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OUR NEIGHBORHOODS PALO ALTO
amed for an ancient redwood tree that was a living landmark for late1700s Spanish explorers, Palo Alto today is a diverse community, a mixture of high-tech and locally owned companies and more than 26,000 homes. Since incorporation in 1894, Palo Alto has expanded to encompass the area stretching from San Francisquito Creek to the north to San Antonio Road to the south, from the San Francisco Bay to the Skyline Ridge. It is home to nearly 60,000 residents — but during weekdays the population swells to nearly 140,000 with the daily flow and ebb of commuters. Over time, the demographics of Palo Alto have changed dramatically. What once was a homogeneous, mostly blue-collar community, with an enclave of Stanford University professors, has become a diverse, mostly well-to-do, well-educated, but aging, population. Despite a median household income of $117,574 in 2000, many are challenged to keep up with the median home price — Publisher: William S. Johnson Editor: Carol Blitzer Art Director: Scott Peterson Researchers: Carol Blitzer, Karla Kane, Royston Sim, John Squire
$1,350,000 (from December 2008 through November 2009). But people continue to flock to Palo Alto, taking pride in its environmental consciousness, city-owned utilities, support of social services and some firsts, including opening a public Children’s Library in 1940 and becoming the first U.S. city to have an Internet home page in 1994. In addition to the neighborhoods included here, you can view profiles of The Greenhouse and St. Claire Gardens, as well as expanded profiles of the shorter versions presented here, at www.paloaltoonline.com/ neighborhoods/. This publication, like Palo Alto itself, is ever-evolving. If we’ve missed your neighborhood (either here or online), or if you have additional tidbits about your neighborhood you’d like to share with the Weekly, please let us know.
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On the Cover: Magdalena Cabrera, second from left, and fellow parents and volunteers lead preschoolers from Leaping Lizards Nature Awareness Preschool across Fernando Street after playing in Boulware Park in the Ventura neighborhood. Photo by Veronica Weber. Photos of Evergreen Park and Triple El by Veronica Weber; Palo Alto Orchards by Whitney DaFoe; Downtown North by Marjan Sadoughi.
Adobe Meadow/Meadow Park 33 Barron Park ............................. 34 Charleston Gardens ................ 41 Charleston Meadows .............. 34 College Terrace ...................... 30 Community Center .................. 18 Crescent Park ............................ 8 Downtown North ...................... 6 Duveneck/St. Francis ............... 20 Esther Clark Park..................... 40 Evergreen Park ........................ 28 Fairmeadow ............................ 37 Greater Miranda ..................... 40 Green Acres ............................ 38 Greendell/Walnut Grove ......... 36 Greenmeadow ........................ 36 Leland Manor/Embarcadero Oaks/ Garland Drive .......................... 22 Midtown ................................. 30 Monroe Park .......................... 37 Old Palo Alto .......................... 24 Palo Alto Hills ........................ 41 Palo Alto Orchards ................. 38 Palo Verde .............................. 33 Professorville .......................... 14 Southgate ............................... 27 South of Midtown ................... 32 Triple El ................................... 20 University South ..................... 12 Ventura ................................... 32
Additional copies of Palo Alto Neighborhoods, as well as companion publications — Almanac Neighborhoods and Mountain View/Los Altos Neighborhoods — are available at the Weekly for $5 each. All three publications are available online at www.paloaltoonline.com/ neighborhoods/.
owntown North, Palo Alto’s northernmost neighborhood, is also one of its oldest. Soon after Palo Alto began as an offshoot of Stanford University in the 1890s, the town was dry, and a trolley ran up University Avenue. Much has changed since the postWorld War II downtown developed into a Norman Rockwell-esque landscape of creameries, movie houses and five-anddimes. Instead of Woolworth’s, today you can find an Apple store, an icon of Silicon Valley, along a bustling main street. Downtown North is bounded by the meandering San Francisquito Creek on the north, University Avenue on the south and tucked between Alma Street and Middlefield Road. By the end of the 1920s the neighborhood was built out, according to Palo Alto Historian Steven Staiger. Vestiges of the old blue-collar populace still remain in the smaller properties and houses designed like cottages or bungalows. Houses are built closer to the sidewalks, porches sit out front, the driveways off to the side — encouraging neighborly interaction. A few larger rebuilt houses and apartment complexes represent the current need and development for the growing town. Jeanese Snyder, whose children will be the family’s fifth generation to grow up in her Downtown North house, has seen the town shift from small town to urban center. Gone is the “slower-pace” that
FACTS CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (AND NEARBY): Discovery Children’s House — Montessori, 437 Webster St.; Downtown Children’s Center, 555 Waverley St.; First School, 625 Hamilton Ave. FIRE STATION: No. 1, 301 Alma St. LIBRARY: Downtown branch, 270 Forest Ave. LOCATION: between San Francisquito Creek and University Avenue, Alma Street and Middleﬁeld Road NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Dan Lorimer, 650-322-5566 PARKS: Cogswell Plaza, Lytton Avenue between Ramona and Bryant streets; El Camino Park, 100 El Camino Real; El Palo Alto Park, Alma Street at El Camino Real; Hopkins Creekside Park, Palo Alto Avenue from El Camino Real to Middleﬁeld Road; Johnson Park, Everett Avenue and Waverley Street POST OFFICE: Hamilton, 380 Hamilton Ave. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Addison Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School SHOPPING: University Avenue, Stanford Shopping Center MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,470,000 ($1,165,000-$1,176,000) HOMES SOLD: 7 MEDIAN 2009 CONDO PRICE: $625,000 ($505,000-$1,200,000) CONDOS SOLD: 12
Snyder refers to when people used to fish and inner tube down San Francisquito Creek or when her grandmother actually used to hose down the dirt road outside their house. “Growing-up (in the ’70s) we thought we lived in the most boring town there was because University Avenue closed up. I mean we road our bikes downtown at night because nothing was open,” she said. The largest sore spot for Downtown North is its parking and traffic situation, Staiger said. Commuters drive through Downtown North to get to Stanford or use its residential areas for parking while working around University Avenue. And the closer a resident lives to University Avenue, the bigger traffic and parking hassles are. The city has implemented a combination of traffic-slowing techniques such as noturn signs and traffic circles, which provide some relief to the ongoing situation, though parking still remains troublesome. But the inconveniences are easily offset by Downtown North’s proximity to everything, residents say. Darel and Elu Chapman and their three young boys live in a house built in the 1910s next to the creek, on Palo Alto Avenue. Elu Chapman said she “wouldn’t trade anything for the convenience.” They moved into their house in 2002 and are part of a shift from older residents to more families and children in the area. Within walking distance are Stanford
events, such as fireworks and public lectures, as well as the annual May Fête Parade and Palo Alto Festival of the Arts on University Avenue, the downtown farmers market and even Sunset Magazine. “At work ... it’s fast-paced tech, and I come home and it’s almost like a step back into the ’50s or the ’20s and it’s green and it’s older and I know people. It’s quite a contrast actually,” Darel Chapman said. — Kris Young MIDDLEFIELD ROAD
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hen Gary Bacon moved to Crescent Park in 1969, he was charmed by the small-town feel and individuality of the mostly single-story Craftsman bungalows. Four years later when he needed a larger home, he opted to go just a few blocks. He still recalls wheeling his piano down Guinda Street while a buddy played boogie woogie and new neighbors cheered. Relationships were quickly forged over low fences — informal chats that evolved into Labor Day block-party traditions, Halloween costume parties, a wine co-op and backyard movie night with his rear garage as a screen. In the 36 years since he moved onto Forest Avenue, the now-retired Los Altos High School teacher has seen plenty of changes, from the raising of rooflines and infill of homes on the deeper lots to the demise of those low between-neighbor fences and skyrocketing prices. Despite the changes, Bacon is still struck by the congeniality of the neighbors. “I’m not going anywhere. I love it here,” he said. Tucked between San Francisquito Creek, Newell Road, Channing Avenue and Middlefield Road, Crescent Park has a quiet, secluded feel despite its proximity to downtown Palo Alto and traffic-laden University Avenue. Children play on the neighborhood’s magnolia-lined sidewalks, and neighbors know they can rely on each other for help, advice and friendship. But the friendly environment isn’t the only thing that attracts people to Crescent
FACTS CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Crescent Park Child Development Center (Peekaboo), 888 Boyce Ave. FIRE STATION: No. 3, 799 Embarcadero Road LIBRARY: Main Library, 1213 Newell Road LOCATION: bounded by San Francisquito Creek, Newell Road, Channing Avenue and Middleﬁeld Road NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Norman Beamer, 650-327-7071 PARKS: Eleanor Pardee park, 851 Center Drive; Hopkins Creekside Park along Palo Alto Avenue POST OFFICES: Hamilton, 380 Hamiliton Avenue; Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road PRIVATE SCHOOLS: St. Elizabeth Seton School, 1095 Channing Ave. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Duveneck Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School SHOPPING (NEARBY): The Willows Market, 60 Middleﬁeld Road, Menlo Park MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,885,000 ($800,000-$4,995,000) HOMES SOLD: 38 MEDIAN 2009 CONDO PRICE: $880,000 ($665,000-$1,095,000) CONDOS SOLD: 2
Park. The area’s architectural diversity and age, with Mediterranean, Early Californian and Victorian homes, appeals to many residents looking for a neighborhood with character. “People come to Crescent Park who are looking for two-story houses, like in the suburbs around the big cities on the East Coast,” said Norm Beamer, president of the Crescent Park Neighborhood Association. “Crescent Park tends to have that kind of architecture: large two-story houses on a traditional, tree-lined street. I think that’s one of the unique things about the neighborhood.” Steve Staiger, Palo Alto’s historian, notes that Crescent Park was originally part of a 2,200-acre land grant called Rancho Rinconada del Arroyo de San Francisquito. In 1864, Dr. William Newell bought the land, where he planted some of the first eucalyptus trees in America. For decades, the nearby San Francisquito Creek has caused its share of problems. Heavy El Nino rains wreaked millions of dollars of damage when the creek overflowed in 1998. “You never would have expected a little creek that is normally dry to flood like that,” Beamer said. Much of Crescent Park is now in a designated flood zone, which means that mortgaged homes need to have flood insurance and that any major renovations require raising the house above the flood level. Rather than focusing on the flood,
most residents talk about the friendly atmosphere, elegant homes and fantastic location. Beth O’Malley first moved to Crescent Park when she found a “great house” there. But if it’s the house that brought her, it’s the community that has kept her there for the past 10 years. “I am surrounded on all sides ... by amazing neighbors, just amazing neighbors,” O’Malley said. “I feel like we’re all here for each other. “Our kids all cat-sit and dog-sit and house-sit,” O’Malley said. “It’s a great way to start them out with a little responsibility from an early age.” — Jillian Keenan and Carol Blitzer
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hat makes University South stand out? Longtime resident Joe Shakes laughed as he answered, “You may be able to hear it right now: a lot of new construction — constant, constant construction.” Spanning between University Avenue and Embarcadero Road, Alma Street and Middlefield Road, University South is mostly a residential area on the edge of downtown Palo Alto. “It’s a very, very large neighborhood ... so it’s hard for me to generalize,” said Elaine Meyer, the president of the University South Neighborhood Association. “It’s a complex and interesting area.” Housing everything from Palo Alto’s very first residence built in 1890, when the city was still called University Park, to the modern development of Facebook.com in 2004, University South is a neighborhood for people of all ages, interests and backgrounds. As one of the older neighborhoods in Palo Alto, University South has a rich history — including the famous Addison Avenue garage beginnings of Hewlett Packard Company. “I like the oldness of it,” Meyer said. However, with constant construction happening, University South is quickly changing, she said. In early 2006, the four-story 800 High St. housing complex was completed.
FACTS CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Addison Kids’ Club, 650 Addison Ave.; Children’s Creative Learning Center Downtown Child Care Center, 848 Ramona St.; First School, 625 Hamilton Ave.; The Learning Center, 459 Kingsley Ave. FIRE STATION: No. 1, 301 Alma St. LIBRARY: Downtown branch, 270 Forest Ave. LOCATION: bounded by Homer Avenue, Alma Street, Embarcadero and Middleﬁeld roads NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Elaine Meyer, 650-325-8057 PARKS: Scott Park, Scott Street and Channing Avenue; Palo Alto Heritage Park, Homer Avenue and Waverley Street POST OFFICE: Hamilton, 380 Hamilton Ave. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Addison Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School SHOPPING: University Avenue, Town & Country Village MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,940,000 ($810,000-$3,270,000) HOMES SOLD: 15 MEDIAN 2009 CONDO PRICE: $1,348,000 ($825,000-$2,097,000) CONDOS SOLD: 11
“It’s a close-knit neighborhood feel. ... Living here, you wouldn’t need to go more than three or four blocks to get everything you need. ... It really works perfectly for us,” Joop Verbaken, who moved into the complex with his wife and two children, said. “It is a very nice, modern-styled building with a lot of features.” A new three-story office and condo building at Homer Avenue and Bryant Street — including a two-story underground garage — now surrounds the old A.M.E. Zion Church. Another significant addition to University South is Palo Alto Heritage Park, which was dedicated in 2004. On the corner of Waverley Street and Homer Avenue, this grassy 2-acre park is one of University South’s main attractions for families, said Shakes, who has lived in the area with his wife for 20 years. “We love it; it has been a nice addition. It’s good to see kids there now. You see adults too, playing soccer or just sitting down and reading a good book.” Behind the new playground, the old Roth Building is being renovated into the Palo Alto History Museum. Across the street from that are the Museum of American Heritage as well as newer apartments and condominiums. Gwen Williams, who relocated to University South with her husband and two young children in 2001, finds it very child-friendly. “We have great access to all the schools
and we have great access to downtown, but we’re far enough away from 101 so we feel very much like we’re a neighborhood here,” she said. According to Shakes, the neighbors of University South are very friendly with one another. They exchange pleasantries in their driveways and they discuss the latest news in the aisles of Whole Foods. Meyer said the neighbors even throw block parties with one another and also have their own traditions. “The convenience of living downtown is quite attractive,” Shakes said. “And, I know most of the people in the neighborhood. ... We all know each other, and without being too nosy, it gives us a sense of security.” — Andrea Wang BYRON ST.
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rofessorville, which survived the 1906 earthquake as well as a threat to develop a huge hospital in the 1970s, is registered as a national Historic District, and has retained a distinctly residential feel despite its proximity to downtown. “Over the years, this area’s become really gentrified,” according to longtime resident Sandy Peters. Bounded by Kingsley and Addison avenues from Cowper to Ramona streets, the neighborhood features a variety of traditional styles of architecture, including Craftsman, Shingle and Colonial Revival. Residents share a common commitment to maintaining the overall look of the neighborhood as well as the upkeep of individual historic homes, Peters said. The Palo Alto Historical Review Board (HRB) encourages this perspective, and treats Professorville’s history as a point of pride. The neighborhood’s front doors are littered with small bronze ovals, presented by Palo Alto Stanford (PAST) Heritage to homes that reach their centennial anniversary. The historic status of the area and certain individual houses can be the source of extra frustration for residents looking to renovate the exteriors of their homes or build additions, Peters said. “I guess there are more hurdles you have to deal with,” she said. These potentially include petitioning the Palo Alto Historic Review Board to approve construction
FACTS CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): Addison Kids’ Club, 650 Addison Ave.; Downtown Child Care Center — CCLC, 848 Ramona St.; The Learning Center, 459 Kingsley Ave. FIRE STATION: No. 1, 301 Alma St., and No. 3, 799 Embarcadero Road LIBRARY: Downtown branch, 270 Forest Ave. LOCATION: bounded by Kingsley and Addison avenues from Cowper to Ramona streets PARKS: Scott Street Mini Park, Scott Street and Channing Avenue; Heritage Park, Homer Avenue and Waverley Street POST OFFICE: Hamilton, 380 Hamilton Ave. PRIVATE SCHOOL (NEARBY): Castilleja School, 1310 Bryant St. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Addison Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School SHOPPING: University Avenue; Town & Country Shopping Center MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,705,000 HOMES SOLD: 5
plans. But many residents have fought to maintain this high standard for neighborhood projects, fearing the encroachment of downtown office spaces and the parking dilemmas they have already caused. Because many houses in Professorville were not originally built with garages, their owners have largely resorted to street-side parking. At the same time, the absence of a time limit on these streets has attracted many who work downtown, causing Ramona and Bryant to be choked with cars parked bumper-to-bumper. “It’s getting to be a joke,” Peters said. “If you pull away in the morning to do errands, you can just forget about parking when you get back.” Living so close to University still has its benefits, Peters said. “I can walk to everything, and I’m a walker, so I love it. I think it’s a wonderful advantage to live here,” she said. Sandra Tucher, who has lived there since 2005, agrees. “It’s very central, and everything seems very close and accessible,” she said. “It seems like everything’s just a bike ride away.” She also said that the proximity of downtown gives it a comfortable, urban feel. “There’s often just people circulating in the neighborhood,” Tucher said. “It’s
nice to feel like it’s frequented by lots of different people.” Peters said the residents’ tendency to take frequent strolls contributes to Professorville’s neighborly atmosphere. “There’s a lot of sitting on porches and talking to neighbors,” Peters said. Community events tend to be exclusive to a particular area or group of friends, she said. “There’s a little dinner here, a little dinner there,” Peters said. Kelli Tomlinson, a friend of Tucher’s, recounted, “One of our neighbors organized a little progressive dinner that moved down the street from one house to the next. And then there was a little tea party at Christmas.” “We have quite a span in the age range, but I have no qualms about going to a neighbor and asking for a cube of butter,” Tucher said. — Thea Lamkin CO WP
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the other. Then the library was two blocks in the other direction. And the Children’s Theatre and all the children’s activities two blocks west.” Not much has changed since Lee moved in. “It’s been a wonderful community,” Lee said. “We’ve pretty much retained the way it was. The community center area remains an extremely desirable area. You can see it in the prices. It deserves people saying, ’I’ll pay any price to live there.’” Carmen Muñoz has lived in the Community Center neighborhood since 1999 and her three children participate in various activities — Children’s Theatre, Girl Scouts, community gardening at Eleanor Pardee Park, tennis lessons at Riconada Park and swimming in the Riconada pool. She said she loves being able to bike with her children to all of these activities. On date nights, she and her husband often walk downtown and have dinner. “The location is great, but what I think makes it really special is the people who live here,” said Clayton, author of “The Wednesday Sisters.” “It’s a very friendly neighborhood. People know their neighbors. We have block parties. We have a book group. Everyone is always out walking around.” The block parties began more than 40 years ago, and the book group began in 2004. “When we moved to Palo Alto, we knew not a soul,” Clayton said. “The neighborhood has really drawn together. Before the book group was started I knew
ituated between Middlefield, Embarcadero and Newell roads and Channing Avenue, the colorful, open yards and sidewalks shaded by trees in the Community Center neighborhood welcome neighbors to stop and chat with passers-by. Within two blocks in each direction, residents have everything they could want in a neighborhood brimming with children. “It’s a great neighborhood for kids,” said Meg Clayton, who moved to the Community Center neighborhood in 2002. “You can get to parks, libraries, even the Children’s Theatre without having to cross a major road.” “We have access to everything,” said Gaynor Brown, a resident who moved in eight years ago. “Everything is close — the parks, the swimming pool, all the schools. It’s a 20-minute walk into town. You’ve got the library. You’ve got the (Junior) Museum. There’s a lot going on.” Brown’s decision to move to the neighborhood was influenced by the fact she could walk or cycle whenever she wanted to. Her two daughters have followed her model. “They haven’t needed cars,” Brown said. “It was really easy for them to walk or bike to school. It’s always felt very safe walking around.” Marvin Lee moved to the neighborhood 45 years ago with his wife and two children. “It just looked like an ideal place for us,” Lee said. “It was only two blocks from the park in either direction. Rinconada Park is on the one side, Eleanor Pardee Park on
FACTS CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Walter Hays Kids’ Club, 1525 Middleﬁeld Road FIRE STATION: No. 3, 799 Embarcadero Road LIBRARY: Main Library, 1213 Newell Road, Children’s Library, 1276 Harriet St. LOCATION: bounded by Middleﬁeld Road, Channing Avenue, Newell Road and Embarcadero Road NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Rick Ferguson, 650-327-3222, email@example.com PARK: Rinconada Park, 777 Embarcadero Road POST OFFICE: Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road; Hamilton, 380 Hamilton Ave. PRIVATE SCHOOL: St. Elizabeth Seton School, 1095 Channing Ave. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Walter Hays, Addison or Duveneck elementary schools, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School SHOPPING: Midtown, Downtown Palo Alto MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,760,000 ($1,205,000-$3,725,000) HOMES SOLD: 9
