Santa Clara County, California

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Santa Clara County
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Santa Clara County, California
Interactive map of Santa Clara County
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Location in the state of California
Coordinates: 37°14′N121°43′W / 37.233°N 121.717°W / 37.233; -121.717
Country United States
State California
Region San Francisco Bay Area
Incorporated February 18, 1850 [1]
Named for Mission Santa Clara de Asís, St. Clare of Assisi
County seat
and largest city
San Jose
  Type Council–CEO
  Body Board of Supervisors
  Board PresidentSusan Ellenberg
  Board Vice PresidentOtto Lee
  Board of Supervisors [2]
  • Sylvia Arenas
  • Cindy Chavez
  • Otto Lee
  • Susan Ellenberg
  • Joe Simitian
   Chief executive officer James R. Williams, J.D.
  Total1,304 sq mi (3,380 km2)
  Land1,290 sq mi (3,300 km2)
  Water14 sq mi (40 km2)
Highest elevation
4,216 ft (1,285 m)
 (2020) [4]
  Density1,500/sq mi (570/km2)
Gross Domestic Product
  TotalUS$382.787 billion (2022)
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific)
  Summer (DST) UTC−7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Area codes 408/669, 650
FIPS code06-085
GNIS feature ID 277307
Congressional districts 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th

Santa Clara County, officially the County of Santa Clara, is the sixth-most populous county in the U.S. state of California, with a population of 1,936,259 as of the 2020 census. [4] Santa Clara County and neighboring San Benito County form the San Jose–Sunnyvale–Santa Clara metropolitan statistical area, which is part of the larger San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland combined statistical area. Santa Clara is the most populous county in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Northern California.


The county seat and largest city with a population of 971,233 is San Jose, the 10th-most populous city in the nation, California's third-most populous city, and the most populous city in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Home to Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County is an economic center for high technology, and had the third-highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the world as of 2015 behind Zürich, Switzerland, and Oslo, according to the Brookings Institution. [6] [7] Located on the southern coast of San Francisco Bay, the urbanized Santa Clara Valley within Santa Clara County contains most of the county's population. More recently, extensive droughts in California, further complicated by drainage of the Anderson reservoir within the county for seismic repairs, have strained the county's water security. [8] [9]

As of 2020, it has a median household income of $130,890, the third-highest household income of any county in the nation behind Loudoun County, Virginia and Falls Church, Virginia, and the highest of any county in the Western United States. [10] [11]


Santa Clara County Government Center in central San Jose USA-San Jose-70 West Hedding Street-East Wing-2.jpg
Santa Clara County Government Center in central San Jose

Santa Clara County is named for Mission Santa Clara, which was established in 1777, and was in turn named for Saint Clare of Assisi. [12]


Mission Santa Clara de Asis in 1849 1849 Oil Painting of Mission Santa Clara de Asis.png
Mission Santa Clara de Asís in 1849

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. [13]

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.

In the early 20th century, the area was promoted as the "Valley of the Heart's Delight" due to its natural beauty, including a significant number of orchards. [14] The region was also memorably referred to as the "sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley" in Jack London's 1903 Call of the Wild.

The first major technology company to be based in the area was Hewlett-Packard, founded in a garage in Palo Alto in 1939. IBM selected San Jose as its West Coast headquarters in 1943. Varian Associates, Fairchild Semiconductor, and other early innovators were 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, and agriculture has since been nearly eliminated from the northern part of the county.

Santa Clara County is the headquarters for about 6500 high-technology companies, including many of the world's largest such companies, including AMD, Nvidia, Cisco Systems, and Intel, computer and consumer electronics companies Apple Inc. and Hewlett-Packard, and internet companies eBay, Google, and Yahoo!. Most of what is considered to be Silicon Valley is within the county, although some adjoining tech regions in San Mateo (e.g., Facebook), Alameda, and Santa Cruz counties are also considered part of Silicon Valley. [15] [16]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,291.08 square miles (3,343.9 km2). [17]

Counties which border with Santa Clara County are, clockwise, Alameda County, San Joaquin (within a few hundred feet at Mount Boardman), Stanislaus, Merced, San Benito, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo County. Santa Clara County formerly shared borders with Contra Costa, San Francisco, Mariposa, Monterey, and Tuolumne counties until 1853, 1856, 1874, and 1854 respectively (Monterey County currently comes within a few miles of Santa Clara).

