Los Altos, California

Coordinates: 37°22′5″N 122°5′51″W / 37.36806°N 122.09750°W / 37.36806; -122.09750
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Los Altos, California
A City of Los Altos entrance marker, located in Lincoln Park just off of Main Street
A City of Los Altos entrance marker, located in Lincoln Park just off of Main Street
Flag of Los Altos, California
Official seal of Los Altos, California
Location in Santa Clara County and the state of California
Location in Santa Clara County and the state of California
Los Altos is located in California
Los Altos
Los Altos
Location in California
Los Altos is located in San Francisco Bay Area
Los Altos
Los Altos
Location in the Bay Area
Los Altos is located in the United States
Los Altos
Los Altos
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 37°22′5″N 122°5′51″W / 37.36806°N 122.09750°W / 37.36806; -122.09750
CountryUnited States
CountySanta Clara
IncorporatedDecember 1, 1952[1]
 • TypeCouncil/Manager[2]
 • MayorSally Meadows[3]
 • Vice mayorJonathan Weinberg[3]
 • Total6.54 sq mi (16.94 km2)
 • Land6.54 sq mi (16.94 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation157 ft (48 m)
 • Total31,625
 • Density4,800/sq mi (1,900/km2)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
Area code650
FIPS code06-43280
GNIS feature IDs1659745, 2410876

Los Altos (/lɔːs ˈælts/ ; Spanish for "The Heights") is a city in Santa Clara County, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The population was 31,625 according to the 2020 census.

Most of the city's growth occurred between 1950 and 1980. Originally an agricultural town with many summer cottages and apricot orchards, Los Altos is now an affluent bedroom community on the western edge of Silicon Valley, serving as a major source of commuters to other parts of Silicon Valley. Los Altos strictly limits commercial zones to the downtown area and small shopping and office parks lining Foothill Expressway and El Camino Real.


The area was originally called "Banks and Braes".[7] Paul Shoup, an executive of the Southern Pacific Railroad, and his colleagues formed the Altos Land Company in 1906 and started the development of Los Altos. The company acquired 140 acres (57 ha) of land from Sarah Winchester. Shoup wanted to link Palo Alto and Los Gatos by making Los Altos a commuter town. It continued a train-a-day operation to and from San Francisco.

In 1908, Southern Pacific Railroad began running steam train service through Los Altos (April 19, 1908) with five trains per day. Two freight cars served as a train depot. Also, the first commercial building, Eschenbruecher's Hardware, was built in downtown.[7] In 1913, the craftsman-style Los Altos train station was built at 288 First Street.

By 1949, many residents were dissatisfied with the zoning policy of Santa Clara County, and there was a constant threat of annexation by neighboring Palo Alto and Mountain View,[8] so they decided to incorporate. Los Altos became the eleventh city in Santa Clara County on December 1, 1952.

Train service ceased operation in January 1964, and the train track became Foothill Expressway.[8] Los Altos may have a legitimate claim to having the first scientifically designed sound baffle in 1970. Santa Clara County undertook a seminal study to calculate the effects of alternate soundwall designs along Foothill Expressway.[9] The resulting wall brought about the predicted reduction of seven to ten decibels in noise pollution levels experienced by adjacent homes.

In 1976, Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built the first 50 Apple I computers in Jobs's garage in Los Altos.[10]

In 2004, landlord Judy Fusco rented her Los Altos home, later known as "Casa Facebook", to Mark Zuckerberg; there, he and a few other associates scaled Facebook from 200,000 members to 2.5 million.[11]

On April 15, 2021, Los Altos became home to the world's first consumer flying car showroom.[12]


A store in disarray following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake

Los Altos is near the San Andreas Fault and therefore subject to earthquakes.

  • 1989 – On October 17, Los Altos experienced the Loma Prieta earthquake, but was spared major damage. Los Altos and its churches combined efforts to clean up hard-hit areas such as Watsonville and Santa Cruz.


Los Altos is bordered by Los Altos Hills to the west, Palo Alto to the west and northwest, Mountain View to the northwest and northeast, Sunnyvale to the east, and Cupertino to the southeast.

Los Altos is crossed by three creeks that flow north to San Francisco Bay, Adobe Creek on its western boundary, Stevens Creek on its eastern boundary and Permanente Creek in the middle. Hale Creek is a tributary to Permanente Creek, and Permanente Creek is now largely diverted to Stevens Creek by a diversion channel. All three creeks originate on the flanks of Black Mountain.


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[14]


The 2010 United States Census[15] reported that Los Altos had a population of 28,976. The population density was 4466.8 people per square mile (1724.6/km2). The racial makeup of Los Altos was 20,459 (70.6%) White, 148 (0.5%) African American, 48 (0.2%) Native American, 6,815 (23.5%) Asian, 59 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 195 (0.7%) from other races, and 1,252 (4.3%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,132 persons (3.9%).

