SANTA CLARA COUNTY

County Offices
70 West Hedding Street
San Jose 408-299-5105
www.sccgov.org

Chamber of Commerce
101 West Santa Clara Street
San Jose 408-291-5250
www.thesvo.com

 

Services
Often designated as “South Bay,” Santa Clara County is located at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay Area, serving as a dynamic neighbor for San Mateo County and many of the East Bay communities. Rectangular in shape, this hotbed of technological leadership is only slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island. Nevertheless, the advancements spawned within the corporate centers and industrial parks of “Silicon Valley” have driven the world’s transformation into a computer-based reality of daily life.

Constantly propelled by the genius flowing from Stanford University in Palo Alto, this corner of California has managed to attract some of the world’s brightest minds and most innovative thinkers. This is the epicenter of breakthroughs that change the way the world thinks and lives, the place where Stanford graduates Bill Hewlett and David Packard built an audio oscillator in a Palo Alto garage. Their first order was placed by another California visionary, Walt Disney, who recognized the value of these oscillators for his “Fantasia” project.

Another well known fact, Santa Clara County was the place where Stephan Wozniak and his partner Steve Jobs built the first Apple computer. By now, the names of Apple and Hewlett-Packard are household words. Still, a day seldom seems to pass without some entrepreneur or company introducing an innovation in research or technology. Apparently, the adventurous spirit of the “Golden State” has remained undimmed through time.

Santa Clara is the name of the county but also one of its prominent cities. San Jose is the county’s population leader, rapidly approaching the one million mark. The tranquil community of Monte Sereno garners the distinction of the smallest town. Most residents of Santa Clara County are clustered in communities along the flatlands of Santa Clara Valley, a region than spans from the bayfront to Gilroy.

Quality of Life
Wide and plentiful freeways are just the beginning of the county’s vast  transportation network. The entire Bay Area claims a superb network of interstates, major highways, amazing bridges, tunnels, and high-speed thoroughfares.

Comprehensive mass transit systems are among the world’s most advanced, providing quick and convenient alternatives to freeways and bridges that become crowded with peak-hour traffic. San Jose International Airport joins the San Francisco and Oakland International Airports as the primary providers of air passenger and cargo transport for the Bay Area.

Just around the corner from home, Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority combines bus and light rail service, the latter connecting to CalTrain at the Tamien Station. The VTA’s light rail is one of the longest ever constructed in the nation–a stretch of 20.8 miles. In addition to a collaboration with Santa Cruz Metro on the Highway 17 Expressway bus service, the VTA contracts with a nationally known day-care provider in the operation of the Tamien Child Care Center. This state-of-the-art facility is conveniently located at the major transportation hub of the Tamien CalTrain and Light Rail Station.

Newcomers to Santa Clara County can look forward to a progressive attitude toward education that rivals the East Coast’s ivy-league prowess, deeply rooted in Stanford University excellence. The entire San Francisco Bay Area is internationally recognized for its advancements and leadership in education, from award-winning public schools to some of the nation’s most respected private and public institutions of higher learning. In fact, the cluster of state universities in the Bay Area are regarded as some of California’s–and some of the nation’s finest.

Hospitals and clinics that enjoy an international reputation for expertise in complex diagnostics and treatment combine with healthcare institutions that offer a variety of specializations. Cardiology, Alzheimer’s treatment, cancer care, mental health, women’s health, pediatrics, birthing centers, neonatal care, organ/bone marrow transplants, burn centers, community education, health screenings, fitness programs, family health and hospice services–a very imaginable need can be addressed in one of Santa Clara County’s premier hospitals or major medical centers.

 

Campbell
Municipal Offices
408-866-2100
www.ci.campbell.ca.us

Chamber of Commerce
408-378-6252
http://campbellchamber.net

Convenient to Silicon County job  centers, Campbell is a pleasing blend of suburban developments, shops, services, parks, and fine restaurants. Although Campbell is one of the older suburbs, community pride is evident in the restoration of the downtown district and well-kept homes along tree-shaded streets. Once famous for its prunes, Campbell honors this unique aspect of its heritage in the remodeled Pruneyard Mall and the annual Prune Festival.

