Jump to content

Santa Clara County, California

Coordinates: 37°14′N 121°43′W / 37.233°N 121.717°W / 37.233; -121.717
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Santa Clara County
Flag of Santa Clara County
Official seal of Santa Clara County
Interactive map of Santa Clara County
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
Coordinates: 37°14′N 121°43′W / 37.233°N 121.717°W / 37.233; -121.717
CountryUnited States
RegionSan Francisco Bay Area
IncorporatedFebruary 18, 1850[1]
Named forMission Santa Clara de Asís, St. Clare of Assisi
County seat
and largest city
San Jose
 • TypeCouncil–CEO
 • BodyBoard of Supervisors
 • Board PresidentSusan Ellenberg
 • Board Vice PresidentOtto Lee
 • Board of Supervisors[2]
  • Sylvia Arenas
  • Cindy Chavez
  • Otto Lee
  • Susan Ellenberg
  • Joe Simitian
 • Chief executive officerJames R. Williams, J.D.
 • Total1,304 sq mi (3,380 km2)
 • Land1,290 sq mi (3,300 km2)
 • Water14 sq mi (40 km2)
Highest elevation4,216 ft (1,285 m)
 • Total1,936,259
 • Density1,500/sq mi (570/km2)
Gross Domestic Product
 • TotalUS$382.787 billion (2022)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Area codes408/669, 650
FIPS code06-085
GNIS feature ID277307
Congressional districts16th, 17th, 18th, 19th

Santa Clara County, officially the County of Santa Clara, is the sixth-most populous county in the U.S. state of California, with a population of 1,936,259 as of the 2020 census.[4] Santa Clara County and neighboring San Benito County form the San Jose–Sunnyvale–Santa Clara metropolitan statistical area, which is part of the larger San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland combined statistical area. Santa Clara is the most populous county in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Northern California.

The county seat and largest city with a population of 971,233 is San Jose, the 10th-most populous city in the nation, California's third-most populous city, and the most populous city in Northern California.

Home to Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County is an economic center for high technology, and had the third-highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the world as of 2015 behind Zürich and Oslo, according to the Brookings Institution.[6][7] Located on the southern coast of San Francisco Bay, the urbanized Santa Clara Valley within Santa Clara County contains most of the county's population. More recently, extensive droughts in California, further complicated by drainage of the Anderson reservoir within the county for seismic repairs, have strained the county's water security.[8][9]

As of 2020, it has a median household income of $130,890, the third-highest household income of any county in the nation behind Loudoun County, Virginia and Falls Church, Virginia, and the highest of any county in the Western United States.[10][11]


Santa Clara County Government Center in central San Jose

Santa Clara County is named for Mission Santa Clara, which was established in 1777, and was in turn named for Saint Clare of Assisi.[12]


Mission Santa Clara de Asís in 1849

Santa Clara County was one of the original counties of California, formed in 1850 at the time of statehood. The original inhabitants included the Ohlone, residing on Coyote Creek and Calaveras Creek. Part of the county's territory was given to Alameda County in 1853.[13]

In 1882, Santa Clara County tried to levy taxes upon property of the Southern Pacific Railroad within county boundaries. The result was the U.S. Supreme Court case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 118 U.S. 394 (1886), in which the court extended due-process rights to artificial legal entities.

In the early 20th century, the area was promoted as the "Valley of the Heart's Delight" due to its natural beauty, including a significant number of orchards.[14] The region was also memorably referred to as the "sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley" in Jack London's 1903 Call of the Wild.

The first major technology company to be based in the area was Hewlett-Packard, founded in a garage in Palo Alto in 1939. IBM selected San Jose as its West Coast headquarters in 1943. Varian Associates, Fairchild Semiconductor, and other early innovators were in the county by the late 1940s and 1950s. The U.S. Navy had a large presence in the area and began giving large contracts to Silicon Valley electronics companies. The term "Silicon Valley" was coined in 1971. The trend accelerated in the 1980s and 1990s, and agriculture has since been nearly eliminated from the northern part of the county.

Santa Clara County is the headquarters for about 6500 high-technology companies, including many of the world's largest such companies, including AMD, Nvidia, Cisco Systems, and Intel, computer and consumer electronics companies Apple Inc. and Hewlett-Packard, and internet companies eBay, Google, and Yahoo!. Most of what is considered to be Silicon Valley is within the county, although some adjoining tech regions in San Mateo (e.g., Facebook), Alameda, and Santa Cruz counties are also considered part of Silicon Valley. [15]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,291.08 square miles (3,343.9 km2).[16]

Counties which border with Santa Clara County are, clockwise, Alameda County, San Joaquin (within a few hundred feet at Mount Boardman), Stanislaus, Merced, San Benito, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo County. Santa Clara County formerly shared borders with Contra Costa, San Francisco, Mariposa, Monterey, and Tuolumne counties until 1853, 1856, 1874, and 1854 respectively (Monterey County currently comes within a few miles of Santa Clara).

