Mountain House: California’s newest city – Silicon Valley

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Thirty years ago, the community of Mountain House didn’t have a single resident.

This week, with a population that has surged to 24,500, it became the first new city in California in more than a decade.

The community, just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, has a brand new board of city council members and a new mayor, sworn in Monday. More than 100 agenda items are reportedly awaiting their first meeting.

“It’s a great milestone,” said Anil Madidhadi, who bought a home in 2021. “We are very happy. It’s been a great community, We wanted our daughter to have a bigger house in a better community. She’s going to a new school.”

Safi Rashidi, a native of Afghanistan, joined his family for a picnic of lamb kabobs and grilled shrimp at a Wednesday barbecue at a community park.  He called Mountain House “a very good neighborhood. I’m very happy for this new development and I congratulate the city, with its own values now.”

  • Safi Rashidi, right, serves lamb kabobs and grilled shrimp during a picnic with their family at the Community Park in Mountain House, the newest city of Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • Local residents buy fresh meat from a butcher who comes...

    Local residents buy fresh meat from a butcher who comes weekly to Mountain House, the newest city in Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located in San Joaquin County next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • Safi Rashidi, center, serves lamb kabobs and grilled shrimp during...

    Safi Rashidi, center, serves lamb kabobs and grilled shrimp during a picnic with their family at the Community Park in Mountain House, the newest city of Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • People socialize at the Community Park in Mountain House, the...

    People socialize at the Community Park in Mountain House, the newest city of Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • A kid rides a motorbike as new housing is underway...

    A kid rides a motorbike as new housing is underway in Mountain House, the newest city of Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • A Fourth of July parade and celebration banner is visible...

    A Fourth of July parade and celebration banner is visible on the corner of Great Valley Parkway and Kelso Road, one of the main entrances to the newest city of California, Mountain House, on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • A hare looks on as it crosses the street across...

    A hare looks on as it crosses the street across from the Community Park in Mountain House, the newest city of Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

The move means the community, an hour east of San Francisco, will gain more control over city planning, economic development and policing. It is California’s 483rd city.

“A lot of people have put in a lot of work over the last 10 years of hard work,”  Mayor Dr. Andy Su, an emergency physician at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital, told CBS News.

While its name suggests a lofty aerie, it was built on former alfalfa and corn fields in the dry, windy foothills of southwestern San Joaquin County off Interstate 580.  An afternoon celebration on Independence Day was canceled due to the heat.

During the Gold Rush, pioneer Thomas Goodall chose the site as a midway stopover for miners headed from San Francisco to the Sierra Nevada foothills. His adobe house, on the eastern edge of the Diablo Range, was called The Mountain House.

The town’s creation in 1991 foreshadowed the current debate over the proposed “new city” in Solano County by California Forever, a company backed by some of Silicon Valley’s wealthiest investors.

Built from scratch, the vision of Tracy-based developer Trimark Communities was to create a self-contained spot of carefully planned houses, roads, jobs, firehouses, police stations, town halls, schools and recreational facilities, so residents could live and play where they work.

It was designed to help ease the Bay Area housing crunch. The size of the project was reduced after Alameda County, site of half the original acreage, opposed development of its agricultural land.

Housing values stumbled during the recession of 2008, when home prices fell so suddenly that 9 of every 10 houses was “underwater,” worth less than their mortgage, according to The New York Times.

But it recovered, and homes that cost $360,000 in 2003 are now selling for $700,000 to $1 million. There’s a town center and seven surrounding villages with thousands of homes each.

“We’re very excited to see all of the new growth and all of the new tax revenue that will come in as we develop more,” councilman Matthew Disko told CBS News.

Nearly half of all residents, or 48%, have a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the 2022 census survey. The median household income is $166,821.

Half of the city’s residents identify as Asian American. English is the primary language spoken at home by 50% of residents. Another 30% speak an Asian language and 10% speak an Indo-European language.

  • A couple strolls along a road in Mountain House, the...

    A couple strolls along a road in Mountain House, the newest city in Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located in San Joaquin County next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • A vehicle rides past a Farmers Market sign visible on...

    A vehicle rides past a Farmers Market sign visible on the corner of Great Valley Parkway and Kelso Road, one of the main entrances to the newest city of California, Mountain House, on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • Local residents wait in line to buy fresh meat from...

    Local residents wait in line to buy fresh meat from a butcher who comes weekly to Mountain House, the newest city in Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located in San Joaquin County next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • Anil Madidhadi, left, like many local residents of Mountain House,...

    Anil Madidhadi, left, like many local residents of Mountain House, buys fresh meat from a butcher who comes weekly to Mountain House, the newest city in Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located in San Joaquin County next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • A youngster is reflected on the Townhall door in Mountain...

    A youngster is reflected on the Townhall door in Mountain House, the newest city in Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located in San Joaquin County next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • New housing is underway in Mountain House, the newest city...

    New housing is underway in Mountain House, the newest city in Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • Kids explore the playgrounds at the Community Park in Mountain...

    Kids explore the playgrounds at the Community Park in Mountain House, the newest city of Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • A car rides along Great Valley Parkway in Mountain House,...

    A car rides along Great Valley Parkway in Mountain House, the newest city in Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

There is little crime. And the school district is academically strong, ranking 91 out of 100, according to U.S. News and World Report. Its high school placed 210th of 1,652 California schools in “college readineness.”

Mountain House never attracted the many jobs that were initally envisioned.  Many residents are tech workers, with staggering commutes on clogged highways to the East Bay or Silicon Valley.

And it still lacks restaurants, shopping and amenities for youth, such as swimming pools or recreation centers. A vendor drives to the city to supply fresh meat every weekend.

The new city is expected to grow to 50,000 people when completed.

“This a great moment. But there’s a lot to be done,” said Madidhadi. “In the next couple years, I’d like to see more new commercial development.” :

“We’re lookng forward to how the new city will develop,” he said. “What sort of city can we build from here?”

The street signs are in front of the Library and Townhall building in Mountain House, the newest city in Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located in San Joaquin County next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state's 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
The street signs are in front of the Library and Townhall building in Mountain House, the newest city in Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located in San Joaquin County next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 
A Mountain House police crusier parks at the Community Park parking spot in Mountain House, the newest city of Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state's 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
A Mountain House police crusier parks at the Community Park parking spot in Mountain House, the newest city of Calif., on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The new community, located next to the line of Alameda County just beyond Altamont Pass near Tracy, officially became the state’s 483rd city on Monday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

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