Mountain House, San Joaquin County, California

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Mountain House
Mountain House High School
Mountain House is located in California
Mountain House
Mountain House
Position in California.
Coordinates: 37°46′26″N 121°32′39″W / 37.77389°N 121.54417°W / 37.77389; -121.54417Coordinates: 37°46′26″N 121°32′39″W / 37.77389°N 121.54417°W / 37.77389; -121.54417
CountryUnited States
CountySan Joaquin
 • State senatorSusan Eggman (D)
 • AssemblymemberCarlos Villapudua (D)
 • U. S. rep.Jerry McNerney (D)[1]
 • Total3.192 sq mi (8.268 km2)
 • Land3.192 sq mi (8.268 km2)
 • Water0 sq mi (0 km2)  0%
Elevation82 ft (25 m)
 • Total24,499
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
Area code209
FIPS code06-49582
GNIS feature IDs1888888, 2628761
WebsiteOfficial website

Mountain House is a planned community in San Joaquin County, California. Located at the border of the San Joaquin Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, Mountain House is 5 miles (8.0 km) northwest of Tracy, 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Interstate 205, and about 50 miles (80 km) east of San Francisco. The population was 24,499 at the 2020 census.[4] For statistical purposes, the United States Census Bureau has defined Mountain House as a census-designated place (CDP).


The Cholbon triblet of the Northern Valley Yokuts were the original inhabitants of the Mountain House area. Their territory ran along Old River a distributary of the San Joaquin River.[5]

Another name used to refer to the Yokuts was Mariposans.[6] The Yokut were a group of people who were hunters, gatherers, and fishers.[7] Overall they were a peaceful people who rarely engaged in warfare but were very active in trade with other tribes nearby such as the Chumash.[6][8] There were about 60 tribes of the Yokut in the central and Northern California before European contact. In the late 1700's there were and estimated 70,000 Yokut's but 200 hundred years later that would decrease to 600.[6]

The first contact Yokuts had with European's was in 1772, but contact between them was very limited for the next 30 years.[8] For the most part information about European intrusion came to the Yokut from other tribes they traded with.[8] In 1797, when Missions were introduced to the area the Yokut were forced into labor and to convert to christianity, many died from poor working conditions and violence.[8] The Yokut were spread out into different Missions some of which included the San Luis Obispo Mission and the San Francisco Mission.[8]

In 1849, Thomas Goodall erected a blue denim cloth tent to serve as a midway stopover for gold miners headed from San Francisco to the Sierra Nevada foothills via Altamont Pass. Goodall eventually built an adobe house at the eastern edge of the Diablo Range hills, calling it The Mountain House. Simon Zimmerman later acquired the stop and it became known as Zimmerman's Mountain House and became a well-known way station stop on the way to Stockton. The last remaining settlement buildings were leveled in 1940.[9]

In November 1994, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors officially approved the new community of Mountain House. In 1996, the master plan was approved. In August 2000, many of the documents controlling the development and growth of Mountain House were adopted and approved by the San Joaquin Board of Supervisors acting as the Mountain House Board of Directors.[citation needed]

Mountain House was projected to be a small full-fledged city developed over a 30-year period by the Master Developer Trimark Communities.[10] The community covers 4,784 acres (1,936 ha) in San Joaquin County. The town was planned for 12 distinct neighborhoods including 10 family neighborhoods and two age-restricted neighborhoods, each organized around a center containing a neighborhood park, a K-8 school, and a small commercial area.

Construction began in 2001, but growth slowed down to about 50 permits per year because of the Great Recession in 2008. Development started again with increasing building permits and small land development projects in 2010 and 2011 and has continued at and still continues at a high rate.

