Milpitas, California

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Milpitas, California
City of Milpitas
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Jose Maria Alviso Adobe, 92 Piedmont Rd., Milpitas, CA 9-30-2012 2-02-31 PM.JPG
Footbridge to Great Mall Main station, March 2018 (cropped).JPG
Clockwise: View of Milpitas and Silicon Valley from the Diablo Range; Milpitas Grammar School; Great Mall/Main Transit Center; José María Alviso Adobe
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Location in Santa Clara County and the state of California
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Location in the United States
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Milpitas (California)
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Milpitas (San Francisco Bay Area)
Coordinates: 37°26′5″N121°53′42″W / 37.43472°N 121.89500°W / 37.43472; -121.89500 Coordinates: 37°26′5″N121°53′42″W / 37.43472°N 121.89500°W / 37.43472; -121.89500
Country United States
State California
County Santa Clara
Settled 1852[ citation needed ]
Incorporated January 26, 1954 [1]
  Type Council-City Manager Government
   Mayor Rich Tran [2]
   Vice Mayor Carmen Montano [2]
   Councilmember Evelyn Chua [2]
   Councilmember Karina Dominguez [2]
   Councilmember Anthony Phan [2]
  Total13.52 sq mi (35.01 km2)
  Land13.48 sq mi (34.91 km2)
  Water0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2)  0.36%
20 ft (6 m)
 (2010) [5]
(2019) [6]
  Rank 99th in California
  Density6,246.46/sq mi (2,411.75/km2)
 City population is a 2019 estimate by the Census Bureau.
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific)
  Summer (DST) UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
95035, 95036
Area code(s) 408/669
FIPS code 06-47766
GNIS feature IDs 1659759, 2411113

Milpitas (Spanish for "little milpas") is a city in Santa Clara County, California, in Silicon Valley. The population was estimated to be 84,169 in 2019 by the US Census. [7] The city's origins lie in Rancho Milpitas, granted to Californio ranchero José María Alviso in 1835. Milpitas incorporated in 1954 and has since become home to numerous high tech companies, as part of Silicon Valley.



Milpitas was first inhabited by Tamien people, a subgroup of the Ohlone people who had resided in the San Francisco Bay Area for thousands of years. The Ohlone Indians lived a traditional life based on everyday hunting and gathering. Some of the Ohlone lived in various villages within what is now Milpitas, including sites underneath what are now the Calvary Assembly of God Church and Higuera Adobe Park. [8] Archaeological evidence gathered from Ohlone graves at the Elmwood Correctional Facility in 1993 revealed a rich trade with other tribes from Sacramento to Monterey.

During the Spanish expeditions of the late 18th century, several missions were founded in the San Francisco Bay Area. During the mission period, Milpitas served as a crossroads between Mission San José de Guadalupe in present-day Fremont and Mission Santa Clara de Asis in present-day Santa Clara. The land of modern-day Milpitas was divided between the 6,353-acre (25.71 km2) Rancho Rincon de Los Esteros (Spanish for "corner of the wetlands") granted to Ignacio Alviso; the 4,457.8-acre (18.040 km2) Rancho Milpitas (Spanish for "little corn fields") granted to José María Alviso; and the 4,394.35-acre (17.7833 km2) Rancho Los Tularcitos (Spanish for "little tule marshes") granted to José Higuera. Jose Maria Alviso was the son of Francisco Xavier Alviso and Maria Bojorquez, both of whom arrived in San Francisco as children with the de Anza Expedition. José María Alviso is considered to be the founder of Milpitas. Due to Jose Maria Alviso's descendants' difficulty securing his claims to the Rancho Milpitas property, portions of his land were either swindled from the Alviso family or were sold to American settlers to pay for legal fees. [9]

Jose Maria Alviso Adobe, built by Jose Maria Alviso, founder of Milpitas Jose Maria Alviso adobe 1920.jpg
Jose Maria Alviso Adobe, built by José María Alviso, founder of Milpitas

Both landowners had built prominent adobe homes on their properties. Today, both adobes still exist and are the oldest structures in Milpitas. The seriously eroded walls of the Jose Higuera Adobe, now in Higuera Adobe Park, are encapsulated in a brick shell built c. 1970 by Marian Weller, a descendant of pioneer Joseph Weller. [10]

The Alviso Adobe can be seen mostly in its original form, with one kitchen addition made by the Cuciz family after they purchased the adobe from the Gleason family in 1922. Prior to the city acquiring the Alviso Adobe in 1995, it was the oldest continuously occupied adobe house in California dating from the Mexican period and today is still gradually being restored and undergoing seismic upgrades by the City of Milpitas. Alviso Adobe History Park is to be opened, after the exterior restoration of the adobe and outbuildings is completed, as an educational museum with historic items, trees, buildings, and documents.

