Real Estate

St. Claire Gardens

St. Claire Gardens offers a strong feeling of community

St. Claire Gardens, nestled in the heart of Palo Alto, might not be as famous as Old Palo Alto or Midtown, but it's a neighborhood that hosts annual Labor Day picnics for its residents, watches out for both the young and young at heart, and has a tree so large and full of lights that even Palo Alto city staff recognize it.

Judy Ocken has lived in the St. Claire Gardens neighborhood for 40 years, and to this day, she still can't believe it's true, she said. The neighborhood has evolved and grown over the years just as the Ocken family has. When the Ockens first moved into the neighborhood, they didn't ever think that the St. Claire Gardens' streets would be where their future children would ride their bikes.

"We didn't have children at the time and we weren't even sure if we wanted to and yet we moved into a neighborhood that is such a family neighborhood. Someone must have been watching out for us," Ocken said. "We had no idea what we were getting into."

The tree-lined neighborhood is located conveniently close to Midtown and its stores and restaurants.

As children and families grow, the neighborhood experiences changes in population as many leave the area, but others come there to raise their families. Currently, Ocken has noticed an uptick middle-school-aged kids. On the other end of the age spectrum, seniors can be seen throughout the neighborhood walking their dogs.

"It's a feeling of a community where people know each other but they don't live in each other's houses. There's a fair amount of privacy, but if you need somebody to talk to or need something done, there is always someone around," she said.

St. Claire Gardens resident Bill Baerge and his wife Marti, agree with this observation about the tight-knit nature of the neighborhood. Even though Marti is ill and needs care from her husband, she still makes it a point to attend the ladies' neighborhood lunches. These lunches take place once a month and are usually held at either one of the women's homes or at a nearby restaurant.

"We like the people here. We feel like we are among friends and people that have somewhat shared values," Baerge said.

A neighborhood favorite is one of the trees in front of the Baerge residence. It is large enough that it hangs out over the street and beautiful enough for the city arborist to consider it a "heritage tree," Baerge said.

"We put up 1,000 or so LED lights up there and I turn them on whenever I think of it, not just at Christmas," he said. "The neighbors often tell me how much they like it."

The neighborhood also hosts annual picnics on Labor Day hosted by Alan Davis and his wife. Davis rents tables and cooks hamburgers and hotdogs. The neighborhood park is closed off for the event, and only St. Claire Gardens residents are able to attend. This is a tradition that has been taking place for the last 15 years that unites and engages the neighborhood community.

St. Claire Gardens is a neighborhood where families and individuals at all stages of life can live peacefully all the while feeling respected and welcomed.


CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (nearby): Mini Infant Center of Palo Alto, 3149 Waverley St.; Sibel's Family Childcare Home, 786 Allen Ct.

FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middlefield Road

LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middlefield Road

LOCATION: St. Claire Drive, St. Michaels Drive and St. Michaels Court

PARKS (nearby): Hoover Park, 2901 Cowper St.; Mitchell Park, 600 East Meadow Drive

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

PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Keys School, 2890 Middlefield Road

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: El Carmelo Elementary School, J.L. Stanford Middle School, Gunn High School

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

Former Editorial Intern Anissa Fritz can be emailed at

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Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Oct 8, 2016 at 6:43 pm

This article contains inaccuracies. I've lived here since 1970. There have been neighborhood block parties since 1955, per an old Sunset Magazine article, making it a 60-year tradition, not 15 years. The party was for decades on the Fourth of July and was moved to Labor Day a few years back. Mr. Davis is a widower; his late wife was instrumental in organizing the Labor Day event. It's now done by a committee of neighbors and even some former neighbors, with Mr. Davis taking the lead. Some neighbors cook the hot dogs and hamburgers, paid for by donations. Everyone brings a dish to share in the potluck. Donations help with the rented tables and chairs and the band that plays during most of the event. Other neighbors organize activities for the children, put up the ping pong table and the volleyball net, and help with clean-up.

There is no park to close off for the event. With a permit from the city, part of Saint Michael is closed to traffic during the party. People can and do bring guests. And every year, a number of former residents attend.

This will make me take with a grain of salt articles on neighborhoods that I don't know anything about.

And the owners of the fabulous Italian stone pine, a real gift to the neighborhood as it is expensive to maintain, are the Baergs, not spelled Bareges. This could easily have been checked,

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