When searching for a home to raise her young family, Linda Elman was drawn to the quiet neighborhood of Green Acres. Close to schools and near the hills, she thought it was the perfect mix of city and country. Forty-six years later, her opinion of the neighborhood has not changed.
Off Arastradero Road, between El Camino Real and Gunn High School, Green Acres is one of the lesser-known neighborhoods in Palo Alto, tucked away in a small corner of the city. By the 1960s the many orchards were replaced by homes.
Elman is one of the original residents from the 1960s, and said today the area attracts plenty of young families with many different nationalities represented.
"It is a great place to raise your kids. And now that my kids have grown up, it is still a wonderful place to live," she said.
This may be because the character of the neighborhood has remained intact, as there has been no big influx of monster homes, said Mary Jo Colton, another long-time resident, who's lived there since 1974. Colton describes Green Acres as a "'Leave It to Beaver' type of neighborhood, peaceful and friendly."
There is access to open-space fields behind Gunn High School for kids to play in, as well as walking and biking paths, and several parks close by. Colton remembers taking her kids to feed the two donkeys who lived in nearby Bol Park.
Public elementary, middle and high schools are all no more than two blocks away. The only problem with being so close to schools has been the traffic it brings to the neighborhood. Colton has observed that this problem has been exacerbated as more high-school students drive to school.
"The school district, the city and the neighborhoods have worked very hard together in solving the traffic problem," said Betsy Allyn, head of the Green Acres neighborhood association. "We want to make sure the neighborhood remains as safe as possible."
But the traffic has not affected residents' regard for their neighborhood. Lorie Englehardt, who has lived in Green Acres since 2000, loves the diversity of the neighborhood. Green Acres contains people of all ages, including people whose families have lived nearby for generations, and others who are the first in their families to live in the United States.
"It's made it very fun and enriching to see how different people's lives can be," Englehardt said. She enjoys the mix of both old and new families. "The long-term residents are proud that they have raised their families here, and the new residents are excited to raise their families here," she said.
Residents also make efforts to get to know their neighbors. They have an annual neighborhood Halloween party, and another block party in the early fall.
"These events are a fun way for people to socialize," Englehardt said. "For the block party, we close off a street and have a barbecue, set up ping-pong tables; kids ride their bikes in the street, it's a great way for everyone to come together."
The neighborhood's friendly atmosphere is one of the reasons many long-term residents stay in Green Acres. For Elman, the neighborhood remains as great a value as it was when she moved in.
"I cannot imagine living anyplace else," Elman said.
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Palo Alto Montessori School, 575 Arastradero Road; Whistlestop Child Development Center, 3801 Miranda Ave. No. T6B; Young Life Christian Pre-School, 687 Arastradero Road
FIRE STATION: No. 5, 600 Arastradero Road
LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middlefield Road
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: (Green Acres II) Betsy Allyn, 650-493-8859
PARKS: Juana Briones Park, 609 Maybell Ave.; Terman Park, 655 Arastradero Road
POST OFFICE: Veterans Hospital Bureau, 3801 Miranda 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, Downtown Los Altos
MEDIAN 2008 HOME PRICE: $1,800,000 ($990,000-$2,305,000)
HOMES SOLD: 9