a couple people in the neighborhood. Now we have parties outside the book group. We connect in so many ways, even just walking dogs.” Rick Ferguson, president of the Community Center Neighbors’ Association, has seen families come and go, but said the dynamic remains unchanged. “It’s had wonderful new home development and an influx of younger families,” Ferguson said. “There’s been a marvelous infusion of new blood and new faces.” Ferguson was impressed by the community’s response when a neighbor’s home caught fire less than a year ago. “There was a wonderful turn-out,” Ferguson said. “The neighbors were all there in a matter of minutes and the family’s needs were met. The neighbors and neighborhood are there when they need to pull together.” Muñoz echoed Ferguson’s praise for her neighbors. After planning a last-minute vacation, four different neighbors agreed to help out with house-sitting tasks while her family was gone. “One took care of the newspaper,” Muñoz said. “One fed my daughter’s mouse, one watered my plants at Eleanor Pardee and the twins down the street took out the trash. “We wouldn’t trade Community Center for any place in Palo Alto,” she said. — Emily James
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hen Walt and Crystal Gamage moved into their new home on Channing Avenue, the stay was supposed to be temporary. The house wasn’t big enough for a family with three teenage daughters, and the small lot had a short list of inconveniences to boot. The family of five had planned to stay for a year. That was in 1957. Now, more than 50 years later, Crystal still lives in her little home in the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood of Palo Alto, and she can’t see herself anywhere else. Most of the homes in the area were built in the early 1950s and sold for little over $14,000, Gamage said. Prices today are often above the $1 million mark. Although the homes were originally built as tract houses, each has developed its own little piece of individuality over time. Her family added a new living room in 1961 in order to increase living space. Nowadays new residents often pursue similar projects to accommodate larger families, she said. Nearly every home in Duveneck has a tree in its front yard. Some blocks, like one
on Iris Way, have two street-long rows of trees planted with such symmetry that the little street resembles a tunnel of greenery that leads to a quiet place in the country. The community was once called Green Gables before the merger of Green Gables and Crescent Park elementary schools in 1982. The neighborhood and the elementary school at its center were then named for Los Altos Hills philanthropists Frank and Josephine Duveneck, founders of the Hidden Villa environmental education center. Neighborhood Association President Karen White has been a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis area since 1979. In 2006, she and her husband co-hosted a block party with the help of longtime residents Tad and Maureen Simons. The event was designed to bring together neighbors new and old and to promote a “Neighborhood-Watch” type of camaraderie. More than 200 people took part in the festivities, White said. Newer residents are often drawn to Duveneck/St. Francis because of the opportunity to send their children to the
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Duveneck Kids’ Club, 705 Alester Ave. FIRE STATION: No. 3, 799 Embarcadero Road LIBRARY: Main Library, 1213 Newell Road LOCATION: bounded by San Francisquito Creek, Oregon Expressway, Greer Road, Embarcadero Road and Newell Road NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Karen White, 650-494-7026, KarenWhite4@sbcglobal.net PARKS (NEARBY): Rinconada Park, 777 Embarcadero Road; Eleanor Pardee Park, 851 Center Drive POST OFFICE: Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road PRIVATE SCHOOLS (NEARBY): International School of the Peninsula, 151 Laura Lane; St. Elizabeth Seton, 1095 Channing Ave. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Duveneck Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School SHOPPING: Edgewood Shopping Center MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,307,500 ($845,000-$3,150,000) HOMES SOLD: 34
many esteemed public schools in the area, she said. “We have more children now than we had 15 years ago,” she said. “Many families move from other cities because of our excellent schools.” — Justin Bull
after we moved in, at the fall ice cream social. Everyone was very welcoming.” The small-village atmosphere is bolstered by the residents’ willingness to celebrate events during the year. Most neighbors show up at the New Year’s Day Mummers Parade, a Memorial Day’s barbecue and a fall ice cream social. Chuck Sieloff and his wife, Sally Dudley, have lived in Triple El since 1972. The neighborhood has evolved significantly over the years with new families moving in from China, Japan, Korea, India, France and Switzerland. Residents include physicians, engineers, doctors, lawyers and others. Today, it is common to see Elsinore Drive filled with groups of children walking, biking or skateboarding to their school. Triple El is for the residents a peaceful and pleasant place to live. Most of them really do not want to leave this neighborhood because they just feel good here. — Maud Lepine
iving in Triple El is like living in a small village. Everyone is looking out for everyone else,” said Susan Usman, who moved to the Eichler-dominated neighborhood with her family in 2006. Residents are known to look after each other, to bring meals when they are sick, pick up their neighbor’s newspaper when they are gone and babysit their neighbor’s children. The three neighborhood streets — Elsinore Drive, Elsinore Court and El Cajon — appeal to newcomers with their Eichler design, contemporary architecture, “California Modern” home style and Elsinore Drive’s beautiful row of 44 Chinese elm trees. Triple El is also filled with social life. “Where I used to live, I knew hardly anyone. Here I have lived for three years and I know all of my neighbors because of the block parties,” Usman said. “We were introduced as a new family two months
FACTS CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): First Congregational Church Nursery School, 1985 Louis Road; Parent’s Nursery School, 2328 Louis Road; Duveneck Kid’s Club, 705 Alester Ave. FIRE STATION: No. 3, 799 Embarcadero Road LIBRARY: Main Library, 1213 Newell Road LOCATION: Elsinore Drive, Elsinore Court and El Cajon PARKS (NEARBY): Rinconada Park, 777 Embarcadero Road; Greer Park, 1098 Amarillo Ave. POST OFFICE: Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Duveneck Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School SHOPPING: Midtown MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,295,000 ($1,275,000-$1,400,000) HOMES SOLD: 3
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LELAND MANOR/EMBARCADERO OAKS/GARLAND DRIVE
ne, two, three —Embarcadero Oaks, Leland Manor and Garland Drive stack up from north to south to form a parallelogram in eastern Palo Alto. Oregon Expressway, Middlefield, Embarcadero and Louis roads draw the area’s peripheral boundary lines. Residents can walk to Midtown, California Avenue, University Avenue and Stanford University for coffee, restaurants and shopping. Rinconada Park, the Lucie Stern Community Center and the main library are within a stone’s throw for recreation and reading.
Leland Manor A Fourth of July parade, an Easter egg tree and a long-time resident who drops Christmas cards in her neighbors’ mailboxes makes Leland Manor unique. Homes on 9,000- to 10,000-square-foot lots were built in classic California design — ranch style. One home on Newell Road, the area’s main thoroughfare, served as a model home in the 1939 San Francisco Exposition and drew more than 25,000 visitors. Now the neighborhood nestles quietly around a circle formed by Northampton and Southampton drives. Every Fourth of July young children parade on decorated bikes in the center while parents barbecue, talk and share food. Leland Manor also has a community bulletin board one neighbor volunteered to place in her front yard. “Everybody can put things up — announcements, if they lose their dog, and various things that are coming up,” Lorraine Barry said.
Christmas trees sparkle with festive rainbow-colored lights during the holidays on Fulton Street. It’s been a favorite activity for residents since 1940 who enjoy the thousands of visitors walking along the tree-lined street to admire the homes. Residents who move onto the street inherit lights and decorations from previous owners. The area once covered with hay fields began growing in the 1930s. Homes styled from Tudor Revival to Monterey Colonial began sprouting. Birge Clark, a well-known Palo Alto architect, designed homes in the neighborhood. A resurgence of families with young children has re-defined this well-kept neighborhood. “There are more people moving in with children now. For years, there weren’t any,” longtime resident Nancy Cole said. Her mother bought her present home in 1937 when she was a child. “The elderly residents are either moving into homes or away,” she said.
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): First Congregational Church Nursery School, 1985 Louis Road; Parents Nursery School, 2328 Louis Road; Walter Hays Kids’ Club, 1525 Middleﬁeld Road FIRE STATION: No. 3, 799 Embarcadero Road LOCATION: Leland Manor: between Middleﬁeld and Louis roads, Sales and North California avenues; Embarcadero Oaks: Embarcadero Road, Seale Avenue and Middleﬁeld Road; Garland Drive: between Middleﬁeld and Louis roads LIBRARY: Main Library, 1213 Newell Road PARK (NEARBY): Rinconada Park, 777 Embarcadero Road POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave. PRIVATE SCHOOL: Hwa Chin School, 750 N. California Ave.; Stratford School, 870 N. California Ave. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Walter Hays Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School SHOPPING: Midtown MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,594,000 ($1,450,000-$4,050,000) HOMES SOLD: 10
“It’s a really special place,” Rob Henderson, who bought his home on one of the cul-de-sacs in 2000, said. Henderson grew up five blocks away as a boy. With three young daughters, he came back to Palo Alto to raise his family. The houses, originally built in California ranch-style, are 1,500 to 2,000 square feet on 6,000- to 7,000-square-foot lots. Over the years many residents added second stories. On occasional holidays the neighbors on each cul-de-sac bring out their grills and barbecue in the middle of the street. “It’s kinda like a family,” Henderson added. “The family atmosphere is just amazing.”
Garland Drive Magnolia trees line a quiet and curvaceous road adjacent to Jordan Middle School. Four cul-de-sacs along the drive hallmark a neighborhood where children who grew up 30 years ago return to raise their own families. Neighbors mow each other’s lawns, cook dinners for each other, and trust each other with car keys while on vacation. People care about each other, neighbors say.
