Santa Clara county

Santa Clara County, California
County of Santa Clara

The Santa Clara County government center in May 2006.
Official seal of Santa Clara County, California
Country  United States of America
State  California
Metropolitan area San Francisco Bay Area
Incorporated February 18, 1850[1]
Named for Mission Santa Clara de Asís, St. Clare of Assisi
County seat San Jose
Largest city San Jose
 • Total 1,304.01 sq mi (3,377.4 km2)
 • Land 1,290.69 sq mi (3,342.9 km2)
 • Water 13.325 sq mi (34.51 km2)
Population (2010)
 • Total 1,781,642
 • Density 1,400/sq mi (530/km2)
Time zone Pacific Standard Time (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)
Area code(s) 408, 669, 650

Santa Clara County, officially the County of Santa Clara, is a county located at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay Area in the U.S. state of California. As of 2010 it had a population of 1,781,642. The county seat is San Jose. The highly urbanized Santa Clara Valley within Santa Clara County is also known as Silicon Valley. Santa Clara is the most populous county in the Bay Area region, and one of the most affluent counties in the United States.


Santa Clara County is named after Mission Santa Clara, which was established in 1777, and is also named for Saint Clare of Assisi.


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.

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.

Once promoted as the "Valley of the Heart's Delight",[2] after two centuries of an agricultural economy started by the Spanish missionaries, the focus has shifted to technology. This trend is not new. Hewlett Packard was founded in 1939, and IBM selected San Jose as its West Coast headquarters in 1943. Varian Associates, Fairchild Semiconductor, and other early innovators, were located 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, as agriculture has been nearly eliminated from the northern part of the county. Today, Santa Clara County is the headquarters for such companies as AMD, Apple, Cisco Systems, eBay, Facebook, Google, Hewlett Packard, Intel, Sun Microsystems, Yahoo, and many others. The valley is currently home to approximately 6500 high technology companies. Most of Silicon Valley's (Santa Clara Valley) high tech companies are located within the county, with some adjoining tech regions in San Mateo, Alameda, and Santa Cruz counties also being considered Silicon Valley.


According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 1,304.01 square miles (3,377.4 km2), of which 1,290.69 square miles (3,342.9 km2) (or 98.98%) is land and 13.32 square miles (34.5 km2) (or 1.02%) is water.[3]

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

Cities, towns, and neighborhoods

Incorporated cities and towns

There are 15 incorporated cities and towns in the county:

Unincorporated communities

Census-designated places
Other unincorporated communities

Former townships

Adjacent counties

National protected area


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 (Cervus elaphus nannodes). While other ranchers refused, tech pioneers Bill Hewlett and David Packard allowed Coletto and state biologists to translocate 32 tule elk from the Owens Valley in the eastern Sierra onto the 28,000-acre San Felipe Ranch, which the families jointly own, in the hills east of Morgan Hill.[4] From the three original 1978-1981 translocations 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 Reservoir, and surrounding areas. Currently an estimated 400 tule elk roam 1,875 square kilometres (724 sq mi) in northeastern Santa Clara County and southeastern Alameda County.[5]

The Nature Conservancy "Mount Hamilton Project" has acquired or put under conservation easement 100,000 acres (400 km2) of land towards its 500,000 acres (2,000 km2) goal for habitat conservation within a 1,200,000 acres (4,900 km2) 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 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.[6][7]

Santa Clara currently has the highest amount of Superfund Sites of any other county in the United States, accounting for 25 polluted locations requiring a long-term response to clean up hazardous material contaminations.[8][9] The vast majority of these Superfund sites were caused by firms associated with the high tech sector located in Silicon Valley.[10]


Freeways and expressways

The county has an extensive freeway system and a separate expressway system. 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

County routes

  • Santa Clara County Expressway System
  • Santa Clara County Route G2—Lawrence Expressway
  • Santa Clara County Route G3—Page Mill Road/Oregon Expressway
  • Santa Clara County Route G4—San Tomas Expressway/Montague Expressway
  • Santa Clara County Route G5—Foothill Expressway
  • Santa Clara County Route G6—Central Expressway
  • Santa Clara County Route G8—Almaden Expressway
  • Santa Clara County Route G10—Blossom Hill Road
  • Santa Clara County Route G21—Capitol Expressway

Other roads

  • The Alameda

Mass transit

Santa Clara County has consolidated its transportation services into the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which operates a rapidly expanding light rail system and a large system of bus routes. It also manages certain county-funded highway and expressway projects.

Besides SCVTA, the County is also served by Caltrain commuter rail service, and the ACE Train system, which runs between San Jose and Stockton.

County Bicycle Network

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.

  • County Wide Bicycle Plan
  • Regional Bicycle Plan for the San Francisco Bay Area 2009 Update


The county's main airport is (E16).

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.


