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Foster City, California
City of Foster City
Aerial view of Foster City and the San Mateo Bridge
Aerial view of Foster City and the San Mateo Bridge
Official seal of Foster City, California
Location of Foster City in San Mateo County, California
Location of Foster City in San Mateo County, California
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Country United States
State California
County San Mateo
Incorporated April 27, 1971
 • Total 19.83 sq mi (51.37 km2)
 • Land 3.79 sq mi (9.81 km2)
 • Water 16.05 sq mi (41.56 km2)  81.07%
7 ft (2 m)
 • Total 33,805
 • Density 8,947.22/sq mi (3,454.27/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code 650
FIPS code 06-25338
GNIS feature IDs 1659723, 2410534
Aerial view of Silicon Valley
An aerial photograph of Foster City in 2013

Foster City is a city located in San Mateo County, California. The 2020 census put the population at 33,805, an increase of more than 10% over the 2010 census figure of 30,567. Foster City is sometimes considered to be part of Silicon Valley for its local industry and its proximity to Silicon Valley cities. Foster City is one of the United States’ safest cities, with an average of one murder per decade.


Foster City was founded in the 1960s on engineered landfill in the marshes of the San Francisco Bay, on the east edge of San Mateo. The city was named after T. Jack Foster, a real estate magnate who owned much of the land comprising the city and who was instrumental in its initial design. His successor firm, Foster Enterprises, run by his descendants, is still active in real estate affairs throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Forbes ranked Foster City #10 on their 2009 list of America's Top 25 Towns to Live Well. Money has also recognized Foster City multiple times as one of the Best Places to Live.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.8 square miles (51 km2), of which 3.8 square miles (9.8 km2) is land and 16.1 square miles (42 km2) is water. The total area is 81.07% water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1970 9,327
1980 23,287 149.7%
1990 28,176 21.0%
2000 28,803 2.2%
2010 30,567 6.1%
2020 33,805 10.6%
U.S. Decennial Census


The 2010 United States Census reported that Foster City had a population of 30,567. The 2009 median home price in Foster City was $1,025,000. The population density was 8,138.2 people per square mile (3,141.8/km2). The racial makeup of Foster City was 13,912 (45.5%) White, 576 (1.9%) African American, 29 (0.1%) Native American, 13,746 (45.0%) Asian, 189 (0.6%) Pacific Islander, 575 (1.9%) from other races, and 1,540 (5.0%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,995 persons (6.5%).

The Census reported that 30,458 people (99.6% of the population) lived in households, 52 (0.2%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 57 (0.2%) were institutionalized.

There were 12,016 households, out of which 4,256 (35.4%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 7,127 (59.3%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 963 (8.0%) had a female householder with no husband present, 316 (2.6%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 531 (4.4%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 75 (0.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 2,807 households (23.4%) were made up of individuals, and 860 (7.2%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53. There were 8,406 families (70.0% of all households); the average family size was 3.04.

The population was spread out, with 6,913 people (22.6%) under the age of 18, 1,526 people (5.0%) aged 18 to 24, 9,801 people (32.1%) aged 25 to 44, 8,223 people (26.9%) aged 45 to 64, and 4,104 people (13.4%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.3 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.

There were 12,458 housing units at an average density of 3,316.8 per square mile (1,280.5/km2), of which 6,958 (57.9%) were owner-occupied, and 5,058 (42.1%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 0.8%; the rental vacancy rate was 3.5%. 18,423 people (60.3% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 12,035 people (39.4%) lived in rental housing units.

Demographic profile 2010
Total population 30,567 (100.0%)
One race 29,027 (95.0%)
Not Hispanic 28,572 (93.5%)
White alone 12,829 (42.0%)
Black or African American alone 545 (1.8%)
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 17 (0.1%)
Asian alone 13,691 (44.8%)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 182 (0.6%)
Some other race alone 102 (0.3%)
Two or more races alone 1,206 (3.9%)
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 1,995 (6.5%)


As of the census of 2000, there were 28,803 people, 11,613 households, and 7,931 families residing in the city. The population density was 7,668.5 people per square mile (2,960.5/km2). There were 12,458 housing units at an average density of 3,316.8 per square mile (1,280.5/km2). There were 11,613 households, out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.7% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.7% were non-families. 23.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 21.2% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 35.3% from 25 to 44, 27.6% from 45 to 64, and 10.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.9 males.

According to Money magazine, the median income for a household in Foster City was $135,470. The median income for a family was $118,231. Males had a median income of $77,916 versus $51,157 for females. The per capita income for the city was $45,754. 2.9% of the population and 1.7% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 1.6% of those under the age of 18 and 5.6% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.


Foster City, like most of the peninsula, has a mild Mediterranean climate, with warm dry summers, and cool wet winters. The warmest month of the year is July with an average daytime temperature of 80.8 degrees Fahrenheit and an average nighttime of 55 degrees Fahrenheit, while the coldest month of the year is December with an average daytime temperature of 57 degrees Fahrenheit and an average nighttime temperature of 38.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

The annual average precipitation is 20.16 inches. The wettest month of the year is January with an average rainfall of 4.20 inches.


