Residing in a townhouse complex in Willowgate feels like living in a park, according to Anna Kogan, a teacher who works in Menlo Park but has lived in the Willowgate neighborhood of Mountain View with her family for eight years.
"This is a nice little section, because of all the trees. It sort of feels like living in a park if you live in one of the townhouse complexes here, but it's close to downtown Mountain View, close to a Safeway store, and close to the Stevens Creek Trail. That's why we bought our place," Kogan said.
Indeed, tall trees are ubiquitous in the neighborhood bounded by Central Expressway, Moffett Boulevard, Middlefield Road and Highway 85. Towering redwood and magnolia trees shade the quiet streets, making them walking, jogging, and biking friendly even during a hot summer day.
Kogan likes jogging in the neighborhood before picking up her children from day care, she said.
Besides townhouses like the one Kogan owns, there are apartments, condominiums, and traditional single-family homes in Willowgate, which presents an eclectic mix of architectural styles.
Long-time Willowgate resident Barry Fujii owns a single-family home. For all the years he has lived here, he has always been curious about the namesake of the neighborhood, which could go beyond the fact that Willowgate is the name of the frontage road along Central Expressway at the edge of the neighborhood, he said.
"I wonder if the Willowgate name came from an original tract owner or something," said Fujii. "I don't recall a preponderance of willow trees in the area, there may have been one on Willowgate at some point, and there was definitely a pepper corn tree there until the '90s."
The community garden located in the neighborhood is also called Willowgate, despite being on Andsbury Avenue. The Willowgate Community Garden offers 92 individual plots for Mountain View residents and city employees to rent, but currently with none available, according to Shaun Chilkotowsky, recreation supervisor of the City of Mountain View.
"The waiting list is a mile long," Fujii said while speaking of the community garden.
Knowing the neighborhood like the back of his hand, Fujii recommends Tres Hermanos Taqueria, a Mexican restaurant, for dining, and JL Produce for basic groceries.
The restaurant and the market are both located at Moffet Central Shopping Center on the northeast corner of Moffet Boulevard and Central Avenue.
Kogan also said she likes JL Produce for the store's incredibly attractive prices and quick turnover of inventories.
At JL produce, customers can find apples for 99 cents per pound and blueberries for $2.99 per container.
Jose Ordaz, owner of JL Produce, said he manages to keep prices down at the store because he does many things for the business by himself and minimizes the number of employees.
"Wages in Mountain View are very high," Ordaz said. "The city sent me a letter saying they are going to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour next year. So, if I had more employees, I would have to mark the prices higher. Doing more things by myself is the only way to continue with the good prices.
"Customers tell me how much they appreciate the low prices and the always fresh produce. Some of them come all the way from Redwood City or Milpitas," he added.
Ordaz bought the small supermarket from his uncle four years ago and changed its name from Oakmont Produce to JL Produce, but everything else about the store remains the same, he said.
"I used to live close by, but I moved to a more affordable place in San Jose," said Ordaz. "Rents are crazy around here. I often hear customers complain about their rent."
Amelia Sanchez and her mother live in a studio apartment in Willowgate for $1,900 per month, the recent high school graduate said.
Her mother, who works as a nanny, sometimes takes ESL (English as a second language) classes at the Mountain View- Los Altos Adult Education Center at 333 Moffett Blvd., in walking distance from the studio apartment, Sanchez said.
"Rents were not so high when I was small. My mom and I used to live in a one-bedroom apartment, but now we can barely afford a studio here. We don't want to move away because we've always lived here, and we love it here. This is a beautiful and convenient neighborhood," she said.
FIRE STATION: No. 1, 251 S. Shoreline Blvd.
LOCATION: bounded by Central Expressway, West Moffett, Moffett and Highway 85
PARK: Jackson Park, Jackson Street and Stierlin Road
POST OFFICE: Mountain View, 211 Hope St.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Mtn. View-Whisman School District -- Landels Elementary School, Crittenden Middle School; Mtn. View-Los Altos Union High School District -- Mountain View High School
SHOPPING: Moffett Boulevard, Downtown Mountain View, Sunday farmers market at Caltrain parking lot (9 a.m. to 1 p.m. year round)