The San Andreas Fault runs along the Santa Cruz Mountains in the south and west of the county.

National protected area[edit]


Tule elk roam the Diablo Range and are often seen on Coyote Ridge from U.S. Highway 101 - courtesy Bill Leikam.
Three tule elk just north of U. S. Highway 101 in Basking Ridge Park. The freeway is a barrier to elk migration to the Coast Range. Courtesy Craige Edgerton

Both tule elk (Cervus canadensis nannodes) and pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) were historically native to Santa Clara County. In June 1776, Lieutenant Commander Don José Joaquín Moraga led a group of soldiers and colonists from the Presidio of Monterey to establish Mission San Francisco de Asis and encountered both tule elk and pronghorn, and clearly distinguished these two species from deer.[17] The deer in California being California mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus).

Regarding elk, Moraga wrote: "In the great plain called San Bernardino (the Santa Clara Valley which stretches from south San Jose to Gilroy), while the expedition was strung out at length, we descried in the distance a herd of large animals that looked like cattle, but we could not imagine where they belonged or from whence they had come...with horns similar in shape to those of the deer, but so large that they measured sixteen palms from tip to tip." Upon measurement, Morago reported the elk horns as four varas [11 feet (3.4 m)] across... "These animals [elk] are called ciervos in order to differentiate them from the ordinary Spanish variety of deer, here called venados, which also exist in abundance and of large size in the vicinity."[17]

Regarding pronghorn, Moraga reported: "In the said plains of San Bernardino (Santa Clara Valley)…there is another species of deer about the size of three-year-old sheep. They are similar in appearance to the deer, except they have short horns and also short legs like the sheep. They live in the plains where they go in herds of 100, 200, or more. They run all together over the plains so fast that they seem to fly…These animals are called berrendos and there are many of them also in the southern Missions wherever the country is level."[17]

Herbert Eugene Bolton also wrote of elk reports from another Spanish expedition, from the De Anza Expedition on March 23, 1776: " In Gilroy Valley (Santa Clara Valley) Moraga 's larder was replenished by three elks which the men killed without leaving the road."[18] General John Bidwell, of the 1841 Bartleson-Bidwell Party wrote: "In some of the fertile valleys, such as Napa and Santa Clara, there were elk literally by the thousand."[19]

In 1978, California Department of Fish and Game warden Henry Coletto urged the department to choose the Mount Hamilton area as one of California's relocation sites under a new statewide effort to restore tule elk. While other ranchers refused, tech pioneers Bill Hewlett and David Packard allowed Coletto and state biologists to translocate the initial 32 tule elk from the Owens Valley in the eastern Sierra onto the 28,000-acre (11,000 ha) San Felipe Ranch, which the families jointly own, in the hills east of Morgan Hill.[20] From the three original 1978–1981 translocations (totaling 65 animals) to the Mount Hamilton region of the Diablo Range, there are multiple herds in different locations including the Isabel Valley, San Antonio Valley, Livermore area, San Felipe Ranch, Metcalf Canyon, Coyote Ridge, Anderson Lake, and surrounding areas such as the Sunol and Cottonwood Creek (near San Luis Reservoir in western Merced County, California) herds.[21] As of 2012, an estimated 400 tule elk roam 1,875 square kilometres (724 sq mi) in northeastern Santa Clara County and southeastern Alameda County.[22] In March 2014 CDFW translocated nine bull elk from the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge to add genetic diversity to the San Antonio Valley Ecological Reserve herd in San Antonio Valley in extreme eastern Santa Clara County.[23] As of 2017 there were four herds in the Coyote Ridge area, often visible from U. S. Highway 101, according to Craige Edgerton, recently retired executive director of the Silicon Valley Land Conservancy and local naturalist Michael Hundt.[24] In 2019, a fifth herd of tule elk was documented by local naturalist Roger Castillo, likely having split from the Coyote Ridge herd and established itself in Silver Creek Valley around the closed Ranch Golf Club.[25] The elk herds in eastern Santa Clara County are blocked from dispersal to the west by U.S. Highway 101, with environmentalists advocating re-purposing the Metcalf Road bridge at the Coyote Gap into a wildlife overcrossing.[21] This would enable elk to recolonize rural southwestern Santa Clara County, as well as Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties.