As of today, Mountain House includes the established villages of Wicklund, Bethany, Altamont, and Questa, along with the developing villages of Hansen, Cordes, and College Park. Some 15,000 households or approximately 45,000–50,000 people are anticipated when Mountain House is fully completed.[11]


  • November 10, 1994 – Mountain House project approved by San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors
  • May 14, 2001 – Trimark breaks ground on Mountain House project
  • January 18, 2003 – First home foundation poured
  • August 24, 2004 – Wicklund Elementary School opens. MHCSD opens an office at Wicklund Elementary School.
  • November 6, 2007 – Mountain House votes to form an independent board for the MH Community Services District (MHCSD)
  • December 7, 2007 – The San Joaquin Delta College satellite campus site is annexed to Mountain House CSD through a public-private partnership with developer Gerry N. Kamilos[12]
  • November 2008 – Noted for having the highest percentage of homes "under water" in the U.S.
  • November 2008 – First independent board of the MHCSD was elected
  • August 17, 2009 – Delta College Mountain House Campus opens
  • June 8, 2010 – Voters approve unification of Lammersville Unified School District
  • January 2011 – 15-year-old resident Thia Megia becomes youngest finalist ever on American Idol
  • July 2012 – Mountain House High School breaks ground
  • March 2013 – New development announced for Questa and Altamont Villages
  • August 2014 – Mountain House High School opens
  • June 2015 – Drought conditions place Mountain House water supply at risk[13][14]
  • September 2018 – Mountain House breaks ground on town hall complex[15]
  • March 2020 – Town Hall and Library opens
  • June 2021 – Safeway breaks ground on town center

Financial downturn[edit]

In November 2008, The New York Times reported that Mountain House was the "most underwater community in America" – the ZIP code with the highest amount of negative equity on its homes.[16] With home values decreasing across the nation, Mountain House was described as the worst-hit, with 90% of its homes worth less than the amount their owners owe in mortgages.[16] The average homeowner in Mountain House was reported to be $122,000 in debt.[16] Many local businesses in the 95391 ZIP code were closing because the homeowners were cutting back on their spending.[16]

CalPERS, an agency that manages pensions for California public employees, invested heavily in Mountain House beginning in 2005, purchasing approximately 9,000 residential lots from Shea Homes. By May 2010, the $1.12 billion investment by CalPERS had been reduced to 18% of that figure: $200 million.[17] Even though home values had dropped significantly, CalPERS determined that they would hold on to the investment, counting on a recovery of the housing market.[17]

Economic recovery[edit]

An uptick in economic performance at Mountain House was noted in September 2011 by Big Builder, a trade magazine of major land and housing development published by Hanley-Wood.[18]

Acknowledging the New York Times 2008 article that branded Mountain House as the most underwater community in America, the article chronicled a grassroots commitment by residents to keep their neighborhoods looking well-kept by mowing neglected lawns of homes in foreclosure, short sales or abandoned.

This community spirit helped persuade CalPERS to hold onto its Mountain House investment, despite the drawbacks of a 1994-vintage land plan, termed "out of sync with the realities of the post-housing crash world".[This quote needs a citation] Helping to balance the challenges of the land plan was the level of established infrastructure and homebuyers motivated by affordable pricing, proximity to job centers and traditional neighborhoods.

In April 2012, Big Builder again reported on the community, noting more robust first-quarter sales, new lot offers, and flexibility for semi-finished and raw land in future development.[19]


Mountain House lies on the foothills of the Diablo Range, and close to the Altamont Pass which is over 1,000 feet (300 m) in elevation. It is on the border of Alameda and Contra Costa counties.[20] According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP covers an area of 3.2 square miles (8.3 km2), all of it land. The census definition of the area may not precisely correspond to local understanding of the area with the same name. The community is bisected by Mountain House Creek.[21] Mountain House Creek originates south of the Altamont Pass and Interstate 580, flowing northeasterly along and crossing under the interstate, then along Grant Line Road to the intersection with Mountain House Road at the historic Alameda County Mountain House.[22] The creek continues northeasterly through the residential communities of Mountain House before emptying into the Old River, a distributary of the San Joaquin River.