Beautiful older homes can be found east of Bascom Avenue, where mature foliage and meticulous landscaping create lush neighborhood enclaves. Regardless of the size of the home or its location, properties tend to be carefully maintained in inviting and attractive neighborhoods. Renovated buildings and lovely streetscapes grace the downtown area, home to quaint shops, cafes, restaurants, theater, and coffee houses.

Service clubs are prolific, as are activities for families and children. Because Campbell is a well-rooted community, the social atmosphere is friendly, the festivals and celebrations are many, and opportunities for fun and relaxation are diverse. Residents enjoy the intimate but welcoming atmosphere that prevails.

 

Cupertino
Municipal Offices
408-777-3200
www.cupertino.org

Chamber of Commerce
408-252-7054
www.cupertino-chamber.org

Located in the very heart of  Silicon Valley, Cupertino is known for the quality of high-tech integration within its school system and its position as the headquarters city for Apple. Over 50 high-tech firms call the city home, filling the community with technologically savvy parents who demand educational excellence.

De Anza College serves as a focal point for cultural and educational activities, providing a planetarium and the Flint Center for the Performing Arts. This regional venue presents international talent that ranges from the San Francisco Symphony to Beijing Acrobats.

After-school programs, sports leagues and facilities, artistic classes, and recreational facilities are highly developed. Other amenities include golf courses, the college art gallery, a nature preserve, thirteen parks, a racquet club, senior and community centers, sports center, ice-skating rink, and city museum. The expansive Vallco Fashion Park features over 180 shops and restaurants.

A relative “young city” of homes primarily built between 1950 and 1980, Cupertino sprang up rapidly from its roots as a farm village into an emerging suburb in the last decades of the 1990s. Constructed to meet middle class needs and tastes, most homes represent some variation of a three-bedroom design; although executive homes and even mansions can also be found. De Anza Boulevard seems to form a vague dividing line between the older homes to the east and newer neighborhoods to the west.

 

Gilroy
Municipal Offices
408-846-0400
www.cityofgilroy.org

Chamber of Commerce
408-842-6437
www.gilroy.org

As the southernmost of the county’s  communities, Gilroy is undergoing a rapid transformation from a rural to suburban environment with an emphasis on young families. Adding to the allure is a growing collection of shops and antique dealers in the downtown district, as well as one of the South Bay’s most popular retail attractions–sprawling collection of factory outlet stores.

In spite of its distinction as one of the county’s hot spots for growth, Gilroy still offers the rural flavor of countryside in the farmland along the periphery as well as the hillsides and mountains to the east and west. The commercial development has kept pace with the residential boom, which adds convenient shops and services. Commuters can take advantage of CalTrain, which runs up to San Jose and finishes in San Francisco.

A colorful town of festivals and abundant options for activity, Gilroy is best known for its annual Garlic Festival. Attracting well over 130,000 visitors that consume about 5,000 pounds of garlic, the implications of this unusual social event defy the imagination. Also home of Gavilan Community College, Gilroy has plans for amenities that are on the drawing board, including a horticultural theme park expected to attract over one million visitors each year.

 

Los Altos
Municipal Offices
650-947-2700
www.losaltosca.gov

Chamber of Commerce
650-948-1455
www.losaltoschamber.org

Apricot trees, towering redwoods,  fragrant pines, and other lush foliage grace the streets and avenues of Los Altos City, adding to its reputation as one of South Bay’s more desirable addresses. This lovely community is essentially built out, serving as a residential haven for a social mix of managers, administrators, retirees, and professionals. The community’s pleasing ambiance stems in part from its genesis as a vacation spot, summer getaway, and second home for San Francisco’s wealthy.

