San Jose, California (meaning St. Joseph in Spanish) or San Jose is the third-largest city in California, and the tenth largest in the United States. San Jose, California is located at the southern end of the Bay Area, a region commonly referred to as Silicon Valley. It is the county seat of Santa Clara County. Once a small farming city, San Jose, California became a magnet for suburban newcomers in new housing developments between the 1960s and 1990s, and is now the largest city in Northern California. The United States Census Bureau estimates the city’s population to be 939,899 and the Metropolitan area to contain approximately 1.8 million residents.

El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe, San Jose, California was founded on November 29, 1777 as the first town in the Spanish colony of Nueva California, which later became Alta California. The city served as a farming community to support Spanish military installations at San Francisco and Monterey. When California gained statehood in 1850, San Jose served as its first capital. After more than 150 years as an agricultural center, San Jose, California experienced increased demand for housing from soldiers and other veterans returning from World War II, as well as aggressive expansion during the 1950s and 1960s by annexing more land area. By the 1990s, San Jose’s location within the booming local technology industry earned the city the nickname Capital of Silicon Valley.

On April 3rd, 1979, the San Jose City Council adopted San Jose as the spelling of the city name on the city seal, official stationery, office titles and department names. Also, by city council convention, the spelling of San Jose is used when the name is stated in both uppercase and lowercase letters, but not when the name is stated only in uppercase letters. The name is still more commonly spelled without the diacritical mark as San Jose. The official name of the city remains City of San Jose with no diacritical mark, according to the City Charter.

San Jose, California Information

Prior to western settlement, the area was inhabited by several groups of Ohlone Native Americans. The first lasting European presence began with a series of Franciscan missions established from 1769 by Father Jun ­pero Serra. On orders from Antonio Mari­a de Bucareli y Ursa, Spanish Viceroy of New Spain, San Jose, California was founded by Lieutenant Jose Joaqui­n Moraga as Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe (in honor of Saint Joseph) on November 29, 1777, to establish a farming community. The town was the first civil settlement in Alta California.

In 1797, the pueblo was moved from its original location, near the present-day intersection of Guadalupe Parkway and Taylor Street, to a location in what is now Downtown San Jose. San Jose came under Mexican rule in 1825 after Mexico broke with the Spanish crown. It then became part of the United States, after it capitulated without bloodshed in 1846 and California was annexed. Soon afterwards, on March 27th, 1850, San Jose, California became the second incorporated city in the state (after Sacramento), with Josiah Belden as its first mayor. The town was the state’s first capital, as well as host of the first and second sessions (1850-1851) of the California Legislature. Today the Circle of Palms Plaza in downtown is the historical marker for the first state capital.

Though not impacted as severely as San Francisco, San Jose, California suffered damage from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Over 100 people died at the Agnews Asylum (later Agnews State Hospital) after its walls and roof collapsed, and the San Jose High School’s three-story stone was also destroyed. During World War II many Japanese were sent to internment camps and, following the Los Angeles riots, anti-Mexican violence took place in the summer of 1943.

As World War II started, the city’s economy shifted from agriculture (the Del Monte cannery was the largest employer) to industrial manufacturing with the contracting of the Food Machinery Corporation (FMC) by the United States War Department to build 1000 Landing Vehicle Tracked. After World War II, FMC (later United Defense, and currently BAE Systems) continued as a defense contractor, with the San Jose facilities designing and manufacturing military platforms such as the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and various subsystems of the M1 Abrams. IBM established its West Coast headquarters in San Jose in 1943 and opened a downtown research and development facility in 1952. Both would prove to be harbingers for the economy of San Jose, as Reynold Johnson and his team would later invent RAMAC, as well as the disc drive, and the technological side of San Jose’s economy grew.

Downtown San Jose looking over the Tech Museum towards Mount Hamilton; hills in the background show their winter green color. During the 1950s and 1960s, city manager Dutch Hamann led the city in a major growth campaign. The city annexed adjacent areas, such as Alviso and Cambrian Park, providing large areas for suburbs. An anti-growth reaction to the effects of rapid development emerged in the 1970s championed by mayors Norman Mineta and Janet Gray Hayes. Despite establishing an urban growth boundary, development fees, and incorporations of Campbell and Cupertino, development was not slowed, but rather directed into already incorporated areas. San Jose’s position in Silicon Valley triggered more economic and population growth, which led to the highest housing costs increase in the nation, 936% between 1976 and 2001. Efforts to increase density continued into 1990s when an update of the 1974 urban plan kept the urban growth boundaries intact and voters rejected a ballot measure to ease development restrictions in the foothills. Sixty percent of the housing built in San Jose, California since 1980 and over three-quarters of the housing built since 2000 have been multifamily structures, reflecting a political propensity toward Smart Growth planning principles.

