Sonoma County is located less than 30 miles north of San Francisco, stretching from San Pablo Bay in the south to The Sea Ranch in the north.. It boasts over 200 award-winning wineries, scenic coastline and beaches, the winding Russian River, majestic redwoods, 21 challenging golf courses, museums, galleries, diverse festivals, fine dining, and charming inns and spas. The County encompasses over one million acres of land and water, rich in scenic beauty with an array of parks, recreational facilities, campsites and lakes.
Open space and agricultural land account for a great majority of Sonoma County acreage. In 1990, Sonoma County voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax to fund the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, which has since preserved over 75,000 acres, much of it now accessible to the public.
Fueled by job growth and quality of life, Sonoma County has continued a modest growth rate, having reached 484,000 residents last year. A majority of these residents (69%) live within the city limits of the County's nine cities. They are, in order of population: Santa Rosa (the County seat), Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Windsor, Healdsburg, Sonoma, Cloverdale, Sebastopol and Cotati. 67.8% of the population is Caucasian, with 23.5% Hispanic, 3.7% Asian, 1.6% African American, .9% American Indian and 2.5 percent Other.
The County's economy is extremely diverse, relying on agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, services and high technology industries. Agriculture (including wine grapes and livestock/poultry) and tourism are two of the major drivers of the Sonoma County economy. The tourism industry generates over $1 billion annually, with more than seven million visitors each year. Unemployment rates for Sonoma County have increased since 2005, yet the County has consistently maintained a level lower than the California average.
Sonoma is a general law county. The County Board of Supervisors is the governing body of the County and various special jurisdictions. The five members of the Board are elected by district, on a non-partisan basis, for four-year staggered terms.