Most of the housing consists of single-family homes, many of which enjoy spacious quarter-acre lots. Sidewalks are few, preserving an upscale version of country flavor along many of the streets. Shopping centers are plentiful and attractive, including a downtown district that offers first-rate restaurants, bakeries, sidewalk cafes, boutiques, and fine art galleries.

The public school system enjoys an excellent reputation, featuring elementary schools that have been designated as “distinguished” by the state. Community members are aware and proud of their home, and are known for their generous support of schools and libraries. In spite of the elegant Spanish name meaning “The Hills,” the topography of Los Altos is relatively flat, sloping gently toward the Bay.

 

Los Altos Hills
Municipal Offices
650-941-7222
www.losaltoshills.ca.gov

Chamber of Commerce
650-948-1455
www.losaltoschamber.org

Considered by many to be the most prestigious city in all of Santa Clara County, the Town of Los Altos Hills is the chosen home to many of Silicon Valley’s most prominent executives and successful entrepreneurs. The minimum lot requirement is one acre, so elegant mansions and handsome custom homes often grace sprawling acreage. Many homes offer superb amenities such as tennis courts, swimming pools, and equestrian facilities. As you might expect, the building and zoning codes designed to protect this exceptional area tend to be more complex than those of most communities. Laws are in place to protect the lovely redwoods and oaks as well as other large trees.

Foothill College infuses vitality into the local cultural scene, offering a speaker’s program that draws names like Jimmy Carter and Colin Powell. The scenic freeway of Interstate 280 provides a quick trip to the many amenities that are waiting at Stanford University, from performing arts to museums and galleries.

Area youth have the advantage of being within the jurisdiction of the renowned Los Altos School District, and Santa Rita and Bullis-Purrissima have received national blue ribbons for academic excellence. A stable and closely knit community, residents of Los Altos have a tendency to know their neighbors and enjoy the rich and lasting friendships that characterize small-town living.

 

Los Gatos
Municipal Offices
408-354-6834
www.losgatosca.gov

Chamber of Commerce
408-354-9300
www.losgatoschamber.com

Why does the name for this lovely town  translate into “The Cats” It matters not. Nestled within its wooded and open hills and flatlands is one of the South Bay’s more desirable residential communities. Combining an historic downtown with beautifully restored structures and quiet streets with handsome modern homes, Los Gatos also has vigilant civic leaders who are dedicated to controlling growth and emphasizing quality of life. The opening of Highway 85 to Cupertino and other Silicon Valley cities has softened the commute to major employment centers.

Public schools are among the state’s finest, even garnering top honors nationally. Just one of fifteen local parks, the family-oriented Oak Meadows-Vasona Park is a point of pride for the entire county. Concerts, golf, tennis, miles of trails for hiking and biking, bocce courts and athletic programs combine with clubs for racquetball and swimming to offer a diversity of leisure activities.

The quant Old Town district serves as a focal point for community life, a commercial center, the scene of holiday tree lighting, caroling, and a kid’s parade. Any time of the year, an old-fashioned carriage ride is a good way to relax and enjoy the ambiance. The town maintains a year-round farmer’s market, historical museums, first-rate restaurants, concerts under the stars–and supports its own newspaper.

 

Milpitas
Municipal Offices
408-586-3000
www.ci.milpitas.ca.gov

Chamber of Commerce
408-262-2613
www.milpitaschamber.com

Famous for one of the Bay Area’s  largest and most unusual shopping destinations, Milpitas shifted from an industrial community into a high-tech economy in the 1980s. The blend of booming industrial parks and lower home prices spurred an influx of new residents to this dynamic, rapidly growing, and family-oriented town. In 1994, the massive old Ford auto plant was renovated into the Great Mall of the Bay Area, a paradise of premier factory outlets that tends to dazzle the most worldly of Northern California shoppers.