Local

San Jose, California is a charter city under California law, giving it the power to enact local ordinances that may conflict with state law, within the limits provided by the charter. The city has a mayor council government with a city manager nominated by the mayor and elected by the city council.

The San Jose City Council is made up of ten council members elected by districts, and a mayor elected in an at-large election. During city council meetings, the mayor presides, and all eleven members can vote on any issue. The mayor has no veto powers. Council members and the mayor are elected to four-year terms; the even-numbered district council members beginning in 1994; the mayor and the odd-numbered district council members beginning in 1996. Council members and the mayor are limited to two successive terms in office, although a council member that has reached the term limit can be elected mayor, and vice versa. The council elects a vice-mayor from the members of the council at the second meeting of the year following a council election. This council member acts as mayor during the temporary absence of the mayor, but does not succeed to the mayor’s office upon a vacancy.

The City Manager is the chief administrative officer of the city, and must present an annual budget for approval by the city council. When the office is vacant, the Mayor proposes a candidate for City Manager, subject to council approval. The council appoints the Manager for an indefinite term, and may at any time remove the manager, or the electorate may remove the manager through a recall election. Other city officers appointed by the council are the City Attorney, City Auditor, City Clerk, and Independent Police Auditor.

Like all California cities except San Francisco, both the levels and the boundaries of what the city government controls is determined by the local county Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO). The goal of a LAFCO is to try to avoid uncontrolled urban sprawl. The Santa Clara County LAFCO has set boundaries of San Jose’s “Sphere of Influence” as a superset of the actual city limits, plus parts of the surrounding unincorporated county land, where San Jose can, for example, prevent development of fringe areas to concentrate city growth closer to the city’s core. The LAFCO also defines a subset of the Sphere as an ‘Urban Service Area’ (indicated by the red line in the map), effectively limiting development to areas where urban infrastructure (sewers, electrical service, etc.) already exists.

San Jose, California is the county seat of Santa Clara County. Accordingly, many county government facilities are located in the city, including the office of the County Executive, the Board of Supervisors, the District Attorney’s Office, eight courthouses of the Superior Court, the Sheriff’s Office, and the County Clerk.

State and Federal

In the state legislature San Jose, California is located in the 10th, 11th, 13th, and 15th Senate Districts. And in the 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 27th, and 28th Assembly Districts. Federally, San Jose, California is located in California’s 14th, 15th, and 16th congressional districts.

Several state and federal agencies maintain offices in San Jose, California. The city is the location of the Sixth District of the California Courts of Appeal. It is also home to one of the courthouses of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

San Jose, California is located at 37°18′15″N 121°52′22″W ((37.304051, −121.872734).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 178.2 square miles (461.5 km²), of which 3.3 square miles (8.6 km²; 1.86%) is water.

San Jose, California lies near the San Andreas Fault; a major source of earthquake activity in California. The most serious earthquake, in 1906, damaged many buildings in San Jose, California as described earlier. Earlier significant quakes rocked the city in 1839, 1851, 1858, 1864, 1865, 1868, and 1891.The Daly City Earthquake of 1957 caused some damage. The Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 also did some damage to parts of the city. The other faults near San Jose, California are the Monte Vista Fault, South Hayward Fault, Northern Calaveras Fault, and Central Calaveras Fault.

The Guadalupe River runs from the Santa Cruz Mountains (which separate the South Bay from the Pacific Coast) flowing north through San Jose, California, ending in the San Francisco Bay at Alviso. Along the southern part of the river is the neighborhood of Almaden Valley, originally named for the mercury mines which produced mercury needed for gold extraction from quartz during the California Gold Rush as well as mercury fulminate blasting caps and detonators for the U.S. military from 1870 to 1945.

The lowest point in San Jose, California is 13 feet (4 m) below sea level at the San Francisco Bay in Alviso; the highest is 4,372 feet (1,333 m) at Copernicus Peak, Mount Hamilton, which is technically outside the city limit. Due to the proximity to Lick Observatory atop Mount Hamilton, San Jose, California has taken several steps to reduce light pollution, including replacing all street lamps and outdoor lighting in private developments with low pressure sodium lamps. To recognize the city’s efforts, the asteroid 6216 San Jose was named after the city.

San Jose, California, like most of the Bay Area, has a Mediterranean climate. Unlike San Francisco, California, which is exposed to the ocean or Bay on three sides and whose temperature therefore varies relatively little year-round and overnight, San Jose, California lies farther inland, protected on three sides by mountains. This shelters the city from rain and makes it more of a semiarid, near-desert area, with a mean annual rainfall of 14.4 inches (366 mm), compared to some other parts of the Bay Area, which can get up to four times that amount. It also avoids San Francisco’s omnipresent fog most of the year.

