Milpitas, California

From Academic Kids

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Looking east toward Monument Peak in Milpitas. The rightmost antenna is Monument Peak, while the leftmost one is Mount Allison. Click on the image for a detailed description.

Milpitas (2000 population: 62,698) is a city in Santa Clara County, California, USA. Milpitas is usually considered to be a small northern suburb of San Jose. It is located with San Jose to its south and Fremont to its north, at the eastern end of Highway 237 and near the southern ends of Interstates 680 and 880. With Alameda County bordering directly on the north, Milpitas sits in the extreme northeast section of the South Bay, bordering the East Bay and Fremont. Milpitas is also located within the "Silicon Valley", a region of "hi-tech" computer businesses and industries. The corporate headquarters of Maxtor, PalmOne, LSI Logic, Solectron and Adaptec sit within the industrial zones of Milpitas.

The name Milpitas is the plural diminutive of the Spanish word milpa ("cornfield"), which is a word dervied from Nahuatl milli, meaning "agricultural field" and pan, meaning "on". The name Milpitas literally means "little cornfields", reflecting the farming background of the area. The name was originally given to a rancho, but the name was later applied to the entire area.



Milpitas was first inhabited by the Tamyen (also spelled Thomien, Tamien, Thamien, or Tamiayn), a triblet of the Ohlone Indians 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. They lived in various villages in modern-day Milpitas, including sites underneath what are now the Elmwood Correctional Facility, the Calvary Assembly of God Church, and Higuera Adobe Park. 4

During the Spanish expeditions of the late 1700s, several missions were founded in the San Francisco Bay Area. During the mission period, Milpitas was only an unnamed region that served as a crossroads between Mission San José de Guadalupe in modern-day Fremont and Mission Santa Clara de Asis, now on the Santa Clara University’s campus. After the Mexican government took over the vast missions lands and distributed them among the Californios (Mexican pioneers living in California), the brief but lively “rancho” period began. The land in modern-day Milpitas was divided between the 4,457.66 acre (18.0 km²) Rancho Milpitas and the 4,394 acre (17.8 km²) Rancho Tularcitos. [1] ( José Higuera was granted Rancho Tularcitos, while José María Alviso occupied Rancho Milpitas (The latter is now named after a middle school in southeast Milpitas.). However, due to Alviso's difficulty securing his claims on the Rancho Milpitas property, much of his land was either swindled from the Alviso family or had to be quickly sold to American settlers. Both of the landowners built Spanish-styled adobes on their properties. Today, the adobes are still existent and are the oldest structures in Milpitas. Higuera Adobe, now in Higuera Adobe Park, is in fairly good condition [2] (, but the dilapidated Alviso Adobe is currently being repaired by the City of Milpitas. Alviso Adobe Park is scheduled to be opened a few years later, and planners have proposed to convert it into 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 are among the early settlers of Milpitas. 1 (Today many schools, streets, and parks have been named in honor of these families.) These early settlers farmed the land and set up many businesses on a section of the old Oakland-San Jose Highway, which soon became known as the “Midtown” district. Yet another influx of immigration came in the 1870s and 1880s as Portuguese sharecroppers from the Azores established ranches and orchards on the hillsides. Many of the Azoreans had such locally well-known surnames like Coelho, Covo, Mattos, Nunes, Spangler, Serpa, and Silva. Local legend retells that during the late 1800s, there was a strong sentiment for the town to be named Penitencia, after the local creek that runs through the Midtown area. However, a post office clerk, Joseph Weller, opposed the city's naming to Penitencia because he disliked having his hometown to be named after what he thought was a near homonym to "penitentiary." Instead of choosing Penitencia, he selected the name Milpitas, which Weller had derived from the name of Alviso's property, Rancho Milpitas. Since then, “Milpitas” became a popularly used name in the town and has since stuck on. [3] (

In the early 1900s, Milpitas served as a popular rest stop for travelers on the old Oakland-San Jose Highway. One of the most famous of Milpitas' restaurants was the Kozy Kitchen that was run by the Carlos family. (Kozy Kitchen was recently demolished in 1999 when Carlos closed the restaurant. [4] ( As late as the 1950s, Milpitas was only a rural town of 400 people who walked a mere one or two blocks to work.