The Census reported that 28,749 people (99.2% of the population) lived in households, 34 (0.1%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 193 (0.7%) were institutionalized.

There were 10,745 households, out of which 4,067 (37.9%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 7,476 (69.6%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 599 (5.6%) had a female householder with no husband present, 228 (2.1%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 199 (1.9%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 55 (0.5%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 2,086 households (19.4%) were made up of individuals, and 1,228 (11.4%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68. There were 8,303 families (77.3% of all households); the average family size was 3.08.

The age distribution of the population consisted of 7,560 people (26.1%) under the age of 18, 1,006 people (3.5%) aged 18 to 24, 5,273 people (18.2%) aged 25 to 44, 9,353 people (32.3%) aged 45 to 64, and 5,784 people (20.0%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46.2 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.9 males.

There were 11,204 housing units at an average density of 1727.1 per square mile (666.9/km2), of which 9,002 (83.8%) were owner-occupied, and 1,743 (16.2%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 0.7%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.0%. 24,669 people (85.1% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 4,080 people (14.1%) lived in rental housing units.

The median household income of Los Altos for 2013–2017 was $208,309.[16] The average home listing price in 2014 was $1.96 million.[17] In 2017, Forbes ranked Los Altos (94022 and 94024) as the 3rd and 48th most expensive ZIP codes in the United States with median home prices of $7,755,000 and $3,431,615, respectively.[18] In 2018, data from the American Community Survey revealed that Los Altos was the fifth wealthiest city in the United States.[19]


As of the census[20] of 2000, there were 27,693 people, 10,462 households, and 8,024 families residing in the city. The population density was 4269 people per square mile (1648.3/km2). There were 10,727 housing units at an average density of 1653.6 per square mile (638.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 80.35% White, 15.42% Asian, 0.47% African American, 0.17% Native American, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 0.66% from other races, and 2.44% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino residents of any race constituted 3.76% of the population.

Of 10,462 households, 33.6% had minor children living with them, 69.4% were married couples living together, 5.4% had a female head with no husband present, and 23.3% were non-families. 18.7% were singles including 9.8% 65 or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 2.98.

The median age was 44 years, much higher than the 35.3 national figure. 23.7% were under 18, 3.5% from 18 to 24, 24.5% from 25 to 44, 29.1% from 45 to 64, and 19.3% were 65 years of age or older. For every 100 females, there were 93.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.


Approximately 2,900 people would have considered themselves a resident of Los Altos.[8]

Housing costs[edit]

Los Altos strives to maintain a semi-rural atmosphere. Los Altos has few sidewalks except in commercial zones and along arterial roads. The minimum lot size for most residential housing is one-quarter of an acre. Most streets have broad dirt shoulders and no street lighting. The civic center sits in the middle of an orchard, a remnant of those that once covered the area. The downtown is a triangle with arterials and collector streets on all sides that enable most through traffic to bypass Main Street.

As of today, many Los Altos homes fetch $4 million and higher. The city is placed (along with neighboring Los Altos Hills, with which it shares ZIP codes) at numbers 24 and 28 on Forbes' "Most Expensive ZIP Codes in America" list in 2007.[21] In 2015, Forbes placed Los Altos (ZIP codes 94022 and 94024) as the 11th and 57th most expensive ZIP codes in the United States, behind such cities as Atherton, California and Sagaponack, New York. For the 94022 ZIP code, which includes parts of Los Altos Hills, California the median home price is $4.9 million with an average of 120 days on the market. For the 94024 ZIP code, the median home price is $2.8 million with an average of 36 days on the market.[22]


Since the mid-1990s, downtown Los Altos has experienced mild economic difficulties due to competition from nearby shopping centers and chain stores, as well as its lack of a hotel or movie theater. Revitalizing downtown is a major issue in city politics.[23]

Top employers[edit]

According to the City's 2022 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report,[24] the top employers in the city are:

Top employers in Los Altos
# Employer # of Employees
1 Los Altos School District 459
2 Los Altos Sub-Acute & Rehabilitation Center 241
3 Whole Foods Market 233
4 Los Altos High School 212
5 Toyota Research Institute 187
6 Compass, Inc. (Alain Pinel Realtors) 166
7 David and Lucile Packard Foundation 131
8 City of Los Altos 120
9 Adobe Animal Hospital 120
10 Palo Alto Medical Foundation 110


In the California State Legislature, Los Altos is in the 13th Senate District, represented by Democrat Josh Becker, and in the 23rd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Marc Berman.[25]

In the United States House of Representatives, Los Altos is in California's 16th congressional district, represented by Democrat Anna Eshoo.[26]



Primary and middle school students attend schools in the Los Altos School District, the Cupertino Union School District, or Bullis Charter School (K–8). The Los Altos School District has one of the highest average API scores in California and includes seven elementary schools in the Los Altos–Mountain View area.

