Santa Rosa, California
Clockwise: Sonoma County Museum; St. Francis Winery; Santa Rosa High School; Railroad Square District; Empire Building
Flag of Santa Rosa, California
Location of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, California and of Sonoma County in California
Location of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, California and of Sonoma County in California
Santa Rosa, California is located in the United States
Santa Rosa, California
Santa Rosa, California
Location of Santa Rosa in the United States
Coordinates: 38°26′55″N 122°42′17″W / 38.44861°N 122.70472°W / 38.44861; -122.70472[1]
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedMarch 26, 1868[2]
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • MayorNatalie Rogers[3]
 • City managerMaraskehia Smith[4]
 • City42.70 sq mi (110.58 km2)
 • Land42.52 sq mi (110.13 km2)
 • Water0.17 sq mi (0.45 km2)  0.49%
Elevation164 ft (50 m)
 • City178,127
 • Rank1st in Sonoma County
25th in California
145th in the United States
 • Density4,200/sq mi (1,600/km2)
 • Urban
297,329 (US: 136th)[7]
 • Urban density3,745.1/sq mi (1,446.0/km2)
 • Metro
488,863 (US: 116th)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP Codes
95401–95407, 95409[9]
Area code707
FIPS code06-70098
GNIS feature IDs249105, 1659601

Santa Rosa (Spanish for "Saint Rose") is a city in and the county seat of Sonoma County, in the North Bay region of the Bay Area in California.[10] Its population as of the 2020 census was 178,127.[8] It is the largest city in California's Wine Country and Redwood Coast. It is the fifth most populous city in the Bay Area after San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont; and the 25th-most populous city in California.


Early history

María Ygnacia López de Carrillo, a Californio ranchera and founder of Santa Rosa
The former Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad station
Panoramic map of Santa Rosa in 1871
The Empire Building at Old Courthouse Square in downtown Santa Rosa

Before the arrival of Europeans, what became known as the Santa Rosa Plain was home to a strong and populous tribe of Pomo people known as the Bitakomtara. The Bitakomtara controlled the area closely, barring passage to others until permission was arranged. Those who entered without permission were subject to harsh penalties. The tribe gathered at ceremonial times on Santa Rosa Creek near present-day Spring Lake Regional Park.

Following the arrival of Europeans, initially Spanish explorers and colonists, the Pomos were decimated by violence, land theft, slavery, genocide and smallpox brought from Europe. Social displacement and disruption followed.[Source?]

19th century

Santa Rosa was founded in 1833 and named by Mexican colonists after Saint Rose of Lima. The first known permanent European settlement here was the homestead of the Carrillo family of California, in-laws to Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, who settled the Sonoma pueblo and Petaluma area. In the 1830s, during the Mexican period, the family of María López de Carrillo built an adobe house on their Rancho Cabeza de Santa Rosa land grant, just east of what later became downtown Santa Rosa. By the 1820s, before the Carrillos built their adobe in the 1830s, Spanish and Mexican settlers from nearby Sonoma and other settlements to the south were known to raise livestock in the area.

They slaughtered animals at the fork of the Santa Rosa Creek and Matanzas Creek, near the intersection of modern-day Santa Rosa and Sonoma avenues. This is thought to have been the origin of the name of Matanzas Creek; because it was a slaughtering place, the confluence came to be called La Matanza.

By the 1850s, after the United States annexed California following its victory in the Mexican-American War, a Wells Fargo post and general store were established in what is now downtown Santa Rosa. In the mid-1850s, several prominent locals, including Julio Carrillo, son of Maria Carrillo, laid out the grid street pattern for Santa Rosa with a public square in the center. This pattern has been largely maintained in downtown to this day, despite changes to the central square, now called Old Courthouse Square.

In 1867, the county recognized Santa Rosa as an incorporated city; in 1868, the state officially confirmed the incorporation, making it the third incorporated city in Sonoma County after Petaluma, incorporated in 1858, and Healdsburg, incorporated in 1867.

United States Census Bureau records show that after California became a state, Santa Rosa grew steadily, though it lagged behind nearby Petaluma in the 1850s and early 1860s. In the 1870 census, Santa Rosa was the eighth-largest city in California, and county seat of one of the most populous counties in the state. Growth and development after that was steady but never rapid. The city continued to grow when other early population centers declined or stagnated, but by 1900 it was being overtaken by many other newer population centers in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California.