On January 26, 1954, Milpitas was incorporated as a city. However, the newly formed city soon faced what the residents considered a serious threat to the city's culture and heritage. When San Jose attempted to annex Milpitas, the "Milpitas Minutemen" were quickly organized to oppose annexation and keep Milpitas independent. Almost all Milpitas residents voted "No" to annexation on the 1961 election because of vigorous campaigns that had stirred up the town. 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 the railroads after the construction was completed. Even though the good side was that local residents could now drive over the railroads without waiting for minutes when a train passed, the bad side was that many historic buildings and sites had to be either moved or demolished. (Paragraph source) 2

Starting in the 1950s and accelerating in the 1960s and 1970s, massive residential and shopping development took place. Farmland in western Milpitas rapidly disappeared as high-tech industries and residential developments sprang up. Soon, the rural town of Milpitas suddenly found itself as a bustling San Jose suburb. In a mere 30 years' amount of time, the population jumped ten times from about 6,500 in 1970 to 62,698 in 2000. Because the hi-tech computer industries increased labor demand was met in large part by skilled workers from China, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines, the percentage of Asian-American residents skyrocketed from 12% of the population in 1980, to 37% in 1990, and boomed to 51% in 2000. [5] (

Current events

In the early 2000s, 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 its 50th anniversary of incorporation and issued the book Milpitas: Five Dynamic Decades to commemorate fifty years of Milpitas' history as a busy, exciting suburb. After the recent 2004 Milpitas elections, former real estate agent Debbie Giordano was elected City Council member, and Jose "Joe" Esteves was reelected mayor. In the fall of 2004, the city successfully realigned the South Bay Aqueduct and improved sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and drainage ditches on Piedmont Road. A welcome plaque is also going to be constructed at the intersections of Landess and Piedmont this summer. [6] (


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Location of Milpitas, California

Milpitas is located at 37°26'5" North, 121°53'42" West (37.434586, -121.895059)Template:GR. Milpitas lies in the northeastern corner of the Santa Clara Valley, which is south of San Francisco. [7] ( [8] ( 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 35.3 km² (13.6 mi²). 35.1 km² (13.6 mi²) of it is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.44% water.

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The southeastern foothills of Milpitas

The median elevation of Milpitas is 19 feet (6 m). At Piedmont Road, Evans Road, and North Park Victoria Avenue, 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 lie the foothills, rolling hills, and mountains of the Diablo Range. Although not within Milpitas' city limits, Monument Peak, Calaveras Reservoir, Arroyo Hondo, Laguna Valley, and the surrounding region are culturally and historically considered part of Milpitas. (Loomis, Patricia - Milpitas: A Century of Little Cornfields) Many Portuguese farmers from the Azores have settled there, including the Coelho, Covo, Mattos, Serpa, and Silva families. They are often nicknamed by long-time Milpitans as the “hill people.” These Azorean families still own the undeveloped lands in the Milpitas foothills, such as the Silvas living on Old Calaveras Road. 4 The southeastern-most hills belong to the City of Milpitas, which then leases the lands to cattle livestock companies.

Urban layout

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The U.S. Census Bureau's map of Milpitas

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. Quiet neighborhoods and undeveloped mountains lie east of I-680.

In reality, Milpitas has no concentrated downtown "center", but instead has a busy downtown zone with many retailers and restaurants. The busier parts of Milpitas can be considered to be the section of Calaveras Boulevard west of Main Street and reaching all the way to Highway 237. The "Midtown" region, the oldest part of Milpitas, has many 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. A USPS post office, Saint Joseph's Catholic School, the Senior Center, and Elmwood Correctional Facility are all in the Midtown section of Milpitas. The Milpitas Civic Center, which includes the City Hall and local branch of the Santa Clara County Library, 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 and the Union Pacific railroad, which runs from north to south.


Typical  landscape. Photo of , a peak southeast of Milpitas
Typical chaparral landscape. Photo of Mount Hamilton, a peak southeast of Milpitas

Set within a mild Mediterranean climate zone in California, Milpitas enjoys warm, sunny weather with no extreme temperatures or snow. As one of the most desirable and appealing climates in the United States, the city's temperature almost never drops below 35 ºF (2 ºC) and very rarely experiences snowstorms, icestorms, or blizzards. During the winter, temperatures are relatively warm at an average of 50 to 70ºF (10 to 21 ºC). Showers and cloudy days are frequent during this season and as spring approaches, the rainstorms gradually dwindle. In summer, the grasslands on the hillsides dehydrate rapidly and form bright, golden sheets on the mountains. As opposed to Milpitas' rainy, cool winters, the Californian summer is dry and hot. Temperatures frequently swelter over 100ºF on hot days. From June to September, Milpitas experiences little rain and as Autumn approaches, the weather gradually cools down. Though many temperate climate trees drop their leaves during fall in the South Bay, many oaks and palms retain the same density of foliage as they did in the summer due to the warm winter temperatures.