Because of the sudden increase in population over a 20-year span, much of the housing is relatively new. Even long-established neighborhoods of smaller, older homes show evidence of pride of ownership. Both the homes and landscaping have a fresh appeal. Unlike Los Gatos with its historic town center, Milpitas decided to withdraw attention from its “old downtown” and build a beautiful new Town Center anchored by the civic complex.

An attractive suburban town with superb amenities, Milpitas enjoys a good commute to key Bay Area destinations. Interstates 880 and 680 as well as Highway 237 form links to major employment centers. Palo Alto, San Jose, and Fremont are particularly accessible, the latter offering BART connections.

 

Monte Sereno
Municipal Offices
408-354-7635
www.montesereno.org

Chamber of Commerce
408-378-6252
www.campbellchamber.com

Distinguished as the smallest of the  Santa Clara County communities, Monte Sereno is ideally situated between Saratoga and Los Gatos and takes full advantage of nearby amenities available in both.

Like Los Gatos, Monte Sereno is well-known for taking a hard line on controlling growth and preserving its tranquil residential setting. Residents enjoy the open, free ‘Country’ feeling provided by large lots that punctuate gentle hills. Against this panoramic backdrop, you’ll find many custom homes and beautiful estates.

The close proximity of Los Gatos’ array of amenities allows residents to enjoy fine dining and shopping, not to mention the educational benefit of their shared public school district. Saratoga, on the other hand, offers a wealth of classes, activities, and events through its community college. Regional parks and trails abound in locations close to home, and a golf course is available just the north of the community.

If Monte Sereno appears to be a small, quiet town of handsome homes filled with residents who depend upon other communities for expanded amenities, the description is accurate. While the local newspaper may joke about “Monte Snoreno,” those who have chosen to settle in this scenic and peaceful haven are determined to maintain the status quo of serenity and quality of life. Environmental awareness among residents is keen, evidenced by the town’s leadership in the recycling movement.

 

Morgan Hill
Municipal Offices
408-779-7271
www.morgan-hill.ca.gov

Chamber of Commerce
408-779-9444
www.morganhill.org

In the aftermath of the unbridled  population explosion and high-tech proliferation that began in the 1950s, Morgan Hill exemplifies the wiser “new millennium” attitude toward growth: The right development in the right time. The result of this cautious and yet progressive attitude is an attractive community that blends farmland and suburbia, rich countryside and quiet city neighborhoods.

While open land invites the sprawl of Silicon Valley technology into former bedroom communities like Morgan Hill, the attitude is one of acceptance tempered by controlled growth. Discriminating planners are inviting only clean, high-tech firms like Abbott Labs and Cidco.

Although career and employment opportunities close to home continue to grow, many residents still commute to thriving industrial parks and business centers. San Jose is just a short jaunt down Highway 101, while CalTrain provides connections to a number of Silicon Valley employment centers, finishing its route in San Francisco.

Available homes in Morgan Hill begin with small, modest bungalows and cottages in the older sections of town, moving up to larger, attractive three-bedroom models. Other options include the California Mediterranean executive homes that are situated on hillsides for valley or lake views.

Wineries, local farms, festivals, fairs, and a strong community spirit infuse a colorful sense of tradition into daily life. After a facelift of quaint brick sidewalks and landscaping, the downtown district launched a total revitalization trend with new coffee shops, brew pubs, and restaurants. Quality recreational opportunities are abundant within the town as well as in surrounding parks and preserves, including a boat-worthy reservoir just around the corner from home.

 

Mountain View
Municipal Offices
650-903-6300
www.ci.mtnview.ca.us

Chamber of Commerce
650-968-8378
www.mountainviewchamber.org

Unusual in the predominance of  multi-family housing complexes as opposed to single-family homes, Mountain View is a popular choice for newcomers and single professionals. Other distinguishing characteristics of community life include a robust local economy based on high technology firms–and an equally thriving and glittering nightlife.