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

National protected area


Tule elk roam the Diablo Range and are often seen on Coyote Ridge from U.S. Highway 101 - courtesy Bill Leikam. Tule Elk - Merced National Wildlife Refuge Bill Leikam 12-03-2010.jpg
Tule elk roam the Diablo Range and are often seen on Coyote Ridge from U.S. Highway 101 - courtesy Bill Leikam.
Three tule elk just north of U. S. Highway 101 in Basking Ridge Park. The freeway is a barrier to elk migration to the Coast Range. Courtesy Craige Edgerton Tule Elk Basking Ridge Park, Santa Clara County Edgerton 2009-12-24.png
Three tule elk just north of U. S. Highway 101 in Basking Ridge Park. The freeway is a barrier to elk migration to the Coast Range. Courtesy Craige Edgerton

Both tule elk (Cervus canadensis nannodes) and pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) were historically native to Santa Clara County. In June 1776, Lieutenant Commander Don José Joaquín Moraga led a group of soldiers and colonists from the Presidio of Monterey to establish Mission San Francisco de Asis and encountered both tule elk and pronghorn, and clearly distinguished these two species from deer. [18] The deer in California being California mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus).

Regarding elk, Moraga wrote: "In the great plain called San Bernardino (the Santa Clara Valley which stretches from south San Jose to Gilroy), while the expedition was strung out at length, we descried in the distance a herd of large animals that looked like cattle, but we could not imagine where they belonged or from whence they had come...with horns similar in shape to those of the deer, but so large that they measured sixteen palms from tip to tip." Upon measurement, Morago reported the elk horns as four varas [11 feet (3.4 m)] across... "These animals [elk] are called ciervos in order to differentiate them from the ordinary Spanish variety of deer, here called venados, which also exist in abundance and of large size in the vicinity." [18]

Regarding pronghorn, Moraga reported: "In the said plains of San Bernardino (Santa Clara Valley)…there is another species of deer about the size of three-year-old sheep. They are similar in appearance to the deer, except they have short horns and also short legs like the sheep. They live in the plains where they go in herds of 100, 200, or more. They run all together over the plains so fast that they seem to fly…These animals are called berrendos and there are many of them also in the southern Missions wherever the country is level." [18]

Herbert Eugene Bolton also wrote of elk reports from another Spanish expedition, from the De Anza Expedition on March 23, 1776: " In Gilroy Valley (Santa Clara Valley) Moraga 's larder was replenished by three elks which the men killed without leaving the road." [19] General John Bidwell, of the 1841 Bartleson-Bidwell Party wrote: "In some of the fertile valleys, such as Napa and Santa Clara, there were elk literally by the thousand." [20]

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. While other ranchers refused, tech pioneers Bill Hewlett and David Packard allowed Coletto and state biologists to translocate the initial 32 tule elk from the Owens Valley in the eastern Sierra onto the 28,000-acre (11,000 ha) San Felipe Ranch, which the families jointly own, in the hills east of Morgan Hill. [21] From the three original 1978–1981 translocations (totaling 65 animals) 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 Lake, and surrounding areas such as the Sunol and Cottonwood Creek (near San Luis Reservoir in western Merced County, California) herds. [22] As of 2012, an estimated 400 tule elk roam 1,875 square kilometres (724 sq mi) in northeastern Santa Clara County and southeastern Alameda County. [23] In March 2014 CDFW translocated nine bull elk from the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge to add genetic diversity to the San Antonio Valley Ecological Reserve herd in San Antonio Valley in extreme eastern Santa Clara County. [24] As of 2017 there were four herds in the Coyote Ridge area, often visible from U. S. Highway 101, according to Craige Edgerton, recently retired executive director of the Silicon Valley Land Conservancy and local naturalist Michael Hundt. [25] In 2019, a fifth herd of tule elk was documented by local naturalist Roger Castillo, likely having split from the Coyote Ridge herd and established itself in Silver Creek Valley around the closed Ranch Golf Club. [26] The elk herds in eastern Santa Clara County are blocked from dispersal to the west by U.S. Highway 101, with environmentalists advocating re-purposing the Metcalf Road bridge at the Coyote Gap into a wildlife overcrossing. [22] This would enable elk to recolonize rural southwestern Santa Clara County, as well as Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties.