Foster City CA Metro Center
Metro Center, one of Foster City's largest retail/office complexes


Around 1993 Visa Inc. began consolidating various scattered offices in San Mateo, California to a location in Foster City. Visa's headquarters were in Foster City, and Visa became Foster City's largest employer. Visa owns four buildings at the intersection of Metro Center Boulevard and Vintage Park Drive. As of 2009 it employed about 3,000 people at the complex. During that year Visa signed a 10-year lease agreement for the top three floors of 595 Market Street in San Francisco and moved its top executives there. Visa continued to keep employees at the Foster City offices. As of 2009, after the headquarters move, the Foster City facilities remained the company's center of employment, and the post-headquarters move Foster City buildings housed 2,400 employees as of 2009.

Other companies with headquarters in Foster City:

  • Acxiom Digital
  • Applied Underwriters
  • American Infrastructure Funds
  • Broadview International, a part of Jefferies & Company
  • Conviva
  • Electronics for Imaging
  • Gilead Sciences
  • Guidewire Software
  • Imperva, Inc.
  • Navigenics
  • Philips (manufacturing facility)
  • QuinStreet Inc.
  • Sling Media
  • Truviso
  • Zuora

Top employers

According to the City's 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Gilead Sciences 5,230
2 Visa 2,469
3 Inovant LLC 1,649
4 Guidewire Software 548
5 IBM 425
6 Quinstreet 266
7 Costco 259
8 Active Acquisition Partners 257
9 City of Foster City 244
10 Zuora 228


Foster City boasts 24 parks occupying more than 200 acres (0.8 km2), including many public tennis courts, baseball and soccer fields, basketball courts, and rollerblading/biking trails along the San Francisco Bay.

Foster City also boasts:

  • World Class Windsurfing and Kite-Surfing A world-class windsurfing and kite-surfing spot in the San Francisco Bay can be found within the city limits of Foster City. It is located adjacent to Mariners Point.
  • A Golf course and driving range There is one 9-hole golf course, and driving range Mariners' Point, on land owned by the City, and operated by VB Golf.
  • Dragon Boating The Bay Area Dragons and Ho'okahi Pu'uwai Outrigger Canoe clubs operate in the lagoon. In an attempt to preserve the city's waterways and reduce noise levels, only electric, wind, or man-powered watercraft are permitted in the Lagoon.
  • Teen Activities Center A newly constructed $4 million center for teens that will provide access to: TV’s, computers, video games, art rooms, homework rooms, a kitchen and outdoor basketball courts. The center is also known as "The Vibe" and has a concrete skatepark adjacent to it.
  • Public Amphitheatre Located in Leo J. Ryan Memorial Park, is a newly constructed Amphitheatre. It serves as the location for the Foster City Summer concerts. Adjacent to the park is a boardwalk with boat tie-up facilities.
  • Community Theatre The historic Hillbarn Theatre was founded in 1941 and provides the community with a robust calendar of events as well as performance classes.

In addition, Foster City maintains an extensive 218-acre (0.9 km2), man-made enclosed lagoon system. The lagoons were initially designed as a drainage system required in order to efficiently drain the lowland city.

Items of interest

Foster City's Werder Pier is a remainder of the original expanse of the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge. It is also one of the state's longest and oldest piers in existence. Unfortunately, due to much needed repair, the once popular fishing pier is no longer in operation.

A number of San Francisco professional athletes have called Foster City home. Former San Francisco Giants players Kevin Mitchell and Jeff Kent won the National League Most Valuable Player award while they were residents of Foster City.

Peter Thiel, the gay libertarian billionaire, political activist, and founder of PayPal was raised in Foster City.

Norman Hsu, the Hong Kong born convicted criminal (Ponzi scheme scam artist) and political activist is a former resident of Foster City.

The movie Over the Edge is based upon events occurring in Foster City, chronicled in a 1973 article titled "Mousepacks: Kids on a Crime Spree" in the San Francisco Examiner.

The music video for "Super Hyphy", a song by Bay Area rapper Keak Da Sneak, was filmed at Bowditch Middle School. R&B singer Keyshia Cole was also featured in the music video which was produced by Half-White Productions.

Foster City TV broadcasts a variety of programs related to operation of and life in Foster City. Foster City TV provides programming through a dedicated Government-access television (GATV) channel.

Herb Perez, 1992 Olympic gold medalist in Tae Kwon Do, formerly served as chairman of the Foster City parks and recreation committee. Perez also appeared as himself (with the nickname "Olympus") on '90s martial-arts TV series WMAC Masters. He is now the mayor and a member of the city council.


Foster City is home to five public schools in the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District. Foster City Elementary School (which has recently been remodeled), Brewer Island Elementary School, Audubon Elementary School, and newly-built Beach Park Elementary School serve kindergarten through fifth grades. Nathaniel Bowditch Middle School serves 6th through 8th grades. There are several private preschools and elementary schools. There is a separate High School District: San Mateo Union High School District. There is no high school located east of Highway 101 so Foster City high school students attend the public schools in the San Mateo Union High School District and other private high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Four public schools in Foster City (Audubon School, Brewer Island School, Foster City School, and Bowditch Middle School) have won California Distinguished School awards. In 1993, Bowditch was recognized with the U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon. In 2005, Bowditch became a California Distinguished School for the second time. A third recognition was given in 2013.

Foster City has one private Jewish day school: Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School is a kindergarten – eighth grade school. It was rated the number one Jewish day school in the South Bay/Peninsula.

Foster City also has one private elementary school: Kids Connection is a kindergarten – fifth grade school.

The city is served by the Peninsula Library System.

Notable people

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