http://paloaltoonline.com/print/story/print/2012/03/09/ventura


Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - March 9, 2012

Ventura

A neighborhood that speaks for years of family and community

by Cristina Wong

The Ventura neighborhood is its own diverse community, and not just ethnically. With kids riding along the bike path, houses of individual styles and different families on every street, Ventura is unlike any other area in Palo Alto.

"It makes it seem like a real place, other than the rest of Palo Alto," Kirsten Flynn said, adding that the richer side of Palo Alto is mainly highlighted for business and jobs, and not family or community.

Ventura is bounded by Oregon Expressway, Alma Street, West Meadow Drive and El Camino Real, and is an easy walk to the California Avenue business district or the Caltrain station for those who wish to take public transportation. And for those who like the movies, the Palo Alto Square movie complex is nearby, just on El Camino. Architecture in Ventura ranges from Spanish and English Revival to simple cottage. Recent renovations in the past couple of years contribute to the odd mixture of vintage versus newly designed homes.

Kirsten and Frank Flynn, along with their three kids, have lived on Matadero Avenue for 20 years now, in a pale yellow, one-story and a half, English-Revival Cottage-inspired home from the 1930s. In 1991, they decided to buy their home in Ventura to be close to family. Surrounded by relatives who live nearby, they emphasized that moving to Palo Alto was not for "business or jobs, but for family."

Kirsten Flynn said that it's a great neighborhood because they throw a block party every year — "every year since 15 to 17 years," she added.

Also, Flynn said she likes the diversity of people and careers. Adding that "the less affordable the neighborhood gets, the less diversity we have. Not just ethnically, but socio-economically as well."

Another benefit to living in Ventura is the convenience of the new bike boulevard, a bike-commuting route running along Park Boulevard.

"That's why you see so many people riding bikes," Flynn said. "But that's not why we bought the house, just a plus," she added jokingly.

In 1986, Guy Matthews bought his house on Park Boulevard also in the Ventura neighborhood. As a single parent with a 4-year-old daughter, he said it was the only house he could afford at the time. "Cheapest or second cheapest," he added.

Although Matthews chose to move to Ventura because of the affordable prices, he said at the time, the neighborhood was very diverse and still is. "There's quite a mixture of people getting along, partying together, raising kids together," he added.

Matthews also said Ventura is an interesting area to roam. "It's residential, but multi-family. But parts of it are also commercial," he added.

Like Matthews, Betty Glass has also been a resident of the Ventura neighborhood for quite some time.

Glass lives in a one-story home on Park Boulevard with her husband and kids, "although most are out on their own already," she said.

She said she moved to Ventura from Redwood City, and knew from the beginning that it was the best place for her and her husband to raise a family.

"I saw the house, we liked it, and bought it. ... That was 46 years ago," she said. "So far it's been a pretty good neighborhood," she added.

In her long years of living in Ventura, Glass said she has had many neighbors come and go, most of them relocating, in need of larger homes for their growing families. She isn't planning on moving any time soon, she added, because she is happy where she is.

On the other hand, Ventura has begun to have "house flippers" in the neighborhood, which are according to Flynn, those who buy the homes in Ventura only to renovate and then sell. Meanwhile, no one is living there.

"They don't honor the way it looked before... no architectural thought," she said.

Ventura deserves its own neighborhood association, which could change and improve that, her husband added. n

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FACTS

CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Country Day Little School, 3990 Ventura Court; Heffalump Cooperative Nursery, 3990 Ventura Court; Leaping Lizards Nature Awareness Preschool, 650-858-0355, www.leapinglizardspreschool.com; Sojourner Truth Child Development Center, 3990 Ventura Court

FIRE STATION: No. 5 600 Arastradero Road

LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middle field Road (after summer 2012)

LOCATION: bounded by Oregon Expressway, Alma Street, West Meadow Drive and El Camino Real

PARK: Boulware Park, 410 Fernando Ave.; Ventura Community Center, 3990 Ventura Court

POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Barron Park Elementary School, Terman Middle School, Gunn High School, Palo Alto High School

SHOPPPING: California Avenue, Charleston Center, El Camino Real

Editorial Intern Cristina Wong can be emailed at cwong@paweekly.com.

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