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Portola Valley, California
Town of Portola Valley
Our Lady of the Wayside Church
Official seal of Portola Valley, California
Location in San Mateo County and the state of California
Location in San Mateo County and the state of California
Portola Valley, California is located in the United States
Portola Valley, California
Portola Valley, California
Location in the United States
Country United States
State California
County San Mateo
Incorporated July 14, 1964
 • Total 9.08 sq mi (23.53 km2)
 • Land 9.08 sq mi (23.52 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)  0.02%
459 ft (140 m)
 • Total 4,456
 • Density 490.7/sq mi (189.38/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (PST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code 650
FIPS code 06-58380
GNIS feature ID 1659786

Portola Valley is a town in San Mateo County, California. Located on the San Francisco Peninsula in the Bay Area, Portola Valley is a small, wealthy community nestled on the eastern slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains.


Portola Valley was named for Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolá, who led the first party of Europeans to explore the San Francisco Peninsula in 1769. The town was officially incorporated in 1964. The town's long history dates back to 1834, when land was used for the Rancho Corte de Madera primarily for cattle grazing. Another place of interest within the town was the Searsville area (now owned by Stanford). Searsville's redwood trees were logged and used for building housing. Evidence of logging can be seen by walking through the preserve and examining the abnormal redwood growth from where the trees used to stand. Today, Portola Valley maintains its small-town charm and rural feel with a population of under 5,000 people, as well as boasting to have more miles of trails than roads to preserve its natural beauty.

Portola Valley has also been included many times on lists of America's wealthiest ZIP codes. Initially, Portola Valley was an exclusive vacation community for wealthy San Franciscans who would make trips down during the summer in horse and buggy. It kept growing and eventually became central to the tech industry and Silicon Valley as an alternative to the hustle and bustle of more crowded cities, providing a quiet rural refuge directly in the heart of the Peninsula for over 4,000 residents.

Portola Valley is Featured in:

  • 2010: 31st Wealthiest ZIP code in the US (Forbes)
  • 2011: 7th Wealthiest ZIP code in America (Forbes)
  • 2014-2016: 2nd Wealthiest ZIP code in the Bay Area (Silicon Valley Business Journal)
  • 2015: 33rd Most Expensive ZIP code in America (Forbes)
  • 2016: 10th Most Expensive ZIP code in America (Business Insider)


Portola Valley is located at 37°22′30″N 122°13′7″W / 37.37500°N 122.21861°W / 37.37500; -122.21861 (37.375023, -122.218635), on the eastern slope of the Peninsula Coastal Range of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Windy Hill Open Space Preserve is on the town's southwest side and the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve is on the north side of town. It is off Interstate 280, near Woodside, just west of Palo Alto and Los Altos and south of Menlo Park, and is in a mostly wooded area, with some open plains.

Portola Valley can generally be divided into 5 subdivisions: Central Portola Valley, The Ranch, Corte Madera, Los Trancos/Vista Verde, and Blue Oaks.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 9.1 square miles (24 km2), 99.98% of it land and 0.02% of it water.

Local Attractions

  • Felt Lake
  • Ford Field
  • Alpine Hills Tennis and Swimming Club
  • Ladera Oaks Country Club
  • Ladera Tennis and Swimming Center
  • Hidden Valley Farm
  • Arastradero Preserve
  • The Village Restaurants and Shops
  • Alpine-Portola Junction
    • Roberts Market
    • Triangle Park
    • Portola Valley Hardware
    • Ron Ramies Auto Repair
    • Portola Cafe Deli
  • Hiking and Biking Trails
  • Portola Valley Schools
    • Ormondale Elementary School
    • Corte Madera Middle School
    • Woodside Priory High School (Private)
  • Ladera Shopping Center
  • Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve
    • Searsville Lake
      • Searsville Dam
  • Portola Valley Town Center
    • Portola Valley Library, Children's Playground, Field


Historical population
Census Pop.
1970 4,996
1980 3,939 −21.2%
1990 4,194 6.5%
2000 4,462 6.4%
2010 4,353 −2.4%
2020 4,456 2.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of 2020 the median income per household in Portola Valley was estimated at $235,469 and the per capita income was $142,778.


Casa de Tableta, Portola Valley, California
The historic Casa de Tableta, built by Californio entrepreneur Félix Buelna in 1851, now named Rossotti's Alpine Inn.

The 2010 United States Census reported that Portola Valley had a population of 4,353. The population density was 478.7 people per square mile (184.8/km2). The racial makeup of Portola Valley was 3,960 (91.0%) White, 12 (0.3%) African American, 5 (0.1%) Native American, 242 (5.6%) Asian, 1 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 29 (0.7%) from other races, and 104 (2.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 175 persons (4.0%).

The Census reported that 4,309 people (99.0% of the population) lived in households, 9 (0.2%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 35 (0.8%) were institutionalized.