In the 1850s, large numbers of Americans of English, German, and Irish descent arrived to farm the fertile lands of Milpitas. The Burnett, Rose, Dempsey, Jacklin, Trimble, Ayer, Parks, Wool, Weller, Minnis, and Evans families are among the early settlers of Milpitas. [11] (Today many schools, streets, and parks have been named in honor of these families.) These early settlers farmed the land that was once the ranchos. Some set up businesses on what was then called Mission Road (now called Main Street) between Calaveras Road (now called Carlo Street) and the Alviso-Milpitas Road (now called Serra Way). By the late 20th century this area became known as the "Midtown" district. Yet another influx of immigration came in the 1870s and 1880s as Portuguese sharecroppers from the Azores came to farm the Milpitas hillsides. Many of the Azoreans had such locally well-known surnames as Coelho, Covo, Mattos, Nunes, Spangler, Serpa, and Silva.

There is a local legend that in 1857, when the U.S. Postal Service wanted to locate a Post Office in Frederick Creighton's store near the intersection of Mission Road and Alviso-Milpitas Road to serve the newly created Township, there was some support for naming it Penitencia, after the small Roman Catholic confessional building that had served local Indians and ranchers and had once stood several miles south of the village near Penitencia Creek which ran just west of the Mission Road. A local farmer and first Assistant Postmaster, Joseph Weller, felt the Spanish word Penitencia might be confused with the English word "penitentiary." Instead of choosing Penitencia, he suggested another popular name for the area, Milpitas, after the name of Alviso's property, Rancho Milpitas. Thus was born "Milpitas Township." [12]

For over a century, Milpitas served as a popular rest stop for travelers on the old Oakland−San Jose Highway. At the north side of the intersection of that road with the Milpitas-Alviso Road, for many years stood "French's Hotel" that had been originally built by Alex Anderson prior to 1859, when Alfred French bought it from Austin M. Thompson. [13] South of the site of French's Hotel, was a saloon dating from at least 1856 when Agustus Rathbone purchased the land and "improvements" from Richard Greenham. The first murder in Milpitas was committed in the early 1860s in "Rathbone's Saloon" (alas, the murderer escaped). Later the saloon was replaced by a hotel that is shown on the 1893 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map as "Goodwin's Hotel" (perhaps the same Henry K. Goodwin who, in 1890, loaned money to prominent local rancher Marshall Pomeroy). Presumably, this hotel burned down and "Smith's Corner," which still stands, was built in 1895, by John Smith, as a saloon that served beer and wine to thirsty travelers for a century before becoming a restaurant in 2001. [14] Around this central core, grocery and dry goods stores, blacksmithies, service stations, and, in the 1920s, one of America's earliest "fast food" chain restaurants, "The Fat Boy", opened nearby. Another of Milpitas's most popular restaurants was the "Kozy Kitchen", established in 1940 by the Carlo family in the former "Central Market" building. Kozy Kitchen was demolished soon after Jimmy Carlo sold the restaurant in 1999. [15] Even in the early 1950s, Milpitas served a farming community of 800 people who walked a mere one or two blocks to work.

On January 26, 1954, faced with getting swallowed up by a rapidly expanding San Jose, Milpitas residents incorporated as a city that included the recently built Ford Auto Assembly plant. When San Jose attempted to annex Milpitas barely seven years later, the "Milpitas Minutemen" were quickly organized to oppose annexation and keep Milpitas independent. An overwhelming majority of Milpitas registered voters voted "No" to annexation in the 1961 election as a result of a vigorous anti-annexation campaign. Following the election, the anti-annexation committee, who had compared themselves to the Revolutionary War Minutemen who fought the British on Lexington Green—a role filled in this case by the neighboring city of San Jose—adopted the image of Daniel Chester French's Minuteman statue, that stands near the site of the Old North Bridge in Concord, MA, as part of the official city seal. In the 1960s, the city approved the construction of the Calaveras overpass. Formerly at a junction with the Union Pacific railroad, Calaveras Boulevard had a bridge passing over six sets of railroad tracks after the construction was completed. Though the result was that local residents could now drive over the train tracks without waiting for a slow freight to pass, it resulted in the loss of the historical residential area. Here houses owned by city leaders had to be purchased by the city at full market value and either moved or demolished. [16]

Starting in 1955, with the construction of the Ford Motor Assembly Plant, and accelerating in the 1960s and 1970s, extensive residential and retail development took place. Hayfields in Milpitas rapidly disappeared as industries and residential housing developments spread. Soon, the once rural town of Milpitas found itself a San Jose suburb. The population jumped from about 800 in 1950 to 62,698 in 2000. Several local farmers and businessmen who had chipped in from $2 to $50 to file for incorporation, had become millionaires within ten years. Most of them then moved away. [13]