Winter (December–February) temperatures in Mountain House range from the 30s to 60s °F (-1 to 20.5 °C). Springs (March–May) in Mountain House are mild with temperatures in the 40s to 80s °F (4.4 to 31.7 °C). Summers (June–August) can be very hot with temperatures in the 80s to 100s °F (26.7 to 42.8 °C). Fall (September–November) temperatures start in the 80s to 100s °F (26.7 to 42.8 °C) but cool down significantly by November to the 40s to 70s °F (4.4 to 26.1 °C). Windy conditions are common.[citation needed]

Nearby Cities (within 15 miles)[edit]

  • Tracy (San Joaquin County) - 8.2 miles
  • Livermore (Alameda County) - 15.6 miles
  • Ulmar (Alameda County) - 13.9 miles
  • Byron (San Joaquin County) - 9.2 miles
  • Discovery Bay (San Joaquin County) - 14.8 miles


The 2010 United States Census reported that Mountain House had a population of 9,675.[23] The population density was 3,030.8 people per square mile (1,170.2/km2). The racial makeup was 3,467 (35.8%) White, 903 (9.3%) African American, 45 (0.5%) Native American, 3,830 (39.6%) Asian, 71 (0.7%) Pacific Islander, 663 (6.9%) from other races, and 696 (7.2%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,637 persons (16.9%).

The Census reported that 9,675 people (100% of the population) lived in households, 0 (0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.

There were 2,807 households, out of which 1,676 (59.7%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,985 (70.7%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 227 (8.1%) had a female householder with no husband present, 151 (5.4%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 186 (6.6%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 31 (1.1%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 299 households (10.7%) were made up of individuals, and 18 (0.6%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.45. There were 2,363 families (84.2% of all households); the average family size was 3.73.

The population was spread out, with 3,351 people (34.6%) under the age of 18, 501 people (5.2%) age 18 to 24, 3,780 people (39.1%) ages 25 to 44, 1,676 people (17.3%) ages 45 to 64, and 367 people (3.8%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31.4 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.2 males.

There were 3,237 housing units at an average density of 1,014.0 per square mile (391.5/km2), of which 2,205 (78.6%) were owner-occupied, and 602 (21.4%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 4.9%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.6%. 7,444 people (76.9% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 2,231 people (23.1%) lived in rental housing units.

Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[24]


The Mountain House Community Services District (MHCSD) is the local government and is governed since 2008 by 5 elected board members who live in the community (similar to the city council) and a general manager (similar to the city manager.) Before 2008, the MHCSD was governed by the San Joaquin County Supervisors. The MHCSD has 18 primary powers which include providing police (current contract with San Joaquin Sheriffs), fire (current contract with French Camp Fire), library services, water, sewer, garbage (current contract with West Valley Disposal), public recreation, road maintenance, street lights, graffiti abatement, CC&R (Master Restrictions) enforcement, telecommunication services, converting utilities to underground, transportation services, flood control protection, wildlife habitat mitigation, pest and weed abatement, and dissemination of information.[25] Unlike incorporated cities, the MHCSD does not have power over land use or economic development.

The 2020-2021 board members are President Andy Su, VP Manny Moreno, Directors Bernice Tingle, Harry Dhillon and Brian Lucid. The general manager is Steve Pinkerton, who started in August 2019.[26]


Elementary and middle schools[edit]

Students in Mountain House are served by the Lammersville Joint Unified School District or LUSD.[27] Mountain House children attend six LUSD K–8 elementary schools: Wicklund, Bethany, Questa, Altamont, Hansen and Cordes.

Lammersville Elementary School is a K–8 school in unincorporated San Joaquin County that is part of the LUSD but not part of Mountain House that serves unincorporated Tracy.

Mountain House Elementary School, which is a K–8 school in unincorporated Alameda County, with a student body of approximately 50, is run by the independent Mountain House Elementary School District.[28]

High schools and community college[edit]

Mountain House High School (MHHS) opened in 2014. MHHS received the California Distinguished School Award in 2019.[29] The school mascot is the Mustang and the school colors are royal blue and silver. Sports teams from MHHS compete in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).

The south campus of the San Joaquin Delta College was fully completed in July 2020.[30]


Mountain House Matters is a monthly publication about Mountain House, its people and activities. It was founded in September 2012 by resident Bryan Harrison and mailed to each house in Mountain House.