20th century

The Empire Building, completed in 1910 and a Sonoma County landmark, seen in the film Shadow of a Doubt by Alfred Hitchcock, in December 2021

By 1900, the Pomo population had decreased by 95%.[11]

According to a 1905 article in the Press Democrat reporting on the "Battle of the Trains", the city had just over 10,000 people at the time.

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake essentially destroyed the entire downtown, but the city's population did not greatly suffer. However, after that period the population growth of Santa Rosa, as with most of the area, was very slow.

Santa Rosa grew following World War II because it was the location for Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Santa Rosa, the remnants of which are now located in southwest Santa Rosa. The city was a convenient location for San Francisco travelers bound for the Russian River.

The population increased by two-thirds between 1950 and 1970, an average of 1,000 new residents a year over the 20-year period. Some of the increase was from immigration, and some from annexation of portions of the surrounding area.

In 1958, the United States Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization designated Santa Rosa as one of its eight regional headquarters, with jurisdiction over Region 7, which included American Samoa, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah. Santa Rosa continued as a major center for civil defense activity (under the Office of Emergency Planning and the Office of Emergency Preparedness) until 1979 when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created in its place, ending the civil defense's 69-year history.[12]

When the City Council adopted the city's first modern General Plan in 1991, the population was about 113,000. In the 21 years following 1970, Santa Rosa grew by about 3,000 residents a year—triple the average growth during the previous twenty years.

Santa Rosa 2010, the 1991 General Plan, called for a population of 175,000 in 2010. The Council expanded the city's urban boundary to include all the land then planned for future annexation, and declared it would be Santa Rosa's "ultimate" boundary. The rapid growth that was being criticized as urban sprawl became routine infill development.

At the first five-year update of the plan, in 1996, the Council extended the planning period by ten years, renaming it Vision 2020 (updated to Santa Rosa 2020, and then again to Santa Rosa 2030 Vision), and added more land and population.

Santa Rosa annexed the community of Roseland in November 2017.[13]

2017 firestorm

Main articles: October 2017 Northern California wildfires and Tubbs Fire

The historic Fountaingrove Round Barn, previously found at the southwestern base of Fountaingrove, was lost to fire in 2017.

Beginning on the night of October 8, 2017, five percent of the city's homes were destroyed in the Tubbs Fire, a 45,000-acre wildfire that claimed the lives of at least 19 people in Sonoma County.[14] Named after its origin near Tubbs Lane and Highway 128 in adjacent Napa County, the fire became a major section of the most destructive and third deadliest firestorm in California history.[15][16][17] Most homes in the Coffey Park, Larkfield-Wikiup, and Fountain Grove neighborhoods were destroyed.

A notable exception to the destruction in the area was the protection of more than 1,000 animals at the renowned Safari West Wildlife Preserve northeast of Santa Rosa. All of the preserve's animals were saved by owner Peter Lang. At age 76, he single-handedly and successfully fought back the flames for more than 10 hours using garden hoses.[18][19]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.50 sq mi (107.5 km2). Of that area, 41.29 sq mi (106.9 km2) is land and 0.205 sq mi (0.5 km2), comprising 0.49%, is water.[20]

The city is part of the North Bay region, which includes such cities as Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Windsor, and smaller cities as Sonoma, Healdsburg, Sebastopol. It lies along the US Route 101 corridor, approximately 55 miles (89 km) north of San Francisco, via the Golden Gate Bridge.

Santa Rosa lies on the Santa Rosa Plain. The city's eastern extremities stretch into the Valley of the Moon, and the Sonoma Creek watershed known as the Sonoma Valley. The city's western edge lies in the Laguna de Santa Rosa catchment basin.

The city is in the watershed of Santa Rosa Creek, which rises on Hood Mountain and discharges to the Laguna de Santa Rosa. Tributary basins to Santa Rosa Creek lying significantly in the city are Brush Creek, Matanzas Creek, and Piner Creek. Other water bodies within the city include Fountaingrove Lake, Lake Ralphine, and Santa Rosa Creek Reservoir.