Local residents generally attend high school in one of two public school districts: Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District or Fremont Union High School District.

All of the public schools are highly regarded,[27] and many graduates of Los Altos-area high schools continue their education at well-known universities.


Los Altos is also served by highly regarded private and religious schools. St. Nicholas School, St. Simon School, Miramonte Elementary School, (JrK–8th)[28] Canterbury Christian School (K–6th),[29] the Lower and Middle Campuses (K–6th) of Pinewood School, The School for Independent Learners,[30] and the lower school campus of the Waldorf School of the Peninsula[31] are located within city limits. Others nearby include St. Francis High School (Mountain View), Mountain View Academy,[32] and The King's Academy (Sunnyvale).[33] Other schools farther away with students from Los Altos include Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton, Mitty High School, Menlo School, Woodside Priory School, Castilleja School, The Harker School, and Bellarmine College Preparatory.

Public libraries[edit]

Santa Clara County Library operates the Los Altos Library and the Woodland Branch Library in Los Altos.[34]

Parks and conservation[edit]

Dead and diseased trees in the Redwood Grove were cut down in 2017, to be milled on-site in 2018.
Mallard in May, 2010, in Adobe Creek; the creek typically runs dry by summer.

Adobe Creek flows through Redwood Grove, a 5.9-acre (2.4 ha) nature preserve off University Avenue in Los Altos purchased by the city in 1974. In October 2009 Los Altos contracted with Acterra to remove non-native plants and revitalize the redwood, oak woodland, riparian and grassland ecosystems by installing native plants, improving soil conditions, and creating habitat for wildlife such as bird houses and native bee boxes.[35] The coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) were transplanted by the Halsey family from a location on Summit Road in the Santa Cruz Mountains and replaced the native willows. The historic Halsey House, built in the late 1920s by Theodore and Emma Halsey, is a good example of Spanish Revival architecture. The city designated Halsey House a local landmark in 1981 and until recently it housed the Florence Fava collection of Coastanoan or Ohlone Indian artifacts from a nearby archeological excavation in Los Altos Hills (now moved to the Los Altos History Museum).[36] On June 16, 2010, the Los Altos City Council finalized the purchase of 10,000 square feet (930 m2) of creekside property from Delbert and Marlene Beumer, who wanted to provide a safe pathway connecting Shoup Park and Redwood Grove.[37]

Steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) occurred historically in Adobe Creek. However, tidal gates at the mouth of Adobe Creek as well as culverts at the El Camino Real and Interstate 280 overpasses probably preclude the passage of migrating salmonids, even though the reaches upstream from Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills have been judged excellent trout habitat.[38]


Los Altos has a variety of youth-oriented sports organizations, programs, and after-school activities. Some examples include:

  • The Mountain View Los Altos Soccer Club (MVLASC) has provided competitive soccer for the MVLA community since 1972. It is a member of the California Youth Soccer Association – North (Cal North Soccer) and plays in the Foothill Youth Soccer League. The club has won 14 State Championships and two National Championships.[39]
  • Los Altos–Mountain View Pony Baseball is for boys and girls aged 5 to 19. It is the largest youth baseball program in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a chartered league of PONY Baseball, Inc.[40]
  • West Valley Pop Warner offers cheerleading and football programs to local youth.[41]
  • The El Camino YMCA Youth Basketball League teaches basic basketball skills and the YMCA's core values.[42]


The Los Altos Town Crier, a weekly, is the primary newspaper for the town, "serving the Hometown of Silicon Valley since 1947."[43] The San Jose Mercury News is the primary daily newspaper serving the town, delivering a Peninsula Section to Los Altans and locations north in lieu of the Local section delivered to those in San Jose and other communities closer to San Jose.

An intersection in downtown Los Altos, with features like tree-lined sidewalks, diagonal parking, small shops, and banners advertising community events

Notable people[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

Los Altos had four sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:

The program was run by the non-profit Los Altos Sister Cities, Inc., founded in 1988. That organization later decided to cease its participation and is now dissolved.[when?] Los Altos no longer participates in the sister cities program.[49]


