Saratoga (pronounced /ˌsærəˈtoʊɡə/) is a city in Santa Clara County, California, USA. It is located on the west side of the Santa Clara Valley, directly west of San Jose, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The population was 30,318 at the 2007 census.
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Saratoga is locally known for its suburban small-town feel, wineries, and high-end boutiques. In 2008, CNN/Money ranked Saratoga number four in its listing of top-earning towns. Saratoga was also ranked by Forbes in 2009 as one of America's top 20 most educated small towns. Major attractions include Villa Montalvo, Hakone Gardens, and the Mountain Winery.
The first European settlement of what is now Saratoga occurred in 1848, when William Campbell (father of Benjamin Campbell, the founder of nearby Campbell, California) constructed a sawmill about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) southeast of the present downtown area. An early map noted the area as Campbell's Gap. In 1851, Martin McCarty, who had leased the mill, built a toll road down to the Santa Clara Valley. The toll gate was located at the present day intersection of Big Basin Way and 3rd St., giving the town its first widely used name: Toll Gate. In 1855 the town received a post office under the name of McCartysville.
Industry soon sprang up: at its height the town had a furniture factory, grist mill, tannery, and a paper factory. To commemorate this newfound productivity, the town was renamed yet again in 1863, this time as Bank Mills. Shortly after this, however, a spring was discovered which had a mineral content similar to the springs at Saratoga Springs, New York. In 1865, the town received its final name, Saratoga. At the same time, a resort hotel was constructed at the springs, and it attracted tourists to the area until it burned down in 1903.
Saratoga then became quietly agricultural, along with much of the rest of the valley. A few vineyards and orchards from this period remain today. After World War II, the town quickly became urbanized, and it incorporated in 1956, mostly to avoid being annexed to San Jose. A slogan during the campaign to incorporate the city of Saratoga was "Keep it rural," according to historian Willys I. Peck. Today the city serves as a bedroom community for upper-middle class Silicon Valley tech workers.
The city council is made up of five members elected by the public. The council appoints a mayor and vice-mayor from its membership, with the vice-mayor serving in the absence of the mayor. The mayor has no veto power, but acts as chairman for council meetings, and serves as a visible head of government. Council members serve four-year terms, with the election of two and three members staggered every two years.
The city manager is the administrative head of the government, and also serves as city treasurer. The manager's duties include preparing financial reports, submitting an annual budget, managing city employees, seeing that city ordinances are enforced, supervising city property, and investigating complaints against the city. The manager also appoints the city clerk and finance director.
In addition to the council and manager, the city has a number of commissions, which are permanent committees that serve to advise the council on various issues. Commission members are appointed by the council, and serve a maximum of two four year terms. Currently, the city has commissions for finance, heritage preservation, the library, parks and recreation, planning, public safety, and the arts. Also, the city has a Citizen Oversight Committee, created to oversee library renovation, and a Youth Commission, which consists of middle and high school students who represent Saratoga youth in government and serve one or two year terms.
In the state legislature Saratoga is located in the 15th Senate District, represented by Republican Abel Maldonado, and in the 24th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Jim Beall. Federally, Saratoga is located in California's 14th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +18 and is represented by Democrat Anna Eshoo.
Saratoga is located at According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.1 square miles (31.4 km²), all of it land. Within its borders, Saratoga includes lush redwood forests, foothills suitable for wine grapes and sunny valley floor once covered with prune and apricot orchards, now with suburban homes, schools and churches..
Neighborhoods in Saratoga include Brookview and Pride's Crossing in the north part of the city, Blue Hills and Greenbrier in the northwest area, and Congress Springs in the southwestern corner of Saratoga. The Golden Triangle, a name invented by real estate agents, is an area bounded by Saratoga Avenue, Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road and Cox Avenue. The Golden Triangle consists mostly of affordable (1 to 2.9 million dollars) four-bedroom ranch homes on quarter acre lots gradually being replaced by Mediterranean custom designs. Northeast of the Golden Triangle is a neighborhood known as Saratoga Woods, a small community located behind Prospect High School north of Cox. Bellgrove Circle is a popular neighborhood located next to highway 85. The land of Bellgrove Circle, once used as a vineyard, was previously owned by Paul Masson Winery and is east of Saratoga Avenue and north of Rt 85. Kentfield is south of Rt 85 and also east of Saratoga Avenue. Parker Ranch is a very affluent neighborhood with 1 acre minimum lots, west of Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road and up into the hills. The downtown area along Big Basin Way is known as the Village.
As of the census of 2000, there were 29,843 people, 10,450 households, and 8,600 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,465.3 people per square mile (951.5/km²). There were 10,649 housing units at an average density of 879.7/sq mi (339.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 67.39% White, 0.39% African American, 0.15% Native American, 29.08% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.57% from other races, and 2.33% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.14% of the population.
There were 10,450 households out of which 38.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 75.0% were married couples living together, 4.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.7% were non-families. 14.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size was 3.13. The population age distribution is as follows: 26.0% under the age of 18, 4.0% from 18 to 24, 23.8% from 25 to 44, 29.9% from 45 to 64, and 16.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 96.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.6 males.
According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $137,270, and the median income for a family was $159,765. Males had a median income of $75,000 versus $66,240 for females. The per capita income for the city was $65,400. About 1.8% of families and 2.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.2% of those under age 18 and 2.6% over 64.
Saratoga has several major roads, including Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road, Saratoga-Los Gatos Road (Highway 9), Cox Avenue, Saratoga Avenue, Pierce Road, Quito Road and Congress Springs Road (also part of Highway 9). The West Valley Freeway (Highway 85) was completed in 1994 and passes through northeast Saratoga, and a railroad, now rarely in use, travels parallel to the highway. The railway, which from 1908 to 1964 delivered commuters to San Francisco in as little as 90 minutes, now only sees an occasional freight train. Highway 85 has one onramp/offramp within the city, at Saratoga Avenue; while the original plans for the freeway also included exits at Quito Road and Prospect Avenue, objections by residents kept those interchanges from being constructed. Local streets and roads in Saratoga are fairly well maintained, but they are generally not as often re-paved as San Jose's streets. Street signs, unlike those in San Jose, are brown in color.
Saratoga has no train or light rail service and very minimal bus service.
Saratoga also has a zoning code comparable to that of Los Altos, which requires that houses must be spaced farther away from each other and that trees must be properly taken care of to preserve a semi-rural appearance. Saratoga emphasizes its semi-rural appearance by foregoing street lights and sidewalks on most residential streets. This, in addition to the excellent schools, causes Saratoga to have very high housing costs.
The Blue Hills neighborhood of Saratoga has many hiking trails that are owned by the City of Saratoga for use by residents.