Gaviota areaThe town is south and east of Gaviota State Park, and is at the point on U.S. Route 101 where this primarily north-south highway takes a turn due east towards Santa Barbara, Ventura, and the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. The road to Hollister Ranch, the large private land holding along the coast between Gaviota and Point Conception, connects with U.S. 101 just west of Gaviota, at the turnoff to Gaviota State Park.
Gaviota is also the location of the Gaviota Marine Terminal, the large storage tanks of which are visible on the ocean side of the freeway, and which is currently being decommissioned and abandoned, with intent to become public open space. On the mountain side of the freeway is the Gaviota Oil Heating Facility, also known as the "Gaviota Gas Plant", built by Chevron Corp. and currently owned by Plains Exploration & Production Company (PXP); this facility is being reconfigured and partially abandoned. The former purpose of the facility was to heat and process the heavy crude oil produced offshore so that it could flow through the All American Pipeline to refineries in the Bakersfield area.
The Gaviota Coast remains largely undeveloped and is the longest remaining rural coastline in southern California. In 2016, the twenty-one miles of Highway 101 that runs through the Gaviota Coast, bounded by the City of Goleta’s western boundary and Las Cruces where Route 1, was declared a State Scenic Highway. The preservation of this area is the subject of "The Twenty," a film by The Surfrider Foundation.
Gaviota tarweed, a rare and endangered subspecies (subsp. villosa) of Deinandra increscens[endemic to Santa Barbara County, is found here.
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