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lossoming magnolia trees grace the streets, offering sweet fragrances in early spring. An abundance of multicolored azaleas, hydrangeas, roses, daffodils and tulips decorate plush, well-manicured gardens. The atmosphere is charmingly serene in Old Palo Alto, an area between Embarcadero Road and Oregon Expressway, Alma Street and Middlefield Road. “It’s such a beautiful place to live,” longtime resident Judith Steiner said. On par with Crescent Park as the wealthiest part of Palo Alto, Old Palo Alto boasts a wide range of architectural styles ranging from English traditional, Tudor, Moorish and Spanish Colonial to PostModern designs. Historically, Old Palo Alto has been a neighborhood without tract housing. The area began developing in the 1900s. “It was a period of individually built homes,” Beth Bunnenberg, archives chair of the Palo Alto Historical Association, said. The practice of maintaining an area where no two homes look alike continues today. “What makes the neighborhood so rich is that it has all kinds of architecture and now houses are being built and they’re quite exciting looking,” Steiner said. Rare in Palo Alto, homes in old Palo Alto occasionally can have one-acre lots and more than 4,000 square feet of living space. Old Palo Alto has become an area with larger homes in recent years with Silicon Valley wealthy moving in and building large homes,
FACTS CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): Neighborhood Infant-Toddler Center, 311 N. California Ave.; Walter Hays Kids’ Club, 1525 Middleﬁeld Road FIRE STATION: No. 3, 799 Embarcadero Road LIBRARY: Main Library, 1213 Newell Road LOCATION: between Embarcadero Road and Oregon Expressway, Alma Street and Middleﬁeld Road NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Old Palo Alto Neighborhood Association (OPANA), Nadia Naik, email@example.com PARKS: Bowden Park, Bowling Green Park, Kellogg Park POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave. PRIVATE SCHOOL: Castilleja School, 1310 Bryant St. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Addison or Walter Hays elementary schools, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School SHOPPING: Town & Country Village; Midtown MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $2,050,000 ($815,000-$3,500,000) HOMES SOLD: 19 MEDIAN 2009 CONDO PRICE: $635,000 ($635,000-$635,000) CONDOS SOLD: 2
residents said. “The reason we moved is because my husband always liked this area, the quiet tree-lined streets,” said Reena Bhargava, who moved with two children into the area four years ago. Her husband, a computer scientist, runs a start-up company in Palo Alto. “My home’s got such an Old Worldcharm to it, it’s absolutely captivating. There’s a lot that’s really old-fashioned and unique and so it’s really charming,” she said. While it’s becoming increasingly difficult to buy into Old Palo Alto because of high real-estate prices, long-time resident William Hughes said that he’s glad to see younger families with children moving in. “It makes the neighborhood far more appealing when there are small children around,” he said. Today many who’ve made it in Silicon Valley and beyond call Old Palo Alto home, including Apple Computer President Steve Jobs, former ’49ers quarterback Steve Young and Google co-founder Larry Page. The area has a low turnover rate. People either live in the area for a few years or they stay forever, Steiner said. She has lived in the area for nearly three decades. Residents love Gamble Garden, one of the first homes built in the area in 1902. Gamble Garden and Bowling Green Park right next door are the only two open green spaces in the area. More than 30 years ago Elizabeth Gamble gave the 2.5-acre estate to the city. Long-time resident Georgina Bailie helps grow seedlings in the Gamble greenhouse. The volunteers contribute the plants to
children in East Palo Alto, and to the Community Association for Rehabilitation. Residents feel comfortable jogging and walking around the neighborhood. It’s also close enough to walk to downtown Palo Alto and to California Avenue, Bhargava said, and yet secluded enough to also have the feeling of living in a quiet corner of the world. — Susan Hong
Bowling Green Park
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SOUTHGATE are accessible only from El Camino and Churchill, discouraging any through traffic and making the neighborhood’s contained environment peaceful and safe. A circular street setup includes pedestrian walkways, giving residents easy access to the park, Stanford and main streets. The neighborhood land was previously owned by the Stanfords. The property was subdivided in the 1920s, and was named Southgate because it bordered the southern side of Stanford University. Original homes included a few constructed by Glenn “Pop” Warner of Pop Warner football who coached Stanford football in the 1920s and ’30s. But most were classic California Bungalows, varying in about six different floor plans, said John’s wife Meg Monrose, a retired Palo Alto city planner. With the variety of rebuilding and remodeling done over the years, Southgate today hosts an eclectic assortment of homes, including a “castle-theme” residence and a converted grocery store and body shop. The trend in the ’80s was to add second stories to older homes but in the ’90s that changed. Southgate homes were often demolished and rebuilt with full basements to make the most of space. And while the trend towards building huge houses on small lots seems to have died out, construction activity in Southgate is high. “We’ve never been this busy from a construction point of view,” Monrose said. Southgate’s community feel is a defining
element of the neighborhood, residents said. And while there is no neighborhood association, Southgate has an active Neighborhood Watch program. Jim McFall, a resident since 1985, maintains an active e-mail list, which distributes information to the neighborhood about the Neighborhood Watch program, security and home safety, as well as Southgate news. Get-togethers are common and annual events include a National Night Out gathering, a neighborhood-wide Memorial Day block party and an annual Toy Drive and holiday gathering in December. “We encourage neighbors to get to know each other and new families seem appreciative of the effort to become part of the neighborhood,” he said. The friendliness of the neighborhood is what makes it so special, said Realtor Karen McNay, a Southgate resident for 40 years. “It’s a great neighborhood,” she said, “neighbors help each other.”
— Lila Razzaqui M
IN O AL
hen we looked at Southgate,” Irina Gorelik said, “we thought ’oh my God, this is it.’” Gorelik and her husband Alex were attracted to the neighborhood’s quiet and charm — qualities residents feel make the area special. Having moved from Fremont in 2007 with their four children, the Goreliks are pleased with their choice. The streets are quiet and safe, they said, and neighbors know each other. And with its prime location, there’s always plenty to do. In fact, location was one factor drawing the Goreliks to the neighborhood. Southgate, bordered by the Caltrain tracks, Churchill Avenue, El Camino Real and Park Boulevard, is just walking distance from Stanford and shopping at Town & Country and along California Avenue. “We wanted to be in the middle of all the activities,” Gorelik said. For John Monrose, a Southgate resident since 1973, the neighborhood’s location couldn’t be better. “Southgate is very convenient. It’s the best place in Palo Alto,” he said. “We couldn’t find a better location for our lifestyle, comfort and convenience.” Just bordering Southgate is Peers Park where children play and families picnic. “It’s a lovely park and a wonderful asset to the neighborhood,” Monrose said. For a long time, Southgate residents were older folks although today there is a mix of elderly residents and young families. Southgate’s narrow, tree-line streets
FACTS CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): Casa dei Bambini, 457 College Ave.; Escondido Kids’ Club, 890 Escondido Road; Walter Hays Kids’ Club, 1525 Middleﬁeld Road FIRE STATION: No. 6, 711 Serra St. on the Stanford Campus LIBRARIES: Main Library, 1213 Newell Road; and College Terrace branch, 2300 Wellesley St. LOCATION: between Churchill Avenue and Park Boulevard, El Camino Real and Mariposa Avenue NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Jim McFall, firstname.lastname@example.org, 650-327-4428 PARK: Alexander Peers Park, 1899 Park Blvd. POST OFFICE:Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Escondido and Walter Hays elementary schools, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School. SHOPPING: Town & Country Village; California Avenue MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,250,000 ($900,000-$1,650,000) HOMES SOLD: 5
that include condos as well as apartments, David Schrom, a resident of Oxford Avenue since 1976 and neighborhood association president, said. Many homes are newly built and many others recently renovated. Some older houses date back to before the town of Mayfield was joined with Palo Alto. Tommy Derrick, a Leland Avenue resident, lives in one of a few historical Evergreen Park homes with a history stretching back to Mayfield days. Called the Lockwood-Holston house, it was built for the Station Master Bert Holston and his wife, Gussie Ash Holston. Derrick has lived here since 1977 and thinks this is the best neighborhood in all of Palo Alto. The access it brings as well as the local park really makes Evergreen Park shine, he said. Although California Avenue and El Camino Real give close access to shopping, some residents feel the negative aspects of spill-over parking and traffic. The traffic problem was solved some time ago by putting street barriers that prevent drivers from using the neighborhood streets as shortcuts. However, parking is still a problem at times, according to Schrom. Both Derrick and Schrom pointed out that Evergreen Park has a variety of ethnicities, ages and occupations. “I think there are many good-hearted people that I enjoy living among,” Schrom said.
Derrick showed that sense of neighborhood spirit and comradeship after the ’89 Loma Prieta earthquake when he went to check up and help his elderly neighbors. To his relief not a single one was hurt. — Mike Lata PAR
ot far from the bustle of the California Avenue commercial district lies a neighborhood so quiet one can hear the evening crickets. Located between Page Mill Expressway, Park Boulevard, El Camino Real and College Avenue, Evergreen Park offers easy access to the shopping district, Stanford University and Caltrain, as well as the College Terrace Library and Peers Park. The location and access are among the main draws for residents. They’re also attracted to a family atmosphere with kids of various ages, and a diverse community. Two annual events in this neighborhood — a block-party potluck and the Peers Park barbecue — draw residents together. Every year the block party is held on a different street, Steve Godfrey, a resident of Oxford Avenue since 1999, said. “The neighborhood has a broad base of involvement this way because rather than have it at one corner every year we have it at different sections. ... Rotating it gives everyone a chance to be involved,” he said. Many families here with children commute to local schools and play together, he said. His son bikes to local Escondido Elementary School with a group of kids. Homes vary in size and architectural styles as well as lot size. In one of the streets one can see three different fence styles, made of brick, stone or wood. There are about 150 single-family homes, and about 250 multi-family homes
FACTS CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): Casa dei Bambini Montessori School, 463 & 457 College Ave.; Escondido Kids’ Club, 890 Escondido Road FIRE STATION: No. 2, 2675 Hanover St. LIBRARY: College Terrace branch, 2300 Wellesley St. (closed for renovation in 2009) LOCATION: between Page Mill Expressway, Park Boulevard, El Camino Real and College Avenue NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: David Schrom, 650-323-7333 PARKS: Alexander Peers Park, 1899 Park Blvd.; Sarah Wallis Park, 202 Grant Ave.; Bowden Park, Alma Street and California Avenue POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave. PRIVATE SCHOOL: The Living Wisdom School, 456 College Ave. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Escondido Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School SHOPPING: California Avenue MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,550,000 ($1,355,000-$1,591,000) HOMES SOLD: 3 MEDIAN 2009 CONDO PRICE: $628,000 ($488,000-$1,000,000) CONDOS SOLD: 13
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hen wealthy farmer and landowner Alexander Gordon from San Mateo County purchased a 120-acre tract of land in 1887, he named its streets after illustrious American colleges and universities, giving birth to College Terrace. The neighborhood, with its vast streets, fragrant gardens and pastiche of architectural styles, is “the most neighborhoody neighborhood in Palo Alto,” said homebuilder William Hurt, vice president of the College Terrace Residents’ Association (CTRA) and a resident of 55 years. With its four modest parks, labyrinth of blocked-off streets and collection of childcare centers, College Terrace is notoriously kid-friendly. Children and parents can be spotted hand-in-hand on summery Friday afternoons, strolling past old houses with towers and side gables in the Queen Anne style, and quaint English cottages. The neighborhood’s most ancient dwelling, 2310 Yale St., was built in 1889. The community was not always
dominated by youth, however. “One huge change occurred in the early ’80s,” Maggie Heath, a resident since 1973, said. “Prior to that there were few children in the neighborhood. When I was pregnant in 1980, I didn’t see anyone with babies or toddlers. Then babies and toddlers started to appear, including mine. Since then, the number of children has gradually been increasing as more and more families make College Terrace home.” Escondido Elementary School, with its bilingual English and Spanish program, is also a draw for children in the neighborhood. Summer block parties and community picnics at Dartmouth Park, as well as a mass Easter egg hunt, are organized annually. Despite some recent modifications to College Terrace, the neighborhood remains “one of the hottest neighborhoods in Palo Alto,” Hurt said. “People always come back. Many Stanford graduates who stayed here when they were going to school move back here with their families. I think it’s because the neighborhood has charm.
feel. Midtown encompasses two shopping areas, three parks and five elementary schools. But for Lawrence, the best part is bumping into her neighbors while running errands. Sheri Furman, chair of the Midtown Residents Association (MRA), who has lived in the area since 1976, said the shopping center and nearby parks are what set Midtown apart from other neighborhoods. As Midtown continually becomes more diverse “in every way: race, occupation, age, income level,” Peggy Kenny, former MRA president and a residence since 1983, said, neighbors continue to make an effort to get to know one another. “Small ranch homes have been torn down to make room for bigger homes, and we have lost some family-owned businesses such as Midtown Pharmacy, but the feel of the neighborhood remains the same,” Lawrence said. One of the neighborhood association’s
It’s eclectic and extremely quiet. It’s just evolved that way.” — Daniela Reichelstein
MIDTOWN hat drew Karen Lawrence in 1981 to the large Midtown neighborhood is its small-town
FACTS CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: College Terrace Children’s Center, 2300 Wellesley Ave.; Bing Nursery School, 850 Escondido Road; Escondido Kids’ Club, 890 Escondido Road; Pepper Tree After School Program, 859 Escondido Road FIRE STATION: No. 2, 2675 Hanover St. and No. 6, 711 Serra St. on the Stanford campus LIBRARY: College Terrace, 2300 Wellesley St. LOCATION: bounded by Stanford Avenue, El Camino Real, California Avenue and Amherst Street NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: College Terrace Residents’ Association, Greg Tanaka, president, www.ctra.org PARKS: Donaldina Cameron Park, 2100 Wellesley St.; Mayﬁeld Park, 2300 Wellesley St.; Weisshaar Park, 2300 Dartmouth St.; Werry Park, 2100 Dartmouth St. POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Escondido Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School SHOPPING: California Avenue MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,055,000 ($746,000-$1,750,000) HOMES SOLD: 11
largest priorities is integrating both old and new residents. The neighborhood association is now implementing a system in which each block has a coordinator to connect neighbors. The most-anticipated neighborhood event is the annual ice cream social that takes place every September. Even though the neighborhood is so large, the Midtown Residents Association continues to make a great effort since it began in 1994 to bring local news to the neighborhood. The association has general meetings four to six times a year, sends out an e-newsletter weekly and a printed newsletter twice a year. Yet no matter how many changes the neighborhood undergoes, residents said its friendly atmosphere has not changed. “The neighborhood continues to go slowly upscale with the addition of larger homes and new shops, and traffic also continues to increase,” Lawrence said. “But once I get home, it feels the same as it did 26 years ago.” — Rotem Ben-Shachar
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Grace Lutheran Preschool, Love’n’Care Christian Preschool, Mini Infant Center of Palo Alto, Ohlone Kids’ Club (PACCC), Palo Alto Friends Nursery School FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middleﬁeld Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch LOCATION: between Oregon Expressway and Loma Verde Avenue, Alma Street and West Bayshore Road NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Sheri Furman, 650-856-0869, firstname.lastname@example.org, www. midtownresidents.org PARKS: Greer Park, Hoover Park, Seale Park POST OFFICE: Cambridge, Main PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Keys School, HeadsUp! Emerson School PUBLIC SCHOOLS: El Carmelo, Fairmeadow, Hoover, Ohlone and Palo Verde elementary schools; J. L. Stanford Middle School; Gunn or Palo Alto high schools SHOPPING: Midtown Shopping Center, Middleﬁeld Road and Colorado Avenue; also Middleﬁeld Road at Loma Verde Avenue MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,175,000 ($745,000-$2,390,000) HOMES SOLD: 73 MEDIAN 2009 CONDO PRICE: $635,000 ($385,000-$966,000) CONDOS SOLD: 8
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SOUTH OF MIDTOWN
he front yards of the South of Midtown neighborhood are littered with Razor scooters and half-sized dirt bikes. “It’s an Ozzie-and-Harriet type of place,” Rusty Jacobi said as he washed his car on a crisp, autumn morning. “You can’t have Palo Alto anywhere else,” he said. Jacobi has lived all over the western United States, but he and his wife moved back to the neighborhood where they grew up. South of Midtown is the type of place where the biggest problem is what to call the neighborhood. Longtime resident Jean Griffiths says that the area is named “Barron Creek,” and Sheri Furman, chair of the Midtown Residents Association says that “South of Midtown” is nothing more than “a real estate marketing designation.” Whatever you want to call it, the neighborhood is bordered by Middlefield Road, Alma Street, Loma Verde Avenue and East Meadow Drive. Griffiths has been a resident for more than 45 years and remembers that when the neighborhood first got started many residents were World War II veterans. “The success of the Silicon Valley brought about
the biggest changes, with housing prices soaring and pricing out of the market our previous neighbors,” she said. Griffith sees recent remodels as an improvement South of Midtown needs. She said the houses were cheap rush jobs when they were built in the ’50s and could benefit from some green retrofitting. Mary Saxton moved in 2000 “because the Palo Alto public schools were better than Menlo’s.” “I generally feel safe here. ... It’s a pleasant, quiet neighborhood,” she said. She likes the amenities such as the library, grocery and nearby Mitchell Park. “There are quite a few events at the park. They have concerts and a Fourth of July picnic,” she said. According to Jacobi, the whole neighborhood gets into the act for the annual block party. “We’ve got singers and a band. There’s a cabaret singer down the street. Of course there are professors. One made ice cream out of air. The kids loved it.” “It’s two steps above everywhere else. That’s what makes Palo Alto Palo Alto,” Jacobi said. — John Squire
wenty years ago, Magdalena Cabrera was going through some family changes and was searching for a place to call home for her and her two children. She chose a house in the Ventura neighborhood because “it was the least expensive house in Palo Alto on the market at the time,” she said. Ventura has the feeling of a secluded Palo Alto neighborhood, yet it is still near shopping and restaurants on California Avenue and El Camino Real. While Cabrera chose the neighborhood for convenience, she said one of many aspects she has come to appreciate is the socially and racially diverse backgrounds of her neighbors. “It’s a modest neighborhood, we’re not fancy here,” Cabrera, who runs the Leaping Lizards Nature Awareness Preschool from her house, said. “We have everything here, from African American, Asian American, Indian American and Latino American. And I love that the park is right across the
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY) : Bessie Bolton’s Kids Club, 500 E. Meadow Drive; C.A.R. Milestone Preschool, 3864 Middleﬁeld Road; Covenant Children’s Center, 670 E. Meadow Drive; El Carmelo Kid’s Club, 3024 Bryant St.; Grace Lutheran Preschool, 3149 Waverly St. FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middleﬁeld Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middleﬁeld Road LOCATION: bounded by Loma Verde Avenue, East Meadow Drive, Middleﬁeld Road and Alma Street NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: part of Midtown Residents’ Association, Sheri Furman, 650-856-0869, midtownresidents.org PARKS: Mitchell Park, 3600 E. Meadow Drive; Hoover Park 2901 Cowper St. POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 CambridgeAve. PRIVATE SCHOOLS (NEARBY): International School of the Peninsula, 3233 Cowper St.; Challenger School, 3880 Middleﬁeld Road; Keys School Lower Campus, 2890 Middleﬁeld Road PUBLIC SCHOOLS: El Carmelo and Fairmeadow elementary schools, J.L. Stanford Middle School, Gunn High School SHOPPING: Midtown Shopping Center, Middleﬁeld Road and Loma Verde Avenue; Charleston Center MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,220,000 ($820,000-$2,499,000) HOMES SOLD: 25
FACTS street.” Colin Kent, originally from New York, moved to Ventura seven years ago. Although he was looking for a place downtown, he found the area a little too pricey. When he came across a townhouse on Pepper Avenue, Kent found what he said is the perfect, convenient location for him. “It’s still close enough to downtown and definitely within walking distance of California Avenue,” he said. “I also love that you can get to Highways 280 and 101 quickly.” He also loves the modest, smaller homes in the neighborhood, he said. Ventura’s layout of primarily one-story cottages came to fruition mostly after World War II, with the GI Bill offering lower interest rates for returning veterans. Changes to the neighborhood have brought several apartment buildings and the occasional two-story home to the area. — Susan Robles
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Country Day Little School, 3990 Ventura Court; Heffalump Cooperative Nursery, 3990 Ventura Court; Leaping Lizards Nature Awareness Preschool, 650858-0355, www.leapinglizardspreschool.com; Sojourner Truth Child Development Center, 3990 Ventura Court FIRE STATION: No. 5, 600 Arastradero Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middleﬁeld Road LOCATION: bounded by Oregon Expressway, Alma Street, West Meadow Drive and El Camino Real PARK: Boulware Park, 390 Fernando Ave.; Ventura Community Center, 3990 Ventura Court POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Barron Park and Juana Briones elementary schools, Terman Middle School, Gunn High School SHOPPING: California Avenue, Charleston Center, El Camino Real MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $935,000 ($703,000-$1,195,000) HOMES SOLD: 7 MEDIAN 2009 CONDO PRICE: $780,000 CONDOS SOLD: 1
n the 45 years that Bill and Smokey Chapman have lived on Louis Road in the Palo Verde neighborhood, they have seen people and families come and go. The Chapmans, like the Eichler Swim and Tennis Club next door, have remained one of the neighborhood’s few constants over the past 50 years. “When my husband and I were looking at the house in ’63, the Eichler Club was only a few years old, and when I saw that pool I said ’Wow. This is it,’” Smokey Chapman said. She still swims at the club nearly every day. Palo Verde is a neighborhood of mostly Eichler and Eichler-inspired homes. Much of the area’s street plan of narrow roads and cul-de-sacs was designed to keep traffic to a minimum and to foster a sense of community. Over the years, Palo Verde has experienced noticeable shifts in its residents’ ages and household makeup. Young, mostly blue-collar families began moving into Palo Verde during the 1960s
FACTS and ’70s, drawn by the area’s relative affordability and its numerous schools. By the late 1970s and ’80s, young families had given way to empty-nesters whose kids had grown and left. Palo Verde’s residents have formed bonds through organizations and clubs, which are helping the growing community, which now includes SummerHill Homes’ Echelon, Classics at Sterling Park and Warmington Homes’ Vantage. The Palo Verde Residents Association was created several years ago to serve as a conduit between the neighborhood and city government, and to foster communication with other areas through the umbrella group, Palo Alto Neighborhoods. Palo Verde also has a garden club and a book club. The 50-year-old Eichler Swim and Tennis Club and the Family YMCA on Ross Road are community hubs, where old friends socialize and new residents get acquainted. — Alexander Papoulias