In 1990, the California Department of Fish and Game's Henry Coletto translocated excess pronghorn from Modoc County to six locations in California, including 51 animals to the San Felipe Ranch in Santa Clara County, where the swift-footed ungulates had not lived for generations.[26] The animals left the San Felipe Ranch for the Isabel and San Antonio Valleys, as well as an area near Lake Del Valle in Alameda County may now be extirpated by poaching, highway vehicle collisions, and insufficient numbers to defend pronghorn fawns against coyote predation.[27] As of 2012, the Isabel Valley Ranch herd had dwindled to 3 animals, and the Lake del Valle herd to 13.[28] Currently, iNaturalist.org has zero observer records of pronghorn in Santa Clara County.[29]

The Nature Conservancy "Mount Hamilton Project" has acquired or put under conservation easement 100,000 acres (40,000 ha) of land towards its 500,000 acres (200,000 ha) goal for habitat conservation within a 1,200,000 acres (490,000 ha) area encompassing much of eastern Santa Clara County as well as portions of southern Alameda County, western Merced and Stanislaus Counties, and northern San Benito County. Acquisitions to date include the 1,756-acre (711 ha) Rancho Cañada de Pala, straddling the Alameda Creek and Coyote Creek watersheds for California tiger salamander habitat; a conservation easement on the 3,259-acre Blue Oak Ranch Reserve, which abuts the north side of Joseph D. Grant County Park; a conservation easement on the 28,359-acre San Felipe Ranch, connecting Joseph D. Grant County Park with Henry W. Coe State Park; the 2,899-acre South Valley Ranch which protects a tule elk herd in the San Antonio Valley, and other properties.[30][31]

As of 1980, Santa Clara County had the highest number of Superfund Sites of any county in the United States, accounting for 25 polluted locations requiring a long-term response to clean up hazardous material contaminations.[32][33] As of 2019, Santa Clara County has 23 active Superfund Sites, still more than any other county in the United States.[34] The vast majority of these Superfund sites were caused by firms associated with the high tech sector in Silicon Valley.[35]


Historical population
2023 (est.)1,877,592[36]−3.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[37]
1790–1960[38] 1900–1990[39]
1990–2000[40] 2010[41] 2020[42]

2020 census[edit]

Santa Clara County, California - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010[41] Pop 2020[42] % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 626,909 555,708 35.19% 28.70%
Black or African American alone (NH) 42,331 42,148 2.38% 2.18%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 4,042 3,240 0.23% 0.17%
Asian alone (NH) 565,466 753,399 31.74% 38.91%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 6,252 5,945 0.35% 0.31%
Some other race alone (NH) 3,877 10,195 0.22% 0.53%
Mixed Race/multiracial (NH) 53,555 78,267 3.01% 4.04%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 479,210 487,357 26.90% 25.17%
Total 1,781,642 1,936,259 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.


Census demographics data released in 2019 show Asian Americans have had the plurality of Santa Clara's population since 2014.[43]

Ethnic origins in Santa Clara County


Thematic map showing median household income across central Santa Clara County

As of 2013, Santa Clara County has the highest median household income of any county in California at $84,741.[44]

Places by population, race, and income[edit]

2010 census[edit]

The 2010 United States census reported that Santa Clara County had a population of 1,781,642. The racial makeup of Santa Clara County was 836,616 (47.0%) White, 46,428 (2.6%) African American, 12,960 (0.7%) Native American, 7,060 (0.4%) Pacific Islander, 570,524 (32.0%) Asian, 220,806 (12.4%) from other races, and 87,248 (4.9%) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 479,210 persons (26.9% of the population).[52]

Total Population 1,781,642 - 100.0%
One Race 1,694,394 - 95.1%
Not Hispanic or Latino 1,302,432 - 73.1%
White alone 626,909 - 35.2%
Black or African American alone 42,331 - 2.4%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 4,042 - 0.2%
Asian alone 565,466 - 31.7%
Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander alone 6,252 - 0.4%
Some other race alone 3,877 - 0.2%
Two or more races alone 53,555 - 3.0%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 479,210 - 26.9%

Demographic profile[53]

The largest ancestry groups were:


As of the census[54] of 2000, 1,682,585 people, 565,863 households, and 395,538 families were residing in the county. The population density was 503/km2 (1,300/sq mi). The 579,329 housing units had an average density of 173/km2 (450/sq mi). The ethnic makeup of the county was 53.8% White, 2.8% African American, 0.7% Native American, 25.6% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 12.1% from other races, and 4.7% from two or more races. About 24.0% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Of the 565,863 households, 34.9% had children under 18 living with them, 54.9% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.1% were not families. About 21.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.9% had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 2.92, and the average family size was 3.41.