According to the book The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein (2017), when the Ford plant moved from Richmond to Milpitas in 1953, the town incorporated in order to pass laws that would exclude African American workers from residing there. “Union leaders met with Ford Executives and negotiated an agreement permitting all 1400 Richmond plant workers, including the approximately 250 African Americans, to transfer to the new facility. Once Ford’s plans became known, Milpitas residents incorporated the town and passed an emergency ordinance permitting the newly installed city council to ban apartment construction and allow only single family homes. ... The Federal Housing Administration approved subdivision plans that met their specifications in Milpitas and guaranteed mortgages to qualified buyers ... One of the specifications for mortgages insured in Milpitas (as in the rest of the country at that time) was an openly stated prohibition on sales to African Americans. Because Milpitas had no apartments, and houses in the area were off-limits to black workers-though their incomes and economic circumstances were like those of whites on the assembly line-African Americans had to choose between giving up the good industrial jobs, moving to apartments in a segregated neighborhood of San Jose, or enduring lengthy commutes between North Richmond and Milpitas. [17]

In 1961, Ben F. Gross, a civil rights activist, became Milpitas's first black city councilman with the backing of the UAW. This election was recognized nationally and received attention from Look and Life magazines. In 1966, Ben F. Gross became California's first black mayor when he was elected by the city's residents and "the only black mayor of a predominantly white town in California". [18] Mayor Gross was reelected in 1968 and continued fighting against Milpitas's annexation by San Jose.

The Ford San Jose Assembly Plant closed in 1984, later being converted into a shopping mall, known as The Great Mall of the Bay Area, which opened in 1994.

In the early 21st century, the Milpitas light rail transit system station was added, making it the northeastern most light rail destination in the region. On January 26, 2004, the city celebrated the 50th anniversary of its incorporation and issued the book Milpitas: Five Dynamic Decades to commemorate 50 years of Milpitas's history as a busy, exciting crossroads community.


The name Milpitas is the plural diminutive of milpa, Mexican Spanish for "cornfield." The name means "Place of little cornfields." [19] The word milpa is derived from the Nahuatl words milli, meaning "agricultural field," and pan, meaning "on."

The name Milpitas, perhaps used by Jose Maria Alviso to name his land grant, Rancho de las Milpitas, may have meant that there had been small Native American gardens nearby because of the rich alluvial soils of the area. [19]

The first deed of property sale in Milpitas is found in the Santa Clara County Records General Index 1850–1856 (K-143) and is dated February 14, 1856. It is Juana Galindo Alviso, widow of Jose Maria Alviso, to Michael and Ellen Hughes for 800 acres (3.2 km2) of land, today the Main Street area south of Carlo Street, although the deed gives the name of the Rancho as Rancho San Miguel, rather than as Milpitas.


Milpitas lies in the northeastern corner of the Santa Clara Valley, which is south of San Francisco. Milpitas is generally considered to be a San Jose suburb in the South Bay, a term used to denote the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.6 sq mi (35.3 km2). 13.6 sq mi (35.2 km2) of it is land and 0.050 sq mi (0.13 km2) of it (0.36%) is water.

The median elevation of Milpitas is 19 feet (6 m). At Piedmont Road, Evans Road, and North Park Victoria Drive, the elevation is generally about 100 feet (30 m), while the western area is almost at sea level. The highest point in Milpitas is a 1,289-foot (393 m) peak in the southeastern foothills.

To the east of Milpitas is a range of high foothills and mountains, part of the Diablo Range which runs along the east side of San Francisco Bay. Monument Peak is a prominent summit in the eastern Milpitas hills, and is the location of antenna broadcasting television stations KICU and KQEH to the San Francisco Bay Area.

There are also many creeks in Milpitas, most of which are part of the Berryessa Creek watershed. Calera Creek, Arroyo de los Coches, Penitencia Creek and Piedmont Creek are some of the creeks that flow from the Milpitas hills and empty into the San Francisco Bay. (See Berryessa Creek)

Urban layout

Newly built homes in the Parktown development Milpitas kristin ridge way.jpg
Newly built homes in the Parktown development

Milpitas is divided into three sections by Interstates 680 and 880. To the west of I-880 is a largely industrial and commercial area. Between I-880 and its eastern counterpart freeway, I-680, is an industrial zone in the south and residential neighborhoods in the north. Other residential neighborhoods and undeveloped mountains lie east of I-680.

In reality, Milpitas has no concentrated downtown "center," but instead has several small retail centers generally located near residential developments and anchored by a supermarket. The so-called "Midtown" area, the oldest part of Milpitas, has few remaining historic residences and was the only commercial district that existed before 1945. Midtown is situated in the region where Main and Abel Streets run parallel to each other bordered by Montague Expressway in the south and Weller Street at the north end. A USPS post office, Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church, Elementary & Junior High Catholic School, the Milpitas Public Library (which incorporates the old Milpitas Grammar School building), the Smith/DeVries mansion, the Senior Center, and Elmwood Correctional Facility are all in the Midtown section of Milpitas. The Milpitas Civic Center, which includes City Hall, is not located in Midtown, but stands at the intersection of Milpitas and Calaveras Boulevards. The Civic Center is separated from Midtown by the Calaveras overpass. The boundaries that divide major Milpitas neighborhoods and districts include Calaveras Boulevard running from east to west and the Union Pacific railroad, which runs from north to south. The newest retail centers are west of Interstate 880.

