Mountain House, San Joaquin County, California

Mountain House is a census-designated place and planned community in San Joaquin County, California. An exurb of the San Francisco Bay Area, Mountain House is 5 miles (8 km) northwest from the City of Tracy, 2 miles north of Interstate 205 and about 60 miles east of San Francisco.

Mountain House
Mountain House is located in California
Mountain House
Mountain House
Position in California.
Coordinates: 37°46′26″N 121°32′39″W / 37.77389°N 121.54417°W / 37.77389; -121.54417Coordinates: 37°46′26″N 121°32′39″W / 37.77389°N 121.54417°W / 37.77389; -121.54417
CountryUnited States
CountySan Joaquin
 • State senatorCathleen Galgiani (D)
 • AssemblymemberSusan Eggman (D)
 • U. S. rep.Jerry McNerney (D)[1]
 • Total3.192 sq mi (8.268 km2)
 • Land3.192 sq mi (8.268 km2)
 • Water0 sq mi (0 km2)  0%
Elevation82 ft (25 m)
 • Total9,675
 • Estimate 
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
Area code209
FIPS code06-49582
GNIS feature IDs1888888, 2628761


The Cholbon triblet of the Northern Valley Yokuts were the original inhabitants of the Mountain House area. Their territory ran along Old River a distributary of the San Joaquin River.[5]

In 1849 Thomas Goodall erected a blue denim cloth tent to serve as a midway stopover for gold miners headed from San Francisco to the Sierra Nevada (U.S.) foothills via Altamont Pass. Goodall eventually built an adobe house at the eastern edge of the Diablo Range hills, calling it The Mountain House. Simon Zimmerman later acquired the stop and it became known as Zimmerman's Mountain House and became a well-known way station stop on the way to Stockton. The last remaining settlement buildings were leveled in 1940.[6]

In November 1994, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors officially approved the new community of Mountain House. In 1996 the master plan was approved. In August 2000 many of the documents controlling the development and growth of Mountain House were adopted and approved by the San Joaquin Board of Supervisors acting as the Mountain House Board of Directors. (ns)

Mountain House was projected to be a small full-fledged city developed over 30-year period by the Master Developer Trimark Communities.[7] The community covers 4,784 acres (1,936.0 ha) in San Joaquin County. The town was planned for 12 distinct neighborhoods including 10 family neighborhoods and two age-restricted neighborhoods each organized around a center containing a neighborhood park, a K-8 school, and a small commercial area.

Construction began in 2001, but growth slowed down to about 50 permits per year because of the Great Recession in 2008. Development started again with increasing building permits and small land development projects in 2010 and 2011 and has continued at a high rate through 2019.

As of 2019, Mountain House includes the established villages of Wicklund (first), Bethany, Altamont, Questa, Hansen and the developing sixth village of Cordes. Some 15,000 households or approximately 45,000-50,000 people are anticipated when Mountain House is fully completed.[8]


MHCSD offices open is Stockton

  • May 14, 2001 – Trimark breaks ground on Mountain House project
  • January 18, 2003 – First home foundation poured
  • August 24, 2004 – Wicklund Elementary School opens. MHCSD opens an office at Wicklund Elementary School.
  • November 6, 2007 – Mountain House votes to form an independent board for the MH Community Services District (MHCSD)
  • December 7, 2007 – The San Joaquin Delta College satellite campus site is annexed to Mountain House CSD through a public-private partnership with developer Gerry N. Kamilos.[9]
  • November 2008 – Noted for having the highest percentage of homes "under water" in the U.S.
  • November 2008 - First independent board of the MHCSD was elected.
  • August 17, 2009 – Delta College Mountain House Campus opens for classes
  • June 8, 2010 – Voters approve unification of Lammersville School District
  • January 2011 – 15-year-old resident Thia Megia becomes youngest finalist ever on American Idol
  • July 2012 – Mountain House High School breaks ground
  • March 2013 – New development announced for Questa and Altamont
  • August 2014 – Mountain House High School opens
  • June 2015 – Drought conditions place Mountain House water supply at risk[10][11]
  • September 2018 - Mountain House breaks ground on town hall complex[12]

Financial downturnEdit

In November 2008, The New York Times reported that Mountain House was the "most underwater community in America" – the ZIP code with the highest amount of negative equity on its homes.[13] With home values decreasing across the nation, Mountain House was described as the worst-hit, with 90% of its homes worth less than the amount their owners owe in mortgages.[13] The average homeowner in Mountain House was reported to be $122,000 in debt.[13] Many local businesses in the 95391 ZIP code were closing because the homeowners were cutting back on their spending.[13]