The county's economy is heavily service based. Technology, both hardware and software, dominates the service sector by value, but like any other county 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.[13] The GDP of the metro area reached $176.7 billion in 2011, or $94,587 per capita,[14] roughly on par with Qatar in both total GDP and per capita (nominal).[15] 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 visavis other regions nationally, a large underclass exists whose income is roughly equivalent 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 have passed $1 million ($1,017,528) in August 2013.[16]



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20121,837,5043.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[24]
2012 Estimate[25]

The 2010 United States Census reported that Santa Clara County had a population of 1,781,642. The ethnic makeup of Santa Clara County was 836,616 (47.0%) White, 46,428 (2.6%) African American, 12,960 (0.7%) Native American, 570,524 (32.0%) Asian (8.6% Chinese, 7.1% Vietnamese, 6.6% Indian, 4.9% Filipino, 1.6% Korean, 1.4% Japanese, 1.9% Other Asian), 7,060 (0.4%) Pacific Islander, 220,806 (12.4%) from other races, and 87,248 (4.9%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 479,210 persons (26.9%): 22.5% Mexican, 0.4% Puerto Rican, 0.1% Cuban, 3.8% Other Hispanic.[26]


As of the census[28] of 2000, there are 1,682,585 people, 565,863 households, and 395,538 families residing in the county. The population density is 503/km² (1,304/mi²). There are 579,329 housing units at an average density of 173/km² (449/mi²). The ethnic makeup of the county is 53.8% White, 2.8% Black or 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. 24.0% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 565,863 households out of which 34.9% had children under the age of 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 non-families. 21.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.92 and the average family size was 3.41.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.7% under the age of 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 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 102.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $74,335, and the median income 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.

As of 2011, Santa Clara County has the second-highest median household income of any county in California, the highest being Marin County.


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.[29] All other cities run their own library system.


Santa Clara County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year GOP DNC Others
2012 27.2% 174,843 70.2% 450,817 2.5% 16,290
2008 28.6% 190,039 69.5% 462,241 1.8% 12,255
2004 34.6% 209,094 63.9% 386,100 1.4% 8,622
2000 34.4% 188,750 60.7% 332,490 4.9% 26,889
1996 32.2% 168,291 56.9% 297,639 11.0% 57,361
1992 28.4% 170,870 49.2% 296,265 22.4% 134,920
1988 47.0% 254,442 51.3% 277,810 1.7% 9,276
1984 54.8% 288,638 43.7% 229,865 1.5% 8,136
1980 48.0% 229,048 35.0% 166,995 17.0% 80,960
1976 49.5% 219,188 46.9% 208,023 3.6% 15,927
1972 51.9% 237,334 45.6% 208,506 2.5% 11,453
1968 45.6% 163,446 48.4% 173,511 6.0% 21,410
1964 36.6% 117,420 63.1% 202,249 0.3% 858
1960 52.7% 131,735 47.1% 117,667 0.3% 690
1956 59.1% 105,657 40.6% 72,528 0.4% 633
1952 59.7% 91,940 39.7% 61,035 0.6% 932
1948 53.3% 52,982 42.1% 41,905 4.6% 4,615
1944 47.0% 39,409 52.4% 43,869 0.6% 499
1940 49.2% 40,100 49.6% 40,449 1.2% 947
1936 40.4% 26,498 58.5% 38,346 1.1% 732
1932 47.5% 27,353 49.1% 28,272 3.3% 1,906
1928 63.8% 31,710 35.4% 17,589 0.8% 395
1924 58.0% 20,056 7.4% 2,560 34.6% 11,952
1920 68.1% 19,565 22.6% 6,485 9.1% 2,682
Santa Clara County vote
by party in gubernatorial elections
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% 49,512
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

Santa Clara County has five elected Supervisors, elected within their districts.

Since 1992, Santa Clara County has been a strongly Democratic county in presidential and congressional elections, although it was a bellwether state for much of the twentieth century. The last Republican to win a majority in the county was Ronald Reagan in 1984. As of November 2012, all of the cities, towns, and the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County have more registered Democrats than Republicans.[30] In the 2008 US Presidential Election, Democratic nominee Barack Obama carried every city and town in the county, as well as the unincorporated areas.[31]

In the House of Representatives, Santa Clara County is split between California’s 17th, 18th, and 19th districts, represented by , , and , respectively.[32]

In the State Assembly, all of the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th districts, as well as parts of the 20th, 21st, 27th, and 28th districts are in the county. The districts are all held by Democrats; in order of district number they are Bob Wieckowski, Rich Gordon, Paul Fong, Nora Campos, Jim Beall, Bill Monning, and Luis Alejo.

In the State Senate, all of the 13th as well as parts of the 10th, 11th, and 15th districts are in the county. The 10th, 11th, and 13th districts are held by Democrats, Ellen Corbett, Joe Simitian, and Elaine Alquist, respectively. The 15th is held by Republican Sam Blakeslee.

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

Voter registration statistics

Cities by population and voter registration


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

Open space preserves include:

Sister counties

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 2009, there are three sister counties:[35]

See also

San Francisco Bay Area portal



External links

    • Santa Clara County governmental committee agendas
    • Santa Clara County Planning Office
  • Santa Clara Valley Water District - Drinking Water
  • List of special districts in Santa Clara County (LAFCo)
  • Santa Clara County Library
  • Travel Itinerary

Coordinates: 37°22′N 121°58′W / 37.36°N 121.97°W / 37.36; -121.97

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.