The prominent visual features east of the city include Bennett Peak, Mount Hood, and Sonoma and Taylor mountains.[21]


Santa Rosa has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb) with cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers. In the summer, fog and low overcast often move in from the Pacific Ocean during the evenings and mornings. They usually clear up to very warm, sunny weather by late morning or noon before returning in the later evening but will occasionally linger all day. Average annual rainfall is 32.20 inches (818 mm), falling on 74 days annually. The wettest “rain year” was from July 1982 to June 1983 with 55.66 inches (1,413.8 mm) and the driest from July 1976 to June 1977 with 13.06 inches (331.7 mm). The most rainfall in one month was 19.42 inches (493.3 mm) in February 1998 and the most rainfall in 24 hours was 5.23 inches (132.8 mm) on December 19, 1981. Measurable snowfall is extremely rare in the lowlands, but light amounts sometimes fall in the nearby mountains.

There are an average of 28.9 afternoons with highs of 90 °F (32.2 °C) or more and an average of 30.2 mornings with lows reaching the freezing mark. The record high was 115 °F (46.1 °C) on September 6, 2022, and the record low was 9 °F (−12.8 °C) on December 25, 1924.[22]

Climate data for Santa Rosa, California (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1902–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 85
Mean maximum °F (°C) 68.4
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 59.7
Daily mean °F (°C) 49.1
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 38.4
Mean minimum °F (°C) 29.4
Record low °F (°C) 15
Average rainfall inches (mm) 5.78
Average rainy days (≥ 0.01 in) 11.8 10.4 9.8 7.1 3.4 1.2 0.3 0.6 1.0 3.3 7.3 10.5 66.7
Average relative humidity (%) 81 77 71 66 62 58 60 60 60 63 73 81 68
Average dew point °F (°C) 42
Source 1: NOAA[22]
Source 2: (Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport: mean temperatures, humidity, and dew point 1985–2015)[23]


Santa Rosa lies atop the Healdsburg-Rodgers Creek segment of the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault System. The Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities estimated a minimum 27 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake on this segment by 2037.[24]

On November 21, 2005, the United States Geological Survey released a map detailing the results of a new tool that measures ground shaking during an earthquake. The map determined that the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was most powerful in an area between Santa Rosa and what is now Sebastopol, causing more damage in Santa Rosa (for its size) than any other city affected.[25]

On October 1, 1969, two earthquakes of magnitudes 5.6 and 5.7 shook Santa Rosa, damaging about 100 structures. They were the strongest quakes to affect the city since 1906. The epicenters were about two miles (3.2 km) north of Santa Rosa.

Nature and wildlife

Due to its population, much of Santa Rosa's remaining undisturbed area is on its urban fringe. However, the principal wildlife corridors of Santa Rosa Creek and its tributaries flow right through the heart of the town. Great blue herons, great egrets, snowy egrets and black-crowned herons nest in the trees of the median strip on West Ninth Street as well as along Santa Rosa Creek and downtown. Deer often are spotted roaming the neighborhoods nearer the eastern hills, as deep into town as Franklin Avenue and the McDonald area; rafters of wild turkeys are relatively common in some areas; and mountain lions are occasionally observed within city limits. Raccoons and opossums are a common sight throughout the city, while foxes, and rabbits may be regularly seen in the more rural areas. In addition, the city borders and then wraps around the northern end of Trione Annadel State Park, which itself extends into the Sonoma Mountains and Sonoma Valley. Trione-Annadel State Park also adjoins Spring Lake County Park and Howarth Park, forming one contiguous park system that enables visitors to venture into wild native habitats.


Restaurants and other retail stores occupy several historic buildings in Santa Rosa's Railroad Square district in the downtown area, including these along Fourth Street.

Santa Rosa can be seen as divided into four quadrants: Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, and Northwest. U.S. Route 101 runs roughly north–south through the city, and divides it into east and west sides. State Route 12 runs roughly east–west, and divides the city into north and south sides.

Neighborhoods, including both current ones and areas formerly known and named, include:


Historical population
2022 (est.)177,185[31]−0.5%
Race and Ethnicity
Racial and ethnic composition 2000[33] 2010[34] 2020[35]
White (non-Hispanic) 70.86% 59.66% 50.82%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 19.19% 28.59% 34.29%
Asian (non-Hispanic) 3.75% 5.08% 5.98%
Two or more races (non-Hispanic) 2.8% 2.93% 4.9%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 2.05% 2.18% 2.13%
Native American (non-Hispanic) 0.95% 0.9% 0.78%
Pacific Islander (non-Hispanic) 0.23% 0.45% 0.55%
Other (non-Hispanic) 0.18% 0.21% 0.54%


The 2010 United States Census[36] reported that Santa Rosa had a population of 167,815. The population density was 4,043.8 inhabitants per square mile (1,561.3/km2). The racial makeup of Santa Rosa was: 119,158 White (59.7% non-Hispanic white), 4,079 (2.4%) African American, 2,808 (1.7%) Native American, 8,746 (5.2%) Asian (1.0% Filipino, 1.0% Chinese, 0.8% Vietnamese, 0.6% Indian, 0.5% Cambodian, 0.5% Laotian, 0.3% Japanese, 0.3% Korean, 0.1% Thai, 0.1% Nepalese), 810 (0.5%) Pacific Islander (0.2% Fijian, 0.1% Samoan, 0.1% Hawaiian, 0.1% Guamanian), 23,723 (14.1%) from other races, 8,491 (5.1%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 47,970 persons (28.6%). Among the Hispanic population, 98% of Santa Rosa is Mexican, 0.8% Salvadoran, and 0.4% Puerto Rican.

The Census reported that 164,405 people (98.0% of the population) lived in households, 1,697 (1.0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 1,713 (1.0%) were institutionalized.

There were 63,590 households, out of which 20,633 (32.4%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 27,953 (44.0%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 7,663 (12.1%) had a female householder with no husband present, 3,615 (5.7%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 5,020 (7.9%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 757 (1.2%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 18,021 households (28.3%) were made up of individuals, and 7,474 (11.8%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59. There were 39,231 families (61.7% of all households); the average family size was 3.18.

In terms of age cohorts, there were 39,217 people (23.4%) under the age of 18, 15,982 people (9.5%) aged 18 to 24, 46,605 people (27.8%) aged 25 to 44, 43,331 people (25.8%) aged 45 to 64, and 22,680 people (13.5%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.7 years.[36] For every 100 females, there were 95.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.2 males.

There were 67,396 housing units at an average density of 1,624.0 per square mile (627.0/km2), of which 34,427 (54.1%) were owner-occupied, and 29,163 (45.9%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.0%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.0%. 87,244 people (52.0% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 77,161 people (46.0%) lived in rental housing units.

As of 2011, there are an estimated 4,539 homeless people living in Sonoma County, many of whom live in Santa Rosa.[37]

Santa Rosa's Hispanic population, mainly of Mexican descent, while spread out through the city, is concentrated within the western part of Santa Rosa.[38][39] The highest percentage of Hispanic residents in Santa Rosa is in the Apple Valley Lane/Papago Court neighborhood, at 87%.[40]

The Southeast Asian communities, mainly Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian, are concentrated within the western Santa Rosa neighborhoods of Bellevue Ranch, Roseland, and West Steele areas. The northeast neighborhoods of Skyhawk and Fountaingrove have the most populous Chinese communities.[41][42]


Santa Rosa's skyline

As of the census of 2000, there were 63,153 households, of which 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.9% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.3% were non-families. 27.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.14.

In terms of age cohorts, 24.3% of the population was under the age of 18, 9.5% was from 18 to 24, 30.0% from 25 to 44, 22.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $50,931, and the median income for a family was $59,659. Males had a median income of $40,420 versus $30,597 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,495. 8.5% of the population and 5.1% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 9.5% of those under the age of 18 and 4.7% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.


Neighborhoods such as South Park in south Santa Rosa, Corby Avenue, and Roseland, West Ninth District, and Apple Valley in west Santa Rosa, are most vulnerable to criminal activity. Acts of crime in these neighborhoods are commonly burglaries, graffiti, and violent gang activity. Street gangs such as Sureños and Norteños have large concentrations throughout Santa Rosa. There are multiple other gangs, including mostly racially based gangs or racially mixed that commit theft, street and violent crimes, motorcycle gangs, white supremacist gangs, and prison gangs.[40][43][44] In 2011, there were 5 homicides, 58 rapes, 134 robberies, 485 aggravated assaults, and 637 burglaries. The violent crime rate for Santa Rosa (401.7 per 100,000 people) is slightly lower than the rate of California (411.1 per 100,000 people) and higher than that of the entire U.S. (386.3 per 100,000 people).[45]

2021 and especially its late spring and summer saw an increase in shootings, violence, homicides, drug, gang, and homeless-related crimes. The increase was up to double for some crimes and problems, compared to the past several years.[46]


