Pride Runs Deep - Page 5

‘Eichler Homes of Saratoga’—an enclave where appreciation and respect have never gone away
Pride Runs Deep
Pride Runs Deep
Two lovely exteriors spotted in the neighborhood.
Pride Runs Deep
Pride Runs Deep
Pride Runs Deep
Top: "The best thing about this house are my wife's paintings,"
says Li Xu (right), who stands in his Eichler hallway alongside
wife Wenchi Fang and her wall art. Middle: The couple's attention-grabbing stainless-steel front door, inherited from a previous owner. "It is a very cool door," says Wenchi. Above: Night shot of
the Xu-Fang Eichler.

Community activities are also on the upsurge, due in large part to Rishi Kumar, an outgoing city councilman who lives in the neighborhood, though not in an Eichler.

He helped start a neighborhood watch program that installed two cameras to observe when cars enter or exit the two entries to the tract. Although crime is low, over the years there have been car break-ins and burglaries.

A majority of neighbors kicked in to buy the cameras, which impressed new arrivals David Young and Sonoko Sakakibara. 'I think it means people are looking out for each other,' says Sonoko.

Every five or seven houses have their own block captain, one of them Nicole. Watching over homes while folks are vacationing is a major task.

Kumar also helped create the annual block party for the De Havilland-Cox area. Last summer's theme was 'La Bamba.' The potluck features foods that are 'very multi-ethnic,' says Lenore Lovoi, Paul's wife.

When asked how the neighborhood has changed over the years, old-timers mention demographics. 'Now maybe 50 percent are Asian and East Asian,' Lovoi says.

Another big change was the coming of Highway 85, whose southern extension was a dirt right-of-way until the mid-1980s, when construction started. Cars began flowing in 1994. It's a block away, and the hum can be heard.

'Before that came in, we could sit out in the backyard and hear the crickets, and it was completely quiet,' Liz Owens says, noting that weather affects how the sound travels. 'It's much noisier in the winter. In the summer, when you go out there, it's relatively quiet.'

Her husband Bob plays down the pain. 'All of our commutes got so much better,' he says, 'and the noise level is not onerous.'

Another big change happened about a decade ago when one owner added a tall attic story. One neighbor protested, others grumbled, and the city ordered one portion of the addition to be lopped off for exceeding height limits, says Paul Lovoi, who lives next door. He says most neighbors want to maintain the tract's existing look and scale.

Although many homes have had interior remodels, others remain intact or essentially so.

The neighborhood does not have architectural controls or historic neighborhood status. One of its homes, though, was recently added to the city's heritage inventory by the Saratoga Historic Preservation Commission, which cited 19277 Shubert Drive for being 'a symbol of times past, a reminder of our history.'

One of the neighborhood's intact homes is owned by David Young and Sonoko Sakakibara. 'The mahogany panels, so beautiful,' David says.

They have a large lot, a pool, and a small gym in the backyard. It's a great party house, but David and Sonoko make sure their home is 'neighborly' as well.

'We don't want to bother Nicole,' Sonoko says of their next-door neighbor. 'She is so nice! We have to be careful about her house. So we talk to her, we say we're having a pool party. We tell her, 'Of course you can join us, if you could. And if you need some quiet time, please let me know.''

It's the kind of thinking Nicole appreciates. 'The neighbors here are super nice, super nice,' she says. 'I pretty much know everybody in this neighborhood because I walk my dog every day. I chat with people every day.'

'You can buy a house,' Nicole says, 'but you can't buy a neighborhood.'

 

• The Eichlers of Saratoga are found on De Havilland and Shubert drives and Columbine Court, just off Cox Avenue

Photography: Sabrina Huang, Dave Weinstein