picnic tables and play structures, still serves as a gathering place for families as well as the community, and is the host location of the annual Adobe Meadow neighborhood block party, held Labor Day weekend. The neighborhood association’s beginnings are closely tied to the event. Bob Marinaro, a block coordinator in Adobe Meadow, credits Arthur Keller, founder and past-president of the neighborhood association, for its success. “He evolved it from our small grouping of a block party and incorporated the rest of the neighborhood into this 300- to 350-strong grouping of homes,” Marinaro said. The neighborhood association gave “sleepy” Adobe Meadow a voice, and united over issues of neighborhood concern. A similar attitude prevails in Meadow Park, the smaller of the two neighborhoods. “Our NA sort of coalesced over an issue with a single-story overlay, about eight to nine years ago, which is still in effect,” said Mike McMahon, president of the Meadow Park Residents Association, and resident since 1975. — Kristen Barta
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): Covenant Children’s Center, 670 East Meadow Drive; Sunshine Preschool Montessori, 3711 Ross Road FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middleﬁeld Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middleﬁeld Road LOCATION: bounded by East Meadow Drive, Fabian Way, Montrose Avenue, Middleﬁeld Road NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Meadow Park Residents Association, Mike McMahon, president, 650-493-7392, www.geocities.com/ meadowparkpa/; Adobe Meadow Neighborhood Association, CeCi Kettendorf, president, 650-4930804 PARKS: Don Jesus Ramos Park, 800 East Meadow Drive; Mitchell Park, 650 East Meadow Drive POST OFFICE: Main, 2085 East Bayshore Road PRIVATE SCHOOL: Challenger School, 3880 Middleﬁeld Road PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Fairmeadow Elementary School, J.L. Stanford Middle School, Henry M. Gunn High School SHOPPING: Charleston Center, Midtown Shopping Center MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,250,000 ($990,000-$1,540,000) HOMES SOLD: 16 MEDIAN 2009 CONDO PRICE: $880,000 ($650,000-$936,000) CONDOS SOLD: 3
he Adobe Meadow and Meadow Park neighborhoods, divided by Adobe Creek, have garnered a reputation as Palo Alto’s “sleepiest” neighborhoods. Perusing the streets that branch from Louis Road, the only bridge across the creek, the cyclists, dog walkers and playing children outnumber motorists. The homes, a mix of Brown and Kauffman developments and Eichlers, are characterized by innovative use of color and landscaping; house exteriors appear in bold apple greens, creams, browns, natural wood, and in one case, purple with periwinkle trim. City trees, planted in yards rather than sidewalks, serve as centerpieces in neat lawns and gardens. Houses are largely one-story, with few exceptions, such as Ortega Court. The former site of an elementary school, Ortega Court is now an enclave of fashionable larger, more expensive homes. The cul-de-sac bears vestiges of school-yard days, such as the path that runs between the court and school’s former playground, Don Jesus Ramos Park. Ramos Park, a 4.4-acre spread of grass,
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Palo Verde Kids’ Club, 3450 Louis Road FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middleﬁeld Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middleﬁeld Road LOCATION: between Loma Verde Avenue and East Meadow Drive, Middleﬁeld and West Bayshore roads NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Palo Verde Residents Association, Smita Joshi, 650-4941005, email@example.com, http://pvra.jot.com/ WikiHome PARKS (NEARBY): Don Jesus Ramos Park, 800 E. Meadow Drive; Henry W. Seale Park, 3100 Stockton Place POST OFFICE: Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Palo Verde Elementary School, J.L. Stanford Middle School, Gunn High School SHOPPING: Midtown Shopping Center, Middleﬁeld Road and Colorado Avenue; also Middleﬁeld Road at Loma Verde Avenue MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,251,000 ($999,000-$2,300,000) HOMES SOLD: 19
very October, the neighborhood donkey Pericles leads the children to the local school, clip clopping his way down narrow streets covered with gold and red leaves. Pericles, better known as Perry, visits classrooms and is always very careful of his surroundings, minding small desks, bookshelves, backpacks, and of course, the young students that want to pet him behind the ear. A donkey walking to school with kids may seem unlikely for a neighborhood located in the heart of Silicon Valley; but in Barron Park, residents say that this rural and oldfashioned pace of life is what distinguishes the neighborhood from the rest of Palo Alto. “The pace of life is slower and the neighborhood has a familiar feeling of community. You don’t need an excuse to say hi to your neighbor,” said Brandy Faulkner, who grew up in Barron Park. In the late 1800s, residents saw apricot orchards, strawberry fields and dairy pastures lining the streets, and during the 1920s, many San Franciscans built summer cottages near the rail station that was eventually demolished in later years. Barron
Park was annexed to Palo Alto in 1975. Today, the neighborhood landscape varies from newer, larger, two-story houses to smaller ranch-style homes and cottages that sometimes resemble a warm Thomas Kinkade painting. “We (the neighborhood) can tell you who lives in each house, how many pets they have, or who their kids are, so when we see a new car, we know they’re just visiting or passing through,” said Teena James, who has lived here since 1986. Since many families have moved in because of the top-quality schools, Anne Nacey Maggioncalda said the neighborhood is diverse in both ethnicity and socioeconomic level. All four schools are in walking distance and many blocks in the neighborhood create a phone and e-mail directory for their own cul-de-sacs. Barron Park also holds multiple block parties every year along with regular annual events such as a winter holiday songfest, May Fete and a summer ice cream social welcoming new families. — Katharine Lu
hen John and Phyllis Klein moved into their Eichler in the Charleston Meadows neighborhood in 1955, there were no streetlights or sidewalks. It was quite rustic, but they had electricity, John Klein joked. Today, Charleston Meadows — although divided by the busy Charleston-Arastradero corridor — still retains its neighborhood charm. Made up of small cul-de-sacs it gets very little through traffic. The fact that most streets are not major thoroughfares was what attracted Amy Ho to the neighborhood in 2002. “It’s very peaceful,” she said. “As you drive in on Wilkie they have all those trees, so you’ve got the tree-canopy effect.” Residents also get together at Robles Park, with events such as the National Night Out potluck and an Election Halloween block party, noted Ellen Hartog, the Charleston Meadows Association board member who’s in charge of social events. “We wanted the whole family to have fun and meet each other as well as the business of neighborhood watch and elections,” she 34 said, pointing to their “Halloween treasure
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Barron Park Childcare Co-op, Gretchen_Reynolds@yahoo.com; Barron Park Playgroup, Beth Delson, bdelson@icg. org; Barron Park Kids’ Club, Barron Park Preschool, Juana Briones Kids’ Club FIRE STATION: No. 5, 600 Arastradero Road LIBRARY: College Terrace branch, 2300 Wellesley St.; Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middleﬁeld Road LOCATION: roughly between Chimalus and Maybell avenues, El Camino Real and Gunn High School ﬁelds NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Lynnie Melena, president, 650-493-2135, president@ bpaonline.org, www.bpaonline.org PARK: Bol Park, Laguna Avenue between Barron and Matadero avenues; Juana Briones Park, 609 Maybell Ave. POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Barron Park and Juana Briones elementary schools, Terman Middle School, Gunn High School SHOPPING: San Antonio Shopping Center, California Avenue MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,500,000 ($1,055,000-$2,700,000) HOMES SOLD: 13 MEDIAN 2009 CONDO PRICE: $500,000 CONDOS SOLD: 1
hunt, Palo Alto fire trucks and police cars to play in, face painting and fantastic food from everyone.” Neighbors hear about events via the Charleston Rag, a monthly newsletter, as well as a website, e-mail list and posted fliers of upcoming events. In 2008 they organized the first neighborhood block party on Wilkie Way, which was also an opportunity to welcome the new residents of the Arbor Real development. Arbor Real includes 11 singlefamily homes lining Wilkie Way, and a mix of condominiums and townhouses between Wilkie and El Camino Real. Most homes in the neighborhood were built in the 1950s and consist almost completely of single-story wood-frame structures. The Eichlers along Park Street were built in 1950-51 and are among the earliest Eichler developments in Palo Alto. But remodeling projects are constant. “It’s hard to communicate to someone who doesn’t live here how much we like the people,” Becky Epstein said. — Joyce Tang
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Growing Tree Preschool, 450 W. Charleston Road FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middleﬁeld Road; No. 5, 600 Arastradero Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middleﬁeld Road LOCATION: bounded by West Meadow Drive, Alma Street, Adobe Creek and El Camino Real NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Sara Armstrong, president, cmaboard@googlegroups. com, www.charlestonmeadows.org PARKS: Don Secundino Robles Park, 4116 Park Blvd.; Monroe Mini Park (nearby), Monroe Drive and Miller Avenue POST OFFICE: Alma Shoe Repair (for sending only, no receiving) 3666b EL Camino Real; Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Juana Briones Elementary School, J.L. Stanford Middle School, Gunn High School SHOPPING: San Antonio Shopping Center, Piazza’s Shopping Center MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,250,000 ($883,000-$1,925,000) HOMES SOLD: 12 MEDIAN 2009 CONDO PRICE: $801,000 ($236,000-$1,450,000) CONDOS SOLD: 13
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ucked into a small nook behind the Cubberley Community Center there’s a small picture-book community replete with tree-lined cul-desacs and Fourth of July parades. Even the architecture is a throwback to a time when families ate evening meals together and kids biked to neighborhood schools. Originally completed in 1953, Greenmeadow is a collection of 270 homes built by Joseph Eichler as a cohesive, almost autonomous neighborhood, with houses receding back into cul-de-sacs off a few main drags. In 2005, the neighborhood was endowed with a place on the National Register of Historic Places and, with that, the restriction to remain true to the “Eichlerlook.” The city had already placed a moratorium on second stories. The inclusion of a two-car garage on the broad façade of the houses belies the rather spacious interiors of these homes. They are geometric and unusual inside; the architects were able to notch out living space in unexpected places. Eichler’s celebration of the outdoors