In the county, the age distribution was 24.7% under 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 35.4% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 9.5% who were 65 or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 102.80 males. For every 100 females 18 and over, there were 101.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $74,335, and for a family was $81,717. Males had a median income of $56,240 versus $40,574 for females. The per capita income for the county was $32,795. About 4.9% of families and 7.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.4% of those under age 18 and 6.4% of those age 65 or over.

2020 religion census[edit]

Santa Clara County is among the most religiously diverse counties in the US. A 2020 census by the Public Religion Research Institute (unconnected to the official US census) calculates a religious diversity score of 0.876 for Santa Clara County, where 1 represents complete diversity (each religious group of equal size) and 0 a total lack of diversity. Only four counties in the US have higher diversity scores than Santa Clara County.[55]


Santa Clara County has five elected supervisors, elected within their districts. The board appoints the County Executive, who is James R. Williams, J.D.[56] The County Executive is responsible for the administration of the county and appoints almost all other officers and department heads.[57]

The county is one among three counties in California (with Napa and Madera) to establish a separate department, the Santa Clara County Department of Corrections, to deal with corrections pursuant to California Government Code §23013.

The county operates the Santa Clara County Health System of medical centers and clinics.

In the United States House of Representatives, Santa Clara County is split among four congressional districts:[58]

In the California State Senate, the county is split among four legislative districts:[59]

In the California State Assembly, the county is split among six legislative districts:[60]

Voters in the county also elect a number of other officials to county-wide positions, including the Santa Clara County District Attorney, the Santa Clara County Sheriff, and a large number of criminal and civil judges that serve in courts throughout the county.


Historically, Santa Clara County was a Republican stronghold in presidential elections. From 1872 through 1984, the only Democrats to carry Santa Clara County were Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Hubert Humphrey. However, 1988 would begin to mark a significant shift in the county's political leanings, starting with Michael Dukakis' narrow win and culminating in Bill Clinton's substantial 20-point victory in 1992. Since then, the Democratic presidential candidate has won Santa Clara County by large margins, and it also remains solidly blue in congressional elections, as all politicians representing the county at the state and federal level are known to be Democrats. The last Republican to win a majority in the county was Ronald Reagan in 1984. While Republicans remained competitive at the state and local level throughout the 1990s, there are currently no elected Republicans representing the county above the local level.

United States presidential election results for Santa Clara County, California[61]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 214,612 25.23% 617,967 72.64% 18,162 2.13%
2016 144,826 20.58% 511,684 72.71% 47,199 6.71%
2012 174,843 27.14% 450,818 69.97% 18,616 2.89%
2008 190,039 28.55% 462,241 69.45% 13,309 2.00%
2004 209,094 34.63% 386,100 63.94% 8,622 1.43%
2000 188,750 34.44% 332,490 60.66% 26,889 4.91%
1996 168,291 32.16% 297,639 56.88% 57,361 10.96%
1992 170,870 28.38% 296,265 49.21% 134,920 22.41%
1988 254,442 46.99% 277,810 51.30% 9,276 1.71%
1984 288,638 54.81% 229,865 43.65% 8,136 1.54%
1980 229,048 48.02% 166,995 35.01% 80,960 16.97%
1976 219,188 49.46% 208,023 46.94% 15,927 3.59%
1972 237,334 51.90% 208,506 45.60% 11,453 2.50%
1968 163,446 45.61% 173,511 48.42% 21,410 5.97%
1964 117,420 36.63% 202,249 63.10% 858 0.27%
1960 131,735 52.67% 117,667 47.05% 690 0.28%
1956 105,657 59.09% 72,528 40.56% 633 0.35%
1952 91,940 59.74% 61,035 39.66% 932 0.61%
1948 52,982 53.25% 41,905 42.11% 4,615 4.64%
1944 39,409 47.04% 43,869 52.36% 499 0.60%
1940 40,100 49.20% 40,449 49.63% 947 1.16%
1936 26,498 40.41% 38,346 58.48% 732 1.12%
1932 27,353 47.54% 28,272 49.14% 1,906 3.31%
1928 31,710 63.81% 17,589 35.39% 395 0.79%
1924 20,056 58.02% 2,560 7.41% 11,952 34.58%
1920 19,565 68.09% 6,485 22.57% 2,682 9.33%
1916 16,592 50.77% 14,185 43.40% 1,904 5.83%
1912 173 0.75% 9,173 39.64% 13,793 59.61%
1908 7,950 58.88% 3,836 28.41% 1,716 12.71%
1904 8,274 66.10% 3,100 24.77% 1,143 9.13%
1900 7,107 58.25% 4,607 37.76% 486 3.98%
1896 6,315 53.51% 5,191 43.99% 295 2.50%
1892 4,620 44.48% 4,167 40.12% 1,600 15.40%
1888 4,457 49.94% 3,972 44.51% 495 5.55%
1884 3,840 52.91% 3,172 43.70% 246 3.39%
1880 3,113 51.50% 2,821 46.67% 111 1.84%
Gubernatorial election results
Santa Clara County vote
by party in gubernatorial elections
2022 30.0% 162,518 70.0% 379,377
2018 28.6% 175,791 71.4% 438,758
2014 27.1% 107,113 72.9% 288,732
2010 34.9% 178,695 61.3% 314,022
2006 52.2% 225,132 42.9% 185,037
2003 39.2% 160,807 39.9% 163,768
2002 32.4% 116,862 55.3% 199,399
1998 31.7% 133,015 64.3% 270,105
1994 47.5% 212,075 47.5% 211,904
1990 42.6% 178,310 52.2% 218,843
1986 59.9% 227,285 37.6% 142,907
1982 44.0% 180,232 52.9% 216,781
1978 29.8% 110,444 61.4% 227,493
1974 46.7% 153,761 50.6% 166,760
1970 51.5% 172,562 46.1% 154,570
1966 55.4% 164,970 44.6% 132,793
1962 47.6% 112,700 51.2% 121,149

