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Summerland is a census-designated place (CDP) in Santa Barbara Countymarker, Californiamarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 1,545 at the 2000 census.The town includes a school and a Presbyterian Church. There are many small businesses.


Tar from natural oil seeps in the Summerland area was long used as a sealant, both by the native Chumash peoples and by the Spanish builders of the Mission Santa Barbaramarker, who used it as waterproofing for the roof. In 1883, Spiritualist and real estate speculator H.L. Williams founded the town of Summerland. He named it as an advertisement for the excellent weather, and in 1888 divided his land tract, on a moderately sloping hill facing the ocean, into numerous parcels. He promoted the tiny lots – 25 x 60 – to fellow spiritualists, who bought them in quantity and moved to the area. The houses they built included bizarre architectural features such as doors which opened to walls, and stairways ascending to nowhere. The spiritual center of the town was a community séance room, demolished only when Highway 101 was put through in the 1950s.

Dozens of oil wells just off the coast, before 1906
The same view in 2009; the piers and oil wells are no longer present, and the beach is a tourist destination.

In the 1890s, oil development began in the coastal area of Summerland, at the Summerland Oil Field. Numerous wooden oil derricks sprouted on the beach, and on piers stretching into the ocean, as seen in the photograph. The world's first offshore oil well, drilled into the sea floor, was at this location. Production at this beach area peaked before 1910, although most of the rigs remained into the 1920s. Peak production from the onshore portion of the Summerland Field did not actually occur until 1930; the last oil was pumped from the nearshore region in 1940. In 1957, Standard Oil Co. of California (now Chevron) found the large Summerland Offshore Oil Field, several miles offshore, which was shut down in the 1990s.

In January 1969, a blowout at this field produced the infamous Santa Barbara Oil Spillmarker, a formative event for the modern environmental movement.


Summerland is located at (34.421395, -119.595969) . It is on the coast directly east of the city of Santa Barbaramarker and west-northwest of the city of Carpinteriamarker, and is almost entirely surrounded by the unincorporated community of Montecitomarker. Summerland has a significantly higher population density than the surrounding area. U.S. Route 101 goes through Summerland.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 2.0 square miles (5.3 km²), of which, 2.0 square miles (5.2 km²) of it is land and 0.49% is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,545 people, 715 households, and 368 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 764.7 people per square mile (295.3/km²). There were 784 housing units at an average density of 388.0/sq mi (149.9/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 91.78% White, 0.45% African American, 0.26% Native American, 2.39% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 2.27% from other races, and 2.72% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.44% of the population.

There were 715 households out of which 17.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.2% were married couples living together, 7.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.5% were non-families. 33.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.70.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 14.6% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 34.2% from 25 to 44, 32.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 93.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.9 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $53,964, and the median income for a family was $75,625. Males had a median income of $50,469 versus $41,042 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $41,668. About 4.5% of families and 9.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.5% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.

In Popular Culture

  • Is mentioned in the Everclear song "Summerland", from their Sparkle and Fade album.
  • Is the main location in the T.V. show Summerland.


  1. Baker, p. 62-63
  2. Rintoul, pp. 13-15
  3. DOGGR, p. 681
  4. DOGGR, p. 679


  • Rintoul, William, "Wood Derricks and Steel Men," Drilling Through Time, (Sacramento, California: California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil and Gas, 1990), pp. 13–15.
  • Baker, Gayle. Santa Barbara. Harbor Town Histories, Santa Barbara. 2003. ISBN 0-9710984-1-7
  • California Oil and Gas Fields, Volumes I, II and III. Vol. I (1998), Vol. II (1992), Vol. III (1982). California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR). 1,472 pp.

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