Home of the Friendly Bargain - Page 4

After decades of obscurity, the spirited Eichlers of Concord are looking up—in the face of Mount Diablo's looming peaks
Concord Eichlers
A Parkside owner since 1964, Norma Griffin (right) and neighbor Siobhan O'Hara look over memorabilia in Griffin's living room lined with vibrant original paneling.
Concord Eichlers
Concord Eichlers
Peering into the atrium of Suzanne and Steve Dunn (above and center), who enjoy the outdoor setting with son Dash.

Online postings have brought several people to the neighborhoods and helped build social relations early on.

Camila Baum, who grew up in San Francisco, first learned about the Concord Eichlers from the Eichler Network's Chatterbox Lounge online forum, which encourages fans to chat. And when Wimmer and his wife, Casie Permenter, arrived, she already had a friend in the neighborhood whom she'd met online.

Still, online socializing only goes so far. That's where the 'mayors' come in. "Siobhan [O'Hara] is the mayor of our neighborhood, unofficially," says Margaret Chester of Parkside. Siobhan (pronounced Chavanne) grew up in the neighborhood, then returned, and now provides a link between newcomers and old-timers.

"I babysat many kids, when I was younger, for all the original owners," she says, "so when I came back, they all instantly knew who I was."

In Diablo, Wimmer says, "Kyle is the community wrangler here." Kyle Nash and his wife Sarah host 'spaghetti Sundays' one Sunday a month. "It's something I used to do before I lived here, not with nearly the success," says Nash, a music teacher and choir director at Diablo Valley College. "We basically offer spaghetti to whoever arrives."

"That's what's keeping the group going," says Dick Brown, who's lived in Diablo with his wife Joanne since 1966.

Diablo also has neighborhood holiday parties, and the July 4 'Hodgepodge Parade.' "People are pushing lawn movers or baby strollers, the kids decorate their bikes, there's a marching band," Wimmer says.

"Its spectacular," Sarah Nash adds.

Parksiders recently threw "a giant neighborhood potluck," says Carol Cooper, Chester's partner. It was the third annual party, attracted almost 100 people, and was originally launched, Carol says, so all the young families moving in would get to know each other.

Jeff Girard, who helped create the potluck, also hosts another Parkside tradition open to all. "Friends know that Tuesday night is 'martini night' at Jeff Girard's house, and people are welcome to stop by," he says.

In Rancho de los Santos, neighbors credit Camila Baum for being the social glue.

"She's always updated on what's happening in our neighborhood, what houses are coming up, and she's just genuinely a wonderful person and a super neighbor," says Kerry Little.

Los Santos, though, doesn't have anything like 'spaghetti Sundays.' The last big event was a street party for the neighborhood's 45th anniversary. They plan a 50th anniversary bash in 2015.

"It's a generation thing," Baum says about the dearth of community events, saying many older residents keep to themselves. Rancho de los Santos even saw a bit of generational conflict a couple of years ago.

It began with a letter from a longtime resident to all the neighbors, Kerry Little recalls. "Please keep your yards up. It brings down property values...It embarrasses people driving through the neighborhood."

Little and her neighbor Leeat Medina were in tears. They knew who the missive was aimed at.