Berryessa Creek flows through Milpitas.


Milpitas occasionally experiences odorous air traveling downwind from bay salt marshes, from the Newby Island landfill, from the anaerobic digestion facility at Zero Waste Energy Development Company, and from the San Jose sewage treatment plant's percolation ponds. Most malodorous during the autumn, it is especially pungent west of Interstate 880 because of its close location to the San Francisco Bay and the direction of the prevailing winds out of the north-northwest. The City of Milpitas would like to remedy this air quality problem to the extent it can and encourages its residents to file odor complaints. [20]

Local creeks and the nearby San Francisco Bay suffer somewhat from water pollution originating from street water runoff and industrial wastes. The creeks in Milpitas, especially Calera, Scott, and Berryessa Creeks, used to be prime fishing spots for native steelhead until pollutants from urban development and industry killed the fish starting in the 1950s. While small populations of steelhead and even salmon still may be seen in area streams these cannot legally be fished and consumption of legal catches is limited by mercury contamination.

The I-880 corridor has experienced relatively elevated levels of air pollution from freeway traffic. For example, eight-hour standards for carbon monoxide have been near to maximum levels for the last two decades. [21]


Set within a warm Mediterranean climate zone in Santa Clara County, Milpitas enjoys warm, sunny weather with few extreme temperatures. Rainfall is confined mostly to the winter months. During winter, temperatures are relatively cold, at an average of 41 to 59 °F (5 to 15 °C). Showers and cloudy days come and go during this season, dropping most of the city's annual 15 inches (380 mm) of precipitation, and as spring approaches, the gentle rains gradually dwindle. In summer, the grasslands on the hillsides dehydrate rapidly and form bright, golden sheets on the mountains set off by stands of oak. Summer is dry and warm but not hot like in other parts the Bay Area. Temperatures infrequently reach over 100 °F (38 °C), with most days in the low 80s to the mid 80s. From June to September, Milpitas experiences little rain, and as autumn approaches, the weather gradually cools down. Many temperate-climate trees drop their leaves during fall in the South Bay but the winter temperature is warm enough for evergreens like palm trees to thrive.

Climate data for Milpitas, California
Record high °F (°C)79
Average high °F (°C)58
Average low °F (°C)41
Record low °F (°C)24
Average precipitation inches (mm)3.03
Source: [22]


Historical population
1960 6,572
1970 26,561304.2%
1980 37,82042.4%
1990 50,68634.0%
2000 62,69823.7%
2010 66,7906.5%
2019 (est.)84,196 [6] 26.1%
U.S. Decennial Census [23]


The 2010 United States Census [24] reported that Milpitas had a population of 66,790. The population density was 4,896.5 people per square mile (1,890.6/km2). The racial makeup of Milpitas was 13,725 (20.5%) White, 1,969 (2.9%) African American, 309 (0.5%) Native American, 41,536 (62.2%) Asian, 346 (0.5%) Pacific Islander, 5,811 (8.7%) from other races, and 3,094 (4.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11,240 persons (16.8%).

The Census reported that 64,092 people (96.0% of the population) lived in households, 104 (0.2%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 2,594 (3.9%) were institutionalized.

There were 19,184 households, out of which 8,616 (44.9%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 12,231 (63.8%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 2,279 (11.9%) had a female householder with no husband present, 1,105 (5.8%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 760 (4.0%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 100 (0.5%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 2,470 households (12.9%) were made up of individuals, and 742 (3.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.34. There were 15,615 families (81.4% of all households); the average family size was 3.61.

The population was spread out, with 15,303 people (22.9%) under the age of 18, 5,887 people (8.8%) aged 18 to 24, 21,827 people (32.7%) aged 25 to 44, 17,434 people (26.1%) aged 45 to 64, and 6,339 people (9.5%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.1 years. For every 100 females, there were 104.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.6 males.

There were 19,806 housing units at an average density of 1,452.0 per square mile (560.6/km2), of which 12,825 (66.9%) were owner-occupied, and 6,359 (33.1%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 3.1%. 42,501 people (63.6% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 21,591 people (32.3%) lived in rental housing units.