In 1990, the California Department of Fish and Game's Henry Coletto translocated excess pronghorn from Modoc County to six locations in California, including 51 animals to the San Felipe Ranch in Santa Clara County, where the swift-footed ungulates had not lived for generations. [27] The animals left the San Felipe Ranch for the Isabel and San Antonio Valleys, as well as an area near Lake Del Valle in Alameda County may now be extirpated by poaching, highway vehicle collisions, and insufficient numbers to defend pronghorn fawns against coyote predation. [28] As of 2012, the Isabel Valley Ranch herd had dwindled to 3 animals, and the Lake del Valle herd to 13. [29] Currently, has zero observer records of pronghorn in Santa Clara County. [30]

The Nature Conservancy "Mount Hamilton Project" has acquired or put under conservation easement 100,000 acres (40,000 ha) of land towards its 500,000 acres (200,000 ha) goal for habitat conservation within a 1,200,000 acres (490,000 ha) 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 (711 ha) 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. [31] [32]

As of 1980, Santa Clara County had the highest number of Superfund Sites of any county in the United States, accounting for 25 polluted locations requiring a long-term response to clean up hazardous material contaminations. [33] [34] As of 2019, Santa Clara County has 23 active Superfund Sites, still more than any other county in the United States. [35] The vast majority of these Superfund sites were caused by firms associated with the high tech sector in Silicon Valley. [36]


Historical population
1860 11,912
1870 26,246120.3%
1880 35,03933.5%
1890 48,00537.0%
1900 60,21625.4%
1910 83,53938.7%
1920 100,67620.5%
1930 145,11844.1%
1940 174,94920.6%
1950 290,54766.1%
1960 642,315121.1%
1970 1,064,71465.8%
1980 1,295,07121.6%
1990 1,497,57715.6%
2000 1,682,58512.4%
2010 1,781,6425.9%
2020 1,936,2598.7%
2023 (est.)1,877,592 [37] −3.0%
U.S. Decennial Census [38]
1790–1960 [39] 1900–1990 [40]
1990–2000 [41] 2010 [42] 2020 [43]

2020 census

Santa Clara County, California - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / EthnicityPop 2010 [42] Pop 2020 [43] % 2010% 2020
White alone (NH)626,909555,70835.19%28.70%
Black or African American alone (NH)42,33142,1482.38%2.18%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH)4,0423,2400.23%0.17%
Asian alone (NH)565,466753,39931.74%38.91%
Pacific Islander alone (NH)6,2525,9450.35%0.31%
Some other race alone (NH)3,87710,1950.22%0.53%
Mixed Race/multiracial (NH)53,55578,2673.01%4.04%
Hispanic or Latino (any race)479,210487,35726.90%25.17%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.


Census demographics data released in 2019 show Asian Americans have had the plurality of Santa Clara's population since 2014. [44]

Ethnic origins in Santa Clara County Ethnic Origins in Santa Clara County, CA.png
Ethnic origins in Santa Clara County


Thematic map showing median household income across central Santa Clara County Silicon Valley Income Map 20160315.png
Thematic map showing median household income across central Santa Clara County

As of 2013, Santa Clara County has the highest median household income of any county in California at $84,741. [45]

Places by population, race, and income

2010 census

The 2010 United States census reported that Santa Clara County had a population of 1,781,642. The racial makeup of Santa Clara County was 836,616 (47.0%) White, 46,428 (2.6%) African American, 12,960 (0.7%) Native American, 7,060 (0.4%) Pacific Islander, 570,524 (32.0%) Asian, 220,806 (12.4%) from other races, and 87,248 (4.9%) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 479,210 persons (26.9% of the population). [53]

Total Population1,781,642 - 100.0%
One Race1,694,394 - 95.1%
Not Hispanic or Latino1,302,432 - 73.1%
White alone626,909 - 35.2%
Black or African American alone42,331 - 2.4%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone4,042 - 0.2%
Asian alone565,466 - 31.7%
Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander alone6,252 - 0.4%
Some other race alone3,877 - 0.2%
Two or more races alone53,555 - 3.0%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race)479,210 - 26.9%

Demographic profile [54]

The largest ancestry groups were:


As of the census [55] of 2000, 1,682,585 people, 565,863 households, and 395,538 families were residing in the county. The population density was 503/km2 (1,300/sq mi). The 579,329 housing units had an average density of 173/km2 (450/sq mi). The ethnic makeup of the county was 53.8% White, 2.8% 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. About 24.0% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Of the 565,863 households, 34.9% had children under 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 not families. About 21.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.9% had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 2.92, and the average family size was 3.41.