According to the California Secretary of State, as of February 10, 2019, Santa Clara County has 895,965 registered voters. Of those, 405,470 (45.3%) are registered Democrats, 151,213 (16.9%) are registered Republicans, and 308,769 (35.4%) have declined to state a political party.[62]

As of November 2012, all of the cities, towns, and unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County have more registered Democrats than Republicans.[63] In 2008, Barack Obama carried every city and town in the county, as well as the unincorporated areas.[64]

Following the passage of Proposition 8, Santa Clara County joined San Francisco and Los Angeles in a lawsuit, becoming, along with San Francisco and Los Angeles, the first governmental entities in the world to sue for same-sex marriage.[65]

Voter registration[edit]

Cities by population and voter registration[edit]


The following table includes the number of incidents reported in 2009 and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense. Law Enforcement in Santa Clara County is handled by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office and local police departments.

Cities by population and crime rates[edit]


The county's economy is heavily services-based. Technology, both hardware and software, dominates the service sector by value, but like any other county, Santa Clara has its share of retail and office support workers.

The San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara metropolitan region, comprising Santa Clara County and San Benito County, was ranked as the highest performing metropolitan area in the US in 2012, ahead of Austin, Texas and Raleigh, North Carolina, according to the Milken Institute.[69] The GDP of the metro area reached $176.7 billion in 2011, or $94,587 per capita,[70] roughly on par with Qatar in both total GDP and per capita (nominal).[71] GDP grew a strong 7.7% in 2011, and in contrast with most of California, GDP and per capita GDP (nominal) is well above 2007 (financial crisis) levels. Despite relative wealth vis a vis other regions nationally, a large underclass exists whose income is roughly equivalent to that elsewhere in the country, despite extreme land prices. The surge in metro GDP is highly correlated with home prices, which for average single-family homes passed $1 million ($1,017,528) in August 2013.[72] As of the fourth quarter of 2021, the median value of homes in Santa Clara County was $1,253,400, an increase of 11.9% from the prior year, and ranking fourth in the US for highest median home value.[73]


K-12 schools[edit]

School districts include:[74]



Santa Clara County Library is a public library system serving the communities and cities of Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Saratoga, and all unincorporated areas of the county.[75] Other cities run their own library systems.



San Jose International Airport is ranked as the best-run airport in the United States by the ACBJ.[76]

The county's main airport is Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport (SJC). It is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection port of entry[77] and as of 2019 has five international routes (two to Canada, one to England, one to Japan, seven to Mexico, and one to China) but the airport's busiest routes are all to cities in the western United States. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is also often used for commercial services by residents of Santa Clara County.

Moffett Federal Airfield (NUQ), a former U.S. Naval Air Station, is used by the Air National Guard, NASA, Lockheed Martin, Google, and by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department as an air operations base.[78] There are also smaller general aviation airports in Palo Alto (PAO), San Jose (Reid-Hillview) (RHV), and San Martin(E16)


The VTA light rail system serves 11 million people annually in Silicon Valley.

