Spring Real Estate 2008

Publication Date: Friday, April 18, 2008

A colorful, quiet neighborhood where people like to stay

When Sachi Kanetake and her family first moved to the Gemello neighborhood, she assumed her new home was just an "interim house." They intended to eventually find a larger house, but more than 40 years later, Kanetake and her husband still haven't moved.

Since moving from Illinois, they've raised four children, borrowed countless cups of sugar from their neighbors, and even take their grandkids to the nearby park now.

"We've lived here forever," she said, explaining that they decided to stay because of the warm and friendly community. "The neighbors are just so wonderful. I can depend on my neighbor to get my mail, water my plants. It's very comfortable here."

Gemello, located between El Monte Avenue, El Camino, and the Los Altos border (Jardin Drive and Karen Way), is a colorful, quiet neighborhood with white picket fences and California golden poppies sprouting next to mailbox posts. Many of the homes resemble country-style gardens with cherry-blossomed trees, vibrant lavender bushes or cheery window boxes. Although most homes have been renovated, many remain one-story homes with spacious front yards.

Paul Lesti, who has lived in the area since 1982, said that Gemello is "a little gem of Mountain View" due to its convenient location and welcoming community. Pretty much equidistant between downtown Mountain View and downtown Los Altos, it's an easy walk to either.

The local favorite, Gemello Park, is also a short walk away. Lesti added that Gemello Park is an impromptu focal point for the neighborhood, and one of his 5-year-old daughter's favorite places. "It's a great place to meet your neighbors ... and we make play dates with other kids in the neighborhood. A lot of informal networking and gathering goes on there."

Before the area was developed for housing, it was home to a winery and orchard owned by John Gemello. In the 1950s, Gemello sold the orchards to William Blackfield of the Meadow Development Company of San Francisco. Called Blackfield Village, the housing development consisted of three-bedroom, one-bath homes. Later on, another development called Excel was built; these homes were generally larger with three bedrooms and one-and-a-half baths.

Samantha Johnsen and her family moved to the Gemello neighborhood in 2002 and met many other families and neighbors who are "regulars" at the park. Previously, Johnsen and her family lived in an older part of Mountain View but decided to move to a bigger house for their growing family. Since moving to the Gemello neighborhood, she said that the area's close proximity to a variety of shopping, restaurants and schools makes life more convenient.

As a mother of three young children, Johnsen said, "It's great having the park just a few blocks away. ... We also are very close to Los Altos High School, which is nice when you have little kids. We go to watch baseball and soccer games and play tennis with them on the weekends."

Although speeding has been an issue in the neighborhood, there have been few other concerns in Gemello.

Today, Kanetake said the neighborhood is extremely convenient for older people, but she still hasn't forgotten about moving to that bigger house.

"Someday we'd like to move to Hawaii because the winters here are too cold," she laughs. "Our children still know the neighbors, so when they come it's like coming back to an old blanket, a very cozy one."

CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Childrens Learning Cottage, 675 Escuela Ave.;
Mountain View KinderCare, 2065 W. El Camino Real;
St. Paul Lutheran CDC, 1075 El Monte Ave.;
Wonder World, 2015 Latham St. (nearby)

FIRE STATION: No. 3, 301 N. Rengstorff Ave.; No. 1, 251 S. Shoreline Blvd.

PARK: Gemello Park, Marich Way and Solana Court

POST OFFICE: Mountain View, 211 Hope St., Blossom Valley, 1768 Miramonte Ave.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS (NEARBY): The Girls' Middle School, 180 N. Rengstorff Ave.; Canterbury
Christian School, 101 N El Monte Ave.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Mtn. View-Whisman School District -- Bubb Elementary School, Graham Middle School; Mtn. View-Los Altos Union High School District -- Los Altos High School

SHOPPING: Downtown Mountain View, Downtown Los Altos, Longs Shopping Center, Gemello Village, Clarkwood Center, San Antonio Shopping Center