  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date". California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Archived from the original (Word) on November 3, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  2. ^ "Welcome to the Office of the City Manager". City of Los Altos. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Speeches galore highlight council meeting as Los Altos transitions to new leadership". Los Altos Town Crier. December 21, 2022. Retrieved January 5, 2023.
  4. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  5. ^ "Los Altos". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  6. ^ "Los Altos (city) QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Los Altos Historic Walking Tour Brochure" (PDF). City of Los Altos. 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 31, 2016. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c McDonald, Don (2010). Early Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. Arcadia Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7385-8010-4.
  9. ^ Hogan, C. Michael; Seidman, Harry (October 1970). "Design of Noise Abatement Structures along Foothill Expressway, Los Altos, California". County of Santa Clara Public Works Department. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ "Steve Jobs' los Altos childhood home eyed for historic preservation". September 21, 2013.
  11. ^ Chung, L.A. "'Casa Facebook' Recalls Scrappy, Freewheeling Visionaries".
  12. ^ "Announcing ASKA the Electric Take off and Landing Flying Car for Consumers". April 15, 2021.
  13. ^ "Los Altos Shake map for SF Earthquake (Choose Los Altos and then San Andreas (1906 Quake) to see map)". Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  14. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  15. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA – Los Altos city". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  16. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Los Altos city, California". Archived from the original on March 31, 2019.
  17. ^ Picchi, Aimee (November 12, 2014). "Full List:Here's the average home price in America's priciest town". CBS News Moneywatch. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  18. ^ Sharf, Samantha. "Full List: America's Most Expensive ZIP Codes 2017". Forbes. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  19. ^ "The 10 wealthiest cities in the United States". Tribune Media. January 11, 2018.
  20. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  21. ^ "Most Expensive ZIP Codes". Forbes. September 13, 2007. Retrieved October 6, 2008.
  22. ^ Schiffman, Betsy (November 10, 2015). "Full List: America's Most Expensive ZIP Codes 2015". Forbes. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  23. ^ McPherson, Sarah (April 6, 2005). "Small Town, Hard Sell: Village leader trying to pump up downtown". San Jose Mercury News. sec. B, p. 1.
  24. ^ "City of Los Altos Annual Comprehensive Financial Report For the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2022" (PDF). Retrieved February 1, 2024.
  25. ^ "Final Maps". We Draw the Lines, 2020 California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Archived from the original on December 7, 2022. Retrieved February 16, 2023.
  26. ^ "California's 16th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC.
  27. ^ Blitzer, Carol (March 6, 1995). "Building on Success". San Jose Business Journal. sec. S, p. 3.
  28. ^ "Miramonte Elementary School". Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  29. ^ "Canterbury Christian School". Archived from the original on April 14, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  30. ^ "The School for Independent Learners". Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  31. ^ Waldorf School of the Peninsula
  32. ^ "Mountain View Academy". Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  33. ^ "The King's Academy". Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  34. ^ "Welcome to the Los Altos Library". Santa Clara County Library. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
  35. ^ Seshadri, Jana (October 8, 2009). "City council signs agreement to restore Redwood Grove". Los Altos Town Crier. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  36. ^ Ridgway, Eliza (June 3, 2009). "Science learning, restoration in works for Redwood Grove". Los Altos Town Crier. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
  37. ^ Luther, Nicholas (June 22, 2010). "City purchases land to connect Shoup Park, Redwood Grove". Los Altos Town Crier. Retrieved June 25, 2010.
  38. ^ Leidy, R.A.; Becker, G.S.; Harvey, B.N. (2005). "Historical distribution and current status of steelhead/rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in streams of the San Francisco Estuary, California" (PDF). Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration, Oakland, CA. Retrieved October 18, 2009.
  39. ^ "Organization: About our club". MVLASC. April 22, 2008. Archived from the original on June 24, 2008. Retrieved June 20, 2008.
  40. ^ "About LA-MV PONY". LA-MV Pony Baseball. June 17, 2008. Archived from the original on June 18, 2008. Retrieved June 20, 2008.
  41. ^ "About WVPW". West Valley Pop Warner. June 19, 2008. Archived from the original on July 5, 2008. Retrieved June 20, 2008.
  42. ^ "Youth Basketball League is a slam dunk for area kids". Los Altos Town Crier. March 16, 1998.
  43. ^ "Los Altos Town Crier". Los Altos Town Crier. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  44. ^ "Los Altos Hills Historical Society". www.losaltoshillshistory.org.
  45. ^ Bluesman John Lee Hooker dies. Billboard.com
  46. ^ Pareles, Jon (June 22, 2001). "John Lee Hooker, Bluesman, Is Dead at 83". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  47. ^ Winslow, Megan V. (March 20, 2019). "Former Peru president – a Los Altos resident – arrested after 'drunk' spectacle". Los Altos Town Crier. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  48. ^ Cannon, Jennie Vennerström; Edwards, Robert W. (2012). Jennie V. Cannon: The Untold History of the Carmel and Berkeley Art Colonies (PDF). Vol. 1. Oakland, CA: East Bay Heritage Project. pp. 654–655. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  49. ^ "Secretary of State". businessfilings.sos.ca.gov. Retrieved March 21, 2017.

External links[edit]