There are at least 2,700 homeless people in Sonoma County. Around 1,500 are in Santa Rosa, about one percent of the city. Downtown Santa Rosa, including its outskirts and the area south of the Santa Rosa Mall (Wilson and Morgan Street) and Mendocino Avenue area, South Park/Fairgrounds area, Santa Rosa Avenue, West Steele Lane, and the Joe Rodota Trail/Stony Point districts and neighborhoods have been concentrations of homeless people since the 2000s. Homeless services can be found in the Wilson Street area.[47]


Forbes Magazine ranked the Santa Rosa metropolitan area 185th out of 200 on its 2007 list of Best Places For Business And Careers.[48] It was second on the list five years earlier. It was downgraded because of an increase in the cost of doing business, and reduced job growth—both blamed on increases in the cost of housing.

Top employers

The rotating sign at the east end of Coddingtown Mall facing US Route 101

According to the city's 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[49] the city's top employers are:

# Employer Employees
1 County of Sonoma 4,058
2 Kaiser Permanente 2,555
3 Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa 1,797
4 St. Joseph Health System 1,740
5 Santa Rosa Junior College 1,589
6 Santa Rosa School District 1,502
7 City of Santa Rosa 1,250
8 Keysight/Agilent Technologies 1,200
9 Amy's Kitchen 870
10 Medtronic Aortic and Peripheral Disease Management 840

Santa Rosa is also home to notable smaller businesses such as Moonlight Brewing Company, Russian River Brewing Company, and other companies.


As of 2014, Santa Rosa has 12 neighborhood shopping centers and 17 commercial districts,[50] including three sizeable shopping malls: Santa Rosa Plaza, with more than 100 merchants;[51] Coddingtown Mall, with over 40;[52] and Montgomery Village, an open-air mall with more than 70 shops, a supermarket, five banks, and a satellite U.S. Post Office.[53]

Arts and culture

Panoramic view of Old Courthouse Square


The Sonoma County Library offers a Central Library in downtown Santa Rosa, a Roseland branch on Sebastopol Road, a Northwest branch at Coddingtown Mall, and a Rincon Valley branch in east Santa Rosa. It is a member of the North Bay Cooperative Library System. The Santa Rosa Central Library, the largest branch of the Sonoma County Library system, has a Local History and Genealogy Annex behind it.[54]

The Sonoma County Public Law Library[55] is at the Sonoma County Courthouse.

At Santa Rosa Junior College, the four-story Frank P. Doyle Library[56] houses the Library, Media Services, and Academic Computing Departments, as well as the college art gallery, tutorial center and Center for New Media, a multimedia production facility for SRJC faculty.


While the most expansive vineyards in Sonoma County are in the Alexander, Russian, and Sonoma Valleys, Santa Rosa is home to several vineyards, including this one near Fountain Grove.
Hotel La Rose, built in 1907, is a functioning historic hotel in downtown Santa Rosa.

Santa Rosa sits at the northwestern gateway to the Sonoma and Napa Valleys of California's famed Wine Country. Many wineries and vineyards are nearby, as well as the Russian River resort area, the Sonoma Coast along the Pacific Ocean, Jack London State Historic Park, and the redwood trees of Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve.

The City Council pays the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce to operate the Santa Rosa Convention & Visitors Bureau.[57] The Chamber's visitors center is in the city-owned old railroad depot at the bottom of Fourth Street, in Historic Railroad Square. The SRC&VB has been a California Welcome Center since 2003.

Downtown Santa Rosa, including the central Old Courthouse Square and historic Railroad Square, is an area of shopping, restaurants, nightclubs, and theaters. Downtown also includes City Hall, state and federal office buildings, many banks, and professional offices. The Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital medical center is just to the east of downtown.

Although there are co-op network atms and several credit unions, there is no shared branching for credit unions in Santa Rosa.[58]

The city council funds a private booster group, Santa Rosa Main Street, which lobbies the city to revitalize the traditional business district. Three new mixed-use, high-rise buildings, and a new city parking garage, are under development. (WHEN?) The council and downtown business boosters hope condos atop the new buildings will house a population to keep the area active 24 hours a day.

The nearby cities and towns of Bodega Bay, Calistoga, Guerneville, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Sebastopol, Sonoma, and Windsor are popular with tourists and readily accessible from Santa Rosa.