Among the 200 manufacturing and high-tech firms that have settled into Mountain View are Silicon Graphics, Alza, Microsoft, and Netscape. At the NASA Ames Research Center, some of the nation’s most brilliant minds are researching computer systems for 21st century space exploration.

Most of the single-family dwellings are located west of El Camino Real, although handsome new homes and modern townhouses with innovative architecture are also springing up along the light-rail corridor near the Central Expressway.

Mirroring the upbeat real estate tempo set by many Silicon Valley communities, Mountain View has been able to enjoy rising home and property values. This widespread trend encourages remodeling and renovation, ensuring that even older neighborhoods will offer the visual appeal of neat homes and meticulous landscaping.

Amenities are excellent, from the revitalized downtown district to the new city hall and Performing Arts Center. Mature trees, brick sidewalks, and kiosks encourage residents to stroll casually down the streets in the evenings and on weekends, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Wonderful cultural and recreational opportunities, shopping facilities, fine restaurants, and night clubs with live music and dancing add to the allure and vibrancy of Mountain View. For world-class cultural and educational attractions, Palo Alto and Stanford University are just around the corner.

 

Palo Alto
Municipal Offices
650-329-2100
www.cityofpaloalto.org

Chamber of Commerce
650-324-3121
www.paloaltochamber.com

Beyond its prowess as the ultimate  choice in a Bay Area address, Palo Alto stands as one of the nation’s most desirable cities. Serving as the cultural mecca for Silicon Valley, Palo Alto and Menlo Park share the financial dynamo along San Hill Road–the “Wall Street” of venture capital for high-tech innovators. Home of Stanford University and the birthplace of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto claims intelligent, affluent residents. Even the public schools repeatedly produce SAT math score prodigies.

Unique in its amenities, Palo Alto offers the excitement of University athletic competition, ivy-covered walls and tree-lined streets, excellent restaurants and shops, wonderful bookstores, and renowned cultural venues and events. The recreational opportunities are equally superb–from bike and pedestrian trails to children’s theater, ice-skating rink, skateboard bowl, golfing and tennis, summer concerts, and outstanding city programs. Crowning over 4,200 acres of parkland is a scenic 1,400 acre preserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains that is exclusively for Palo Alto residents.

Other community highlights include the $100 million children’s hospital, Stanford’s “Super Bowl and World Cup” caliber stadium, the Leland Stanford Jr. Museum, and fine art galleries. Home choices range from older, postwar models from the ‘50s to the most exclusive and luxurious of custom builds. Building restrictions and regulations are many, ensuring the beauty and quality of life for which the city has become famous.

 

San Jose
Municipal Offices
408-535-3500
www.sanjoseca.gov

Chamber of Commerce
408-291-5250
www.thesvo.com

The largest of Santa Clara County  communities, San Jose, was ranked among Money Magazine’s list of most livable cities–common recognition. The dominance of middle-class income levels and attitudes have preserved an enviable quality of life for San Jose residents in spite of astronomical growth patterns. While San Jose rapidly approaches the million mark in population, it towers as a high-tech giant in the Bay Area with a proven attitude of vitality.

Tract developments dominate the scene, a neighborhood atmosphere that outsiders often label as “land” to the chagrin of loyal residents. What may be lacking in style or innovative architecture is usually off-set by lush landscaping and interior decorating. In cultural amenities as well as in high-tech leadership, San Jose shines. It seems that the world-class amenities that were once relegated to San Francisco have ‘found the way’ to San Jose, including professional sports teams, international stars, symphony, opera, light opera, ballet, and repertory theatre.

A good place for growing families, San Jose offers an exceptional children’s discovery museum, lovely parks, and many sports and athletic programs. Creating a more closely knit atmosphere than most large cities manage to provide, San Jose is home to a number of welcoming neighborhoods that cater to their own restaurants, theaters, and shops.