See also: San Jose's climate


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

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

In the city the population is 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 110.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 111.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $84,429, and the median income for a family is $84,827. Males have a median income of $51,316 versus $36,681 for females. The per capita income for the city is $27,823. 5.0% of the population and 3.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 5.5% of those under the age of 18 and 6.4% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line. [9] (

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Modest single family Milford Village homes on Jupiter Way, Milpitas.


Almost all of Milpitas' homes were built after World War II. The first neighborhoods constructed after the war were Sunnyhills and Milford Village, which were both built in the 1950s. (Source: 2)

  • Sunnyhills is one of the first racially integrated neighborhoods in the United States. Minority leaders Ben Gross, Al Augustine, and Oliver Jones played a major role in the development of Sunnyhills. The many of the houses were designed as two-story homes.
  • The Milford Village homes were designed to be affordable and sold rapidly. It is bound to the north by Calaveras Boulevard, to the east by La Crosse Avenue, to the south by Yosemite Drive, and to the east by Carnegie Drive. The western and northern sections contain a large Latino population because of the more affordable homes available there. [10] (
  • Parktown, south of Yosemite Drive, was developed by Art Sassone in the 1960s. Sassone designed it so that its residents could walk to nearby parks without crossing a busy thoroughfare. Though it did not meet a few minimum requirements, the Milpitas City Council immediately accepted the Parktown Plan. Parktown's streets are named after famous national parks in the United States. Today, the houses remain in good condition. Parktown lies east of Interstate 680 in the extreme southeast section of Milpitas.
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Large, densely-packed, new homes on Kristinridge Way, Milpitas. Located south of the Parktown development and adjacent to Hillcrest.
  • Hillcrest, south of Parktown, is a new condominium and single-family home development built in the early 1990s. Besides the construction of much new housing, Hillcrest Park was also built, along with an expansion of Ben Rogers Park. Before its construction, Hillcrest was a private hay farm that bordered Sinnott Elementary School and Piedmont Road.
  • Sylvan Gardens is a 104-home tract located between modern-day Elmwood Correctional Facility and Calaveras Boulevard. It is located in the Midtown area.
  • Summitpointe, built in the 1990's, is the site of multi-million homes and is located on the hillside near Summitpointe Golf Course.


  • Driftwood, Calaveras Heights, and Laura Apartments on Adams Avenue provide housing for low-income families. The area is notorious for the crime that has continually there. [11] (
  • Indian Hills and Dry Creek Apartments on Dempsey Road also provide housing for low-income families, although the rent has now gone up to about 900 dollars per month.
  • Milpitas Apartments on Calle Oriente, with only about a 400-dollar monthly rent, provide affordable housing.
  • Monte Vista and Parc West Apartments are middle-classed apartments on South Main Street. The apartments lie directly west of Great Mall.
  • Adjacent to Great Mall, Parc Metropolitan also are middle-classed apartments that border the mall on its north side.


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Headquarters of the electronics manufacturing company, Solectron

The computer industry, which includes computer equipment manufacturing and software programming, is the largest source of employment in Milpitas. In Milpitas, more 50% of all Asians are employed in the computer industry. [12] ( With the gradual decline of computer-related industries in the Silicon Valley, the real estate market is beginning to serve as an alternative source of employment because of the skyrocketing housing prices in Milpitas.

Milpitas has extremely high housing values. For example, a one-story detached single-family home on a 1500 square foot (140 m²) lot may cost $700,000 in this city. However, these prices are considered low, as a similar house may cost well over a million dollars in Palo Alto. Reasons for the expensive housing include the economy, mild climate, foreign investment in the West Coast's housing, a huge demand for limited homes.

Notable corporations

Milpitas headquarters the technology companies of Maxtor, PalmOne, LSI Logic, Solectron and Adaptec. Quantum, Cisco Systems, KLA Tencor, Seagate, LifeScan, and Veritas also have offices in Milpitas.


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Yosemite Drive in Milpitas

Milpitas has a fairly good transportation system. The VTA (Valley Transportation Authority) runs light rail (high-speed transit) and local buses for public transportation. 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 Barber Lane. 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 name signs are in green, and all major intersections have traffic lights. Like San Jose, all pedestrians must manually press on a button to turn the pedestrian signal lights on (unlike the South Bay cities, San Francisco has automatic pedestrian lights at intersections and do not have "press to cross" buttons for pedestrians).

Most roads in the city have very new asphalt pavements that are regularly maintained. Some of the older areas have roads that are less frequently maintained and thus have somewhat more cracks and oil stains than in the streets in the newer districts.

Not all streets in Milpitas have bicycle lanes or sidewalks. 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. As a result, Piedmont and Evans Roads have become popular among local joggers and bikers, while automobiles almost exclusively occupy Montague and Milpitas. Even though they have a white line to the left that warns drivers from crossing it, careless and speeding drivers often ignore bicycle lanes, so all bikers must exercise caution and ride as far to the right as possible.

