Real Estate

Palo Verde


Take a bike ride down Louis Road in the heart of Palo Verde and you'll notice a recurring motif. Geometric planes and simple silhouettes of Eichler houses, one after the other, under the comfortable tree cover.

Originally sold for about $15,000, these homes coined by Joseph Eichler in the 1950s now sell for more than $1 million. Eichler "brought the outside in" through skylights, retractable roofs and floor-to-ceiling windows combined with open floor plans. The unconventional design featuring low-sloping roofs and few street-facing windows became known as "California modern," a subset of mid-century modern.

Lynn Drake, a resident of Palo Verde since 1997, is a happy owner of an Eichler, having renovated it in 2004 to update the kitchen, flooring and electricity.

Two doors down, newer resident Udita Bhattacharya's home is in the midst of a similar renovation. She and her husband sought an Eichler home for two years -- and bid on eight different houses -- before sealing the purchase of their house on Louis Road in 2012.

"We love, love, love Eichlers. ... We're really into light and the indoor-outdoor (idea)," Bhattacharya said in her sunlit living room. A book on Eichler homes rested on a table next to her.

Drake and Bhattacharya live across the street from Palo Verde Elementary, a center of the neighborhood community -- dogs included. Bhattacharya brings her dog there on Sunday mornings to join a playgroup with other dogs 6 to 25 pounds, she said.

A block away is another neighborhood center -- the Eichler Swim and Tennis Club, opened in 1958 with Eichler himself cutting the ribbon. The club's large swimming pool and four tennis courts make it a popular gathering place for families with school-age kids.

"All our friends are there," Drake said of barbecue gatherings at the club every Friday evening.

Her two kids grew up swimming on the club team, the Eichler Gators, while Bhattacharya and her husband just became members.

The Eichler Club celebrated a grand reopening in June after long-awaited completion of a pool-deck renovation project, including complete replacement of the deck, resurfacing of the pool and construction of an ADA-approved wading pool. The project was featured on the Eichler Network website, a home base for Eichler enthusiasts.

"It took a lot of community volunteers to come together," said Drake, a member of the committee that selected the contractor and architects. The team sought an architect with appreciation for the club's original Eichler architecture.

Residents also frequent Mitchell Park and Library, the Ross Road YMCA and Cubberley Community Center. A dog playgroup with larger dogs meets at Ramos Park each evening.

Knowing your neighbors, young and old, is an understatement in Palo Verde. Block parties liven up the streets during the summer months, and during Thanksgiving season, a group of neighbors organizes a 5K "Turkey Trot" fun run. Bhattacharya recounted the warm welcome she received as a new resident, returning home one day to find fruit and baked goods by her front door.

"It's a strong neighborhood," Drake said. "If (my kids) needed anything, they could knock on anyone's door."

"Everyone looks out for each other," Bhattacharya added.

Neighbors can even borrow books from a small kiosk at the intersection of Louis Road and Loma Verde Avenue, part of the worldwide Little Free Library book exchange movement. "There are these amazing things we discover," Bhattacharya said.

Palo Verde's nearby shopping plazas and easy access to Highway 101 make it a practical location to live in as well. According to Drake and her family, the neighborhood is about half new families and half longtime residents.

"You get to know people in all walks of life," Bhattacharya said.

-- Christina Dong


CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Palo Verde Kids' Club, 3450 Louis Road

FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middlefield Road

LIBRARY: Mitchell Park Library, 4050 Middlefield Road

LOCATION: between Loma Verde Avenue and East Meadow Drive, Middlefield and West Bayshore roads

NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Palo Verde Resident's Association, Boris Foelsch,,

PARKS (nearby): Don Jesus Ramos Park, 800 E. Meadow Drive; J. Pearce Mitchell Park, 600 E. Meadow Drive; Henry W. Seale Park, 3100 Stockton Place

POST OFFICE: Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road; 265 Cambridge Avenue

PRIVATE SCHOOLS: The Girls' Middle School, 3400 W. Bayshore Road

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Palo Verde Elementary School, Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School, Gunn High School

RECREATION: Palo Alto Family YMCA, 3412 Ross Road; Eichler Swim and Tennis Club, 3539 Louis Road

SHOPPING: Midtown Shopping Center, Middlefield Road and Colorado Avenue; also Middlefield Road at Loma Verde Avenue

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Like this comment
Posted by Chuck
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 18, 2013 at 11:42 am

My comments are in response to the article about Eichlers by Monique. tired listing in the other comments section but could not connect because it listed "Other" and would not accept any Palo Alto input.+++

Like this comment
Posted by Yeccccch
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2013 at 6:06 pm

They were cheap, they were poorly constructed and fragile. They were just plain cheesy, but they served their immediate purpose. However they were only one step above a mobile home, and in the 50s and 60s, disparaging things were said about people who lived in them.

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Post-war housing with a little style. Palo Verde's not going to do well with sea level rise and the occasional floods.

1 person likes this
Posted by PV Rez
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2013 at 11:53 am

What's with the neighborhood snobbery? I agree that on first glance, many homes look like something from "The Jetsons" or the Brady Bunch - at least that's what I thought when I moved here. But, its grown on me and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else! I miss my neighborhood when I'm gone, and its great to see it when I return.

Like this comment
Posted by Unfair meadow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 19, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I grew up in Fairmeadow. The first couple of years were okay, we liked the warm floors. Until the heating units encased in the concrete foundation stopped working and could not be fixed. My folks had to pay a lot of money to have central heating installed, and we had to move out for a long time while it was being done. Another big expense. Then, during the first energy crisis, we found out that the walls could not be insulated, and when the kitchen was remodeled soon after, the wiring had lost all it's insulation because of the single wall construction, and the kitchen had to be completely required. Ditto the bathrooms a few years later.

Most Eichlers are built on flood plains apparently, and due to the moisture they get moldy. The mold will even grow in your shoes. Yes, the initial expense was cheap, but the maintenance was a nightmare, and the repairs never ending. Then the resale value sucks. It would have been cheaper in the long-run if my parents had bought a better house in a better neighborhood. Why anyone would want one now is beyond me. They are a big, big headache. Obviously, Joe Eicler was not thinking long-term!!!!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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