 

Santa Clara
Municipal Offices
408-615-2200
http://santaclaraca.gov

Chamber of Commerce
408-244-8244
www.santaclarachamber.com

One of the most populous of the  county’s cities, Santa Clara is a mix of robust economic activity, attractive commercial amenities, entertainment sites, and neighborhoods of well-kept homes. Although many residential areas feature homes with a suburban ‘50s or ‘60s appearance, extensive renovations, remodeling, and lovely landscaping are the rule.

Like San Jose and Cupertino, the city stands tall as one of the high-tech meccas within Silicon Valley. This fact is even more impressive when you consider that Santa Clara intensely and aggressively courted and won the favor of leading corporations like Intel, Applied Materials, 3-Com, and Synoptics. The city’s rapid economic development was a direct result of ingenious strategic planning.

The reward for this proliferation of flourishing business and industry is a strong tax base and amenities that include over 30 parks, playgrounds, golf courses, theater, athletic fields, and a myriad of activities that appeal to all age groups and interests. Other highlights include the presence of Santa Clara University, with its lush campus and famous Mission Santa Clara de Asis that includes a 1,000-seat Basilica and museum. Santa Clara also offers the two-year Mission College, Triton Museum of Art, and a major amusement park.

 

Saratoga
Municipal Offices
408-868-1200
www.saratoga.ca.us

Chamber of Commerce
408-867-0753
www.saratogachamber.org

Located at the edge of a high-tech  mecca that measures its speed in nanoseconds, Saratoga has still managed to preserve a relaxing atmosphere of grace, beauty, and serenity. This residential community enjoys a favorable commute to vibrant employment centers in Sunnyvale, San Jose, Cupertino, and Santa Clara. Santa Clara VTA buses are available, as well as CalTrain into San Jose or downtown San Francisco.

Reflecting the affluence of their owners, most of the homes feature custom landscaping, elegant styling, unique designs, and picture-perfect interiors. The area surrounding Villa Montalvo and the hills off Big Basin Way are punctuated by particularly opulent mansions and estates. West Valley Community College is situated in the heart of town, adding a wealth of wonderful facilities and activities that range from workout rooms to arts and crafts classes.

The charming “old town” district combines with excellent public and private schools, abundant cultural amenities, and superb recreational programs and facilities. As part of the county park system, Villa Montalvo offers an elegant performing arts venue as well as an arboretum. Jazz and pop concerts are regular features of the Mountain Winery. Other leisure attractions and amenities include the Shakespeare Festival, the Hakone Gardens, community theater, and a bevy of lush parks.

 

Sunnyvale
Municipal Offices
408-730-7500
http://sunnyvale.ca.gov

Chamber of Commerce
408-736-4971
www.svcoc.org

Completely surrounded by cities  that represent Silicon Valley’s most powerful players, Sunnyvale serves as a residential neighbor to Mountain View, Cupertino, and Santa Clara. To the north is the San Francisco Bay along with wildlife refuge of marches, salt ponds, and scenic trails. The close proximity of employment centers has encouraged such a steady stream of newcomers and development that Sunnyvale now ranks second only to San Jose as the most populous city in Santa Clara County.

Shifting from its former image of a bedroom community into a viable economic force within Silicon Valley, Sunnyvale is now home to hundreds of high-tech firms specializing in everything from semiconductors to bio-technology, global positioning equipment, and Lockheed Martin’s space satellites. Recreational and commercial amenities abound, including seventeen parks, major shopping centers, restaurants, and popular night spots for comedy and live entertainment.

Sunnyvale offers a wide selection of housing options, although three-bedroom models constructed from 1955 to 1985 constitute the lion’s share. While construction slowed somewhat during the ‘80s, most cities would find the pace of new additions to be dizzying. In fact, another 10,000 apartments and homes sprang up just within the last decade of the ‘90s. Like many of the communities throughout the Silicon Valley, Sunnyvale continues to be fortunate in attracting residents who place a high value on renovations and improvements of their mature homes and properties.

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