"I hope you realize you live in paradise," Jackie Berman's oldest son once said when visiting his parents in the Greater Miranda area. Dan Berman, who has lived abroad for many years, was commenting on the value of this small, close-knit community along the Foothill Expressway.
"It's tucked away, so it has a sort of a rural atmosphere yet it is part of all the amenities of Palo Alto," Jackie, who has lived in the Greater Miranda area for 38 years, said.
Located between Alta Mesa Memorial Park, Adobe Creek (which separates Palo Alto from Los Altos) and Foothill Expressway, the area was formerly an orchard. Miranda Avenue, which used to run through the nearby cemetery, now connects the three cul-de-sacs — Arroyo Court, Miranda Green and Moana Court. Today's traffic is mostly in and out of the neighborhood.
The Greater Miranda land was originally purchased by the Mexican-American pioneer Dona Juana Briones de Miranda for $300 in 1850. It wasn't until 1959 that the area was annexed to the city of Palo Alto. Development in the area didn't really begin until the 1950s and gradually has grown to the neighborhood it is today.
Because the neighborhood wasn't built as one large development, the houses and yards are individual. When Victor Nelson was a Palo Alto fireman, he was required to live within city limits. He chose to live and stay, even after retirement, in Greater Miranda and finds the area ideal for pursuing his hobbies, which include restoring classic cars.
Many of the residents attribute the peace-and-quiet ambiance of the 55 homes to their proximity to Alta Mesa Memorial Park. Occasionally wildlife finds a way into neighbors' backyards, including deer and some bobcats — a very appealing aspect especially with the Adobe Creek being close-by, Don Nielsen, president of the Miranda Neighborhood Association, said.
Access to the nearby amenities — including shopping and employment opportunities — is another positive factor about the neighborhood.
The neighbors all know each other well, as many have lived there for years or decades. The neighborhood association has organized several projects, from getting Miranda Avenue repaved to organizing emergency preparedness. The community truly came together after a fatal hit-and-run incident in 2003 when a 6-year-old girl was killed. The caring neighbors placed a little memorial on Miranda Avenue, which stayed there for a couple of years.
Greater Miranda is a "little more like family than some neighborhoods," Nielsen said.
This "pocket behind the cemetery," how many of the residents refer to the area, is also very welcoming to new residents.
Steve Tadlis moved into the neighborhood, with his wife Irit and two sons, in June 2006. Before moving into Greater Miranda they spent a number of years working and living on Stanford campus. He currently teaches at UC Berkeley and his wife still works at Stanford.
Even before they completely unpacked, they were invited to the July 4 Jelly Bean Olympics on Miranda Green, which is celebrated annually with outdoor games and a potluck.
"It's a good way to meet more families, and it has this nice neighborly feel to it," he said of the event.
He and his wife have also met families in the neighborhood through their children's attendance at the Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School on San Antonio Road.
When they made the decision to move two-and-half years ago they stayed in Palo Alto for the education system and work, and moved into the Greater Miranda to raise a family in a calm setting.
"Given the quality of the schools, given the friends we've made, I don't see us moving to another place in Palo Alto," he said.
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): Whistlestop Child Development Center, 3801 Miranda Ave., No. T6B
FIRE STATION: No. 5, 600 Arastradero Road
LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middlefield Road
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Don Nielson, 650-941-2429
PARKS (NEARBY): Terman Park, 655 Arastradero Road
POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 365 Cambridge Ave.
PRIVATE SCHOOL: Bowman International School, 4000 Terman Drive
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Juana Briones Elementary School, Terman Middle School, Gunn High School
SHOPPING: El Camino Real, San Antonio Shopping Center
MEDIAN 2008 HOME PRICE: $1,700,000
HOMES SOLD: 1