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District Profile: California -- 14th District

Southern San Mateo and northern Santa Clara counties

Southern San Mateo and northern Santa Clara counties Sustained population growth in the San Francisco Peninsula enabled mapmakers in 1992 to fashion a full district from suburbs south of the San Mateo Bridge and north of San Jose. In the main, the 14th resembles the old 12th District. But on the north it has annexed more of San Mateo County, including Belmont, San Carlos and Redwood City, whose 66,000 residents make it the district`s second-largest city. About 40 percent of the district population is now in San Mateo County, the rest in Santa Clara County.

At its southern end, the district has lost the long tail that had dangled all the way to rural Gilroy and taken in some remote Santa Cruz County turf along the way. The 14th is more compact, with its center in the affluent suburbs on either side of the San Mateo and Santa Clara county line. Some of these communities have existed for more than a century, preserving their individual character despite waves of population growth. Working hardest to do so are the exclusive enclaves of Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley. But Palo Alto, too, has stabilized its growth and sustained much of its leafy, small-town charm. Its population of 56,000 does not include the students, faculty and staff who live on the sprawling, adjacent campus of Stanford University.

Farther south, change has been more overwhelming in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos and Cupertino. Miles of fruit groves have given way to high-tech factories: Hewlett-Packard, Apple Computer and Ford Aerospace are all in the area; Lockheed is nearby. With the rise of microprocessing, this corridor has come to be known worldwide as Silicon Valley. Sunnyvale, its informal capital, grew slowly in the 1980s; but with 117,000 residents (most of them in the 14th) it is easily the most populous city in the district.

The lure of comfy suburbs so close to jobs has kept peninsula land values climbing for decades. Million-dollar homes are commonplace, and even ramshackle units come with high price tags in East Palo Alto and other low-income communities along the Bayshore Freeway.

With its wealth, old and new, this was the Bay Area's one Republican district in past years, consistently favoring GOP presiden- tial candidates. It also sent a succession of Republicans to Congress, although it preferred the moderate-to-liberal models such as Paul N. McCloskey Jr., Ed Zschau and Tom Campbell. But the 14th is different enough, and the 1992 and 1994 elections were lopsided enough, that no one is likely to call this district Republican again soon.

Population shifts and redistricting lowered the percentage of whites from 86 percent to 78 percent. GOP registration declined accordingly, from 42 percent to 35 percent. Bill Clinton won the 14th by a 2-1 margin in 1992, receiving nearly identical percentages in both counties.

District Data

  • 1990 Population: 571,131.
  • White 445,884 (78%), Black 28,237 (5%), Other 97,010 (17%). Hispanic origin 77,305 (14%).
  • 18 and over 456,226 (80%), 62 and over 78,985 (14%). Median age: 34.

    Copyright © 1996 Congressional Quarterly, Inc. All rights reserved.

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