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    Vandenberg AFB, CA Local Information

    Lompoc is the closest city to Vandenberg AFB, although Santa Maria is a larger nearby city. Lompoc has about 43,000 people, and Santa Maria about 100,000; they are both in Santa Barbara County, which has a population of about 425,000 people. Other nearby small communities include: Mission Hills (4,000), Vandenberg Village (7,000), and Orcutt (36,000).

    It is about 10 miles from downtown Lompoc to Vandenberg; this takes about 15 minutes to commute; Santa Maria is about 18 miles from Vandenberg, taking about 25 minutes. The rest of the communities nearby are closer to base than Lompoc.

    Local Housing Rental Prices: The average apartment rent in the Lompoc area ranges from $650 to $1,200 per month, with a median of about $825 per month.

    Local Housing Purchase Prices: The average price for a house in Lompoc and Santa Maria is about $400,000, compared to $525,000 for California. The average price for a house in Santa Barbara County is about $840,000.

    Short Description of the Area: Lompoc and Santa Maria are mid-sized cities on the south side of California's Central Coast region (sometimes called the South Coast). Vandenberg AFB is in a hilly area between the Lompoc and Santa Maria Valley. Vandenberg and launch facilities are in a fairly isolated area, but there is access to a number of activities and local events.

    Climate and Weather: The area has a Mediterranean climate, with warm, dry summers and wet, mild winters. Summer temperatures range from the low 70s to mid-50s and winter temperatures in the range of the mid 60s to low 40s. The area has prevailing winds from the Pacific Ocean, and in winter can take some moderate to heavy rain; summers are generally clear and dry. Mornings can see varying fog rolling off the ocean. Snow is very rare. Overall the area is generally temperate and moderate.

    Transportation: Three miles from the base is the Surf Beach Amtrak station, which is very convenient. That being said, parking is short term, so arrange a ride if at all possible. This Amtrak station is served by the Pacific Surfliner, which connects to San Luis Obispo northbound and Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego southbound. The Coast Starlighter passes this station but does not stop - long distance trips require boarding at a main station - passengers can use the Surfliner to connect to the Starlighter. If bound for LAAFB, and have travel time, take the Surfliner to Los Angeles Union Station, transfer to the Metro Silver Line bus liner at Union Station, and transfer at Harbor Freeway station to the Metro Green Line rail to the El Segundo station, then walk two blocks to LAAFB. This may take longer than driving, but avoids sticky traffic and has great views.

    Hitchhiking Alert: Lompoc is also home of the low to medium security Lompoc Federal Correctional Institution; be aware, just in case.

    Local Trivia:

    Various places in Santa Barbara county have been film locations since the 1950s, including the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, several scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Sideways, (the exterior shots of the Hitching Post restaurant, in Buellton, for example), several outdoor scenes in The Rocketeer, and many of the dune scenes in Hidalgo.