Lulu Frye loves her Sutherland Drive property. "It reminds me of home in Tennessee," she says, in describing the view of the hills. "You can see the weather and the fog coming over."
The west side of Alameda de las Pulgas, between Walsh Road and Stockbridge Avenue, has a more natural and less manicured feel than the rest of the city. Deer are a common sight as you wend your way into the oak-studded hills. In the upper areas you can even hear coyotes, mountain lions and owls at night. However, many of the large properties are gated and qualify as "estates."
In the 14 years the Fryes have lived in the neighborhood they have seen major changes. "There have been at least seven big construction projects on our cul-de-sac," she says, "and about a third of the homes have been replaced."
"The houses being built are more thoughtful, not just mega-boxes, but homes with character and personality," Atherton Avenue resident Bren Leisure says. "They're kind of refreshing in their diversity."
"There are a lot of natural underground springs and ponds in the area," she says. Her family discovered water on their property when they remodeled — such a common experience in the community that Atherton now has rules that make owners responsible for containing run-off.
Although there are no general get-togethers and block parties, Ms. Frye describes the tenor of her neighborhood as "very cordial and kind." She feels that the area has an aura of "mystery" because of all the long driveways and privacy.
Lori Bouret has lived on Stockbridge Avenue for about 22 years. She too cites construction as a problem due to the noise and parking encroachments. However, she still describes her neighborhood as "bucolic and peaceful."
"I noticed this Halloween that there were a lot of trick-or-treaters," she says, noting that there are young families settling in. "It's a very friendly neighborhood. There are more get-togethers than you would imagine."
"What I like best is the convenience to 280, Woodside, and Menlo Park," she says. She also appreciates walking in the hills, amid the oaks and redwoods.
Any downside to living in the hills?
"It's hard to go out for a bike ride," Ms. Frye says. "And for some reason the electricity almost always goes out when there's a storm." Also, Ms. Leisure points out that you have to be careful of people driving too fast on blind curves. However, both would agree that these are small prices to pay for living in such a beautiful environment.
FIRE STATION: 3322 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Las Lomitas School District — Las Lomitas School, 299 Alameda de las Pulgas, Atherton; La Entrada School, 2200 Sharon Road, Menlo Park
Sequoia Union High School District — Woodside High School, 199 Churchill Ave., Woodside
SHOPPING: Woodside Road, Woodside
MEDIAN 2008 HOME PRICE: $5,325,000 ($4,250,000-$6,400,000)
HOMES SOLD: 2