However, temperatures are generally moderate. January’s average high is 61 °F (16 °C) and average low is 44 °F (6 °C), with overnight freezes several nights each year; July’s average high is 86 °F (29 °C) and average low is 59 °F (14 °C), with heat exceeding 100 °F (38 °C) several days each year. The highest temperature ever recorded in San Jose was 109 °F (42.8 °C) on June 14, 2000; the lowest was 17 °F (-8.3 °C) on January 9, 1920 and January 10, 1920. Temperatures between night and day can vary by 30 or 40 °F (17 to 22 °C). Temperatures exceed 90 °F (32 °C) on an average of 18.3 days annually, and drop to 32 °F (0 °C) or lower on an average of 1.6 days annually. Temperatures drop below 40°F on average of 4.6 days annually. Soil temperatures in Silicon Valley always rise above 60 °F (16 °C) year round, making warm-season crops available to grow all year round, especially in San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Cupertino, Saratoga, and Milpitas, California.

With the light rainfall, San Jose, California and its suburbs experience over 300 days a year of full or significant sunshine. Rain occurs primarily in the months from October through April or May, with hardly any rainfall from June through September. During the winter, hillsides and fields turn green with grasses and vegetation, although deciduous trees are bare; with the coming of the annual summer dry period, the vegetation dies and dries, giving the hills a golden cover, which also provides fuel for frequent grass fires.

Measurable precipitation falls in downtown San Jose, California on an average of 50 days a year, many times only for part of the day. Annual precipitation has ranged from 6.12 inches (155 mm) in 1953 to 32.57 inches (827 mm) in 1983. The most precipitation in one month was 10.23 inches (260 mm) in February 1998. The maximum 24-hour rainfall was 3.60 inches (91 mm) on January 30, 1968. Although the summer is normally quite dry in San Jose, California, a very heavy thunderstorm on August 21, 1968, brought 1.92 inch of rain, causing some localized flooding.

The snow level drops as low as 2,000-ft (610 m) above sea level, or lower, occasionally each winter, coating nearby Mount Hamilton, and less frequently the Santa Cruz Mountains, with snow that normally lasts a few days. This sometimes snarls traffic traveling on State Route 17 towards Santa Cruz. Snow occasionally falls in San Jose, California, but until recently, the most recent snow to remain on the ground was on February 5, 1976, when many residents around the city saw as much as 3 inches (7.6 cm) on car and roof tops. The official observation station measured only 0.5-inch (13 mm) of snow. However, in March 2006, a smaller amount, up to one-inch (2.5 cm) of snow fell in downtown San Jose, California as well as other areas around the city at elevations of only 90 feet (27 m) to 200 feet (61 m) above sea level.

Like most of the Bay Area, San Jose, California is made up of dozens of microclimates. Downtown San Jose experiences the lightest rainfall in the city, while South San Jose, only 10 miles (16 km) distant, experiences more rainfall and slightly more extreme temperatures.

The large concentration of high-technology engineering, computer, and microprocessor companies around San Jose, California has led the area to be known as Silicon Valley. As the largest city in the valley, San Jose, California has billed itself “the capital of Silicon Valley.” Area schools such as the University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Santa Cruz, San José State University, San Francisco State University, California State University, East Bay, Santa Clara University, and Stanford University pump thousands of engineering and computer science graduates into the local economy every year.

High economic growth during the tech bubble caused employment, housing prices, and traffic congestion to peak in the late 1990s. As the economy slowed in the early 2000s, employment and traffic congestion diminished somewhat. In the mid-2000s, traffic along major highways again began to worsen as the economy improved. San Jose, California had 405,000 jobs within its city limits in 2006, and an unemployment rate of 4.6%. In 2000, San Jose residents had the highest median household income of any city with a population over 300,000, and currently have the highest median income of any city with over 280,000 people.

San Jose, California lists 25 companies with 1,000 employees or more, including the headquarters of Adobe Systems, BEA Systems, Cisco, SunPower and eBay, as well as major facilities for Flextronics, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Hitachi and Lockheed Martin. Sizable government employers include the city government, Santa Clara County, and San José State University.

The cost of living in San Jose, California and the surrounding areas is among the highest in California and the nation. Housing costs are the primary reason for the high cost of living, although the costs in all areas tracked by ACCRA are above the national average. Despite the high cost of living in San Jose, California, households in city limits have the highest disposable income of any city in the U.S. with over 500,000 residents.

San Jose residents produce more U.S. patents than any other city. Thirty-five percent of all venture capital funds in the U.S. are invested in San Jose and Silicon Valley companies.

Our Services in San Jose, California (CA)

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