Railroad Square is the portion of downtown that is on the west side of U.S. Route 101 and has the highest concentration of historic commercial buildings. Of particular note are the four rough-hewn stone buildings at its core, two of which are rare in that they predate the 1906 earthquake. They include the old Northwestern Pacific Railroad depot, prominently seen in the beginning and the end of the Alfred Hitchcock film Shadow of a Doubt, and the still-functioning Hotel La Rose, built in 1907 and registered as one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Historic Hotels of America. The area contains numerous other historic buildings, such as the former Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad depot, and the Lee Bros. Building, both at the corner of 4th and Wilson Streets. Near it in the West End district are numerous other old buildings, including not only many old houses but the masonry DeTurk Winery complex, dating to the 1880s–1890s, and the DeTurk round barn. Also of note nearby is the former Del Monte Cannery Building, built in 1894. One of the oldest surviving commercial buildings in town, it was renovated into the 6th Street Playhouse in 2005.[59]

Local attractions

The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center on the corner of West Steele Lane and Hardies Lane, next to Snoopy's Home Ice skating rink
Prince Memorial Greenway, a bicycle and pedestrian path through downtown Santa Rosa
City of Santa Rosa, an A-26 Invader attack bomber built in 1944

Performing and visual arts

Sonoma County Museum on 7th St. in downtown Santa Rosa. Completed in 1910, it was originally the Post Office and Federal Building.

The performing arts in Santa Rosa are represented by Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, the Sonoma County Philharmonic, the Summer Repertory Theatre, the Santa Rosa Symphony, and the 6th Street Playhouse. Santa Rosa is the home of the North Bay Theater Group, an alliance of some 40 theater companies, theater departments and individual performance companies from five North Bay counties.

The Luther Burbank Center for the Arts (LBC) is a performance venue, that opened in 1981.

The Sonoma County Philharmonic performs at the Santa Rosa High School Performing Arts Auditorium. It is a 65-member orchestra made up of professional-level local musicians who volunteer their time.

The Santa Rosa Symphony, a regional orchestra founded in 1928,[61][62] performs at the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park, a new venue with traditional "shoebox" acoustics. The Symphony's Institute for Music Education supports four youth ensembles and provides classical music education to students across Sonoma County, serving 30,000 elementary students per year. Francesco Lecce-Chong has served as music director since 2018, replacing Bruno Ferrandis, who held the post for twelve years.[63]

The visual arts are represented by the Sonoma County Museum and numerous independent art galleries.

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jessica Rasmussen, Anna Wiziarde, and Julian Billotte set up a mailbox painted gold with Dutch metal, for queries concerning the past or the future to be collected and answered by the "United States Portal Service" as part of the city's Open & Out project, with the aims of supporting the US Post Office and alleviating loneliness.[64]


In the United States House of Representatives, Santa Rosa is split between California's 2nd Congressional District represented by Democrat Jared Huffman, and California's 4th congressional district, represented by Democrat Mike Thompson.[65] It was moved to the district beginning with the 2013 Congress. In the 1980s, future U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer was Santa Rosa's representative.

In the California State Legislature, the city is in California's 2nd State Senate district. The city is split between California's 2nd and 10th State Assembly districts.[66]

The city's mayor is Natalie Rogers, its vice mayor is Dianna MacDonald, and the other five council members are Eddie Alvarez, Victoria Fleming, Jeff Okrepkie, Chris Rogers, and Mark Stapp.[3]

The city council in 2013 adopted a set of "Goals and Strategic Objectives" through 2015 comprising six main goals. A "strong, sustainable" economy topped the list; other goals include showing leadership in environmental and cultural issues, and promoting "partnerships between neighborhoods, community organizations, schools, and the City".[67]

According to the California Secretary of State, as of February 10, 2019, Santa Rosa has 91,998 registered voters. Of those, 47,905 (52.1%) are registered Democrats, 15,260 (16.6%) are registered Republicans, and 24,012 (26.1%) have declined to state a political party.[68]


Santa Rosa High School, the first high school in Santa Rosa and one of the oldest high schools in California

School districts

Private schools




The Press Democrat is published in Santa Rosa and is the largest daily newspaper in the North Bay. It is descended from the Sonoma Democrat, founded in 1857.[69] Local business papers include the North Bay Business Journal[70] and NorthBay biz.[71] The North Bay Bohemian is a free weekly alternative.[72] The Sonoma County Gazette is a free monthly paper.[73]

