Los Altos (pronounced /lɑːˈsæltoʊs/ ( listen)) is a city at the southern end of the San Francisco Peninsula, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The city is in Santa Clara County, California, United States. The population was 27,693 according to the 2000 census. It is one of the wealthiest places in the United States.
Most of the city's growth occurred between 1950 and 1980. Originally an agricultural town with many summer cottages, Los Altos is now an affluent bedroom community. Los Altos has several distinctive features. Commercial zones are strictly limited to the downtown area and small shopping and office parks lining Foothill Expressway and El Camino Real. Los Altos' low crime rate, excellent schools and proximity to coastal foothills make it one of the area's premier cities.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.3 square miles (16.4 km²). All of it is land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 27,693 people, 10,462 households, and 8,024 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,360.7 people per square mile (1,683.8/km²). There were 10,727 housing units at an average density of 1,689.1/sq mi (652.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 80.35% White, 15.42% Asian, 0.47% African American, 0.17% Native American, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 0.66% from other races, and 2.44% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino residents of any race constituted 3.76% of the population.
Of 10,462 households, 33.6% had minor children living with them, 69.4% were married couples living together, 5.4% had a female head with no husband present, and 23.3% were non-families. 18.7% were singles including 9.8% 65 or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 2.98.
The median age was 44 years, much higher than the 35.3 national figure. 23.7% were under 18, 3.5% from 18 to 24, 24.5% from 25 to 44, 29.1% from 45 to 64, and 19.3% were 65 years of age or older. For every 100 females there were 93.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.
According to a 2007 estimate, the median household income was $158,745, and the median income for a family was $185,848. This puts it third on the list of the most affluent neighborhoods in 2007. Males had a median income of $100,000 versus $67,332 for females. The per capita income for the city was $66,776. About 1.1% of families and 2.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.2% of those under age 18 and 1.5% of those age 65 or over.
In the state legislature Los Altos is located in the 11th Senate District, represented by Democrat Joe Simitian, and in the 21st Assembly District, represented by Democrat Ira Ruskin. Nationally, Los Altos is located in California's 14th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +18 and is represented by Democrat Anna Eshoo.
Primary and middle school students attend schools in the Los Altos School District, the Cupertino Union School District, or Bullis Charter School (K-6). Los Altos School District has the highest average API scores in California.
High school students attend either schools from the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District or Homestead High School.
Los Altos is also served by highly regarded private and religious schools. St. Nicholas School, St. Simon School, Miramonte Elementary School (JrK-8th), and the Lower and Middle Campuses (K-6th) of Pinewood School, are located within city limits. Others nearby include St. Francis High School (Mountain View), Mountain View Academy, and Kings Academy (Sunnyvale). Other schools farther away with students from Los Altos include Mitty High School, Castilleja School, and Bellarmine College Preparatory, among others.
Los Altos Library is in the downtown civic center off San Antonio Road. Smaller Woodland Library is on Foothill Expressway near Grant Park. Both libraries are part of the Santa Clara County Library System.
Los Altos prides itself on a variety of youth-oriented sports organizations, programs, and after-school activities.
The Mountain View Los Altos Soccer Club (MVLASC) has been providing competitive soccer for the MVLA community since 1972. It is a member of the California Youth Soccer Association (CYSA)and plays in the Foothill Youth Soccer League. Its goal is to provide an environment in which players and teams can improve in ability, increase their love of the game and develop good sportsmanship. MVLASC participates in the community, working with and providing funds to the local school districts for school field development. They also provide an avenue for after-school sports for over 600 community children. MVLASC has over 40 great boys and girls teams and is the #1 ranked girls program on the SF Peninsula. The club has won 14 State Championships and one National Championship.
Los Altos-Mountain View Pony Baseball is for boys and girls aged 5 to 19. LA-MVPB is the largest youth baseball program in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a chartered league of PONY Baseball, Inc. The PONY program provides flexible rules and incremental levels of competitive play, which are specifically designed for the physical development and safety requirements of each age group. The league is committed to balanced teams and fair play and to provide a clean, supportive, and competitive atmosphere.
West Valley Pop Warner is in its 31st year of offering cheerleading and football programs to local youth. Their continued objective is to introduce boys and girls to the fundamentals of football and cheerleading in a safe, supervised setting.
Players in the El Camino YMCA Youth Basketball League know the score and a lot more thanks to 200 coaches and referees who volunteer their time each season to teach children in kindergarten through eighth grade. The program serves more than 1,200 children. Participants learn basic basketball skills, as well as the YMCA's core values. All children play at least two quarters per game. "It's a great opportunity for children to learn a sport in a non-competitive setting," said El Camino YMCA Program Director Heidi Lisbona. "Everyone is a star whether they are scoring a basket or just learning how to dribble. We strive to make everyone feel special." Volunteers coach the teams, referee the games, register the players and help schedule the games.
The Los Altos Town Crier, a weekly, is the primary newspaper for the town, "serving the Hometown of Silicon Valley since 1947." The San Jose Mercury News is the primary daily newspaper serving the town, delivering a Peninsula Section to Los Altans and locations north in lieu of the Local section delivered to those in San Jose and other communities closer to San Jose.
Los Altos strives to maintain a semi-rural atmosphere. Los Altos has few sidewalks except in commercial zones and along arterial roads. Minimum lot size for most residential housing is one-quarter of an acre. Most roads have broad dirt shoulders and little or no street lighting. The civic center sits in the middle of an orchard, a remnant of those that once covered the area. The downtown is a triangle with arterials on all sides that enable most through traffic to bypass Main Street. Many Los Altos homes fetch $2 million and higher, putting the city (along with neighboring Los Altos Hills, with which it shares ZIP codes) at numbers 24 and 28 on Forbes' "Most Expensive ZIP Codes in America" list in 2007.
Since the mid-1990s, downtown Los Altos has experienced mild economic difficulties due to competition from nearby shopping centers and chain stores, as well as its lack of a hotel or movie theater. Revitalizing downtown is a major issue in city politics.
Los Altos may have a legitimate claim to having the first scientifically designed sound baffle in the year 1970. Santa Clara County undertook a seminal study to calculate the effects of alternate soundwall designs along Foothill Expressway. The resulting wall brought about the predicted reduction of seven to ten decibels in noise pollution levels experienced by adjacent homes.
Located in one of Santa Clara Valley's few remaining apricot orchards, the Los Altos History Museum explores the rich history of local people and how the use of the land over time has transformed the agricultural paradise once known as the "Valley of Heart's Delight" into the technology hub that is today's Silicon Valley.
Opened in spring of 2001 adjacent to the Los Altos Library, the Los Altos History Museum occupies an 8,200-square-foot (760 m2) building – built entirely with private donations; ownership went to the town in 2002. The Museum features a changing exhibits gallery as well as the permanent exhibit, "Crown of the Peninsula".
With the mission to "collect, preserve and interpret the history of the Los Altos area," the Museum includes interactive exhibits and hands-on activities to encourage children and adults to learn about the community. Other programs include third and fourth grade tours and curricula for local school children, oral history collections, a traveling Ohlone kit, and much more.
There's more history just across the lushly landscaped courtyard in the landmark J. Gilbert Smith House. Built in 1905 and refurbished, the home nestles under majestic heritage oaks and replicates a 1930s farmhouse. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the gardens and picnic tables even when the House and Museum are closed.
Los Altos is near the San Andreas Fault and subject to earthquakes.
Well-known residents of Los Altos include: