Woman with curled brunette hair and red glasses speaking at a podium with flowers behind her
Milpitas Mayor Carmen Montano's State of the City address on Thursday touched on the city's history and how the city has developed, economically and culturally. Photo by B. Sakura Cannestra.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Milpitas’ incorporation, and Mayor Carmen Montano celebrated its history and future in her State of the City speech.

Her message focused on the city’s history of agriculture and industry, as well as recent investments in affordable housing, public safety, transportation and economic development.

Montano said looking at the city’s past has helped inform how the city will move forward. As a Milpitas native, she remembers watching orchards turn to automotive factories and is eager for the city’s latest evolution — the development of its new innovation district.

“It’s just like every other city, it’s growing, it’s part of progress, but it has to be smart progress,” Montano told San José Spotlight. “You have to think about the future generations, how are these projects going to influence or impact the future.”

The Milpitas City Council approved the 75-acre innovation district as part of its citywide rezoning plan. Montano said the city will focus on attracting artificial intelligence, automotive technology and bioscience businesses. She added that the district is a key component to stimulating job growth in the city, alongside businesses expanding their footprint, such as KLA, Cisco and Apple.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Milpitas has about 77,000 residents, about 70% of whom are Asian, 13.5% are Hispanic or Latino and 13.3% are white. The median household income is $166,769.

Another focal point is the city’s affordable housing development. In her speech, Montano highlighted more than $773,000 that’s been allocated toward housing production. The city recently approved two 100% affordable housing projects near the city’s transit center. She also touched on a financial support program the city launched that gives 50 households $645 a month to help with rental payments.

Milpitas was the first city in the county to receive state approval on its housing element. The state is requiring Milpitas to add 6,713 homes by 2031, with more than half being below market rate—a requirement the city has struggled to meet in the past.

Milpitas Chamber of Commerce Office Manager Bernadette Gomez said she was particularly happy with the city’s housing update, given the statewide need.

“People always complain that there’s not enough housing but always complain that we’re building too many houses, but we do need more housing,” Gomez told San José Spotlight.

She also said building more housing near the transit center was crucial to encouraging the use of public transportation.

Montano mentioned in her speech that Milpitas SMART, the city-exclusive rideshare service, reached an average of 800 riders weekly. The city won awards from the American Public Transportation Association and the California Association of Public Information Office for how the program was marketed to its residents. 

Former Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran said he was fully supportive of Montano’s efforts as mayor.

“I’m so honored to know that I was succeeded by the first woman mayor in the history of Milpitas, and the best candidate for the job regardless of gender,” Tran told San José Spotlight.

Dublin resident Maria Angelica Colmenares said she came to support Montano and learning more about the city made her interested in moving to the area — especially the city’s investments in economic development.

Another of Montano’s supporters, San Jose resident David Lonero, said he was interested in the city’s plans to revitalize Main Street. Montano said in her speech that the city council will soon be adopting the Gateway-Main Street Specific Plan to encourage development, transportation and community engagement, which she hopes revitalizes Main Street as a destination space. Lonero said he used to work in Milpitas and would visit Main Street often and would like to see it reinvigorated.

“It was a whole different vibe back then,” Lonero told San José Spotlight. “She’ll get it back.”

Contact B. Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] or @SakuCannestra on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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