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San Benito County is a county located in the Coast Range Mountains of the U.S. state of Californiamarker, south of San Josemarker. As of 2000 the population was 53,234. The county seat is Hollistermarker, which includes approximately three fifths of the county's population. El Camino Real passes through the county and includes one mission in San Juan Bautistamarker.

History

San Benito County was formed from parts of Monterey Countymarker 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.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,391 square miles (3,602 km²), of which, 1,389 square miles (3,598 km²) of it is land and 2 square miles (4 km²) of it (0.12%) is water.

Sharing a border with Santa Clara Countymarker, San Benito County lies adjacent to the San Francisco Bay Areamarker and is only sometimes considered a part of that region. Instead, the county is associated with the Monterey Bay Areamarker 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 Baymarker. However, the United States Census Bureau includes the county in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Claramarker MSA and the San Jose-San Francisco-Oaklandmarker CSA, which the Census uses as a statistical definition of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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

Benitoite, the official gem of the State of California, was discovered in San Benito County. The county is also home to the San Benito evening primrose (Camissonia benitensis); and Illacme plenipes, a millipede having more legs than any other millipede species, discovered in the county in 1926. The plant genus Benitoa was named for San Benito County.

Cities and towns



Adjacent counties



National protected area



Transportation Infrastructure

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 Gilroymarker, in Santa Clara Countymarker.

Airports

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

Demographics

As of the census 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 was 65.17% White, 1.08% Black or African American, 1.16% Native American, 2.40% Asian, 0.19% Pacific Islander, 24.87% from other races, and 5.14% from two or more races. 47.93% 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.

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.

Politics

Presidential election results
Year DEM GOP Others
2008 60.6% 11,917 37.7% 7,425 1.8% 363
2004 52.6% 9,851 46.5% 8,698 1.9% 176
2000 54.3% 9,131 41.7% 7,015 4.1% 685
1996 50.6% 7,030 38.7% 5,384 10.7% 1,492
1992 42.0% 5,354 32.3% 4,112 25.7% 3,273
1988 44.2% 4,559 54.1% 5,578 1.7% 171
1984 37.9% 3,554 60.7% 5,695 1.4% 131
1980 36.2% 2,749 53.3% 4,054 10.5% 799
1976 46.7% 3,122 50.9% 3,398 2.4% 160
1972 37.5% 2,582 57.6% 3,961 4.9% 338
1968 45.1% 2,809 47.5% 2,961 7.4% 459
1964 60.6% 3,779 39.2% 2,444 0.2% 14
1960 48.4% 2,876 51.4% 3,056 0.2% 13


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. It is often considered the bellwether of California, as most of its election returns mirrored the state as a whole. San Benito is part of California's 17th congressional district, which is held by Democrat Sam Farr. In the state legislature San Benito is in the 28th Assembly district, which is held by Democrat Anna M. Caballero, and the 12th Senate district, which is held by Republican Jeff Denham.

On Nov. 4, 2008 San Benito County voted 54.8 % for Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.

County government is overseen by a five-member elected Board of Supervisors, who serve four year terms of office. Currently, the board members are Jaime de la Cruz, Patricia Loe, Anthony Botelho, Donald Marcus and Reb Monaco.

As of April, 2008, the California Secretary of State reports that San Benito County has 23,611 registered voters. Of those, 10,834 (45.9%) are registered Democratic, 7,614 (32.2%) are registered Republican, 962 (4.1%) are registered with other political parties, and 4,201 (17.8%) declined to state a political 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.

California marshal

San Benito County has one of the only two remaining Elected Marshal's Office in California despite the law passed by voters in 2000 abolishing the Municipal Courts and the accompanying marshal's offices. Robert Paschall is the current Elected Marshal of San Benito County.Inyo County has the other remaining Elected Marshal's Office. Floyd J Barton is the current Elected (June-2008) Marshal of Inyo County.
  1. Louderback, George Davis. 1907. "Benitoite, A New California Gem Mineral." Bulletin of The Department of Geology, Vol. 5, No. 9. University of California Publications.
  2. Hickman, James C. (editor). 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press.
  3. Flora of North America: Benitoa


References

  1. Louderback, George Davis. 1907. "Benitoite, A New California Gem Mineral." Bulletin of The Department of Geology, Vol. 5, No. 9. University of California Publications.
  2. Hickman, James C. (editor). 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press.
  3. Flora of North America: Benitoa
San Benito County has one of the only two remaining Elected Marshal's Office in California despite the law passed by voters in 2000 abolishing the Municipal Courts and the accompanying marshal's offices. Robert Paschall is the current Elected Marshal of San Benito County.Inyo County has the other remaining Elected Marshal's Office. Floyd J Barton is the current Elected (June-2008) Marshal of Inyo County.

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