is reflected in the community as a whole. With Bay Area landscape designer Thomas Church, they centered the community around a neighborhood park, pool and community center. Lisa Knox and her family moved onto Ben Lomond Drive in 2006 from a suburb of Pittsburgh. “If I was going to move, I wanted a community that really felt like a community,” she said. By luck, almost, she, her husband and two teenage girls landed smack dab in the center of one of the most communityminded neighborhoods in the area. “I can’t think of a community that’s closer, with more activities,” she said. “Everyone is very involved. There was a garden tour, a wine-and-cheese gathering, a meeting for the library bond measure.” Today the homeowners’ association, called the Greenmeadow Community Association, or GMCA, has committees and sub-committees that organize social events, manage the area and welcome new residents. — Megan Rawlins
del Young, a resident of Greendell, described neighborhood creation as an evolutionary event, where boundaries can change as groups of people become friends and associates. Young keeps and updates the Greendell map, which has phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and the names of everyone on Ferne and Dake avenues. “In the case of Greenmeadow,” she said, “a formal agreement was established at the time the houses were built and this agreement related to ownership and maintenance of the swimming pool, club house and adjacent property.” With Greendell, Greenmeadow and Walnut Grove all occupying the area enclosed by Alma Street, San Antonio Road, Middlefield Road and East Charleston Road, outsiders could mistake them for one large neighborhood, especially since Eichlers dominate the area. Greendell and Walnut Grove residents can use the Greenmeadow pool, but can’t join committees or vote on neighborhood issues. The boundaries include the tract of four-bedroom Eichlers, built in 1956, on Ferne Avenue, Dake Avenue and San 36 Antonio Road, said Wendy Ng, a resident of
FACTS CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): Montessori School of Los Altos, Palo Alto Infant Toddler Center, Peninsula Day Care Center, Redwood Enrichment Center FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middleﬁeld Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middleﬁeld Road LOCATION: between Creekside Drive and Ferne Avenue, Nelson Drive and Ben Lomond Drive NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: 650-4943157, www.greenmeadow.org; Jim Pinsky, president, Greenmeadow Community Association, 650-856-6511 PARKS: Greenmeadow Park (private); Mitchell Park (nearby), 600 East Meadow Drive POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave. PRIVATE SCHOOLS (NEARBY): Palo Alto Prep School, 4000 Middleﬁeld Road; Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, 450 and 470 San Antonio Road PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Fairmeadow Elementary School, J.L. Stanford Middle School, Gunn High School SHOPPING: Charleston Center, San Antonio Shopping Center MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,442,500 ($1,425,000-$1,460,000) HOMES SOLD: 2
FACTS Greendell and a professor at San Jose State University. “However, our neighborhood map has included homes on Dake Avenue and Christopher Court that are not Eichlers,” Ng said. Years ago, whether children attended Ohlone and Greendell school was thought of as a dividing line between the neighborhoods, Young said. Today, all the children attend Fairmeadow Elementary School. Walnut Grove, a former walnut orchard, resides in the northwest corner partitioned by Adobe Creek; a bridge allows people to walk or bike to Greenmeadow. News clippings indicate the neighborhood began as a tract developed by Burke & Wyatt in 1953. The company had plans to develop a $3.5 million tract with contemporary houses ranging from $16,000 to $17,000. Even without the committees or pool, “there’s good cooperation and good feelings between the neighborhoods,” said Tom Crystal, Walnut Grove Homeowners Association president. — Richard To
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Montessori School of Los Altos, Palo Alto ITC, Peninsula Day Care Center, Redwood Enrichment Center FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middleﬁeld Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch LOCATION: Greendell: between Ferne Avenue, San Antonio Avenue and Mackay Drive; Walnut Grove: between Charleston Road and Adobe Creek, Alma Street and Nelson Drive NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Walnut Grove Homeowners Association, Tom Crystal, president, 650-493-3276 PARKS: Greenmeadow Park (private); Mitchell Park (nearby), 600 East Meadow Drive POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave. PRIVATE SCHOOLS (NEARBY): Palo Alto Prep School, Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Fairmeadow Elementary School, J.L. Stanford Middle School, Gunn High School SHOPPING: Charleston Center, San Antonio Shopping Center MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: Greendell: $1,285,000 ($995,000-$1,610,000); Walnut Grove: $1,180,000 ($1,010,000-$1,338,000) HOMES SOLD: Greendell: 6; Walnut Grove: 7 MEDIAN 2009 CONDO PRICE: Greendell: $765,000; nearby: $828,000 CONDOS SOLD: Greendell: 1; nearby: 1
oseph Eichler designed the circular streets in the early 1950s to reduce traffic in his tract of modern, affordable homes, but now they also serve as the Fairmeadow’s icon. The circular pattern is one of Fairmeadow’s advantages, according to Paul Seaver, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1968. “There is very little through traffic,” he said of the neighborhood of 300 Eichler homes. Residents enjoy close proximity to Mitchell Park, a community center and four schools, public and private. Aside from the occasional errant driver and school-related traffic congestion in the mornings and late-afternoons, Fairmeadow is a quiet, peaceful neighborhood. “It’s very safe (and) relatively quiet,” said Mary Lautner, who often goes on long-distance walks. In fact, Fairmeadow’s walkability is one of its most popular attributes. Len Filppu said that walking to school with his elementary school-aged children gives him “a neighborhood feeling, and gives our
kids a sense of neighborhood. Instead of seeing the world whizzing by through car windows, they can kick a stone down the street on the way to school and wave to their classmates doing the same.” Amina Anwar and her husband Omair Farooqui, who moved from Hayward onto Roosevelt Circle in 2003, were attracted to Fairmeadow for the schools, but it was the “community feeling of Palo Alto and the circles” that really appealed. “Initially, there were not too many younger families on our street, but a lot of families who’d been there 30, 40 years,” Anwar said, adding that “they were very welcoming.” Later, three or four other families with young children moved in. “People tend to stay for another generation,” she said. In true neighborhood fashion, Ramona Circle residents host annual “circle” parties, host Halloween trick-or-treating events, and congregate for holiday caroling. — Veronica Sudekum
View, said Pat Rotondo, who moved to the neighborhood in 2005. “It doesn’t dawn on you until you notice these subtle little things. The garbage people and the mail truck turn around at my house. It’s kind of amusing.” Complications occasionally arise when children are denied admission into Los Altos recreational programs, such as Girl Scout troops, Wickstrom said. Houses have been coming up within the neighborhood lately, adding to the eclectic look of Monroe Drive, where small, decades-old bungalows stand beside brandnew, two-story houses. Avila, whose extended Portuguese family settled in Monroe Park long ago, believes that although some of the neighborhood faces may have changed, the basic feel of the area has not. “It’s still a close, secluded world here, away from the noise and the traffic.” — Thea Lamkin-Carughi
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): Growing Tree Montessori Preschool, 450 W. Charleston Road FIRE STATION: No. 5, 600 Arastradero Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middleﬁeld Road LOCATION: bounded by Adobe Creek, El Camino Real and Mountain View borders (near Silva Avenue) NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Monroe Park Neighborhood Association, Linnea Wickstrom, president, 650-941-1143 PARKS: Monroe Mini Park, Monroe Drive and Miller Avenue POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Los Altos School District — Santa Rita School, Egan Junior High School; Mtn. View-Los Altos Union High School District — Los Altos High School SHOPPING: San Antonio Shopping Center MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,190,000 ($950,000-$1,415,000) HOMES SOLD: 4 MEDIAN 2009 CONDO PRICE: $567,000 ($467,000-$740,000) CONDOS SOLD: 4
ou’re in the middle of three cities, but you still have a little piece of land back by the creek where you feel you’re in the country,” Deolinda Avila said of Monroe Park, which she has called home since 1968. Monroe Park is a small, quiet area at the southernmost tip of Palo Alto. There are no sidewalks on Monroe Drive, the main road that runs in a circular loop, and numerous trees mark it as a calm enclave despite its proximity to the El Camino commercial zone. Monroe Park is best described as a neighborhood on the margins. “We’re really a three-city neighborhood: residents of Palo Alto and Mountain View who go to Los Altos schools,” said Linnea Wickstrom, a resident since 1974. The odd location of Monroe Park has created a variety of peculiar issues for its Palo Alto residents, who have decided to step up and create a homeowners’ association. At times it’s easy to forget that part of Monroe Drive is technically in Mountain
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): Besse Bolton Kid’s Club, 500 E. Meadow Drive; Covenant Children’s Center, 670 E. Meadow Drive; Ellen Thacher Children’s Center, 505 E. Charleston Road; Hoover Kids’ Club; 445 E. Charleston Road; Palo Alto Infant Toddler Center, 4111 Alma St. FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middleﬁeld Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middleﬁeld Road LOCATION: bordered by East Charleston Road, East Meadow Drive, Alma Street and Mitchell Park NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Tom Vician, president, 650-565-9014 PARK: Mitchell Park, 600 E. Meadow Drive POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave. PRIVATE SCHOOL: Challenger School, 3880 Middleﬁeld Road PUBLIC CHOOLS: Fairmeadow and Hoover elementary schools, J.L. Stanford Middle School, Gunn High School SHOPPING (NEARBY): Charleston Center MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,000,000 ($795,600-$1,125,000) HOMES SOLD: 5
hen searching for a home to raise her young family, Linda Elman was drawn to the quiet neighborhood of Green Acres. Close to schools and near the hills, she thought it was the perfect mix of city and country. Forty-seven years later, her opinion of the neighborhood has not changed. Elman is one of the original residents from the 1960s, and said today the area attracts plenty of young families with many different nationalities represented. “It is a great place to raise your kids. And now that my kids have grown up, it is still a wonderful place to live,” she said. Other residents have described Green Acres as a “Leave It to Beaver” type of neighborhood — peaceful and friendly. There is access to open-space fields behind Gunn High School for kids to play in, as well as walking and biking paths, and several parks close by. Residents often take their kids to feed the two donkeys who live in nearby Bol Park. Public elementary, middle and high schools are all no more than a few blocks away. The only problem with being so close to schools has been the traffic it brings to the neighborhood.
