"I looked out that window, saw that same tall green plant outside and told the real estate agent that I wanted to buy the house." That's what James Cochran, mayor of Mountain View from 1992-93, recalls about purchasing his Monta Loma house in 1967, while working as a young bachelor. "I saw these tall windows that let in a lot of light, a lot from outside, and I liked that," he said.
"It was a great place for me as a starter home," Cochran said, adding that the homes were less expensive than in Palo Alto or Los Altos Hills. Many families would start here, have a child or two, and then move to neighboring areas when becoming more financially stable, he said. Cochran bought this as his first home and never saw the need to leave. He met his wife, Alice, while living in Monta Loma and said the home is a good place for retirement, as it doesn't have any stairs.
Cochran mentioned a few neighbors that have passed their houses onto their future generations. "It's half and half, some new, some old," Cochran said.
The Google campus is close to Monta Loma, and has had an impact on the types of neighbors moving in.
"The houses and the lots are small, so you see a lot of new families moving in," Raymond White said. White and his wife have been living at their house in Monta Loma since 2010. "It reminds me of when I grew up in the '50s. It has that feel of a community where everyone shares with one another," he said.
The Monta Loma Neighborhood Association plays a large role in fostering that idea of community, White said. An email list set up by the neighborhood association includes more than 500 residents and allows neighbors to communicate with one another for both personal matters and local news items. "You see people asking for help every day and everyone is really receptive on the list," White said, noting that a day's worth of email can be anywhere from three to 10 items.
The homes have a distinct Eichler influence -- low ceilings, a lack of interior walls and rectilinear angles -- and were built in the suburban housing boom following World War II.
Cochran has seen the changes of each decade.
"We once had a hippie commune move in next door," he said, and music could be heard on the weekends but it was never a large problem. "I just shouted to them over the fence. I knew them a by a first-name basis, and they always understood," he said.
Cochran also worked to develop Thaddeus Park when the construction of West Middlefield Road left behind islands of untended land in between itself and Old Middlefield Way. Tom Hayes, a member of one of the several multi-generational households in Monta Loma, was a planner for the city in 1972 when the project began. "All of us were so excited to work on it; in a very short time we had landscaped a park," Cochran said of the next-door park.
"We just lucked out," White said. "It's one of those cases when you really can't see it until you live in it."
-- David Ruiz
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Hobbledehoy Montessori Preschool, 2321 Jane Lane; Monta Loma Babysitting Co-op (part of Monta Loma Neighborhood Association); Kids@Home (run by a neighbor; call Verity Aboudarham 650-968-6735)
FIRE STATION: No. 3, 301 Rengstorff Ave.
LOCATION: bounded by just south of San Antonio Road, West Middlefield Road, Rengstorff Avenue and Central Expressway
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Monta Loma Neighborhood Association, Estuardo Montufar, president, firstname.lastname@example.org
PARKS: Monta Loma Park, Thompson Avenue and Laura Lane; Thaddeus Park, West Middlefield Road and Independence Avenue
POST OFFICE: Mountain View, 211 Hope St.
PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Waldorf High School of the Peninsula, 180 N. Rengstorff Ave.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: I Mtn. View-Whisman School District== -- Monta Loma Elementary School, Crittenden Middle School; Mtn. View-Los Altos Union High School District -- Los Altos High School
SHOPPING: Central Expressway and Rengstorff Avenue; Monta Loma Plaza, West Middlefield Road and Rengstorff Avenue; The Village at San Antonio Center
MEDIAN 2013 HOME PRICE: $1,050,000 ($792,000-$1,305,000)
HOMES SOLD: 17
MEDIAN 2013 CONDO PRICE: $800,000
CONDOS SOLD (nearby): 1