Santa Clara County is served by Caltrain commuter rail from Gilroy through San Jose and Silicon Valley north to San Francisco Airport and San Francisco. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority operates the VTA light rail system, which primarily serves San Jose, with one line continuing as far north as Mountain View. Santa Clara and San Jose are also served by the Altamont Corridor Express commuter rail line which provides services to Stockton, and Amtrak which provides service to Sacramento and Oakland. The Amtrak Coast Starlight train between Seattle and Los Angeles also stops in San Jose. BART currently services Milpitas and North San Jose, with plans to extend to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara.


VTA bus arriving at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills


Santa Clara County has consolidated its transportation services into the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which operates a bus system.

Bicycle network[edit]

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority is establishing a bicycle network throughout the county. Santa Clara County Bicycle network is part of the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Bikeway Network.

Freeways and expressways[edit]

The county has an extensive freeway system and a separate expressway system (though it's not as extensive as those in Southern California). Expressways in California are distinct from freeways; although access to adjoining properties is eliminated, at-grade intersections are allowed. However, unlike expressways virtually everywhere else in California, the Santa Clara County expressways were built, signed, and maintained as county roads; they are not maintained by Caltrans, although they are patrolled by the California Highway Patrol.

There is also a large street network dominated by four- and six-lane arterials. Some of the newer boulevards (primarily in the West Valley) are divided with landscaped medians.

Major highways[edit]
County routes[edit]
Other roads[edit]


The county has no commercial seaports, although small boats can access San Francisco Bay from several points. Like many other Bay Area counties, it is dependent upon the Port of Oakland for transport of ocean cargo.


Santa Clara County Department of Correction is administered by the county's sheriff's office and supervises the following facilities:

  • Santa Clara County Main Jail[79]
    • Main Jail South (up to 674 men)
    • Main Jail North (up to 919 men)
  • Elmwood Correctional Facility (up to 600 women, 2,500 men)[80]
  • North County Jail (day use only for Palo Alto courthouse)
  • Juvenile Detention[81]
    • Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall (up to 390 boys and girls)
    • William F. James Boys Ranch (up to 96 teenage boys)


Santa Clara County has an extensive park system, much of it founded in the major park expansion of the late 1970s. Parks within the county include:

Open space preserves include:

Santa Clara County also contains Ulistac Natural Area, a volunteer maintained natural open space. Foreign and invasive species are removed when possible as native plants are introduced. Migratory birds and butterflies often use this area.


Santa Clara County
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: [82]
Imperial conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches

Sister counties[edit]

To promote friendship and understanding and to build bridges with countries of origin for various ethnic populations in the county, the County of Santa Clara has created a Sister County Commission to coordinate the program. As of 2023, there are two sister counties:[83]

A previously established relationship with Moscow was terminated in 2022.[84]


Los Altos is the 3rd most expensive zip code in the United States.[85]
Palo Alto is the 5th most educated city[86] and the 5th most expensive zip code in the United States.[87]
Morgan Hill is the 17th most expensive place to live in the United States.[91]
Los Gatos is the 33rd wealthiest city in the United States.[90]
Saratoga is the 16th most educated and the 8th wealthiest city in the United States.[88][89]


There are 15 incorporated places in Santa Clara County:


Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Census county divisions[edit]

Former townships[edit]

Population ranking[edit]

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2020 census of Santa Clara County.[92]

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2020 Census)
1 San Jose City 1,013,240
2 Sunnyvale City 155,805
3 Santa Clara City 127,647
4 Mountain View City 82,376
5 Milpitas City 80,273
6 Palo Alto City 68,572
7 Cupertino City 60,381
8 Gilroy City 59,520
9 Morgan Hill City 44,686
10 Campbell City 43,959
11 Los Gatos Town 33,529
12 Los Altos City 31,625
13 Saratoga City 31,051
14 Stanford CDP 21,150
15 Alum Rock CDP 12,042
16 Los Altos Hills Town 8,489
17 San Martin CDP 7,008
18 East Foothills CDP 6,803
19 Burbank CDP 4,940
20 Cambrian Park CDP 3,719
21 Loyola CDP 3,491
22 Monte Sereno City 3,479
23 Lexington Hills CDP 2,492
24 Fruitdale CDP 989

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Other = Some other race + Two or more races
  2. ^ Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
  3. ^ a b Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.
  4. ^ Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.