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

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

2020 religion census

Santa Clara County is among the most religiously diverse counties in the US. A 2020 census by the Public Religion Research Institute (unconnected to the official US census) calculates a religious diversity score of 0.876 for Santa Clara County, where 1 represents complete diversity (each religious group of equal size) and 0 a total lack of diversity. Only four counties in the US have higher diversity scores than Santa Clara County. [56]


Santa Clara County has five elected supervisors, elected within their districts. The board appoints the County Executive, who is James R. Williams, J.D. [57] The County Executive is responsible for the administration of the county and appoints almost all other officers and department heads. [58]

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

The county operates the Santa Clara County Health System of medical centers and clinics.

In the United States House of Representatives, Santa Clara County is split among four congressional districts: [59]

In the California State Senate, the county is split among four legislative districts: [60]

In the California State Assembly, the county is split among six legislative districts: [61]

Voters in the county also elect a number of other officials to county-wide positions, including the Santa Clara County District Attorney, the Santa Clara County Sheriff, and a large number of criminal and civil judges that serve in courts throughout the county.


Historically, Santa Clara County was a Republican stronghold in presidential elections. From 1872 through 1984, the only Democrats to carry Santa Clara County were Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Hubert Humphrey. However, 1988 would begin to mark a significant shift in the county's political leanings, starting with Michael Dukakis' narrow win and culminating in Bill Clinton's substantial 20-point victory in 1992. Since then, the Democratic presidential candidate has won Santa Clara County by large margins, and it also remains solidly blue in congressional elections, as all politicians representing the county at the state and federal level are known to be Democrats. The last Republican to win a majority in the county was Ronald Reagan in 1984. While Republicans remained competitive at the state and local level throughout the 1990s, there are currently no elected Republicans representing the county above the local level.

United States presidential election results for Santa Clara County, California [62]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
2020 214,61225.23%617,96772.64%18,1622.13%
2016 144,82620.58%511,68472.71%47,1996.71%
2012 174,84327.14%450,81869.97%18,6162.89%
2008 190,03928.55%462,24169.45%13,3092.00%
2004 209,09434.63%386,10063.94%8,6221.43%
2000 188,75034.44%332,49060.66%26,8894.91%
1996 168,29132.16%297,63956.88%57,36110.96%
1992 170,87028.38%296,26549.21%134,92022.41%
1988 254,44246.99%277,81051.30%9,2761.71%
1984 288,63854.81%229,86543.65%8,1361.54%
1980 229,04848.02%166,99535.01%80,96016.97%
1976 219,18849.46%208,02346.94%15,9273.59%
1972 237,33451.90%208,50645.60%11,4532.50%
1968 163,44645.61%173,51148.42%21,4105.97%
1964 117,42036.63%202,24963.10%8580.27%
1960 131,73552.67%117,66747.05%6900.28%
1956 105,65759.09%72,52840.56%6330.35%
1952 91,94059.74%61,03539.66%9320.61%
1948 52,98253.25%41,90542.11%4,6154.64%
1944 39,40947.04%43,86952.36%4990.60%
1940 40,10049.20%40,44949.63%9471.16%
1936 26,49840.41%38,34658.48%7321.12%
1932 27,35347.54%28,27249.14%1,9063.31%
1928 31,71063.81%17,58935.39%3950.79%
1924 20,05658.02%2,5607.41%11,95234.58%
1920 19,56568.09%6,48522.57%2,6829.33%
1916 16,59250.77%14,18543.40%1,9045.83%
1912 1730.75%9,17339.64%13,79359.61%
1908 7,95058.88%3,83628.41%1,71612.71%
1904 8,27466.10%3,10024.77%1,1439.13%
1900 7,10758.25%4,60737.76%4863.98%
1896 6,31553.51%5,19143.99%2952.50%
1892 4,62044.48%4,16740.12%1,60015.40%
1888 4,45749.94%3,97244.51%4955.55%
1884 3,84052.91%3,17243.70%2463.39%
1880 3,11351.50%2,82146.67%1111.84%
Gubernatorial election results
Santa Clara County vote
by party in gubernatorial elections
2022 30.0% 162,51870.0%379,377
2018 28.6% 175,79171.4%438,758
2014 27.1% 107,11372.9%288,732
2010 34.9% 178,69561.3%314,022
2006 52.2%225,13242.9% 185,037
2003 39.2% 160,80739.9%163,768
2002 32.4% 116,86255.3%199,399
1998 31.7% 133,01564.3%270,105
1994 47.5%212,07547.5% 211,904
1990 42.6% 178,31052.2%218,843
1986 59.9%227,28537.6% 142,907
1982 44.0% 180,23252.9%216,781
1978 29.8% 110,44461.4%227,493
1974 46.7% 153,76150.6%166,760
1970 51.5%172,56246.1% 154,570
1966 55.4%164,97044.6% 132,793
1962 47.6% 112,70051.2%121,149

