A quiet, eclectic, child-friendly neighborhood
Before arriving at her house in Evergreen Park, Jennifer DiBrienza lived all over the area from Menlo Park to Los Altos to South Palo Alto. And in the magical moment that befalls some homeowners, she walked into the house and fell in love.
"When we got here, we weren't at all thinking about the neighborhood," she said.
But that was later.
"We were unpacking the kids' bedrooms for their first night there and the windows were open and we could hear the Stanford band practicing," DiBrienza said. "And we just put on our shoes and ran down the street and watched the band."
Then she discovered the park.
"We had been here just a couple of days and we went out to the park and thought, this is spectacular. And we have little kids and the train goes by and they could hear the train."
These are some of the reasons why people love Evergreen Park. The neighborhood is its own quiet little world naturally enclosed by El Camino Real, Park Boulevard, the train, and the shopping district on California Avenue. There are about 150 single-family homes and about 250 multi-family homes that include condos as well as apartments.
A lifelong Palo Altan, Deborah Goldeen moved to Evergreen Park in 1986 and has observed its transformation over time.
"The whole neighborhood has completely changed since the late 1980s with all this construction," she said, pointing to homes on Leland Avenue that are being renovated. "And it hasn't let up."
Her house, however, has resisted change for 26 years. This gives Goldeen another reason to beam about her neighborhood.
"Evergreen Park has a good mix of new and old houses," she said. "We have neighbors of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. It is a truly mixed development."
The Palo Alto Housing Corporation works to find affordable rental housing in the city and manages some properties in Evergreen Park.
The neighborhood has a website and a Yahoo! group mailing list connecting its neighbors.
"If I have a question specific to the neighborhood, I know I can put that out there," DiBrienza said. "People announce events and post items that they are giving out for free."
Two annual events that bring residents together are the block-party potluck and a Peers Park barbecue, organized by the Magic House, a cooperative-living house on Oxford Avenue. One of the "magicians," David Schrom, is president of the neighborhood association and has been a resident since 1976.
According to Goldeen, Magic House plays a key role in the neighborhood's cohesion. "No one else has the energy to organize these events so they have stepped up as an effective political group," she said.
One such political action that appeared on the city's council agenda in the 1990s was residents' desire to lessen neighborhood traffic with street barricades, one-way streets, and traffic islands.
The result, according to Goldeen, was a change in the neighborhood culture. With less traffic nuisance, people walked more frequently, neighbors interacted with each other and kids biked more safely in the street.
"It's profound how you can affect social conditions by a physical modification," Goldeen said.
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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.
LOCATION: between California Avenue, Park Boulevard and El Camino Real
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: David Schrom, 650-323-7333
PARKS: Alexander Peers Park, 1899 Park Blvd.
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
Editorial Intern Haiy Le can be emailed at email@example.com.