Residents will tell you there is no shortage of space and peacefulness in West Atherton. The rural feel of the area, boasting big lots and lanes without sidewalks, has been preserved through a long history.
In 1860, Faxon Dean Atherton purchased more than 600 acres, essentially what is now West Atherton. He built his home at the center of this plot, what is now the Menlo Circus Club, a private country club, which hosts polo games and charity events.
Atherton's city government encourages the preservation of the community's country feel. Most of the town is zoned for one-acre lots and a town ordinance that protects the heritage trees in the area; oaks, redwoods, cedars and pines.
Dean Sivara, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than two years, says "it is nice to have the space and the maturity on a quieter street."
Mr. Sivara previously lived in Menlo Park, which he said was far more crowded than West Atherton.
"We can walk the dogs and there is not a lot of traffic. The freeway is a little faster to get to and there is less congestion, so we have the ability to enjoy neighborhood."
Mr. Sivara says the large lots prevent him from having much contact with the neighbors.
"There are a lot of gates and fences so you only see the neighbors if they're walking, you wouldn't go through the gate."
Helen Carey, who has lived in the neighborhood for 59 years, agreed. "It isn't like Menlo Park, the neighbors are more separated here. We like to live a quiet life."
Ms. Carey says she chats with other neighbors by phone and some of the neighbors were very friendly with her kids when they were in school.
"I love everything the town has to offer," she says.
Tom Owen echoed Carey's praise for Atherton.
"I feel very privileged to have been raised in this town," Mr. Owen, says. He was born and raised on Robleda Drive and moved back to the neighborhood in 1995.
While there was nothing extraordinary that drew him back to his old stomping grounds, the climate and the big yard of his new home were appealing. "My kids have room to run and play," he says.
Mr. Owen, who has two daughters ages 10 and 13, says they don't get together much with the other young families in the neighborhood because the houses are so spread apart.
Despite the separation by large lots, Mr. Owen says he still feels a strong sense of community because of the uniquely personable police department in Atherton. The police will come out if someone loses their dog or they will check up on your home while you are on vacation.
"The police department does a phenomenal job, truly a level of service, they're not just out there writing tickets. If your daughter is home with a babysitter, they can put another guy in the area to make her feel more comfortable," he says.
-- Sally Schilling
CHILD CARE AND PRESCHOOLS: St. Joseph's Montessori Preschool and Kindergarten, 150 Valparaiso Ave., Atherton
FIRE STATION: 32 Almendral Ave., Atherton
LOCATION: Alameda de las Pulgas and El Camino Real; Selby Lane and Valparaiso Avenue
PRIVATE SCHOOLS: St. Joseph's School, 50 Emilie Ave., Atherton; Menlo School, 50 Valparaiso Ave., Atherton; Sacred Heart Prep,150 Valparaiso Ave., Atherton; Menlo College, 1000 El Camino Real, Atherton
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: (Eligibility for school districts depends on resident's address)
Menlo Park City Elementary School District -- Oak Knoll School, 1895 Oak Knoll Lane, Menlo Park; Encinal Elementary School, 195 Encinal Ave., Menlo Park; Hillview Middle School, 1100 Elder Ave., Menlo Park
R edwood City School District -- Selby Lane School, 170 Selby Lane, Atherton; Kennedy Middle School, 2521 Goodwin Ave., Redwood City; plus magnet schools
Sequoia Union High School District -- MenloAtherton High School, 555 Middlefield Road, Atherton
SHOPPING: Downtown Menlo Park; Stanford Shopping Center
MEDIAN 2012 HOME PRICE: $3,825,000 ($900,000-6,500,000)
HOMES SOLD: 14