Population: 30,504
Households: 10,652
Employed Residents: 14,254
Housing Units: 11,057

Source:  ACS 2019 5 year estimates

Jobs: 13,182
Employed Residents per Household: 1.27
Jobs per Employed Resident: 0.98
Jobs-Housing Balance Ratio: 1.19
Source:  ACS 2017 5 year estimates

Low-Wage Jobs-Housing Fit Ratio: 14.53
Source: 2015 LEHD Origin-Destination Employment Statistics

For more information about the jobs/housing calculations visit our jobs and housing page.

2019 Homeless Count: 76 persons, all unsheltered
Source: 2019 Homeless Point In Time Count

Average Monthly Rent: $2,656
Rent Change Year over Year: -13%

Source: Rent Cafe, April 2021

Los Altos’ 2020 Affordable Housing Inventory
Extremely Low-IncomeVery Low-IncomeLow-IncomeModerate IncomeTotal UnitsAffordable % of Total Housing Stock

SOURCE: Units reported in the Housing Element Annual Performance Report that received building permits in 2019 were added to the unit counts in the previously reported 2018 Base Year table.  This methodology necessarily means that any ELI units, if any, are included in the VLI category since that is how HCD has required production data to be reported.  The RHNA data on new units relies on self-reporting by jurisdiction and can include units for which building permits were issued that never got built.  The percentage of the total housing stock in the community is based the California Department of Finance’s Table E-5.

See more information on our affordable housing assets page.

Los Altos Development Pipeline as of January 2021
Applications SubmittedApproved ProjectsUnder ConstructionTotal
Anticipated New Jobs207123222
New Housing Units23332628587

Pipeline as of January 2021. Information reported from City of Los Altos.  The employment projections are derived by applying square-footage-per-employee factors to building floor areas by four building types: 250 square feet for office/R&D; 1,500 feet for hotels; 550 feet for retail/restaurant; and 2,500 feet for manufacturing/warehouse. All are figures applied to a building’s gross square footage.

2014-2022 Regional Housing Needs Allocation 

Every eight years, the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) process is used to assign each city and county in California their “fair share” of new housing units to build. These units of housing are intended to accommodate existing need and projected growth in the region. The RHNA process is critical because it requires all cities and counties to plan for the housing needs of their residents, regardless of income, in an effort to plan for future growth and ease the Bay Area’s acute housing crisis. 

Many cities and counties regularly fall short of their RHNA targets, as the Bay Area’s housing crisis continues to grow. Each spring, jurisdictions are required to provide an Annual Progress Report to show how effective their efforts have been in achieving housing development targets by income level. The table below shows Los Altos’ progress.

Los Altos’ 2015-2022 RHNA Permit Progress as of 12/2020
Affordability LevelRHNA TargetPermits IssuedProgress to Target
Very Low Income16921%
Low Income992828%
Moderate Income11222%
Above Moderate Income97558575%

Permitting progress as of December 2020. Source: HCD 2020 Housing Element Annual Progress Report Permit Summary.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

All California cities and counties are mandated to permit ADUs and JADUs according to state law. The Legislature further updated ADU and JADU law effective January 1, 2021 to clarify and improve various provisions in order to promote the development of ADUs and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs). These include allowing ADUs and JADUs to be built concurrently with a single-family dwelling, opening areas where ADUs can be created to include all zoning districts that allow single-family and multifamily uses, modifying fees from utilities such as special districts and water corporations, limited exemptions or reductions in impact fees, and reduced parking requirements. Please see the Accessory Dwelling Unit Handbook (PDF) for more information for local government bodies and homeowners interested in adding an ADU or JADU to their property. Our partner, the Housing Trust of Silicon Valley has kicked-off a major initiative, Small Homes, Big Impact to support ADU development throughout Santa Clara County, including outreach and education, and potential new financing mechanisms.

Los Altos ADUs Permitted: 2017 – 2020
2017201820192020Total% of Countywide Total

Affordable Housing Policies

Housing Element Policies

The Housing Element of Los Altos’ General Plan includes a number of policies in furtherance of its affordable housing objectives:

  • Encouraging affordable housing in mixed-use developments along El Camino Real and in other commercial zoning districts.
  • Providing development incentives for affordable housing development in those areas, including reduced parking requirements, adjustment of setback and building height regulations, and deferment of fees.
  • Allowing transitional and supportive housing in all residential zoning districts.
  • Allowing multifamily densities up to 38 units per acre.
  • Requiring that residential development in commercial and mixed-use zoning districts be built at maximum densities.
  • Providing a density bonus to encourage higher density development.
  • Continuing to participate in regional efforts to end homelessness.
Inclusionary Housing

On September 11th, 2018 Los Altos increased their inclusionary housing policy percentage up from 10 to 15 percent for rental and for sale projects of 5 units or more.

For projects with ten (10) or more units, affordable housing units shall be provided as follows

  • Rental units: Twenty (20) percent designated as affordable at the low income level or fifteen (15) percent designated as affordable at the very-low income level.
  • Ownership units: Fifteen (15) percent total, with a majority of the units designated as affordable at the moderate income level and the remaining units designated as affordable at the low or very-low income level.
Affordable Housing Impact Fees

The City of Los Altos is one of six Santa Clara County jurisdictions that participated in the 2015 countywide nexus study that was commissioned by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.   While the City does not currently charge impact fees for affordable housing, the nexus study serves as a basis for the City to explore the possibility of adopting impact fees on residential and/or non-residential development that would be used to fund affordable housing.

Visit the following links to view the City of Los Altos’ nexus studies:

Additional Resources

Photo: Sanfranman59 via Wikimedia Commons