A close-knit Eichler community with long traditions
"I wouldn't expect anyone to have any kind of problems and not end up getting full support from the community," said Jon Baum, a resident of Palo Alto's Triple El neighborhood since 1971.
"It's not as prestigious as Old Palo Alto. And certainly everybody's their own individual, but at the same time it's a really serious community in terms of people being there for each other and knowing each other."
The neighborhood is named after three residential streets — Elsinore Drive, Elsinore Court and El Cajon — between North California Avenue and Oregon Expressway and by Louis and Greer roads. Its sinuous streets are lined with Modesto ash and Chinese elm trees and comprise 68 homes; most are Eichlers built rapidly in the post-war era.
"That's how they did it in the post-war period. Somebody would go out and buy a piece of farmland, and then get a permit for subdivision," Baum said.
A single-story mandate is a point of pride for most residents. According to Stew Plock (Triple El's unofficial mayor), "Eight years ago, somebody wanted to build a second story," he recalled. Although the city allowed that, covenants in the deeds prohibited building a second story. It took a vote by residents, who achieved a supermajority of 70 percent, to create a single-story overlay, officially prohibiting any second-story construction in the subdivision.
"Our properties sell within two weeks of being listed with multiple bids above asking, and new owners cite our having the protection of an overlay and the inability of someone to have a two-story home right next to them as one of the reasons they found Triple El so attractive," Plock wrote in an email.
"As a result, we continue to see young families with lots of kids moving in. When we have one of our three neighborhood events each year, there are typically 30-40 children participating, plus parents and neighbors," he added.
Plock and Baum agree that the legal motions helped draw the community together: "Around Memorial Day we get as many neighbors for a potluck in this corner of the horseshoe. There's a slight fee collected to cover the cost of putting that on, and with whatever's left over, we get together around Labor Day and have an ice cream social."
New Year's Day also ushers in a Mummers Parade, a tradition with deeper roots in Plock's hometown of Philadelphia.
Ed Yao and Amy Yang, who moved into the neighborhood in 2006, learned to love the relatively small size inherent to Eichler designs. "Once you move into one of these homes and you see all the lighting you get inside, and the openness of these Eichler designs ... you realize that's part of the value, not having somebody towering over you," Ed said.
Like many neighbors-to-be, they had been invited to the neighborhood's gatherings before moving in. "Obviously we know the people around us the best, but it is quite astounding how many people we do know in these couple of streets here, in the Triple El neighborhood," he said.
It's also "kind of an international community," Amy said. Across the street are a few families from France, Switzerland and India. Another home is being rented from its owners, a couple that met in Japan and renovated their home's interior in a Japanese style. They're still living abroad, but stay in touch with Triple El's residents.
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CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (nearby): First Congregational Church Nursery School, 1985 Louis Road; Parents Nursery School, 2328 Louis Road; Duveneck Kids' Club, 705 Alester Ave.
FIRE STATION: No. 3, 799 Embarcadero Road
LIBRARY: Main Library, 1213 Newell Road
LOCATION: Elsinore Drive, Elsinore Court and El Cajon Way
PARKS (nearby): Rinconada Park, 777 Embarcadero Road; Greer Park, 1098 Amarillo Ave.
POST OFFICE: Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Duveneck Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School