Highways Highway 237, 680, and 880 link Milpitas to the rest of the Bay Area. Interstates 680 and 880 lead north to Fremont and south to downtown San Jose. On the other hand, Highway 237 begins at Milpitas and goes west to Sunnyvale and Mountain View.

The nearest airports to the city are the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) and Reid-Hillview Airport in East San Jose, the latter which is for small private airplanes. Although Milpitas is bordered by the San Francisco Bay in the extreme northwest, that area is not accessible to ships and boats. Being landlocked, the city depends on the Port of Oakland for oceangoing freight and on the Union Pacific Railroad for cargo transport.

Law and government

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The city is headed by one mayor, one vice mayor, and three councilmembers. [13] ( The city's seal (right) portrays a farmer standing in the Santa Clara Valley, with the golden hills of Milpitas rising to the east.

The Milpitas Municipal Code, which has eleven sections, can also be found online (


Vice Mayor:


Police department: The Milpitas Police Department (MPD) is headed by Chief Charles Lawson, who has been serving as chief since 1994. The police department currently has 130 employees. [14] ( All of the police officers must be at least 21 years of age who have not committed felony or illegal drug use.

VTA buses in Milpitas are 71, 70, 66, 47, 46, 77


Milpitas' local newspaper is the weekly Milpitas Post. The paper is distributed at no charge to all Milpitas residents every Thursday.

The city is also served by a daily newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News. Other popular newspapers in Milpitas include the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times.

No radio stations broadcast from Milpitas, but signals can be received from many other South Bay stations:


Note: FM channels have decimal points, but AM do not. [15] ([16] (


Light rock:


Heavy rock/heavy metal:




  • KCSM, 91.1 (non-commercial)
  • KKFS, 103.7

Regional Mexican:



Analog television service available to Milpitas includes: [17] (

Issues and concerns

Though Milpitas is a small suburban community in the South Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, some problems and concerns do exist in the city.


Overall, Milpitas is a relatively safe city with a low crime rate and has an average of only two or three homicides annually. Over the last ten years, the crime rate has dropped 17%. Much of the crime that does occur tend to take place in the lower-income neighborhoods of Milpitas. The "XIV" Norteño gang is active in some areas and may inscribe gang markings in a few parks, but it is not as dominant as it is in East San Jose.

Methamphetamine is the most widely abused narcotic in the South Bay and is produced locally in the San Jose region. Because of the West Coast’s cheaper methamphetamine prices, the drug is more widely used in Northern California than any other narcotic.


Milpitas often experiences odorous air emanating from the Newby Island landfill and the Zanker sewage treatment plant. The odor is especially serious west of Interstate 880 because of its close location to the San Francisco Bay. The City of Milpitas is currently attempting to remedy this air quality problem and encourages its residents to file odor complaints.

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 rainbow trout until industrial pollutants killed the fish starting from the 1970s.


Milpitas is a lively community with many cultural, recreational, and educational services. Below are comprehensive lists and short summaries of various shopping centers, parks, and schools in Milpitas.


The Great Mall of the Bay Area, a former Ford automobile assembly plant, is the largest shopping center in Milpitas and the North Valley.

Shopping centers and plazas include:

  • Milpitas Town Center
  • Milpitas Square
  • Jacklin Square
  • McCarthy Ranch
  • Parktown Plaza
  • Beresford Square
  • City Square


Ed R. Levin County Park is the largest park in 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 includes a newly built dog park.

Two golf courses, Spring Valley Golf Course and Summitpointe Golf Course, are located in the Milpitas foothills. Both have upper-class estates located nearby.

Milpitas also has 28 small suburban parks which are generally 3 to 10 acres (12,000 to 40,000 m²) large. Together, these parks total 166 acres (672,000 m²)of land area.


Milpitas has only one library, the Santa Clara County Library. The library is scheduled to be moved to the former Senior Center building on Main Street in 2005.


Main article: Milpitas Unified School District

Milpitas' public schools are run by the Milpitas Unified School District. The area schools are among the most ethnically diverse in the United States. [18] ( for more info on Milpitas Generally visit the city's official website at

See also

Nearby cities:

Physical features:



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

1. Milpitas: A Century of Little Cornfields. By Patricia Loomis. ISBN 0935089071 Available from the Milpitas Historical Society.
2. Milpitas: Five Dynamic Decades. By Mort Levine, et al. Available at the Milpitas city hall or call the City of Milpitas. Note: Much of the information in this article is derived from this reference.
3. History of Milpitas. By Madge Craig.
4. Historic Sites Inventory. Prepared by Judith Marvin-Cunningham

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