When Janice Heiler and her husband faced retirement, they considered leaving their home in the Monta Loma neighborhood of Mountain View.
Then, a new member of the household came along, and all those plans changed.
"Once we started getting out more walking the dog, we started meeting neighbors and didn't want to move," Heiler said. That was 10 years ago, and they haven't looked back.
Lots of homeowners in the neighborhood come for the location and stay for the community. Monta Loma is defined by San Antonio Road, Middlefield Road, Rengstorff Avenue and Central Expressway. There's a shopping center in one corner that provides a coffee shop, dry cleaning, movie rental, restaurants and in 2009 a Fresh 'n Easy grocery store. Just across the freeway is Google's campus, which has brought in some new neighbors in recent years, said Wouter Suverkropp, president of the Monta Loma Neighborhood Association.
The homes were built in the post-World War II boom, mostly by Joseph Eichler. A number of the homes have been passed down through generations and stayed in families since they were built. Suverkropp and his family are in that category; his wife's parents owned their house when she was young.
"There are almost no two-story homes in Monta Loma, and as a result you can always see the sky and the hills," Suverkropp said. "People walk a lot around here, just for a stroll to the park, to see a neighbor, admire front gardens or to go to the stores. Many new homeowners tell us that Monta Loma feels like an 'old-style' neighborhood, 'like it used to be', and we're proud of that."
About 500 people belong to an e-mail list started by the association, which was founded in 1977 as a beautification committee, Suverkropp said. The association now organizes several annual events that attract hundreds of people, and it recruited neighbors for Community Emergency Response Team training sessions, he said.
The association represents the neighborhood to the city as well, said Suverkropp. It's been especially active with the coming development of nearly 500 condos and single-family homes on the neighborhood's edge. Home builder Toll Brothers plans to build the houses on the 27-acre Mayfield Mall site, which used to be owned by Hewlett-Packard.
The neighborhood association's e-mail list helps residents keep up to date on big issues like the Mayfield project, and also provides practical help with day-to-day needs. When Heiler's baby grandson was coming for a visit, she sent a message to the list asking to borrow a high chair and a stroller, and she got responses from four different people.
More and more families with young children seem to be moving into the neighborhood, said Marilyn Gildea, who has lived in Monta Loma since 2002. She likes the neighborhood for its diversity and the fact that generations stay on through the years. She also appreciates the city council candidates' forums the neighborhood association holds each election year.
Heiler especially appreciates the safe feeling of the neighborhood. She walks her dog before sunrise and feels completely safe no matter the time of day. "Anywhere I am in this neighborhood I feel like I'm in my backyard."
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Hobbledehoy Montessori Preschool, 2321 Jane Lane; Monta Loma Babysitting Co-op (part of Monta Loma Neighborhood Association)
FIRE STATION: No. 3, 301 Rengstorff Ave.
PARKS: Monta Loma Park, Thompson Avenue and Laura Lane; Thaddeus Park, Middlefield Road and Independence Drive
POST OFFICE: Mountain View, 211 Hope St.
PRIVATE SCHOOLS: The Girls' Middle School, 180 N. Rengstorff Ave.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Mtn. View-Whisman School District — Monta Loma Elementary School, Crittenden Middle School; Mtn. View-Los Altos Union High School District — Los Altos High School
SHOPPING: Central Expressway and Rengstorff Avenue; Middlefield Road and Rengstorff Avenue; San Antonio Shopping Center
MEDIAN 2008 HOME PRICE: $849,500 ($745,000-$1,035,000)
HOMES SOLD: 22
MEDIAN 2008 CONDO PRICE: $777,000
CONDOS SOLD: 1