Lorie Englhardt, who has lived in Green Acres since 2000, loves the diversity of the neighborhood. Green Acres contains people of all ages, including people whose families have lived nearby for generations, and others who are the first in their families to live in the United States. “It’s made it very fun and enriching to see how different people’s lives can be,” Englhardt said. She enjoys the mix of both old and new families. Residents also make efforts to get to know their neighbors. They have an annual neighborhood Halloween party, and another block party in the early fall. “These events are a fun way for people to socialize,” Englhardt said. “For the block party, we close off a street and have a barbecue, set up ping-pong tables; kids ride their bikes in the street, it’s a great way for everyone to come together.” The neighborhood’s friendly atmosphere is one of the reasons many long-term residents stay in Green Acres. For Elman, the neighborhood remains as great a value as it was when she moved in. “I cannot imagine living anyplace else,” Elman said. — Rotem Ben-Shachar
PALO ALTO ORCHARDS
mother and her daughters sell Girl Scout cookies to their neighbors, walking door-to-door through several cul-de-sac streets that make up Palo Alto Orchards. This is the second generation the neighborhood has seen grow up and most of the cookie-cutter tract houses that were built after World War II have been remodeled to contemporary aesthetics. Darcy Huston, the mother who accompanies her Girl Scouts, moved to Palo Alto Orchards five years ago with her husband to raise three girls. The Hustons came for the stellar public schools and for the neighborhood’s sense of community; they wanted to be able to sell cookies to neighbors they actually know. The Huston girls can play in the streets during the summer, and ride bikes around the neighborhood with their parents, but their mom Darcy worries about them crossing busy Arastradero Road. Misao Sakamoto and her late husband 38 also raised three children in Palo Alto
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Palo Alto Montessori School, 575 Arastradero Road; Whistlestop Child Development Center, 3801 Miranda Ave. No. T6B; Young Life Christian PreSchool, 687 Arastradero Road FIRE STATION: No. 5, 600 Arastradero Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middleﬁeld Road LOCATION: Green Acres I: Arastradero Road to Glenbrook Drive, Los Palos to Pomona avenues; Green Acres II: Maybell Avenue to Arastradero Road, Coulombe Drive to Georgia Avenue NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: (Green Acres II) Betsy Allyn, 650-493-8859; (Green Acres I) email@example.com PARKS: Juana Briones Park, 609 Maybell Ave.; Terman Park, 655 Arastradero Road POST OFFICE: Veterans Hospital Bureau, 3801 Miranda Ave. PRIVATE SCHOOL: Bowman International School, 4000 Terman Drive PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Juana Briones Elementary School, Terman Middle School, Gunn High School SHOPPING: El Camino Real, San Antonio Shopping Center, Downtown Los Altos MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,642,500 ($1,340,000-$2,150,000) HOMES SOLD: 6
Orchards, but they did so during a simpler time when parents could rest easily when their children walked to school. The Sakamotos moved to Palo Alto Orchards fresh out of UC Berkeley student housing, where they lived while Calvin Sakamoto was a student. The community was still surrounded by walnut orchards then. The Sakamotos joined many former GIs who came to raise their children in one-story homes priced under $10,000 on streets with names such as Suzanne and Lorabelle, after the original developers McKellar and Kelly’s wives. Half a century later, young professionals starting families jump at opportunities to live in Palo Alto Orchards. “As soon as a house goes on the market, somebody with kids moves in inevitably because they want to be in the school district,” Huston said of Palo Alto Orchard’s evolving demographic. “Older folks are moving out and new families are moving in.” — Lillian Bixler
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Palo Alto Montessori School, 575 Arastradero Road; Young Life Christian Pre-School, 687 Arastradero Road FIRE STATION: No. 5, 600 Arastradero Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middleﬁeld Road LOCATION: bounded by West Charleston Road, McKellar Lane, Suzanne Street and Suzanne Drive NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: John Spiller, firstname.lastname@example.org PARKS: Juana Briones Park, 609 Maybell Ave.; Terman Park, 655 Arastradero Road POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave. PRIVATE SCHOOL: Bowman International School, 4000 Terman Road PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Juana Briones Elementary School, Terman Middle School, Gunn High School SHOPPING: El Camino Real, San Antonio Shopping Center MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,425,000 ($1,151,000-$1,895,000) HOMES SOLD: 3 MEDIAN 2009 CONDO PRICE (NEARBY): $409,975 ($381,000-$438,000) CONDOS SOLD: 4
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hope you realize you live in paradise,” Jackie Berman’s oldest son once said when visiting his parents in the Greater Miranda area. Dan Berman, who has lived abroad for many years, was commenting on the value of this small, close-knit community. “It’s tucked away, so it has a sort of a rural atmosphere yet it is part of all the amenities of Palo Alto,” Jackie, a 38-year resident, said. The Greater Miranda land was originally purchased by the Mexican-American pioneer Dona Juana Briones de Miranda for $300 in 1850. It wasn’t until 1959 that the area was annexed to the city of Palo Alto. Development in the area didn’t really begin until the 1950s and gradually has grown to the neighborhood it is today. Many of the residents attribute the peace-and-quiet ambiance of the 55 homes to their proximity to Alta Mesa Memorial Park. Occasionally wildlife finds a way into neighbors’ backyards, including deer and some bobcats — a very appealing aspect especially with the Adobe Creek being
close-by, Don Nielsen, president of the Miranda Neighborhood Association, said. The neighbors all know each other well, as many have lived there for years or decades. The neighborhood association has organized several projects, from getting Miranda Avenue repaved to organizing emergency preparedness. The community truly came together after a fatal hit-andrun incident in 2003 when a 6-year-old girl was killed. The caring neighbors placed a little memorial on Miranda Avenue, which stayed there for a couple of years. Steve Tadlis moved into the neighborhood, with his wife Irit and two sons, in June 2006. Even before they completely unpacked, they were invited to the July 4 Jelly Bean Olympics on Miranda Green, which is celebrated annually with outdoor games and a potluck. “It’s a good way to meet more families, and it has this nice neighborly feel to it,” he said of the event. — Johanna Toivio and Kris Young
arge oak trees, wild animals and uninterrupted landscapes define Esther Clark Park, an open 21-acre plot of land located in the Palo Alto hills. Spanish villas, old-style ranch houses and wide Mediterranean-style mansions run down the three main roads of the neighborhood by the same name. All houses receive a stellar view of the park, regardless of where they are located. The park was sold to the city in 1965 by Esther Clark, the first female pediatrician and founder of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic and the Children’s Health Council. Adrienne Oliff’s ranch-style house on Old Trace Road has been a staple of the neighborhood since 1973. She likes how the area manages to be secluded from the downtown areas and yet is convenient enough for her to get what she needs in nearby Los Altos. Dating back to the ’80s, she hosted a number of neighborhood meetings in her house. Members of the neighborhood fought together to keep the area’s rural aesthetic intact, even taking their issues to 40 the mayor and the Los Altos town council.
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): Whistlestop Child Development Center, 3801 Miranda Ave., No. T6B FIRE STATION: No. 5, 600 Arastradero Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middleﬁeld Road LOCATION: Miranda Avenue, Arroyo Court, Miranda Green and Moana Court NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Don Nielson, 650-941-2429 PARKS (NEARBY): Terman Park, 655 Arastradero Road POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 365 Cambridge Ave. PRIVATE SCHOOL: Bowman International School, 4000 Terman Drive PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Juana Briones Elementary School, Terman Middle School, Gunn High School SHOPPING: El Camino Real, San Antonio Shopping Center MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $1,775,000 ($1,230,000-$1,935,000) HOMES SOLD: 3
Votes against streetlights, new roads and more developed park areas have helped to make Esther Clark what it is today. “Though the neighbors are one acre away from one another, they still watched out for each other,” she said. Robert Creasey has lived on Old Adobe Road since 1956, even before it received its name from Juana Briones’ 1844 adobe ranch house. The many oak trees that surround the park are also due to the generosity of his father, who planted them more than 25 years ago. “As I walk outside, I see these trees 25 feet high,” he said. Beautiful hawks, redtails, blue herons and other birds make their home in the park. Other animals such as deer, gophers and rabbits have been sighted both in and around the park. “I’ve seen coyotes go through my yard,” Creasey said. Marilyn Stocker has lived on Mockingbird Lane since her house was first built in 1973. As one of the original four neighbors on the street, her woodenframed ranch-style home has overlooked
FACTS FIRE STATION: No. 5, 600 Arastradero Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middleﬁeld Road LOCATION: from Old Adobe Road to Manuela Avenue, off Arastradero Road PARK: Esther Clark Park, Old Trace Road POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Nixon Elementary School, Terman Middle School, Gunn High School SHOPPING: El Camino Real, Downtown Los Altos MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE (NEARBY): $2,000,000 ($1,600,000-$2,420,000) HOMES SOLD (NEARBY): 3
the neighborhood on its hill for years. “We are the lowest lot that can see the bay,” she said. Many families were drawn to the neighborhood’s close proximity to Nixon Elementary School. Getting to school was literally a walk through the park. Stocker’s family played host to annual skating parties and barbecues. While the children’s departure from the area has left a number of empty nesters in its wake, the friendly nature of the neighbors still remains. — Casey Scheld
PALO ALTO HILLS
togethers. One party was scheduled to end at 8 p.m. but it went until after midnight because everybody just enjoyed being together.” She also credited yearly get-togethers organized by the Palo Alto Hills Neighborhood Association (PAHNA), and held at the Palo Alto Hills Country Club, with maintaining a spirit of togetherness. Cranes and hard hats on lots are part of a larger trend. Although the neighborhood is unable to expand into surrounding preserves, the winds of change nonetheless sneak over its dry hillsides in the form of renovation, or more commonly, rebuilding. Tearing down houses constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, newer residents are creating spacious digs with sprawling decks, vineyards and guest wings. “I get the open space I love, and the city,” West said. “It’s just where I want to be.” — Arden Pennell
ne and a half acres, across from a golf course, view of the San Francisco Bay, seven oak trees — it was like a wish list!” Chuck Colby said, describing the lot he bought in Palo Alto Hills in 1976. The neighborhood, which began as a ranch before transforming into a development along a golf course, has much to offer its 77 households, but many Palo Alto residents may not even know it exists. Nestled above Highway 280, the area is secluded by acres of nature. Deer wander into back yards and residents circulate supply lists about who has what in case of disaster. It was the semi-wild environment that convinced Connie West and her husband Jim to move in 1985. “It was like going away for the weekend when you came home,” she said. “I had lived on Stanford Avenue earlier, and I just wanted to be in the hills. It’s so peaceful.” However, life amongst the deer, coyotes and bobcats is anything but solitary, West said. “All the neighbors wave. We have get-
FACTS FIRE STATION: No. 8, Foothills Park, 3300 Page Mill Road (during summer); No. 5, 600 Arastradero Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middleﬁeld Road LOCATION: off Page Mill Road: Alexis Drive, Country Club Court, Bandera Drive and Laurel Glen Drive NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Mark Nadim, president, 650-949-5672; www.pahna.org PARK: Foothills Park, 3300 Page Mill Road POST OFFICE: Main Post Ofﬁce, 2085 E Bayshore Road PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Nixon Elementary School, Terman Middle School, Gunn High School SHOPPING: El Camino Real, Downtown Los Altos, California Avenue MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $2,325,000 ($2,000,000-$2,650,000) HOMES SOLD: 2
to go far to find a church, since there are many along Middlefield Road. “It’s pretty centralized to everything you need,” said Richard Twoy, who moved to the neighborhood in late 2007. “Piazza’s is just a block away and Highway 101, which I take to work each day, is close by.” Residents stay connected with e-mails on news concerning the neighborhood and the annual block party, which includes a barbecue and games. The block party is also a fun way many neighbors share their cultural backgrounds by preparing ethnic foods. Twoy and his family are looking forward to the block party at the end of the year. “We can see who’s around and get to know other people,” Twoy said. — Monica Guzman
ee, I would love to live here,” the late Margie Hornbeck used to say while driving through the Eichler and rancher-filled neighborhood, prior to moving to Charleston Gardens in 1966, with her husband Doug. Drawn to the wide and safe streets, the Hornbecks found Charleston Gardens an area ideal for raising young children. Although surrounded by three busy streets, Charleston, Middlefield and San Antonio roads, Charleston Gardens is a serene area. On a mid-day stroll around the tree-shaded neighborhood the loudest sound heard is birds chirping, and the streets are nearly free of cars. Portable basketball hoops are common, with children often seen playing on late afternoons. The Hornbecks were also drawn to the nearby schools and local amenities, many located on San Antonio or Middlefield Road. Doug, who taught at Cubberley High School on Middlefield Road before it closed and became a community center, loved that his work was so close. They also don’t have
FACTS CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): Children’s Pre-School Center, 4000 Middleﬁeld Road, T1; Good Neighbor Montessori, 4000 Middleﬁeld Road, K-4; Young Fives and Pre-school Family, 4120 Middleﬁeld Road; Ta’Enna Preschool (OFJCC), 3921 Fabian Way FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middleﬁeld Road LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middleﬁeld Road LOCATION: bounded by Middleﬁeld Road, East Charleston Road, Montrose Avenue, Sutherland Drive NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: George Browning, firstname.lastname@example.org PARK: Mitchell Park, 600 East Meadow Drive POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave.; Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Challenger School, 3880 Middleﬁeld Road; Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, 450 San Antonio Road; Kehillah Jewish High School, 3900 Fabian Way; Palo Alto Prep School, 4000 Middleﬁeld Road PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Fairmeadow or Hoover elementary schools, J.L. Stanford Middle School, Gunn High School SHOPPING: Charleston Center MEDIAN 2009 HOME PRICE: $968,000 ($795,000-$973,000) HOMES SOLD: 4
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Palo Alto neighborhood guide 2010.