Full of wide and open streets roofed by tall green trees, and glass-walled, wooden Eichler homes, many of which were remodeled with second floors, Adobe Meadow and Meadow Park, two adjacent neighborhoods, embody a quiet and calm atmosphere, almost a disguise for the hectic lives of the people residing within their borders. Traveling all the way from Black Mountain in Santa Clara to the San Francisco Bay, Adobe Creek's babbling stream flows between the two south Palo Alto neighborhoods.
Ken Allen, the president of the Adobe Meadow Neighborhood Association (AMNA), has lived in Adobe Meadow for 40 years. He and his wife, Sue, moved there in 1975 after they "fell in love" with a quarter-acre lot in the neighborhood. What primarily attracted the couple was its proximity to amenities, or as Allen put it, "location, location, location."
"It's easy access to the freeway and to school and to the community center and to parks," he said. The neighborhood's Don Jesus Ramos Park and the larger Mitchell Park have been used many times for neighborhood gatherings organized by the AMNA and the Meadow Park Residents' Association.
The quietness of the streets as well as the abundance of schools nearby added to Adobe Meadow's appeal, so Allen and his wife bought the house. However, not long after the move, a nearby school, Ortega Elementary, was closed and replaced with a housing development.
One of the houses built on the Ortega site belongs to Sharon Elliot and her husband, who were one of the first residents to move into Ortega Court in Adobe Meadow in 1985. This year, Elliot will be celebrating her 30th anniversary with her neighbors.
"We certainly help each other ... and it's easy to talk to people," she said. "Most people have been here for 30 years. I was looking back; we've had so many parties, and so many get-togethers. (I remember) how much fun we've had."
In addition to social events, the neighborhood association has also organized Civil Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) and emergency preparedness coordinators for almost every block so that everyone is ready to help one another in the event of an emergency.
According to Elliot, what has mainly changed during the past 30 years is how busy residents have become. They used to get together more often, but because of people's hectic schedules, they can only do that twice a year now, she said.
"The neighborhood is still quite wonderful; people are friendly (but) they're busier than they were in the mid-'80s ... way busier than I think is good for us," Elliot said. "We're so used to it. I think we might even be addicted to it. But we like the adrenaline rush that just keeps us moving along."
Although the longtime residents make the neighborhood pretty stable, a few new families have joined. Tam Truman's family moved into a house across from Elliot's one year ago.
Previously living in her hometown, Melbourne, Australia, Truman said she has had a fantastic experience in her first year in Adobe Meadow.
"This is a very friendly and welcoming neighborhood," Truman said. "My direct neighbors have been very warm and welcoming, (organizing) barbecue parties in the park."
According to her, neighborhood highlights include a short commute to her work, "great schools with ethnic diversity" for her four children, an abundance of green spaces and parks, and nearby public libraries.
However, Truman raised some concerns.
"It's very expensive to live here," she said. "Rent prices ... increased by 25 percent since we moved here."
Allen concurred, adding that with the remodeling of Eichler houses, the value of real estate "has gone up by 50 times" since the '80s.
"As the value of real estate increased, the sort of people who could afford it are generally well-to-do people from overseas," he said. "We have quite a diversity in our neighborhood natives of Japan, China, India, France come to participate in the Silicon Valley boom."
Truman and her family appreciate living in this diverse melting pot.
"It is really nice ... (There are) people from all over the world, speaking many languages," Truman said.
As much as she enjoys living in Adobe Meadow, Truman would like to see public transportation improvements, more corner stores within walking distance and a stronger bicycle culture in the area.
Elliot agreed that the number of bikers has declined during the past few decades, and noted that the car traffic, though better than other places in Palo Alto, is now "horrific."
"(The neighborhood) is a little different (from my first years), but it's also pretty similar in some ways ..." Elliot added. "It's always felt comfortable. And it still does."
Childcare and preschools (nearby): Covenant Children's Center, 670 E. Meadow Drive; Sunshine Preschool Montessori, 3711 Ross Road
Fire station: No. 4, 3600 Middlefield Road
Library: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middlefield Road
Location: Adobe Meadow:East Meadow Drive to Adobe Creek, Middlefield Road to Louis Road; Meadow Park: Adobe Creek to Charleston Road, Middlefield to U.S. Highway 101.
Neighborhood association: Adobe Meadow Neighborhood Association, firstname.lastname@example.org, adobemeadow.org; Meadow Park Residents Association, Cathy Swan, president, 650-494-2892, email@example.com, meadowpark.us
Parks: Don Jesus Ramos Park, 800 E. Meadow Drive; Mitchell Park, 600 E. Meadow Drive
Post office: Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road
Private school: Challenger School, 3880 Middlefield Road
Public schools: Fairmeadow Elementary School, Jane Lanthrop Stanford Middle School, Gunn High School
Shopping (nearby): Charleston Center, Midtown Shopping Center