There were 1,746 households, out of which 518 (29.7%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,149 (65.8%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 70 (4.0%) had a female householder with no husband present, 35 (2.0%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 37 (2.1%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 21 (1.2%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 420 households (24.1%) were made up of individuals, and 290 (16.6%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47. There were 1,254 families (71.8% of all households); the average family size was 2.93.

The population was spread out, with 1,001 people (23.0%) under the age of 18, 145 people (3.3%) aged 18 to 24, 538 people (12.4%) aged 25 to 44, 1,496 people (34.4%) aged 45 to 64, and 1,173 people (26.9%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 51.3 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.2 males.

There were 1,895 housing units at an average density of 208.4 per square mile (80.5/km2), of which 1,392 (79.7%) were owner-occupied, and 354 (20.3%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.0%; the rental vacancy rate was 9.8%. 3,702 people (85.0% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 607 people (13.9%) lived in rental housing units.


As of the census of 2000, there were 4,392 people, 1,772 households, and 1,269 families residing in the town. The population density was 487.5 people per square mile (188.3/km2). There were 1,772 housing units at an average density of 193.6 per square mile (74.8/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 4,210 White, 29 African American, 22 Native American, 217 Asian, 5 Pacific Islander, 54 from other races, and 64 from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 149.

There were 1,772 households, out of which 532 had children under the age of 18 living with them, 1,176 were married couples living together, 68 had a woman householder with no man present, and 431 were non-families. 339 of all households were made up of individuals, and 226 had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the town the age distribution of the population shows 1021 persons under the age of 18, 90 from 20 to 24, 867 from 25 to 44, 1492 from 45 to 64, and 938 who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47.5 years old. For every 100 women there were 96.8 men. For every 100 women age 18 and over, there were 91.7 men.

The median income for a household in Portola Valley, including earnings, is $244,771 and the median income for a family was $180,893. Men have a median income of over $200,000 versus $172,585 for women. The per capita income for Portola Valley is $152,128. About 18 families and 104 people were below the poverty line, including 38 of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.


Woodside Priory School graduation procession 2008
Woodside Priory School.

The Portola Valley Elementary School District has two public primary schools: Ormondale School (with grades K–3) and Corte Madera School (grades 4–8). The public high school is Woodside High School part of the Sequoia Union High School District and in the neighboring community of Woodside. Ormondale is named for the Ormondale ranch that had covered much of present-day Westridge, Oak Hills, and Ladera and was home to the famous English racehorse, Ormonde, in his later years.

Portola Valley is also home to two private schools: Woodside Priory School, an independent college-preparatory Roman Catholic day and boarding school serving grades 6-12, and Woodland School, an independent pre-K-8 grade school.

The city is served by the Portola Valley Public Library of the San Mateo County Libraries, a member of the Peninsula Library System.

Notable people

  • John Arrillaga, billionaire businessman and real estate mogul.
  • Pat Burrell, retired baseball player.
  • Curtis Carlson, former CEO of SRI International
  • Roger Craig, retired pro football player.
  • Hewitt D. Crane
  • Richard Crooks (1900–1972), operatic tenor, longtime host of The Voice of Firestone on network radio who, in later years, sang with the choir at the local Presbyterian church, lived in Portola Valley for many years until his death.
  • John Donahoe, an American businessman who is the CEO of Nike; He has been the CEO of tech companies like eBay, PayPal and ServiceNow
  • Donna Dubinsky, CEO of Palm, Inc.
  • Taylor Eigsti (1984-), jazz pianist. From Menlo Park, California, but graduated salutatorian of his high school class at Woodside Priory School.
  • Dr. Thomas J. Fogarty, surgeon and inventor of the embolectomy catheter.
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford (1919-1991), singer best known for "Sixteen Tons".
  • Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn.
  • Cuthbert Hurd (1911–1996), computer pioneer. who discovered a popular variety manzanita in his garden.
  • Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and current owner of Khosla Ventures.
  • Laurence W. "Bill" Lane Jr. (1919–2010), the first mayor and one of the founders of Portola Valley, also served as Ambassador to Japan and Australia for the US, and the publisher of Sunset Magazine.
  • Chong Moon Lee, founder of Diamond Multimedia.
  • Jacques Littlefield (1949–2009), President and Founder of the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation, one of the largest collections of historical military vehicles in the world.
  • Pete McCloskey, former Member of Congress and co-chair of Earth Day. He was also the Town of Portola Valley's first city attorney.
  • Maverick McNealy, professional golfer, former World No. 1 ranked amateur golfer
  • Scott McNealy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems
  • Kent Mitchell, Olympic rowing champion, former mayor of Portola Valley
  • Ed Oates, a cofounder of Oracle Corporation; currently on the board of the San Francisco Zoological Society, and the San Jose State University Tower Foundation.

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