History of Monte Sereno, CA
The City is approximately 50 miles southeast of San Francisco and just minutes from the heart of Silicon Valley and has easy access to Highways 17 and 85. Because of the Citys beauty, location and superior schools many Silicon Valley executives have chosen Monte Sereno as their home.
The City of Monte Sereno incorporated as a City on May 14, 1957. A few of the City points of interest are the home in which American author John Steinbeck wrote the Grapes of Wrath, and the site of the Billy Jones Rail Road.
Monte Sereno is Santa Clara Valley's smallest and most exclusive community, with 3,483 residents living in 1,211 homes, just about all of them worth at least a million dollars. Monte Sereno has no downtown, no strip malls, in fact no shops at all. It's so small that when residents have shopped in nearby cities, they've been told by store clerks that they can't accept out-of-town checks. Monte Sereno's low profile, however, is no problem for its residents, who live on half-acre lots without sidewalks, streetlights or much government at all for that matter. Past city clerks have doubled as postmaster and city managers also clocked in as municipal engineers and dog catchers. Residents can keep chickens in their backyards but few do. Tennis courts are more common. Monte Sereno real estate is among the most expensive anywhere, but well worth it to those who can afford it. Where else can you find a rural mountain paradise a stone's throw from bustling Silicon Valley?
Four decades after its formation, Monte Sereno is still one of the tiniest cities in the state, with less than 10 employees and only about 3,500 residents within the city limits. It has no business district. The city has some of the most exclusive zoning regulations in the region--the zoning code allows only for single-family homes, and the smallest lot allowed is about 8,000 square feet.
This little hamlet has remained small because of the street-by-street political battle fought in 1957 by a group of anti-growth residents; they were led by a tough former vice admiral, also the city's first mayor, Thomas B. Inglis Sr.
Monte Sereno residents once feared their town would become another neighborhood of Los Gatos. During the mid-1950s, annexation and incorporation were easily accomplished, and Santa Clara Valley communities were either expanding to swallow up as much territory as possible or incorporating to defend their independence.
Inglis and a group of neighbors sued Los Gatos to stop the bigger neighbor from swallowing Monte Sereno. Later, Inglis organized and personally commanded the drive for incorporation. Every important street had a lieutenant and a captain.
Monte Sereno Treasurer Paul Oliver, also a councilmember from 1972 to 1976, recalls that Inglis ran a shipshape campaign. "He was a very thorough gentleman," Oliver said. "He organized it beautifully."
As the residents sought to incorporate the area, Los Gatos officials took them to court to block their election. Los Gatos claimed, among other things, that the land could not be incorporated because most of it was "uninhabited." To support the case, Monte Serenans opposing incorporation withdrew their names from voter roles, thereby reducing the apparent population per acre.
Finally, on April 23, 1957, voters got to decide the matter, and they chose to form the city of Monte Sereno out of 1.5 square miles of territory.
Inglis, now considered a hero by many Monte Serenans, passed away on May 12, 1984. He was 86 years old. Inglis served as mayor from the city's incorporation in 1957 until 1967.
Inglis' widow, Kathryn Inglis, died April 13, 1997. She would have been 102 on May 9. The founder's son, Thomas Inglis Jr., still lives in Monte Sereno.
Monte Sereno Today: