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Zayante was named after a rancheria (an Indian settlement) of the same name. The name has been recorded in many different spellings, including Cyanta, Cyantha, Sallanta, Sallanti, Sayant, Sayant o, Syanta, Sayante, Sayllanta, Seyente, Siant, Syant, and Zyante. In 1834, the area was known as Rancho Zayante. In 1841 a mill was built along Zayante Creek near the San Lorenzo River, and logs from the Zayante and Lompico area were milled there. By 1890-1900 the area's Redwoods were clearcut. As the logging industry began to fade in the area, Rancho Zayante was eventually sold off and developed into the neighborhoods of Zayante, Olympia, and Lompico.
In the 1970s, many residents of the area raised eyebrows as an old country club slowly transformed into the wild, psychedelic hot spot, Club Zayante.
One of the only remaining commercial entities in Zayante is the Zayante Creek Market and Deli. Ironically, this corner market first established in 1947 and left over from a time forgotten, serves as a model for future small town developments incorporating commercial and residential, or neighborhood mixed use.
The only public transportation into the area is Santa Cruz Metro's route #33.