According to the California Secretary of State, as of February 10, 2019, Santa Clara County has 895,965 registered voters. Of those, 405,470 (45.3%) are registered Democrats, 151,213 (16.9%) are registered Republicans, and 308,769 (35.4%) have declined to state a political party. [63]

As of November 2012, all of the cities, towns, and unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County have more registered Democrats than Republicans. [64] In 2008, Barack Obama carried every city and town in the county, as well as the unincorporated areas. [65]

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. [66]

Voter registration

Cities by population and voter registration


The following table includes the number of incidents reported in 2009 and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense. Law Enforcement in Santa Clara County is handled by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office and local police departments.

Cities by population and crime rates


The county's economy is heavily services-based. Technology, both hardware and software, dominates the service sector by value, but like any other county, Santa Clara 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. [70] The GDP of the metro area reached $176.7 billion in 2011, or $94,587 per capita, [71] roughly on par with Qatar in both total GDP and per capita (nominal). [72] 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 vis a vis other regions nationally, a large underclass exists whose income is roughly equivalent to that 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 passed $1 million ($1,017,528) in August 2013. [73] As of the fourth quarter of 2021, the median value of homes in Santa Clara County was $1,253,400, an increase of 11.9% from the prior year, and ranking fourth in the US for highest median home value. [74]


K-12 schools

School districts include: [75]



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. [76] Other cities run their own library systems.



San Jose International Airport is ranked as the best-run airport in the United States by the ACBJ. Airbus A-300 UPS takes off (5863558111) (2).jpg
San Jose International Airport is ranked as the best-run airport in the United States by the ACBJ.

The county's main airport is Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport (SJC). It is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection port of entry [78] and as of 2019 has five international routes (two to Canada, one to England, one to Japan, seven to Mexico, and one to China) but the airport's busiest routes are all to cities in the western United States. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is also often used for commercial services by residents of Santa Clara County.

Moffett Federal Airfield (NUQ), a former U.S. Naval Air Station, is used by the Air National Guard, NASA, Lockheed Martin, Google, and by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department as an air operations base. [79] There are also smaller general aviation airports in Palo Alto (PAO), San Jose (Reid-Hillview) (RHV), and San Martin(E16)


VTA train at Baypointe station, March 2005.jpg
VTA LRT at Diridon Station (12541465765).jpg
The VTA light rail system serves 11 million people annually in Silicon Valley.

Santa Clara County is served by Caltrain commuter rail from Gilroy through San Jose and Silicon Valley north to San Francisco Airport and San Francisco. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority operates the VTA light rail system, which primarily serves San Jose, with one line continuing as far north as Mountain View. Santa Clara and San Jose are also served by the Altamont Corridor Express commuter rail line which provides services to Stockton, and Amtrak which provides service to Sacramento and Oakland. The Amtrak Coast Starlight train between Seattle and Los Angeles also stops in San Jose. BART currently services Milpitas and North San Jose, with plans to extend to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara.


VTA bus arriving at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills Santa Clara VTA bus.jpg
VTA bus arriving at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills


Santa Clara County has consolidated its transportation services into the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which operates a bus system.

