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Toro, California




Toro is located in the north-central area of Monterey County. It lies directly south of the City of Salinas and east of the Monterey Peninsula. Fort Ord property abuts Toro on the northwest; a minor ridgeline defines the south boundary; and the Salinas River forms the northeast boundary. About 74 square miles is included in Toro, most of which is dominated by the mountains and rolling hills of the Sierra de Salinas Range. Mt. Toro, with an elevation of 3,560 feet, is the highest peak in this minor range and is located on the southern boundary of Toro.

It is primarily along the Salinas River and El Toro Creek that the relatively flat areas are found. The terrain of Toro varies greatly and is composed primarily of rolling hills and valleys. Site elevations range from 40 feet above sea level to 3,560 feet. Topography in the area includes steep ravines with slopes exceeding 75%, a large amount of hillsides with slopes exceeding 30%, canyon floors and ridgelines with moderate slopes, and the flat floodplains along the Salinas River.

The climate of Toro is characterized by mild winter rainy seasons and cool dry summers. Due in part to its inland location, lower elevations of Toro experience daytime temperatures which are generally six to ten degrees warmer than those in Monterey. Prevailing winds from the northwest and the buffer created by the land mass of Fort Ord keep Toro relatively free of coastal fog.

A wide variety of soils are present in Toro. The characteristics of the soils and the slope of the land are significant determinants of the appropriate land uses for a specific area. Some of the soils, due to their composition, drainage, and gentle slope, are suitable for either agricultural use or urban use. Such soils are found along River Road, Highway 68, and in some of the Corral de Tierra/San Benancio area. Other soils pose severe limitations to the agricultural or urban use of the land. Rugged areas along Laureles Grade Road, in the south and central portions of the planning area, and on the east slopes of the Sierras de Salinas have limiting types of soils.

All farmlands in Toro qualifying as prime farmlands and farmlands of statewide importance are located along River Road and the Salinas River. These lands are among the County's most productive. Toro also contains farmlands of local importance but has no farmland in the "unique" category.

Water resources of Toro are divided between two watersheds. One is within the El Toro Basin and encompasses 32 square miles of the 74 square miles of the planning area. The other is within a portion of the large Salinas River Basin.

Surface water is a very limited resource in Toro. The Salinas River is the only river or stream in Toro that flows year-round. El Toro Creek flows only seasonally. There are no sizable reservoirs in Toro. The flow of the Salinas River is controlled, however, by the monitored release of water from the San Antonio and Nacimiento Reservoirs to the south. A large portion of the planning area lies within Zones 2 and 2a which utilize water from the reservoirs.

Groundwater resources within Toro vary greatly from one area to another. There are differences in water quality, storage capacity of the aquifers, and hydraulic properties. These differences arise primarily from the variations in underlying geologic formations. Local testing will be required to determine the quality and quantity of groundwater at specific sites.

There are four general vegetation communities present in Toro: grasslands, chaparral, woodlands, and riparian. Grasslands and woodlands predominate. Dry soils such as those on steep or south-facing slopes, on ridgetops, or in dry hot valleys support grassland vegetation, as do soils in areas which have been heavily grazed.

Scattered among the slopes of Toro are chaparral plant communities of hard woody evergreen shrubs. The grasslands and chaparral both present a high fire risk, particularly on the steeper slopes and during the dry season. The woodlands of Toro are dominated by evergreen oak communities, are generally found on the north and east facing slopes, and in the valleys. Riparian vegetation is limited in Toro and is found adjacent to the Salinas River and El Toro Creek.

The vegetation in Toro is highly valued for its scenic qualities, recreational opportunities, and its role in watershed and soil management. Just as important, however, is its role of providing habitat for wildlife. A diversity of birds and animals find food, shelter, and cover in Toro's various vegetation communities.


The following plant species have been identified as environmentally sensitive habitats. The rare and endangered Hutchinson's delphinium (Delphinium hutchinsonae), Carmel Valley bush-mallow (Malacothamnus palmeri, involucratus) and Monterey manzanita (Arctostaphylos montereyensis) have been identified in Toro. The rare but not endangered plant, the Monterey Ceanothus (Ceanothus rigidus), is also located in Toro. There are no known rare or endangered wildlife in Toro.

