When Sue Crane moved to Portola Valley nearly 50 years ago she and her husband, Hew, were drawn to Alpine Hills by the open space and exquisite views, but she felt isolated.
With three little boys, she was used to backyards, to walking with a stroller in her old neighborhood in Barron Park. "I was very lonesome," she recalls.
After the boys entered school, that changed, however. She became involved in her sons' school activities, then went on to become mayor of Portola Valley, serving 12 years on the Town Council.
Now she has come full circle. Her youngest son, Dan, and his two daughters are living in a separate unit in her home and she is learning about the fine local schools again. "Now I'm re-visiting Corte Madera School."
"This gives me a new prospective and a great pleasure," says Ms. Crane about living in a multi-generational family. "And there are more people that I know who are doing the same thing."
Her granddaughters enjoy watching the deer and the sense of open space. She also feels it is a very safe environment for them.
When Karen and Karel Urbanek moved to Portola Valley a few years ago, it was primarily for a better school system. The older of their two daughters is attending kindergarten at Ormondale, right across the street from their home.
Karel Urbanek is a cyclist and rides his bike to work at Stanford University. "He used to take long bike rides through Portola Valley and was taken with its beauty, trails, and open space," says Ms. Urbanek.
Another draw for the family was to be close to Irene Ruiz, Karel's sister, who is also a Portola Valley resident.
"Moving from Redwood City, I didn't know the sense of community we would have here," says Ms. Urbanek. "There is a small-town feeling."
For family activities, she says, "I love the park at Town Center and we go to the little library. The children can also ride their bikes on the trails."
Are there any disadvantages to living in the valley? "It takes a little bit longer to get to shopping, but it's worth it," she says.
-- Jane Knoerle
CHILD CARE & PRESCHOOLS: Carillon Preschool at Christ Church, 815 Portola Road, Portola Valley; Windmill Preschool, 4141 Alpine Road, Portola Valley
FIRE STATION: 135 Portola Road, Portola Valley
LOCATION: south of Westridge Drive to Portola and Alpine Roads and west of Alpine Road
PARK: Little People's Park at Portola Valley Town Center; Windy Hill Open Space Preserve
PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Woodside Priory School, 302 Portola Road, Portola Valley
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Portola Valley School District -- Ormondale School, 200 Shawnee Pass, Portola Valley; Corte Madera School, 4575 Alpine Road, Portola Valley
Sequoia Union High School District -- Woodside High School, 199 Churchill, Woodside
SHOPPING: Portola Road; Valley Center (Portola and Alpine Roads), Ladera Country Shopper
MEDIAN 2012 HOME PRICE: $2,400,000 ($1,310,000-$5,850,000)
HOMES SOLD: 16