CalPERS, an agency that manages pensions for California public employees, invested heavily in Mountain House beginning in 2005, purchasing approximately 9,000 residential lots from Shea Homes. By May 2010, the $1.12 billion investment by CalPERS had been reduced to 18% of that figure: $200 million.[14] Even though home values had dropped significantly, CalPERS determined that they would hold on to the investment, counting on a recovery of the housing market.[14]

Economic recoveryEdit

An uptick in economic performance at Mountain House was noted in September 2011 by Big Builder, a trade magazine of major land and housing development published by Hanley-Wood.[15]

Acknowledging the New York Times 2008 article that branded Mountain House as the most underwater community in America, the article chronicled a grassroots commitment by residents to keep their neighborhoods looking well-kept by mowing neglected lawns of homes in foreclosure, short sales or abandoned.

This community spirit helped persuade CalPERS to hold onto its Mountain House investment, despite the drawbacks of a 1994-vintage land plan, termed "out of synch with the realities of the post-housing crash world." Helping to balance the challenges of the land plan was the level of established infrastructure and homebuyers motivated by affordable pricing, proximity to job centers and traditional neighborhoods.

In April 2012, Big Builder again reported on the community, noting more robust first-quarter sales, new lot offers, and flexibility for semi-finished and raw land in future development.[16]


Mountain House lies on the foothills of the Diablo Range, and close to the Altamont Pass which is 1000+ feet elevation. It is on the border of Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties (Bay Area). According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP covers an area of 3.2  square miles (8.3 km²), all of it land. The community is bisected by Mountain House Creek.[17] Mountain House Creek originates south of the Altamont Pass and Interstate 580, flowing northeasterly along and crossing under the interstate, then along Grant Line Road to the intersection with Mountain House Road at the historic Alameda County Mountain House.[18] The creek continues northeasterly through the residential communities of Mountain House before emptying into the Old River, a distributary of the San Joaquin River.


The average temperature in the summer ranges from the 90s to 100s. Heatwaves occur often as Mountain House is located in the western San Joaquin valley. Average lows in winter range from 30° And up. Winters are cold and wet. High wind conditions are normal. Average wind speed about 25 mph in the summer, and 15 mph in the winter.


The 2010 United States Census[19] reported that Mountain House had a population of 9,675. The population density was 3,030.8 people per square mile (1,170.2/km²). The racial makeup was 3,467 (35.8%) White, 903 (9.3%) African American, 45 (0.5%) Native American, 3,830 (39.6%) Asian, 71 (0.7%) Pacific Islander, 663 (6.9%) from other races, and 696 (7.2%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,637 persons (16.9%).

The Census reported that 9,675 people (100% of the population) lived in households, 0 (0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.

There were 2,807 households, out of which 1,676 (59.7%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,985 (70.7%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 227 (8.1%) had a female householder with no husband present, 151 (5.4%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 186 (6.6%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 31 (1.1%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 299 households (10.7%) were made up of individuals and 18 (0.6%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.45. There were 2,363 families (84.2% of all households); the average family size was 3.73.

The population was spread out with 3,351 people (34.6%) under the age of 18, 501 people (5.2%) age 18 to 24, 3,780 people (39.1%) ages 25 to 44, 1,676 people (17.3%) ages 45 to 64, and 367 people (3.8%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31.4 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.2 males.

There were 3,237 housing units at an average density of 1,014.0 per square mile (391.5/km²), of which 2,205 (78.6%) were owner-occupied, and 602 (21.4%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 4.9%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.6%. 7,444 people (76.9% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 2,231 people (23.1%) lived in rental housing units.

Census Pop.
Est. 201920,000[20]106.7%


The Mountain House Community Services District (MHCSD) is the local government and is governed since 2008 by 5 elected board members who live in the community (similar to the city council) and a general manager (similar to the city manager.) Before 2008, the MHCSD was governed by the San Joaquin County Supervisors. The MHCSD has 18 primary powers which include providing police (contract with San Joaquin Sheriffs), fire (contract with French Camp Fire), library services, water, sewer, garbage (contract with West Valley Disposal), public recreation, road maintenance, street lights, graffiti abatement, CC&R enforcement, etc..[21]. Unlike incorporated cities, the MHCSD does not have power over land use or economic development.

The current (2019-20) board members are President Bernice Tingle, VP Andy Su, Directors Dan Harrison, Manny Moreno and Brian Lucid.

