Forgotten by the Bay - Page 2

In Foster City, curving streets, lagoons and a mixed bag of housing conceal the commonality shared by 200 Eichler homes
Foster City
Nelson Au with his classic 1967 Mustang.
Foster City
Au's original-looking kitchen and dining/entertainment areas.
Foster City
Three of the streets named after birds.

T. Jack, Jr., who emerged as leader of the project, wanted a varied streetscape—a cluster of Eichlers here, some traditional tract homes there, custom homes along the lagoon, plus apartments and condos.

"We thought that to mix them up somewhat was better," Foster said in a recent interview. "It makes for a more attractive neighborhood. I still think so. I think it looks pretty good."

Today the Foster City Eichlers seem forgotten—in large part because Foster City itself remains a mystery to many outsiders.

"In the Bay Area, a lot of people don't know this place exists," Kirk Matsuo says of Foster City, where he grew up in the Eichler in which his mother still lives. "They draw a blank."

Motorists buzz past the city by the tens of thousands every day, as they cross the San Mateo Bridge on Highway 92. But unless their destination is Foster City, few drivers pull onto Foster City Boulevard. The failure of the Fosters some 50 years ago to construct a southbound thoroughfare through the Redwood Shores means there is no route for commuters to use through Foster City.

Still, Foster City is a great place to visit (but not during the evening rush hour, residents warn). Scenic lagoons run through the town, best viewed from the bridges. There's always action in the sky too—a jetliner, or two or three, descending into SFO.

Many homes are right on the lagoon, with docks for sail and electric boats. Gas- or diesel-powered boats are not permitted in the lagoons. But none of the lagoon homes are Eichlers because these lots were reserved for custom homes.

There are five Eichlers in a row on Beach Park Boulevard, facing San Francisco Bay. They are among the most prominent Eichlers in town, passed daily by thousands of people who stroll, dog-walk, or bike the section of the Bay Trail that runs atop the levee.

One of these Eichlers, alas, received a gargantuan second-story addition some years back. But the others look fine.

One attractive bayside home, with a deceptively modest facade that belies a grand and almost completely original interior, has wonderfully textured, quarter-sawn redwood-board siding that starts at the hallway bordering the atrium and continues into the living room.

Foster City
Bikers love the Foster City trails that border scenic waterways.
Foster City
Beaches can be found throughout town—and just "around the corner."

For many years owned by a well-known Lockheed aerospace engineer and teacher, today it is carried on by his widow, a retired minister. Kathleen Kaplan loves the house for its privacy, and recalls it as a wonderful home for entertaining.

These Beach Park Boulevard homes may be on the Bay, but they have no bay views. Kaplan walks the dike often, four miles at a clip.

Also living along the levee are Miguel and Rhoda Andrada, whose home has been modernized in a way that is sleek and white and that they just love. The atrium has been turned into indoor space. While they'd like an atrium, they also appreciate the added interior acreage.

The Andradas bought the house a little over a year ago. He was raised in the Philippines, she in Hawaii. "I love it being on the bay," Rhoda says. "Even at 8, 9 p.m. people are out there jogging." Rhoda and Miguel walk on the trail often, and go biking there with their son, Jake.

"The biggest plus for us is, it's so wide open," Miguel says of the home's setting. "The bay is right in front of us. It doesn't feel so claustrophobic."