Demographic profile [25] 2010
Total Population66,790 (100.0%)
One Race63,696 (95.4%)
Not Hispanic or Latino55,550 (83.2%)
White alone9,751 (14.6%)
Black or African American alone1,836 (2.7%)
American Indian and Alaska Native alone137 (0.2%)
Asian alone41,308 (61.8%)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone316 (0.5%)
Some other race alone93 (0.1%)
Two or more races alone2,109 (3.2%)
Hispanic or Latino (of any race)11,240 (16.8%)


As of the census [26] of 2000, there were 62,698 people, [27] 17,132 households, and 13,996 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,785.2/km2 (4,622.9/mi2). There were 17,364 housing units at an average density of 494.4/km2 (1,280.3/mi2). The racial makeup of the city was 51.81% Asian, 30.87% White, 3.66% African American, 0.62% Native American, 0.63% Pacific Islander, 7.48% from other races, and 4.94% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 16.61% of the population.

There were 17,132 households, out of which 43.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.1% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.3% are nonfamilies. 11.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 2.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.47, and the average family size was 3.72.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 24.6% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 38.0% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 7.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there are 110.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 111.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $84,429, and the median income for a family was $84,827 (these figures had risen to $85,186 and $91,232 respectively as of a 2007 estimate [28] ). Males had a median income of $51,316 versus $36,681 for females. The per capita income for the city was $27,823. About 3.3% of families and 5.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.5% of those under age 18 and 6.4% of those age 65 or over. [29]

Compared to rural parts of California, living in Milpitas is more expensive, as it is throughout Silicon Valley. Compared to other South Bay bedroom communities Milpitas is considered affordable. For example, a regular one-story, detached single-family home with a 1,300-square-foot (140 m2) size sells for between $600,000 to $700,000 in the city. These prices are slightly more affordable than the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area, as a similar sized house may cost well over a million dollars in more affluent cities such as Palo Alto, Cupertino or Saratoga. Reasons for the expensive housing in the South Bay Area include the regional high tech industries, mild climate, strong foreign investment in the West Coast's housing, and a huge demand for limited homes. With the decline in the housing market,[ when? ] however, median sales prices in Milpitas have declined from nearly $700,000 to less than $500,000, and single-family new house construction building permits have plummeted from a 2004 average price of $949,900 to $269,400 in 2007.


Electronics manufacturer Flex International laboratory Flex Bld. 5, 847 Gibralter Dr., Milpitas CA 95035.jpg
Electronics manufacturer Flex International laboratory

Milpitas ranks first in the United States with the largest percent of residents employed in the computer and electronic products industry. 34.1% of men [30] and 26.9% of women [31] are employed in this industry.

While over 75% of people who live in Milpitas work out of the city; the daytime population of Milpitas actually increases by nearly 20% as there are more people living in other cities who work in Milpitas than people living in Milpitas who work in other cities. [32] This results in heavy traffic commutes along key arterial roads twice each day. [33]

Milpitas is home to the headquarters of Adaptec, FireEye, Intersil, Viavi Solutions and Lumentum Holdings (formerly JDSU), KLA-Tencor, Linear Technology, LTX-Credence, SCA, Sigma Designs, and Flex. Many other companies have offices in Milpitas including Quantum, Western Digital, Cisco Systems, Avaya, Seagate Technology, LifeScan and International Microsystems Inc.

Milpitas is also home to one of Santa Clara County's two correctional facilities, the Elmwood Correctional Facility, [34] which houses over 3,000 inmates. [35]

Top employers

According to the city's 2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, [36] the top employers in the city are:

#Employer# of Employees
1 Cisco Systems 3,347
2 KLA Corporation 2,223
3 Flex 2,732
4 Sandisk 1,913
5 Linear Technology 1,283
6 Milpitas Unified School District 811
7 Headway Technologies 735
8 FireEye 528
9 Walmart 439
10 Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices361

Arts and culture

Milpitas Library, erected in 2009, integrates the 1915 Milpitas Grammar School building. 2009-0723-CA-MilpitasLibrary.JPG
Milpitas Library, erected in 2009, integrates the 1915 Milpitas Grammar School building.

Milpitas residents enjoy various visual and performing arts. The Milpitas Alliance for the Arts, founded in 1997, is an organization which promotes and funds murals, plays, sculptures, and many other forms of art. The "Art in Your Park" project has put many sculptures in local Milpitas parks, including a ceramic tower in Hillcrest Park, a sundial in Augustine Park, and a historical memorial in Murphy Park. The Celebrate Milpitas Festival is held annually every August, featuring vendors of crafts-type merchandise and providing local talent with a performance venue while selling visitors samplings of exotics like garlic fries or lumpia and even offerings from one or two Californian wineries. The suburb offers a rich variety of food options, including sit-down restaurants and fast food.

The Santa Clara County Library system operates the Milpitas public library. [37]

Shopping Super Centers

Milpitas is home to the largest Bay Area enclosed shopping mall (in terms of land area), the Great Mall of the Bay Area. The Great Mall is a part of the Simon mall branch and is the biggest mall/outlet shopping center in northern California. There are approximately 200 stores within the mall, with a total of 1,357,000 square feet (126,100 m2) of retail area.

