Hillside Haven - Page 2

For 100 Eichler owners, the good life is low-key living with big-time views high in the hills of Burlingame's Mills Estates
Burlingame Mills Estates
At home with the Wolf family—L-R: Spencer, Andrew, Emmeline, and Drewry—who recently transformed their Eichler into one of the spiffiest in Mills Estates.
Burlingame Mills Estates
Burlingame Mills Estates
The Wolfs' design motif continues, in the atrium (top) and at the front exterior (above).
Burlingame Mills Estates
Bicyclist takes on the Mills Estates hill.

Mills Estates—the name refers to the entire hillside neighborhood; the 100-or-so-home Eichler subdivision has no name of its own—is an area in generational transition. "It's split between older families with adult children, many of them original owners, and younger families like ours," Andrew Wolf says.

But what you don't hear about in Mills Estates are the big neighborhood whoop-de-doos that many other Eichler neighborhoods enjoy. "There haven't been [neighborhood parties], and I don't know why there haven't been," says Gray, an original owner.

In Mills Estates, people tend to know their neighbors on their block or cul-de-sac—but not the folks who live a block or more away. Nor is it a welcome wagon sort of place. "When we moved here," says Tracy Park, who arrived eight years ago with her husband, Byron Lee, "the only people who reached out were people in their 80s across the street, and the next-door neighbor came and said hello."

Lack of overall neighborhood cohesion probably has to do with the physical layout of the neighborhood and the arrangement of the houses. Streets are steep and not altogether conducive to strolling. "Living on the hills, it's harder to get to know your neighbors because you don't do a lot of walking around," says Randy Danielian.

Still, it must be said, steepness does not deter the neighborhood's many dog walkers. And unlike most Eichler neighborhoods, where Eichler homes make up all, or substantially all, of the homes, Mills Estates is "sort of a mixed hybrid," Andrew Wolf says.

Some streets are nothing but Eichlers—either Jones & Emmons or Claude Oakland models. Several streets have Eichlers on one side of the street, with traditional ranch homes or two-story Colonials—and other "normal houses," in Randy Danielian's words—on the other. There's also no community association.

And as for the social sparkplugs who often ignite Eichler and non-Eichler neighborhoods? No one can name any.

"I wouldn't say a sleepy neighborhood," Andrew Wolf describes the place, "but I would say a nice, quiet neighborhood."