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Real Estate


Modern neighborhood creates old-fashioned friendships

While many neighborhoods look eclectic with a variety of styles and heights of homes, Greenmeadow's modern uniformity and clean lines resonate with older residents as well as many newer home buyers.

Many of the 300 homes, built by Joseph Eichler in the 1950s, look as they used to, with original two-inch wood siding and low-pitched tongue-and-groove roofs. Others have been given new stone, wood or concrete textures or paint colors. But whether updated or left original, these residences exude warmth and friendliness.

Penny Ellson and her husband, Rich, moved to Greenmeadow in 1995, accidentally discovering the neighborhood. Ellson recalled feeling welcomed almost immediately by a neighbor who came over with a basket of goodies, including a neighborhood directory. He invited them to join the neighborhood association, an integral part of Greenmeadow, and featured the family in the next newsletter.

More recently, Ellson said she had another reason to be grateful for her neighborhood. Her dog became ill with a back problem and when she reached out to neighbors for an extra large dog crate, seven people responded in less than a day, with encouragement as well as "the perfect crate right to my doorstep. The outreach has been so kind and generous."

The neighborhood, which abuts the back of Charleston Center and Cubberley Community Center, is located off Alma Street in south Palo Alto. Its northern border is Adobe Creek, and its southern border is Ferne Avenue and Ferne Court. The neighborhood extends west to Ferne, Ben Lomond, Parkside and Creekside drives. Its eastern edge is Nelson Drive.

"For children and parents, many friendships start at the neighborhood pool," Ellson said. The swim team has many traditions, and it organizes Friday Night Dinner fundraisers throughout the summer.

The neighborhood's annual Fourth of July Parade and foot race is an all-day celebration. Children build floats and dress up their pets, neighbors play in marching bands and at the end, everyone sings "America the Beautiful."

"It's hard to describe how moving that moment is," Ellson said. "You have to experience it. Then we spend the rest of the day picnicking, and playing pool and field games."

The neighborhood association is busy with plans to renovate the aging pool and build a new community clubhouse. Ground is expected to be broken in fall 2017. This year, the city's planned bike boulevard improvements will include Greenmeadow with enhancements that "will give our community an even safer, more accessible biking path to connect with the nearby library, schools and the Bryant Street bike boulevard," said Josh Feira, president of the Greenmeadow Neighborhood Association.

Between 1950 and 1974, Joseph Eichler built over 11,000 homes in Northern California and three communities in Southern California. Greenmeadow's nearly 300 homes are in a historic district, where all the homes must stay only one-story high, a rarity for most cities in 2017.

Not only does the City of Palo Alto oversee and approve development in the neighborhood, but the Greenmeadow association has an architectural review committee, which approves things like facade improvements and major changes to a home's appearance so that the neighborhood remains unified. The very active all-volunteer association has nine other committees from swim team to emergency preparedness and civic affairs.

A home and garden tour, an Easter egg hunt, sporadic food-truck parties, movies and potlucks are among the social events held by the neighborhood.

"It was immediately clear to us that Greenmeadow is a place where you don't just have a house. You have a home, complete with neighbors that you really get to know at our many community traditions," Feira said.


CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (nearby): Crescent Park Child Development Center (Peekaboo), 4161 Alma St.; Montessori School of Los Altos, 303 Parkside Drive; Palo Alto Infant Toddler Center, 4111 Alma St.

FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middlefield Road

LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middlefield Road

LOCATION: between Creekside Drive and Ferne Avenue, Nelson Drive and Ben Lomond Drive

NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Greenmeadow Community Association, 650-494-3157,; Jeff Schultz, president,

PARKS: Greenmeadow Park (private); Mitchell Park (nearby), 600 E. Meadow Drive

POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS (nearby): Palo Alto Prep School, 2462 Wyandotte St.; Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, 450 San Antonio Road

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Fairmeadow Elementary School, JLS Middle School, Gunn High School

SHOPPING: San Antonio Shopping Center, The Village at San Antonio

Editorial Intern Jennah Feeley can be emailed at

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