Milpitas is also home to the largest power center (retail) in Santa Clara County, McCarthy Ranch Marketplace which was built in 1994 and was originally anchored by Borders Group, Computer City, Service Merchandise , SportMart , OfficeMax, Walmart and many other different stores. A large outdoor shopping center called Milpitas Square is anchored by the 99 Ranch Market west of Interstate 880. Another shopping center in Milpitas is The Seasons Marketplace anchored by Seafood City. Other Milpitas shopping centers and plazas include Ulferts Center, Milpitas Town Center, Jacklin Square, Parktown Plaza, Beresford Square, and the City Square.

In the past, Milpitas had a very different culture from that of its modern suburban state. As late as the 1950s, Milpitas was an unincorporated rural town with the Midtown district on Main Street as its main center of business and social activities. Many old businesses include Main Street Gas (operated by the Azorean Spangler brothers), Smith's Corner Saloon, and Kozy Kitchen. The Cracolice Building was one of the oldest commercial buildings in Milpitas and was the site of many political conventions and meetings. "As Milpitas Goes, So Goes the State" used to be a popular slogan around the town. Most of the land now within modern-day Milpitas's boundaries was used for strawberry, asparagus, apricot, and potato cultivation until the postwar boom during the 1950s and 1960s.

Parks and recreation

From left to right: Milpitas Community Center, Milpitas City Hall, and Milpitas Public Library Milpitas Civic Center.jpg
From left to right: Milpitas Community Center, Milpitas City Hall, and Milpitas Public Library

The city has many athletic and educational recreational programs which are located in several city buildings, including the city's sports center, teen center, library, community center, and senior center.


Ed R. Levin County Park Ed levin park.jpg
Ed R. Levin County Park

Ed R. Levin County Park is the largest county regional park near Milpitas. The County of Santa Clara Parks and Recreation Department runs the park. Monument Peak can be accessed through trails that lead north through the county park. The park also provides facilities for hang gliding and paragliding and includes a newly built dog park that was a joint effort by the county and the city of Milpitas. Two golf courses, Spring Valley Golf Course and Summitpointe Golf Course, are located in the Milpitas foothills. Both have expensive gated residential developments located adjacent to them. Milpitas itself has 17 traditional neighborhood parks which are generally 3 to 10 acres (12,000 to 40,000 m2). There also is a sports complex with two swimming pools and sports parks with baseball and tennis play areas fenced off. There are also smaller parks of less than 3 acres (12,000 m2) scattered in newer developments. Milpitas has begun to develop the San Francisco Water District's Hetch Hetchy right-of-way as park land in lieu of using land from new high density residential developments adjacent to it. Together, these parks total 166 acres (670,000 m2) of land area or less than 2% of the city's acreage. The Milpitas City Council voted February 16, 2016, to designate Jacaranda mimosifolia as Milpitas's official city tree. [38]



The city is headed by five-member city council consisting of a mayor, a vice mayor, and three councilmembers. As of 2020, the mayor is Rich Tran, the vice mayor is Carmen Montano, and the councilmembers are Evelun Chua, Karina Dominguez and Anthony Phan. The city manager is Steven McHarris. The city attorney is Christopher Diaz. The police chief is Armando Corpuz. The fire chief is Brian Sherard.

The Milpitas Town Seal was the idea of former Councilman and Vice Mayor John McDermott, who came up with the idea for a seal of the Minuteman from one of his son's history textbooks. He designed the seal and took it to Arnie's Signs and had 4,000 decals made. [39] The city's seal shows Daniel Chester French's Minuteman statue, musket in hand, standing in the Santa Clara Valley, with the golden hills of Milpitas rising to the east. He faces defiantly south toward San Jose because early residents of Milpitas considered themselves minutemen when they defeated efforts by San Jose to annex the newly incorporated Milpitas.

State and federal

In the California State Legislature, Milpitas is in the 10th Senate District , represented by Democrat Bob Wieckowski, and in the 25th Assembly District , represented by Democrat Alex Lee. [40]

In the United States House of Representatives, Milpitas is in California's 17th congressional district , represented by Democrat Ro Khanna. [41]


Primary and secondary schools

Milpitas High School Milpitas High School billboard.jpg
Milpitas High School

Milpitas's public schools are run by the Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD). [42] The school district was originally Milpitas Elementary S.D. when it was started as a separate district in the 1950s. Formerly, James Lick High School in Alum Rock was the closest high school to Milpitas. Samuel Ayer High School (now the Milpitas Sports Center, Teen Center, Calaveras Hills High School, and Adult Education Center) on Calaveras Road was built as the only high school located in the city. In the late 1960s MUSD was formed and included Ayer High which had previously been part of East Side Union High School District. In the 1970s, Milpitas High School was built on Escuela Parkway and, due to declining enrollment, Samuel Ayer High School closed. Currently Milpitas High is one of the biggest high schools in the county, with approximately 3,000 students. The continuation school, Calaveras Hills High School is one of the best schools for "at risk" students in the state. CHHS was designated a California Model Continuation High School. [43]

