Blakeslee. Federally, Arroyo Grande is located in California's 22nd congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +16 and is represented by Republican Kevin McCarthy.


The earliest inhabitants of the Arroyo Grande valley were Chumash Indians, who conducted extensive trade with other Native American tribes at considerable distance. The first European to see the area was Spanishmarker explorer Juan Cabrillo. The Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosamarker was established nearby, and agricultural activities expanded into the area. The Arroyo Grande valley was found to have particularly fertile ground, and was given the name for "wide riverbed" in Spanish.

Francis Ziba Branch, originally from New Yorkmarker, saw the area on a hunting expedition during the period when Californiamarker was part of Mexicomarker. Branch married Manuela Carlona, and this marriage entitled Branch to file claim for a Mexican land grant. In 1836 he and his wife and baby son moved onto the Rancho Santa Manuela.

They were managing a successful cattle ranching operation when California became a U.S. territory, and then a U.S. State. But some years later they suffered financial difficulties during a drought when many cattle died. They sold off smaller parcels of land to settlers. In 1862, the San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors established the township of Arroyo Grande. Businesses developed along a road called Branch Street to serve local agriculture. A railroad depot was built in 1882. The city of Arroyo Grande was incorporated on July 10, 1911.

A photograph appears in Jones book taken in Arroyo Grande of the last known speaker of the native Obispena Chumash language.

Environmental factors

This community experienced rapid growth in the 1970s and 1980s, partially due to the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant, under an EPA‎ Clean Water Grant, that removed a growth constraint. This federal grant program required preparation of an Enivronmental Impact Report, which document provided much of the initial environmental database for Arroyo Grande.

Arroyo Grande is located in a coastal ecosystem within the California floristic province, and the habitats include forest, coastal prairie, dunes and intertidal zone.

Francis Ziba Branch

Francis Ziba Branch (July 24, 1802 - May 8, 1874) was born in Scipio, New Yorkmarker. In 1820, Francis became a sailor out of Buffalo, New Yorkmarker, working Great Lakes boats for about five years. Early in 1830 Branch found himself in St. Louis where he joined a pack train, possibly led by Ceran St. Vrain, headed to Santa Fe. (In 1830, St. Vrain partnered with the Bent Brothers to form the Bent, St. Vrain & Company.) In the fall of 1832 Branch joined a fur brigade being formed by William Wolfskill in Santa Fe. Wolfskill was planning to trap beaver in the Tulare Valley of California. The trip to California was filled with hardships. The Wolfskill party arrived in the San Bernardinomarker area in February 1831. The path they took would eventually become known as the “Old Spanish Trail” for travel and trade between Taos/Santa Fe to Los Angeles. Branch was able to successfully hunt sea otter, the furs of which commanded a high price in the trade with China, to earn a for three years. With sea otter becoming scarce, he became a merchant in Santa Barbaramarker for a short period of time. In 1835 he married Manuela Carlon with whom he would eventually have eleven children. In 1836, he joined the Catholic Church, probably becoming a Mexican citizen at this time. On April 6, 1837, Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado granted Branch the Rancho Santa Manuela property in the San Luis Obispo area, at this time an expanse of wilderness. Francis Branch died of bronchitis at his home on at the age of 71.

Notable residents

See also


  • David Crimp, C. Michael Hogan, Leda C. Patmore et al. 1976. Environmental Impact Report for the Arroyo Grande wastewater treatment plant expansion, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, prepared by Earth Metrics Inc.
  • Terry L. Jones and Kathryn Klar. 2007. California prehistory: colonization, culture, and complexity‎ page 129 of 394 pages
  • Mildred Brooke Hoover and Douglas E. Kyle. 1990. Historic spots in California‎, page 365 of 617 pages

Line notes

  1. Terry L. Jones and Kathryn Klar. 2007
  2. David Crimp, C. Michael Hogan, Leda C. Patmore et al. 1976
  3. Mildred Brooke Hoover and Douglas E. Kyle. 1990

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