The current general manager is Steve Pinkerton who started in August of 2019.


Elementary schoolsEdit

Students in Mountain House are served by the Lammersville Joint Unified School District or LUSD.[22] Mountain House children attend five LUSD K-8 elementary schools: Wicklund, Bethany, Questa, Altamont and Hansen. A 6th school, Julius Cordes Elementary School, is set for construction start in January/February 2019 and completion in August 2020.

Lammersville Elementary is a K-8 school in unincorporated San Joaquin County, that is part of the LUSD.

Mountain House Elementary School, which is a K-8 school in unincorporated Alameda County, with a student body of approximately 50, run by the independent Mountain House Elementary School District.[23]

Higher educationEdit

Mountain House High School (MHHS) is a new high school that opened in 2014. The school mascot is the Mustang and the school colors are royal blue and silver. Sports teams compete in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). MHHS received the California Distinguished School Award in 2019.[24]

A satellite campus of San Joaquin Delta College opened in August 2009 in Mountain House.[25]


Mountain House Matters is a monthly publication about Mountain House, its people and activities. It was founded in September 2012 by resident Bryan Harrison and mailed to each house in Mountain House.

The Tracy Press is a weekly newspaper that covers Tracy and Mountain House and has operated since the 19th century.

The Record (Stockton) is a daily paper that covers the San Joaquin County area.


The nearest railway station is in Tracy, operated by Altamont Corridor Express (ACE). Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority provides bus service to Hacienda Business Park and the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station.[26] San Joaquin RTD provides van service to the Tracy Transit Center.[27]


  1. ^ "California's 9th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  2. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files – Places – California". United States Census Bureau.
  3. ^ a b "Mountain House Census Designated Place". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  4. ^ "Mountain House CDP QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 2, 2012. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  5. ^ Wallace, William J. (1978). Robert F. Heizer (ed.). Northern Valley Yokuts, in Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 8, California. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. pp. 462–470. ISBN 9780160045745.
  6. ^ History of Tracy, California with Biographical Sketches. Los Angeles: Historic Record Company. 1923.
  7. ^ Brinkley, Leslie (August 5, 2004). "New Bay Area Suburb". ABC 7 News. Retrieved August 5, 2004.
  8. ^ "Chapter 3: Land Use". Mountain House Master Plan. pp. 3.2 and 3.12. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  9. ^ Johnson, Zachary K (September 26, 2007). "Delta College to extend south". Local Media Group, Inc. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  10. ^ "Letter to Mountain House community" (PDF). Mountain House Community Services District. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 17, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  11. ^ Stevens, Matt (June 18, 2015). "Master-planned community at risk of losing all water within days". Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ Mountain, House. "Mountain House breaks ground on town hall complex". Tracy Press.
  13. ^ a b c d Streitfeld, David (November 10, 2008). "A Town Drowns in Debt as Home Values Plunge". The New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  14. ^ a b Kasler, Dale (May 6, 2010). "Fund Held Underwater: CalPERS to wait for Mountain House rebound: City hardest hit in nation by real estate slump". The Modesto Bee. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  15. ^ McManus, John; Yaussi, Sarah (September 2011). "Mountain House? living proof that it's possible to rebuild the American Dream out of the stuff of nightmares". Big Builder. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  16. ^ Caulfied, John (April 19, 2012). "Long Climb Pays Off for Builders at NoCal's Mountain House". BUILDER Online. Washington, D.C.: Hanley Wood Media. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  17. ^ "Mountain House Creek". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  18. ^ "Mountain House". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  19. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Mountain House CDP". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  20. ^ PEPANNRES - ACS DEMOGRAPHIC AND HOUSING ESTIMATES, 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, United States Census Bureau. Accessed January 16, 2019.
  21. ^ "Five elected in first race for Mountain House board", Stockton Record, November 5, 2008
  22. ^ "Voters approve Lammersville school unification". Tracy press. June 8, 2010. Retrieved June 8, 2010.
  23. ^ "Welcome to Mountain House Elementary School | Mountain House Elementary School District". Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  24. ^ Young, Kevin (February 24, 2011). "Mountain House inches toward high school". Tracy press. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  25. ^ Lafferty, Justin (Aug 17, 2009). "Delta College in Mountain House". Tracy press. Retrieved August 17, 2009.
  26. ^ "Mountain House commuters have transportation option", The Record (Stockton), February 4, 2006
  27. ^ Tracer map