Milpitas unified API score for 2013 is 851. [44] Additionally, Milpitas schools have consistently attained API growth year over year. In 2013, two Milpitas elementary schools, Sinnott and Curtner, achieved scores of 927 and 922, respectively. [45] [46]

Elementary School2013 API Score
Middle School2013 API Score
High School2013 API Score



From north to south, the major east–west roads in Milpitas are Dixon Landing Road, Jacklin Road, Calaveras Boulevard, and Landess Avenue/Montague Expressway. From east to west, the major north–south roads are Piedmont Road, Evans Road, Park Victoria Drive, Milpitas Boulevard, Main Street, Abel Street, and McCarthy Boulevard. Milpitas roads that reach into the hills are, from north to south, Country Club Drive, Old Calaveras Road, Calaveras Road, and a private ranch drive, the historic Urridias Ranch Road.

As with many other Californian suburbs, Milpitas has divided roads that are maintained well by the local city government. Street signs are in green. Like the San Jose public works system, all pedestrians must manually press a button in order to turn the pedestrian signal lights on (unlike the South Bay cities, San Francisco has automatic pedestrian lights at intersections and does not have "press to cross" buttons for pedestrians).

Not all streets in Milpitas have bicycle lanes or sidewalks. It has a walk score of 48. [47] Piedmont Road, Evans Road, and Jacklin Road have excellent bike lanes and sidewalks with ample spacing, but Montague Expressway and South Milpitas Boulevard have limited sidewalks and narrow bike lanes, which causes some problems for workers commuting by bike or on foot.

Interstate 680 and Interstate 880 lead north to Fremont and south to downtown San Jose. State Route 237 begins at Milpitas and goes west to Sunnyvale and Mountain View.

Public transportation

The city is served by the Milpitas BART station, which opened for service as part of Phase I of the Silicon Valley BART extension on June 13, 2020. The station is located near the city limits of San José, and is bounded on two sides by the Montague Expressway and Capitol Ave. A pedestrian bridge runs over Capitol Ave and connects the BART station with VTA's Milpitas light rail station (formerly known as Montague station). [48]

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) runs light rail and local buses for public transportation. Three light rail stations lie within city limits: Montague, Great Mall/Main, and I-880/Milpitas, all on the Alum Rock – Santa Teresa light rail line. VTA bus routes in Milpitas are 46, 47, 66, 70, 71, 77. [49]

Milpitas does not currently have any commuter rail service. However, VTA runs timed connecting shuttles to the Altamont Corridor Express train's Santa Clara – Great America Station, meeting the four daily trains in the morning for workers commuting to Milpitas.

The nearest major airport to the city is the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), less than ten minutes away in San José. The city is also served by the general aviation Reid–Hillview Airport in East San Jose.

Milpitas borders salt ponds on the San Francisco Bay in the extreme northwest, but has no boat access. Alviso, a neighborhood in San José and formerly a neighboring city, has a marina and boat launch that allows motorized and non-motorized boats access to the bay.

China Airlines formerly operated a bus service to San Francisco International Airport for flights to Taipei, Taiwan. [50]


Like most other Bay Area cities, USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL are readily available to Milpitas. The USPS post office on Abel Street is Milpitas's main office for postal mail and is the only USPS post office in the city. ZIP code 95035 is exclusively for Milpitas and is the only standard ZIP code for the city. 95036 is a new ZIP that is used sometimes for post office boxes in Milpitas. Until the merge with SBC, Milpitas had relied on Pacific Bell for its telecommunications services. American Telegraph and Telephone (AT&T) acquired Southern Bell (SBC) in 2006 and became the land-line telephone provider in the city. As part of the agreement for the merger of AT&T with SBC, Milpitas residents were offered high speed DSL internet access from AT&T for only $10 per month until December 2009, although few residents were aware of the offer.

On Earth Day, April 22, 2009, the public-private partnership Silicon Valley Unwired announced the implementation of a free municipal WiFi wireless network for the entire city. After the Google WiFi network in Mountain View, it is the second municipal wireless network, providing free Internet access.

Notable people

The Milpitas Monster was filmed in the town in 1976. Originally started as a high school project, it developed into a feature-length film. In the quiet town of Milpitas, California, a gigantic creature is spawned in a polluted, overflowing waste disposal site. The townspeople rally to destroy the creature, which has an uncontrollable desire to consume large quantities of garbage cans.

The movie River's Edge was inspired the murder of Marcy Renee Conrad in Milpitas in 1981.

Sister cities

See also

Related Research Articles

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Cupertino, California City in California, United States

Cupertino is a city in Santa Clara County, California, United States, directly west of San Jose on the western edge of the Santa Clara Valley with portions extending into the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The population was 57,820 as of the 2020 census.

