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Known as the flower seed capital of the world, Lompoc is home to over 42,000 residents. Lompoc derived its name from its original residents, the Chumash people, who called it "Lum Poc", which means "stagnant waters" or "lagoon". The city is located in the valley of the Santa Ynez River, but like most rivers in Southern California, the Santa Ynez River does not have a surface flow for most of the year.

Originally intended to be named New Vineland (after the temperance colony in New Jersey) Lompoc, became a military town with the development of nearby Camp Cooke (now Vandenberg Air Force Base). During the Great Depression, La Purisima Mission was restored by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). During World War II,  Camp Cook (Vandenberg Air Force Base) was the site of a United States Army training camp where large units could practice maneuvers.


Lompoc grew slowly until 1958, when the United States Air Force announced that the former Camp Cooke would be a test site for the Thor family of intermediate-range ballistic missiles and the first operational base for the SM-65 Atlas, an intercontinental ballistic missile. The city then began to grow rapidly to provide housing for thousands of civilians and contractors employed at what was soon renamed Vandenberg Air Force Base. It was the first missile base of the United States Air Force. The Space Shuttle Program was slated to begin launches in the late 1980s, and the city experienced a boom in restaurant and hotel construction in anticipation of tourists coming to see shuttle launches. However, when the Challenger exploded during take-off from Cape Carnaval in 1986, the West Coast shuttle program was terminated, sending Lompoc into a severe recession.


Lompoc has a cool Mediterranean climate, typical of coastal California. The city is mostly sunny, with an ocean breeze. Fog is common, but snow is virtually unknown. The highest recorded temperature was 110 °F (44 °C) in 1987, and the lowest recorded temperature was 15 °F (-9 °C) in 2013.

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