  1. ^ "Chronology". California State Association of Counties. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
  2. ^ "Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors". board.sccgov.org.
  3. ^ "Mount Hamilton". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "2020 Population and Housing State Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  5. ^ "Gross Domestic Product by County and Metropolitan Area, 2022" (PDF). www.bea.gov. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  6. ^ Silicon Valley Business Journal – San Jose Area has World's Third-Highest GDP Per Capita, Brookings Says
  7. ^ Levy, Francesca (March 4, 2010). "America's 25 Richest Counties". Forbes.
  8. ^ [1] "Anderson Reservoir will close to public through 2030". Accessed March 30, 2022.
  9. ^ [2] "‘Dire situation’: Silicon Valley cracks down on water use as California drought worsens". Accessed June 23, 2022.
  10. ^ "The 20 wealthiest counties in the U.S., including these Washington, DC, suburbs: Report". Fox Business. December 18, 2019.
  11. ^ "Richest Counties In The United States". April 25, 2017.
  12. ^ Shortridge, Charles Morris (1895). Santa Clara County and Its Resources: Historical, Descriptive, Statistical : a Souvenir of the San Jose Mercury : 1895. San Jose Mercury Pub. & Print. Company. p. 16.
  13. ^ "About Us | Alameda County". www.acgov.org. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
  14. ^ Automobiles: Good Roads. Vol. 32. 1914. p. 918. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  15. ^ "Page:London - The Call of the Wild, 1903.djvu/165 - Wikisource, the free online library". en.wikisource.org. Retrieved June 12, 2023.
  16. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Santa Clara County, California". www.census.gov. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
  17. ^ a b c George Ezra Dane; Francisco Palóu (June 1, 1935). "The Founding of the Presidio and Mission of Our Father Saint Francis". California Historical Quarterly. 14 (2): 102–110. doi:10.2307/25160571. JSTOR 25160571.
  18. ^ Herbert Eugene Bolton (1930). Anza's California Expeditions Volume I. An Outpost of Empire. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 393.
  19. ^ Rockwell D. Hunt (1942). John Bidwell, Prince of California Pioneers. Caldwell, Idaho: The Caxton Printers, Ltd. p. 75.
  20. ^ "Restoration of tule elk - California success story". Billings Gazette. December 6, 2006. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
  21. ^ a b Lisa M. Krieger (November 27, 2017). "The elk are coming back- even to San Jose". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved November 28, 2020.
  22. ^ Julie Phillips; Ryan Phillips; Neela Srinivasan; Deborah Aso; Wendy Lao & Pat Cornely (2012). "Safe Passage for the Coyote Valley - A Wildlife Linkage for the Highway 101 Corridor" (PDF) (Report). De Anza College. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 27, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
  23. ^ Elk Conservation and Management Plan (Report). California Department of Fish and Wildlife. December 1, 2018. Retrieved February 3, 2020.
  24. ^ Lisa M. Krieger (November 27, 2017). "With elk on rebound, California releases new management plan". The San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  25. ^ Matt Bigler (March 4, 2019). "documented by local naturalist Roger Castillo on video". KCBS Radio. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  26. ^ Bruce Webber (April 18, 1990). "Works in Progress; 'Oh, Give Me a Home...'". New York Times. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  27. ^ Gilroy Dispatch Staff (December 10, 1999). "A little bit of yesterday today". Gilroy Dispatch. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  28. ^ California Department of Fish and Game. 2012 California Pronghorn Antelope Status Report and Management Plan Update (Report).
  29. ^ "Pronghorn in Santa Clara County". February 2, 2020.
  30. ^ "California: Mount Hamilton". The Nature Conservancy. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
  31. ^ Draft Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Impact Statement for the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan (PDF) (Report). County of Santa Clara, City of San José, City of Morgan Hill, City of Gilroy, Santa Clara Valley Water District, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. December 2010. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
  32. ^ P.L. 96-510, 42 U.S.C. §§ 96019675, December 11, 1980.
  33. ^ "US Superfund Sites". Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
  34. ^ Schlossberg, Tatiana (September 22, 2019). "Silicon Valley Is One of the Most Polluted Places in the Country". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 3, 2022.
  35. ^ "EPA Region 9 Superfund Site Overview". Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  36. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Counties: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2023". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 26, 2024.
  37. ^ "Census of Population and Housing from 1790-2000". US Census Bureau. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
  38. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  39. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  40. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  41. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Santa Clara County, California". United States Census Bureau.
  42. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Santa Clara County, California". United States Census Bureau.
  43. ^ "Asians are now largest group in these two Bay Area counties, new data shows". The Mercury News. June 20, 2019. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  44. ^ "Median household income". County Health Rankings. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  45. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B02001. U.S. Census website. Retrieved October 26, 2013.
  46. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B03003. U.S. Census website. Retrieved October 26, 2013.