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.

Freeways and expressways

The county has an extensive freeway system and a separate expressway system (though it's not as extensive as those in Southern California). 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
Other roads


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.


Santa Clara County Department of Correction is administered by the county's sheriff's office and supervises the following facilities:


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

Open space preserves include:

Santa Clara County also contains Ulistac Natural Area, a volunteer maintained natural open space. Foreign and invasive species are removed when possible as native plants are introduced. Migratory birds and butterflies often use this area.


Santa Clara County
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: [83]
Imperial conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches

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 2023, there are two sister counties: [84]

A previously established relationship with Moscow was terminated in 2022. [85]


Los Altos Main Street 2.jpg
Los Altos is the 3rd most expensive zip code in the United States. [86]
Ramona Street Architectural District, Palo Alto, CA 5-27-2012 2-48-37 PM.JPG
Palo Alto is the 5th most educated city [87] and the 5th most expensive zip code in the United States. [88]
Votaw Building (1).jpg
Morgan Hill is the 17th most expensive place to live in the United States. [89]
Main Street Los Gatos.jpg
Los Gatos is the 33rd wealthiest city in the United States. [90]
Memorial Arch Saratoga California.jpg
Saratoga is the 16th most educated and the 8th wealthiest city in the United States. [91] [92]


There are 15 incorporated places in Santa Clara County:


Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Census county divisions

Former townships

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2020 census of Santa Clara County. [93]

county seat

RankCity/Town/etc.Municipal typePopulation (2020 Census)
1 San Jose City1,013,240
2 Sunnyvale City155,805
3 Santa Clara City127,647
4 Mountain View City82,376
5 Milpitas City80,273
6 Palo Alto City68,572
7 Cupertino City60,381
8 Gilroy City59,520
9 Morgan Hill City44,686
10 Campbell City43,959
11 Los Gatos Town33,529
12 Los Altos City31,625
13 Saratoga City31,051
14 Stanford CDP21,150
15 Alum Rock CDP12,042
16 Los Altos Hills Town8,489
17 San Martin CDP7,008
18 East Foothills CDP6,803
19 Burbank CDP4,940
20 Cambrian Park CDP3,719
21 Loyola CDP3,491
22 Monte Sereno City3,479
23 Lexington Hills CDP2,492
24 Fruitdale CDP989

See also


  1. Other = Some other race + Two or more races
  2. Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
  3. 1 2 Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.
  4. Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Los Altos, California</span> City in California, United States

Los Altos is a city in Santa Clara County, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The population was 31,625 according to the 2020 census.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Francisco Peninsula</span> Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area

The San Francisco Peninsula is a peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area that separates San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. On its northern tip is the City and County of San Francisco. Its southern base is Los Altos, Mountain View, in Santa Clara County, south of Palo Alto and north of Sunnyvale and Los Altos. Most of the Peninsula is occupied by San Mateo County, between San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, and including the cities and towns of Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Colma, Daly City, East Palo Alto, El Granada, Foster City, Hillsborough, Half Moon Bay, La Honda, Loma Mar, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Mountain View, Pacifica, Palo Alto, Pescadero, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo, South San Francisco, and Woodside.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Palo Alto, California</span> City in California, United States

Palo Alto is a charter city in the northwestern corner of Santa Clara County, California, United States, in the San Francisco Bay Area, named after a coastal redwood tree known as El Palo Alto.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Jose, California</span> City in California, United States

San Jose, officially the City of San José, is the largest city in Northern California by both population and area. With a 2022 population of 971,233, it is the most populous city in both the Bay Area and the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland Combined Statistical Area—which in 2022 had a population of 7.5 million and 9.0 million respectively—the third-most populous city in California after Los Angeles and San Diego, and the 12th-most populous in the United States. Located in the center of the Santa Clara Valley on the southern shore of San Francisco Bay, San Jose covers an area of 179.97 sq mi (466.1 km2). San Jose is the county seat of Santa Clara County and the main component of the San Jose–Sunnyvale–Santa Clara Metropolitan Statistical Area, with an estimated population of around two million residents in 2018.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Benito County, California</span> County in California, United States

San Benito County, officially the County of San Benito, is a county located in the Coast Range Mountains of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 64,209. The county seat is Hollister.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Mateo County, California</span> County in California, United States

