Los Altos is a naturally beautiful more country than suburban community. Its lovely tree-lined streets traverse lovingly cared for gardens on graciously sized lots that lend each of the Los Altos neighborhoods a park-like ambiance.The City of Los Altos, covering 7 square miles bordered by Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Cupertino, is located 37 miles south of San Francisco.
What is now the City of Los Altos began as a portion of Rancho San Antonio, a 4,438 acre land grant awarded in 1839 to Juan Prado Mesa, a commandant of the presidio in San Francisco and later the guard at Mission Santa Clara. The land changed hands in 1845 when Mesa died of old wounds and with significant debts. Part of his rancho, which included Los Altos and portions of present-day Los Altos Hills, was sold at $.07 an acre in an executor’s sale.
By 1850 about 100 families lived in the area referred to as Los Altos (“the heights”),settling on small ranches, orchards and vineyards divided and sold from the land grant property.The first plan for a community of Los Altos didn’t occur until the 1906. The Los Altos Land Company was then formed to purchase a ranch encompassing Los Altos owned by Sara Winchester (Winchester Rifles & Winchester Mystery House) so that the Southern Pacific Railroad could gain a right-of-way for tracks linking Palo Alto and Los Gatos.
The Land Company acquired far more land than the railroad needed in this transaction so it decided to develop the excess into what it called, “the loveliest place on the peninsula”. Five years later, in 1911, the town of Los Altos boasted 50 homes, a few office buildings and stores on Main Street, all served by an electric trolley system that enabled residents to get from their homes to schools and shopping. Trains connecting residents with other communities both north and south,as well as taking them to their jobs in San Francisco, were soon running mornings and evenings.
Fast forward to 1952 to find local leaders, fearing annexation by neighboring cities, campaigning for incorporation. After a close vote, Los Altos became the 11th city in Santa Clara County on December 1, 1952 – the first to incorporate following WWII. Minimum resident lot size was set at one-quarter acre –firmly establishing the community’s elegantly rural tone.
Today, Los Altos is a beautiful residential community situated in the southern stretch of the Silicon Valley. The City is consistently ranked as one of the most exclusive communities in the U.S., making it a popular locale for families, singles and investors. There are multiple reasons why Los Altos draws residents.
Foremost, it is a quiet, slow-growing community. After a 27%+ growth spurt between 1960-1970, Los Altos has maintained an average decade growth rate of between 2% and 6%, reaching a 2016 population of just over 30,000. The combination of low relocation activity and restricted commercial development limited to downtown and select locations along Foothill Expressway and El Camino Real foster the City’s peaceful atmosphere.
Many find that, in relation to other upscale Silicon Valley communities, Los Altos homes are attractively priced. Given the lot sizes and quality of construction of the homes, most properties in Los Altos are still priced between $2 to $5 million, with high end generally under $8 million. This places Los Altos in stark contrast to communities like Woodside and Atherton where homes often run from $5 to $25 million.
Another point of favor is that while Los Altos is convenient to the business centers of Silicon Valley it is not in the midst of their congestion. It has easy commutes to Palo Alto, Cupertino, Mountain View, San Jose and even San Francisco. However, the community itself is very un-tech, with the largest employers being the Los Altos School District, Covenant Care, Coldwell Banker, Whole Foods Market and the City of Los Altos.
And of course, quality education tops the list of any family. Los Altos is served by both the Los Altos School District and the Cupertino Union School District.Together, the districts post some of the highest API test scores in the state and are home to 14 California Distinguished Schools.
Transportation is also convenient and yet unobtrusive. Los Altos is accessible to Freeways-U.S. 101 (Bayshore Freeway) and Interstate 280 (Junipero Serra Freeway), providing connection to San Francisco to the north and San Jose to the south. El Camino Real (Highway 82) is the main thoroughfare between peninsula cities. San Francisco International Airport, one of the world’s major air terminals, is just 27 miles north via Bayshore Freeway.San Jose International Airport, also a terminal for major flights, is just 20 miles to the south.
Public transportation within the city is provided by Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which also connects the Los Altos area with other cities in the Santa Clara Valley, as well as with BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Caltrain is also close by, with two stations in Mountain View.
Los Altos is the perfect location for those who want an upscale rural peninsula lifestyle, access to Silicon Valley work centers and high-performing schools. It is an exceptional place to live.