Santa Clara Valley Valley in Northern California, United States

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Alviso, San Jose Neighborhood of San Jose in San Francisco Bay Area, California, United States

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Guadalupe River (California) River in Santa Clara County, California, United States

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California State Route 237 Highway in California

State Route 237 is a state highway in the U.S. state of California that runs from El Camino Real in Mountain View to Interstate 680 in Milpitas. Known as the Southbay Freeway for most of its length, SR 237 runs south of the San Francisco Bay, connecting the East Bay to the Peninsula.

Berryessa Creek

Berryessa Creek is a seasonal creek in northeastern San Jose and Milpitas. Its main source is located in the Los Buellis Hills slightly west of Felter Road. Berryessa Creek has many tributaries, including Piedmont Creek, Calera Creek, and Penitencia Creek. In the summer, Berryessa Creek is mostly dry except in Milpitas, where much of its water comes from urban runoff and tributaries. In winter, however, the creek can flood very high and pose a hazard for surrounding residences. The creek was named after a member of the prominent Basque–Spanish Berreyesa family: Nicolas Berreyesa, a Californio settler granted the Rancho Milpitas in 1834.

Calaveras Fault

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Rancho Milpitas Mexican land grant

Rancho Milpitas was a 4,458-acre (18.04 km2) Mexican land grant in Santa Clara County, California. The name comes from the Nahuatl word for maize and could be translated "little cornfields". The grant included what is now the city of Milpitas.

José María Alviso

José María de Jesus Alviso was a Californio ranchero, soldier, and politician. He served as Alcalde of San José (mayor) in 1836 and was the rancho grantee for Rancho Milpitas. Alviso is considered the founder of the city of Milpitas.

Rancho Rincón de los Esteros Mexican land grant

Rancho Rincón de los Esteros was a 6,353-acre (25.71 km2) Mexican land grant in present-day Santa Clara County, California.

Jose Maria Alviso Adobe United States historic place

The José María Alviso Adobe, located in Milpitas, California, United States, was the home of José María Alviso, an early alcalde (mayor) of neighboring Pueblo de San Jose. It was built in 1837 and enlarged in the early 1850s, and stands as an excellent example of the Monterey Colonial style of architecture popularized throughout California in the 1830s and 1840s. It is the only remaining example of this style in the Santa Clara Valley and San Francisco Bay Area. The adobe is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

History of San Jose, California

The history of San Jose, California, the third largest city in the state, and the largest of all cities in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California, with a population of 1,021,795:

Alviso Adobe Community Park

The Alviso Adobe Community Park is a 7-acre (2.8 ha) park in the city of Pleasanton, California, United States. It is built around an adobe house constructed in 1854 by Francisco Alviso on the Rancho Santa Rita Mexican Land Grant. The Alviso Adobe is a rare surviving example of an early American adobe that was continuously in use until 1969. The building is registered as California Historical Landmark #510 in 1954, but most of the historical marker was later found to be erroneous.

Rancho Santa Rita was a 8,894-acre (35.99 km2) Mexican land grant in the Amador Valley and western Livermore Valley, which is in present day Alameda County, California.

The Berryessa family is a prominent Californio family of Northern California. Members of the family held extensive rancho grants across the Bay Area during 18th and 19th centuries. Numerous places are named after the family, including the Berryessa district of San Jose and Lake Berryessa in Napa County.

Santa Clara County, California County in California, United States

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Rincon de los Esteros, San Jose Neighborhood of San Jose in Santa Clara, California, United States

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North San Jose Place in California, United States

North San Jose is the northern region of the city of San Jose, California. North San Jose is made up of numerous neighborhoods grouped into three districts: Alviso, Berryessa, and Rincon / Golden Triangle. North San Jose is bordered by the San Francisco Bay and Milpitas to the north, the Diablo Range to the east, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale to the west, and bound in the south by the Bayshore Freeway (US-101), Nimitz Freeway (CA-880), and Mabury Road.

San José–Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility

The San José–Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility is a wastewater treatment plant located in the Alviso neighborhood of San Jose, California. The facility treats 110 million U.S. gallons of wastewater per day, with a capacity of up to 167 million U.S. gal/d (630 ML/d), making it the largest tertiary treatment plant in the western United States. It serves 1.5 million residents and over 17,000 business facilities in eight cities. The 2,600-acre (1,100 ha) site is operated by the San Jose Environmental Services Department and jointly owned by the cities of San Jose and Santa Clara. It began operations in 1956 to address severe water pollution issues and played a key role in San Jose's aggressive annexation program during the 1950s and 1960s.


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The following books on Milpitas have been used as significant references for this article. Many of the books are not available at a regular store or are out of print, but all are available at the Milpitas branch of the Santa Clara County Library. These books are also recommended as resources for further reading.