A mid-sized city near the southern end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Altos, California, lies in Santa Clara County, near San Jose and in the heart of the Silicon Valley area in Northern California. The city has seen slight growth in recent years, rising more than 2% since the 2000 census to have a population estimated at around 28,500 in July 2008. Los Altos has a total area of 6.3 square miles, all of which is land. Los Altos was originally a rural, agricultural community and a summer home for residents in the area. It was Incorporated in 1952. Today, it is a suburban bedroom community home to many of those employed in the Silicon Valley but looking for a place to live slightly smaller and more livable.
The city embraces this bedroom community status and allows zoning only in its downtown area, with some small shopping areas and a few offices. Los Altos lies near the famed San Andreas Fault and is thus subject to earthquakes, though the city's structures are adequately constructed to withstand most activity. Because of its proximity to Silicon Valley, more than 40% of the population is employed in the computers and electronics industry. The nearest hospital is just next door, a mile away in Mountain View. Annual events celebrated here include a Halloween Festival, the Los Altos Rotary Club Fine Art Show, the Downtown Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival, the Los Altos Fall Festival, the Festival of Lights Parade held near Thanksgiving, and the Los Altos High School Homecoming Parade.
Children who live in Los Altos will attend schools in the Los Altos School District (which has the highest average scores in the state), the Cupertino Union School District or Bullis Charter School for elementary and middle school. For high school, students will attend schools in the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District or Homestead High School. Private school here in the city limits include St. Nicholas School, St. Simon School, Miramonte Elementary School, and Pinewood School. The community has two libraries from which to borrow resources, the Los Altos Library and the smaller Woodland Library. The city maintains nine city parks, the largest of which are Heritage Oaks Park and Redwood Grove, plus the Los Altos History Museum and the the landmark J. Gilbert Smith House.
Los Altos is a diverse community, and around 17.5% of residents are foreign-born. The city's economic base is solid, and its unemployment rate is much lower than California's high average it has suffered amid the financial crisis. While the state's average in October 2009 was 12.3%, unemployment in Los Altos was only 6.1%. Los Altos residents tend to be quite affluent as well, and Los Altos real estate reflects this. The median household income in 2008 was estimated at around $151,000, while median Los Altos home values were more than $1.6 million at that time. Per capita income was measured to be more than $80,000.
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