The Tracy Press is a weekly newspaper that covers Tracy and Mountain House and has operated since the 19th century.

The Record (Stockton) is a daily paper that covers the San Joaquin County area.

Mountain House Wesbsite.


The nearest railway station is in Tracy, operated by Altamont Corridor Express (ACE). Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority provides bus service to Hacienda Business Park and the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station.[31] San Joaquin RTD provides van service to the Tracy Transit Center.[32]


  1. ^ "California's 9th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  2. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files – Places – California". United States Census Bureau.
  3. ^ a b "Mountain House Census Designated Place". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  4. ^ a b "Mountain House CDP QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau.
  5. ^ Wallace, William J. (1978). Robert F. Heizer (ed.). Northern Valley Yokuts, in Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 8, California. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. pp. 462–470. ISBN 9780160045745.
  6. ^ a b c Sepehri, Sandy (2009). "Yokuts". Rourke's Native American History & Culture Encyclopedia. 9: 49 – via GALE EBOOKS.
  7. ^ Mackenzie, John (2005). "Yokuts". Cassell's Peoples, Nations, and Cultures – via Credo Reference.
  8. ^ a b c d e Morris Bakken, Gordon; Kindell, Alexandra (2006). "Yokuts". Encyclopedia of Immigration and Migration in the American West. 2V. 103: 729–735 – via SAGE Reference.
  9. ^ History of Tracy, California with Biographical Sketches. Los Angeles: Historic Record Company. 1923.
  10. ^ Brinkley, Leslie (August 5, 2004). "New Bay Area Suburb". ABC 7 News. Retrieved August 5, 2004.
  11. ^ "Chapter 3: Land Use". Mountain House Master Plan. pp. 3.2 and 3.12. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  12. ^ Johnson, Zachary K (September 26, 2007). "Delta College to extend south". Local Media Group, Inc. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  13. ^ "Letter to Mountain House community" (PDF). Mountain House Community Services District. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 17, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  14. ^ Stevens, Matt (June 18, 2015). "Master-planned community at risk of losing all water within days". Los Angeles Times.
  15. ^ Mountain, House. "Mountain House breaks ground on town hall complex". Tracy Press.
  16. ^ a b c d Streitfeld, David (November 10, 2008). "A Town Drowns in Debt as Home Values Plunge". The New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  17. ^ a b Kasler, Dale (May 6, 2010). "Fund Held Underwater: CalPERS to wait for Mountain House rebound: City hardest hit in nation by real estate slump". The Modesto Bee. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  18. ^ McManus, John; Yaussi, Sarah (September 2011). "Mountain House? living proof that it's possible to rebuild the American Dream out of the stuff of nightmares". Big Builder. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  19. ^ Caulfied, John (April 19, 2012). "Long Climb Pays Off for Builders at NoCal's Mountain House". BUILDER Online. Washington, D.C.: Hanley Wood Media. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  20. ^ Wyatt, Dennis (May 15, 2021). "Mountain House didn't exist 20 years ago, today it is bigger than City of Ripon". Manteca/Ripon Bulletin. Retrieved 2022-02-27.
  21. ^ "Mountain House Creek". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  22. ^ "Mountain House". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  23. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Mountain House CDP". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  24. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  25. ^ "Five elected in first race for Mountain House board", Stockton Record, November 5, 2008
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2021-03-05. Retrieved 2021-03-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ "Voters approve Lammersville school unification". Tracy press. June 8, 2010. Retrieved June 8, 2010.
  28. ^ "Welcome to Mountain House Elementary School | Mountain House Elementary School District". Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  29. ^ Young, Kevin (February 24, 2011). "Mountain House inches toward high school". Tracy press. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  30. ^ Lafferty, Justin (Aug 17, 2009). "Delta College in Mountain House". Tracy press. Retrieved August 17, 2009.
  31. ^ "Mountain House commuters have transportation option", The Record (Stockton), February 4, 2006
  32. ^ "Tracer map" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-08-09. Retrieved 2017-08-08.