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Lake County is a county located in the north central portion of Californiamarker, north of the San Francisco Bay Areamarker. It takes its name from Clear Lake, the dominant geographic feature in the county and the largest natural lake wholly within California (unlike Lake Tahoemarker which is partially in Nevadamarker). As of 2000 the population was 58,309. The county seat is Lakeportmarker.


Lake County was formed in 1861 from parts of Napamarker and Mendocinomarker counties. Lake County has long been known as a farming community. Vineyards were planted in the 1870s. By the early 20th century the area was earning a reputation for producing some of the world's greatest wines. However, in 1920, Prohibition ended Lake County's wine production. Most of the vineyards were ripped out and replanted with walnut and pear farms.

A re-emergence of the wine industry began in the 1960s when a few growers rediscovered the area's grape growing potential and began planting vineyards. The area went from fewer than of grapevines in 1965 to over of vineyards today, and has seen the recent establishment of several American Viticultural Areas such as High Valley AVA and Red Hills Lake County AVA. Many of the vineyards in Lake County today support sustainable farming practices.

Geography and environment

Spring Time in the Vineyards
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,329 square miles (3,443 km²), of which, 1,258 square miles (3,258 km²) of it is land and 72 square miles (185 km²) of it (5.38%) is water. A number of watercourses drain the county including Cache Creek, Forbes Creekmarker and Scotts Creek.

Clear Lake is believed to be the oldest lake in North America, due to a geological fluke. The lake sits on a huge block of stone which slowly tilts in the northern direction at the same rate as the lake fills in with sediment, thus keeping the water at roughly the same depth. The geology of the county is chaotic, being based on Franciscan Assemblage hills. Numerous small faults are present in the south end of the lake as well as many old volcanoes, the largest being Mount Konoctimarker. The geologic history of the county shows events of great violence, such as the eruption of Mount Konoctimarker and Mount St. Helena, and the collapse of Cow Mountain, which created the hills around the county seat of Lakeportmarker. Blue Lakes, Lake Pillsbury, and Indian Valley Reservoir are the county's other major bodies of water.

Lake County has habitats for a variety of species of concern including the uncommon herb, Legenere limosa, the rare Eryngium constancei and the tule elk. Waterfowl, fish and other wildlife abound in the Clear Lake basin.

Cities and towns

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

State protected areas

Transportation infrastructure

Major highways

Public transportation

Lake Transit serves all areas around Clear Lake, with most service focused on the city of Clearlake. Connections are also provided to St. Helena (Napa County) and Ukiah (Mendocino County).


Lampson Fieldmarker is the county's public airport. There are also several private airstrips located throughout the county.


There were a total of 34,031 homes in Lake County in 2005. This county has gone through a growth in housing units, adding a sum of 1,414 residential structures since 2001, a change of 4.3 percent. Lake County ranks 978 of 3,141, compared to change in residential structure growth in counties throughout the Unities States.

Lake County had a median home value in the year 2005 of $255,300, according to the American Community Survey. This median is less than the overall California 2005 home median value of $477,700 and greater than median home value of $167,500 for the rest of the nation in that year. In 2005, the American Community Survey reported that 14.4% of Lake County's owner-occupied dwellings are valued over a half a million dollars.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.10% under the age of 18, 6.00% from 18 to 24, 23.60% from 25 to 44, 26.80% from 45 to 64, and 19.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 97.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $49,627, and the median income for a family was $55,818. Males had a median income of $45,771 versus $44,026 for females. The per capita income for the county was $43,825. About 6.90% of families and 4.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.80% of those under age 18 and 7.30% of those age 65 or over. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

The recent sharp increase in per capita income can be directly linked to those people who have recently relocated to Lake County and telecommute to their jobs in the Bay Area. In addition, real estate values have risen due to a boom from 2003 to 2006, caused by Bay Area residents' discovery that Lake County residential real estate was lower in cost than that in adjacent Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

Within Lake County are two incorporated cities, the county seat of Lakeportmarker and Clearlakemarker, the largest city, and the communities of Kelseyvillemarker, Blue Lakes, Clearlake Oaksmarker, Clearlake Park, Cobbmarker, Finley, Glenhaven, Hidden Valley Lakemarker, Clearlake Riviera, Loch Lomond, Lower Lakemarker, Lucernemarker, Middletownmarker, Nicemarker, Spring Valleymarker, Upper Lakemarker, Whispering Pines, and Witter Springs.

The income of residents of the county varies widely. The county is the largest employer thus far, followed by large retailers such as Wal-Martmarker, Safeway, and Kmart. Several franchised retailers have recently entered the county (up 28% since 2003) and have created a diverse employment environment. Employment statistics continue to improve, again supported by the influx of Bay Area relocations and the benefit of telecommuting. Lake County is mostly agricultural, with tourist facilities and some light industry. Major crops include pears, walnuts and, increasingly, wine grapes.


Presidential election results
Year DEM GOP Others
2008 58.3% 11,986 39.1% 8,634 1.6% 542
2004 53.2% 13,141 44.9% 11,093 2.0% 485
2000 51.2% 10,717 41.6% 8,699 7.2% 1,503
1996 48.9% 10,432 35.0% 7,458 16.1% 3,445
1992 45.4% 10,548 28.8% 6,678 25.8% 5,987
1988 50.4% 9,828 48.0% 9,366 1.6% 308
1984 43.6% 8,648 54.8% 10,874 1.6% 309
1980 35.9% 5,978 53.6% 8,934 10.5% 1,742
1976 51.9% 6,374 44.5% 5,462 3.6% 449
1972 40.1% 4,715 55.1% 6,477 4.8% 558
1968 41.5% 3,777 49.0% 4,464 9.5% 870
1964 56.4% 4,680 43.6% 3,616 0.1% 6
1960 40.8% 2,897 58.7% 4,176 0.5% 36

Lake County leans Democratic in Presidential and congressional elections. The last Republican to win a majority in the county was Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Lake is part of California's California's 1st congressional district, which is held by Democrat Mike Thompson. In the state legislature, Lake is part of the 1st Assembly district, which is held by Democrat Patty Berg, and the 2nd Senate district, which is held by Democrat Pat Wiggins.

Proposition 8

On November 4, 2008, Lake County voted 52.6% for Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.


See also

External links

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