  47. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19301. U.S. Census website. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  48. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19013. U.S. Census website. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  49. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19113. U.S. Census website. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  50. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. U.S. Census website. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  51. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B01003. U.S. Census website. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  52. ^ "2010 Census P.L. 94-171 Summary File Data". United States Census Bureau.
  53. ^ "Bay Area Census". www.bayareacensus.ca.gov.
  54. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  55. ^ Public Religion Research Institute. The 2020 Census of American Religion (Report). p. 21. Retrieved September 21, 2021.
  56. ^ County Executive
  57. ^ https://boardclerk.sccgov.org/sites/g/files/exjcpb656/files/county-charter.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  58. ^ "Counties by County and by District". California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Archived from the original on September 30, 2013. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
  59. ^ "Communities of Interest - Counties". California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Archived from the original on October 23, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
  60. ^ "Communities of Interest - Counties". California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Archived from the original on October 23, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
  61. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  62. ^ CA Secretary of State – Report of Registration – February 10, 2019
  63. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 7, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  64. ^ [3] Archived June 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  65. ^ "Herrera Joined by Los Angeles, Santa Clara Counterparts in Suing to Invalidate Prop 8" (PDF). Office of the City Attorney of San Francisco. November 5, 2008. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  66. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q California Secretary of State. February 10, 2013 - Report of Registration Archived July 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  67. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice, State of California. Table 11: Crimes – 2009 Archived December 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  68. ^ a b c United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, 2012, Table 8 (California). Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  69. ^ Avalos, George (January 16, 2013). "Santa Clara County economy ranked best performing". The Mercury News.
  70. ^ "Economic growth continues across metropolitan areas in 2011" (PDF). U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 24, 2013. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  71. ^ "National Accounts - Analysis of Main Aggregates (AMA)". National Accounts Section. United Nations Statistics Division.
  72. ^ "Home Prices in Santa Clara County Continued to Rise in August". Rock Hill Herald Online. PRNewswire. September 9, 2013. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  73. ^ "County Median Home Price". National Association of Realtors. January 4, 2019. Archived from the original on April 15, 2022. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  74. ^ "2020 CENSUS - SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP: Santa Clara County, CA" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 20, 2022. - Text list
  75. ^ "Fast Facts". Santa Clara County Library District. Retrieved September 13, 2021. - at "Service Areas" section
  76. ^ "San Jose's SJC flies past SFO to the top of rankings as America's best-run airport". Silicon Valley Business Journal. Archived from the original on May 17, 2017. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  77. ^ Port Of Entry - San Jose International Airport Archived October 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Cbp.gov (September 28, 2005). Retrieved on July 21, 2013.
  78. ^ Verne Kopytoff (September 13, 2007). "Google founders pay NASA $1.3 million to land at Moffett Airfield". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 23, 2007.
  79. ^ "Main Jail Complex - Sheriff - County of Santa Clara". www.sccgov.org. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  80. ^ "Elmwood Men's Facility - Sheriff - County of Santa Clara". www.sccgov.org. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  81. ^ "Juvenile Justice Detention Facilities - The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara". www.scscourt.org. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  82. ^ "NASA Earth Observations Data Set Index". NASA. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  83. ^ "Sister County Commissions (PRG)". The County of Santa Clara. Archived from the original on September 9, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2010.
  84. ^ "War in Ukraine: Santa Clara Co. terminates nearly 30 year 'Sister County' relationship with Russia". ABC7 News. March 24, 2022. Retrieved April 29, 2023.
  85. ^ Sharf, Samantha. "Full List: America's Most Expensive ZIP Codes 2017". Forbes. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  86. ^ "Kron4 - Palo Alto Ranks No. 5 as Most Educated in the U.S."
  87. ^ "Palo Alto, Atherton crack top 10 priciest ZIP codes in U.S." March 29, 2016.
  88. ^ "Saratoga among most educated small towns". January 15, 2009.
  89. ^ "The top 10 wealthiest cities in America". Wisconsin State Journal. January 12, 2018.
  90. ^ "America's Richest Zip Codes 2011". Bloomberg News. December 7, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
  91. ^ Zeveloff, Julie. "The 20 Most Expensive Housing Markets In America". Business Insider.
  92. ^ "By Decade".

External links[edit]