In the 45 years that Bill and Smokey Chapman have lived on Louis Road in the Palo Verde neighborhood, they have seen people and families come and go. The Chapmans, like the Eichler Swim and Tennis Club next door, have remained one of the neighborhood's few constants over the past 50 years.
"When my husband and I were looking at the house in '63, the Eichler Club was only a few years old, and when I saw that pool I said 'Wow. This is it,'" Smokey Chapman said. She still swims at the club nearly every day.
Palo Verde is a neighborhood of mostly Eichler and Eichler-inspired homes bordered by West Bayshore and Middlefield roads to the east and west, and Loma Verde Avenue and East Meadow Drive to the north and south. Much of the area's street plan of narrow roads and cul-de-sacs was designed to keep traffic to a minimum and to foster a sense of community.
Chapman loved the distinctive design of their Eichler home the first time she saw it.
"I remember thinking that it looked really modern, with all the glass walls and open space," she said.
Over the years, Palo Verde has experienced noticeable shifts in its residents' ages and household makeup. Young, mostly blue-collar families began moving into Palo Verde during the 1960s and '70s, drawn by the area's relative affordability and its numerous schools. By the late 1970s and '80s, young families had given way to empty-nesters whose kids had grown and left.
"Until about 10 years ago, there weren't many young people or families around here at all. You can see it changing though. It's nice to see kids playing in the streets again," Chapman said.
Susan Fineberg, who serves on Palo Alto's Planning and Transportation Commission, says she has sensed a change in the neighborhood's makeup since she and her family moved there in 2000. Like many other families with young children, the Finebergs were drawn to the neighborhood largely by Palo Verde Elementary School. With more and more younger people moving into the area, the neighborhood's one public elementary school is facing a shortage of room for its students.
In the years to come, the number of young families moving into the Palo Verde area is only likely to increase, with several new housing developments recently completed, including SummerHill Homes' Echelon, Classics at Sterling Park and Warmington Homes' Vantage.
Palo Verde's residents have formed bonds through organizations and clubs, which are helping the growing community remain a neighborhood. The Palo Verde Residents Association was created several years ago to serve as a conduit between the neighborhood and city government, and to foster communication with other areas through the umbrella group, Palo Alto Neighborhoods.
Palo Verde also has a garden club and a book club.
The 50-year-old Eichler Swim and Tennis Club and the Family YMCA on Ross Road are community hubs, where old friends socialize and new residents get acquainted.
"We've seen the area through lots of changes, but to us it still feels like a neighborhood. It's home," Chapman said.
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Palo Verde Kids' Club, 3450 Louis Road
FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middlefield Road
LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middlefield Road
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Palo Verde Residents Association, Smita Joshi, 650-494-1005, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://pvra.jot.com/WikiHome
PARKS (NEARBY): Don Jesus Ramos Park, 800 E. Meadow Drive; Henry W. Seale Park, 3100 Stockton Place
POST OFFICE: Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Palo Verde Elementary School, J.L. Stanford Middle School, Gunn High School
SHOPPING: Midtown Shopping Center, Middlefield Road and Colorado Avenue; also Middlefield Road at Loma Verde Avenue
MEDIAN 2008 HOME PRICE: $1,568,000 ($1,200,000-$2,045,000)
HOMES SOLD: 11
MEDIAN 2008 CONDO PRICE: $921,500 ($799,000-$965,000)
CONDOS SOLD: 3