San Mateo County, officially the County of San Mateo, is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 764,442. Redwood City is the county seat, the third-most populated city in the county after Daly City and San Mateo.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Santa Cruz County, California</span> County in California, United States

Santa Cruz County, officially the County of Santa Cruz, is a county on the Pacific coast of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 270,861. The county seat is Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz County comprises the Santa Cruz–Watsonville, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area. The county is on the California Central Coast, south of the San Francisco Bay Area region. The county forms the northern coast of the Monterey Bay, with Monterey County forming the southern coast.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cupertino, California</span> 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 60,381 as of the 2020 census. The city is widely known for being the home of Apple Inc., headquartered within the city at Apple Park.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gilroy, California</span> City in California, United States

Gilroy is a city in Northern California's Santa Clara County, south of Morgan Hill and north of San Benito County. Gilroy is the southernmost city in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a population of 59,520 as of the 2020 Census.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Morgan Hill, California</span> City in California, United States

Morgan Hill is a city in Santa Clara County, California, at the southern tip of Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area. Morgan Hill is an affluent residential community, the seat of several high-tech companies, and a dining, entertainment, and recreational destination, owing to its luxury hospitality, wineries, and nature parks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mountain View, California</span> City in California, United States

Mountain View is a city in Santa Clara County, California, United States, part of the San Francisco Bay Area. Named for its views of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the population was 82,376 at the 2020 census.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Santa Clara, California</span> City in California, United States

Santa Clara is a city in the county of the same name. The city's population was 127,647 at the 2020 census, making it the eighth-most populous city in the Bay Area. Located in the southern Bay Area, the city was founded by the Spanish in 1777 with the establishment of Mission Santa Clara de Asís under the leadership of Junípero Serra.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sunnyvale, California</span> City in California, United States

Sunnyvale is a city located in the Santa Clara Valley in northwest Santa Clara County in the U.S. state of California.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Northern California</span> American geographic and cultural region

Northern California is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the northern portion of the U.S. state of California, spanning the northernmost 48 of the state's 58 counties. Its main population centers include the San Francisco Bay Area, the Greater Sacramento area, the Redding, California, area south of the Cascade Range, and the Metropolitan Fresno area. Northern California also contains redwood forests, along with most of the Sierra Nevada, including Yosemite Valley and part of Lake Tahoe, Mount Shasta, and most of the Central Valley, one of the world's most productive agricultural regions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Santa Clara Valley</span> Valley in Northern California, United States

The Santa Clara Valley is a geologic trough in Northern California that extends 90 miles (140 km) south–southeast from San Francisco to Hollister. The longitudinal valley is bordered on the west by the Santa Cruz Mountains and on the east by the Diablo Range; the two coastal ranges meet south of Hollister. The San Francisco Bay borders the valley to the north, and fills much of the northern third of the valley. The valley floor is an alluvial plain that formed in the graben between the San Andreas Fault to the west and the Hayward and Calaveras faults to the east. Within the valley and surrounding the bay on three sides are the urban communities of San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, and Alameda County, while the narrow southern reaches of the valley extend into rural San Benito County to Hollister. In practical terms, the central portion of the Santa Clara Valley is often considered by itself, contained entirely within Santa Clara County.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roman Catholic Diocese of San José in California</span> Latin Catholic ecclesiastical jurisdiction in California, USA

The Diocese of San José in California is a Latin Church ecclesiastical territory, or diocese, of the Catholic Church in Santa Clara County in California in the United States. It is a suffragan diocese of the metropolitan Archdiocese of San Francisco.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority</span> Public transit operator in Santa Clara County, California

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, more commonly known simply as the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), is a special district responsible for public transit services, congestion management, specific highway improvement projects, and countywide transportation planning for Santa Clara County, California. It serves San Jose, California, and the surrounding Silicon Valley. It is one of the governing parties for the Caltrain commuter rail line that serves the county. In 2023, the VTA's public transportation services had a combined ridership of 26,610,000, or about 87,500 per weekday as of the fourth quarter of 2023.

Santa Clara County, California, is one of California's original counties, with prior habitation dating from prehistory to the Alta California period.

There are 21 routes assigned to the "G" zone of the California Route Marker Program, which designates county routes in California. The "G" zone includes county highways in Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz counties.


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