The California Natural Areas Coordinating Council has designated Toro Regional Park as an area of unique research, education, and recreation value because of its oak woodlands, chaparral communities, and relatively undisturbed site.

Archaeological resources are also sensitive to man's activities but information is scarce on where these resources are located. Using available information and applying the various topographic characteristics most often associated with such sites, the County has delineated archaeological sensitivity zones. Three zones were established: low, moderate, and high which indicate the probability of an archaeologically sensitive site being present. Within Toro, there is one section of high archaeological sensitivity located southeast of Highway 68 in the Corral de Tierra area. The area located north of River Road is in the low sensitivity zone and the remainder of Toro has been designated as having a moderate chance of containing areas of archaeological importance.

Sources of pollution in Toro are few. Auto exhaust and the use of chemicals in the agricultural parts of Toro present the greatest threats to air quality. Sea breezes act to flush the air basins throughout most of the year. This combination of air flow and the generally rural character of Toro with few sources of pollution has maintained relatively good air quality in Toro.
Source of noise is from traffic on the streets and highways. Construction activity periodically results in levels of noise loud enough to cause concern. Portions of Toro experience discomfort from fly-over aircraft from the Monterey Peninsula Airport and military flights from Fritzsche Field. Agricultural and military equipment using River Road may also create noise.

The western portion of Toro experiences noise intrusion from sport racing at the Laguna Seca County Recreation Area. During the summer season which extends from April through October, Laguna Seca is booked almost every weekend with professional and club auto racing, motor cross, motorcycle, and music activities. There are five national auto races yearly.


The population of Toro has increased dramatically since 1960 when the population was only 2,001. By 1970 the population had grown to 3,858, an increase of 92.8% in ten years. In 1980 the number of Toro residents was 6,423, a ten-year increase of 66.5% (Table 2). During these same decades, the population growth of the County as a whole was much slower. The population density within Toro is not uniform. Most of the present population is concentrated in subdivisions along the major roads, particularly along Highway 68. The more mountainous and remote areas of Toro are very sparsely populated. New residents are anticipated to reside in new subdivisions in areas similar to those already developed.

Only 12% of Toro residents were classified as non-white in the 1980 U. S. Census versus 40.3% countywide.

Of the small percentage of Toro residents who were listed in racial categories other than "White," 131 (2.0%) were "Asian and Pacific Islander," 40 (0.6%) were "Black," 31 (0.5%) were "American Indian," and 434 (6.8%) were "Spanish Origin." The numbers claiming "Other" were 2.1%. The percentages for all of these minority categories are much lower for Toro than for Monterey County.

Most income is earned outside Toro in the major employment centers of Salinas and the Monterey Peninsula. Few employment opportunities exist within Toro. Of the local jobs which presently exist, most are located adjacent to Highway 68 at the Toro Park Commercial Center, a number of highway-related businesses, fire and police facilities, and a few professional offices. In the agricultural areas along River Road, several workers are employed in farm-related positions. Additional employment is generated by local golf and tennis clubs, Toro Regional Park, schools, and residential support services. Most essential services are fulfilled outside of the planning area in Salinas or on the Monterey Peninsula.

The eastern half of Toro is located in the Spreckels Union Elementary School District. The western half is in the Washington Union Elementary School District. Enrollment in grades kindergarten through 8th grade has shown a small decline over the last three years (1978, 1979 and 1980) for both districts. All of Toro is located in the Salinas Union High School District.

Park and Recreation Facilities

The County Parks Department owns and operates the 4,789 acre Toro Regional Park located along Highway 68 in Toro. Toro Park provides for 17 miles of nature and equestrian trails, has an organized youth group camping area that will accommodate approximately 100 people, maintains an environmental nature center, provides for several large group day use picnic areas, and has nearly 350 picnic tables for day use. There is also an equestrian staging area located in Toro for public use and a horse rental facility.

Recreational trail systems have been proposed in Monterey County several times in the past 30 years. Within Toro, the only riding (equestrian) and hiking trails which have been officially designated are inside the Toro Regional Park.

Source: Monterey County 21st Century General Plan Update


Toro County Park