About halfway down the Santa Cruz Mountains on its eastern slope resides the Town of Portola Valley. The town is spread throughout the tree-covered foothills and ridges leading up to the mountains. Jasper Ridge serves as the town's northern border, and it's along the south of that ridge that the neighborhood of Westridge is spread.
Before California statehood, what is now Westridge was part of a large Spanish land grant that then changed hands to American ranchers. There are not as many ranchers or horses these days; horse trails still crisscross between properties, but they are more frequently used by joggers and walkers than riders. Still, Westridge's natural, rural feel is its defining characteristic and attraction.
Westridge homes are large and mostly secluded. Visibility from the street is considered infelicitous by residents and strongly discouraged by the Westridge Architectural Supervising Committee (WASC). The WASC is an elected body of residents tasked with enforcing housing requirements and restrictions. For example, every Westridge residence is guaranteed at least 2.5 acres of land, and residents can keep horses on their property. Any alterations or additions to property must be pre-approved by the WASC.
Bev Lipman formerly served as the secretary of the WASC for more than 10 years and has lived in Westridge with her husband since 1991. When they moved to Westridge from Denver, the Lipmans were eager to change from their urban lifestyle.
"Our primary objective was to find a place that was quiet and had an architectural design that emphasized open space and views of nature," she says. "I love it here because the nature is beautiful and there are great trails for walks."
Community functions are also an attraction to her, and she noted that "(the) community holds regular picnics, and every year community volunteers, young and old, take part in a broomweed pull day."
Westridge has changed since the Lipmans first arrived.
"When we arrived there were still old-timers living here including some of Portola's founders. What's good about the new people is that they are new families with kids, which is a whole new rebirth for Portola and Westridge."
Rita and Arthur Whitney are software executives with a young daughter. They finished building and moving into their Westridge home in May 2014. They previously lived in Palo Alto, of which their new home provides a spectacular elevated view.
"In 2009, we realized Palo Alto was changing, the streets were getting busier with traffic, and there were fewer families in the neighborhood," Mrs. Whitney says. "It did not feel like a home."
She grew up in New York City and her husband in small-town Canada. "We wanted to be somewhere a little more remote. Westridge is really nice because it is one with the land but also modern."
Their house like most others is secluded, but their lives are not hermetic.
"My neighbors have kids and there is a park down the hill that is so nice and welcoming for our child," Mrs. Whitney says. "We wanted something set back a little bit but still part of the community. I see people on the horse trails and everyone says hello."
-- Joshua Alvarez
CHILD CARE & PRESCHOOLS: Windmill Preschool, 4141 Alpine Road, Portola Valley; Ladera Community Church Preschool, 3300 Alpine Road, Portola Valley; Carillon Preschool at Christ Church, 815 Portola Road, Portola Valley; New Horizons (after-school care), 200 Shawnee Pass, Portola Valley
FIRE STATION: Woodside Fire Protection District, Portola Valley Station, 135 Portola Road, Portola Valley
LOCATION: Westridge Drive between Alpine and Portola roads
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Westridge Architectural Supervising Committee: Bill Dewes, secretary, 650-851-2605
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Portola Valley School District -- Ormondale School (K-3), 200 Shawnee Pass, Portola Valley; Corte Madera School (4-8), 4575 Alpine Road, Portola Valley
Sequoia Union High School District -- Woodside High School, 199 Churchill Ave., Woodside
SHOPPING: Nathhorst Triangle, Portola Road at Alpine Road; Village Square, 884 Portola Road; Ladera Shopping Center, 3130 Alpine Road, Portola Valley