Sonoma Media Investments is a significant regional presence: besides the Press Democrat and the North Bay Business Journal as well as the Sonoma County Gazette, it owns important newspapers in the nearby cities of Sonoma and Petaluma.[74]


Law enforcement

The Santa Rosa Police Department currently has 259 employees, of which 172 are sworn peace officers. Its budget is more than $40 million, comprising more than one third of the city's General Fund budget. Police shootings in 2007 led to calls for an independent civilian police review board.[75]

Fire department

The Santa Rosa Fire Department provides fire protection and emergency medical services. Ambulance services are provided by Sonoma County Fire Department working in partnership with Medic Ambulance Service.[76]

The Santa Rosa Fire Department, like many departments across the United States, made its start as a volunteer organization on February 12, 1861.[77] Decades later in 1894 the department made its transition to a paid organization. In 1906 a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake destroyed most of Santa Rosa.[78] The department grew to 100 firefighters in 1983 with the addition of the city of Roseland to the SRFD responsibility area.[77] Many members of the department serve as part of the California Task Force 4, one of the eight FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces throughout the state. The team, which is deployed as part of the nation's response to disasters both within and outside of the United States, specializes in dealing with large-scale disasters.[79]



The intersection of 4th & D Streets in downtown Santa Rosa

The city sprawls along the U.S. Route 101 freeway, about an hour north of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. Sonoma County Transit provides local bus service in the city. Into the 1950s, the Southern Pacific Railroad offered substitute bus service from Crockett in the northwestern edge of the San Francisco Bay.[80]


Sonoma–Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) brought passenger railway back to Santa Rosa for the first time in 59 years, opening on August 25, 2017. It operates two railway stations within the city limits: Guerneville Road and Railroad Square. Trains serve locations as far south as Larkspur[81] Into the 1950s, the Northwestern Pacific Railroad operated a passenger train from Eureka, through Santa Rosa, to San Rafael at the north edge of the Bay.[82]

The Amtrak Thruway 7 bus provides daily connections to/from Santa Rosa (with a curbside stop at 2012 Range Avenue), Martinez to the south, and Arcata to the north. Additional Amtrak connections are available from Martinez station.[83]


Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport located just north of Santa Rosa is served by American, Alaska, and Avelo Airlines. Nonstop jet flights are available to Los Angeles (LAX), Burbank (BUR), San Diego (SAN), Santa Ana Orange County Airport (SNA), Portland (PDX), Seattle (SEA), Las Vegas (LAS), Phoenix (PHX) and Redmond, Oregon (RDM) with seasonal nonstop service operated to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Palm Springs (PSP). A Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) train station is located near the airport with shuttle bus service available between the rail station and the airline passenger terminal. Sonoma County Airport Express buses also connect Santa Rosa with Oakland International Airport and San Francisco International Airport.[84]

Motor-minimal travel

The Prince Memorial Greenway is a developed bicycle and pedestrian path along Santa Rosa Creek through downtown and out to the west of town. Near Railroad Square, it connects directly to the Joe Rodota Trail, a paved path which terminates in Sebastopol.[85] Santa Rosa is on the path of the partially-developed Great Redwood Trail which will run "from San Francisco Bay in Marin County to Humboldt Bay in the north."[86]

Notable people

Main article: List of people from Santa Rosa, California

Representation in other media

Director Alfred Hitchcock filmed his thriller Shadow of a Doubt in Santa Rosa in 1943; the film gives glimpses of Santa Rosa in the 1940s. Many of the downtown buildings seen in the film no longer exist, as there was major reconstruction in the late 20th century following the strong earthquakes in October 1969. But the rough-stone Northwestern Pacific Railroad depot and the prominent Empire Building (built in 1910 with a gold-topped clock tower) still survive. A scene at the bank was filmed at the corner of Fourth Street and Mendocino Avenue (at present-day Old Courthouse square); the Kress building on Fourth Street is also visible. The courthouse and bank are now gone. The Coen brothers' film The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) is set in Santa Rosa c. 1949.

Film locations

See also: Film locations in Sonoma County, California

Airplane hangar used in the film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
McDonald Mansion in Santa Rosa, whose exterior appears in Pollyanna

Santa Rosa has served as a location for many major films,[87] including:

Sister cities

See also


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