Bringing Back 'the Berries' - Page 3

Enthusiastic neighbors prove there’s nothing 'lower' about the Eichlers of Lucas Valley
Bringing Back the Berries
Gerrin and Kristen Graham await a drive-by by their kids, Gemma (front) and Mable.

The name Marinwood came from developer Jerry Hoytt, who laid out the tract and began building traditional homes and Storybook-style ranch houses before running into financial difficulties. That’s when Eichler stepped in, bought an unbuilt portion of the Marinwood land, and called his subdivision simply ‘Lucas Valley.’

Today, Hoytt’s Marinwood homes can be found on streets that end in ‘stone’ and ‘wood,’ while the Eichler streets end in ‘berry.’

Many people in the Eichlers don’t appreciate being called Marinwood, including modernists like Sigrid and her son, Steve Painter. They do not appreciate the style of the earlier homes and don’t want to be lumped in with them.

“Look, we were kind of snobby,” Sigrid says. “We didn’t like those houses very well. They used to have cutout roosters on their garages.”

Are the folks in ‘Upper’ as snobby about their neighbors in ‘Lower’?

Bringing Back the Berries

Bringing Back the Berries
The Grahams' kitchen (above) and front exterior (top).

“There is some snobbery,” Klima says. But as home values rise in the original Eichler development, approaching those in ‘Upper,’ “the cost changes have eroded that,” he says.

“It is a well-loved neighborhood and has gained popularity in the past three to four years,” Adelman says of ‘Lower’ Lucas, adding, “It is no longer much more affordable than Upper Lucas Valley. In 2019 the average price for a home in the neighborhood was $1,282,000, and Upper Lucas Valley was $1,520,000.”

The homes in ‘Lower Lucas,’ which were completed by 1961, include three or four bedrooms and two baths. “I bet there are 15 different models in this neighborhood,” Klima says.

The neighborhood originally had covenants, codes, and restrictions (CCRs) to protect the homes and neighborhood character, but “they’re no longer enforced,” says Eric Stone. “The ones handed out to new owners are illegible. You cannot read it,” Klima says.

 “There were certain rules, and originally people held to them,” Sigrid Painter says. But by the mid-1980s, as original owners moved out and many renters moved in, “things started to change in many ways. And [newcomers] were not interested in keeping every single rule. Nobody enforces them now. Our new neighbors don’t even know they exist.”

Bringing Back the Berries
Lucas Valley is surrounded by lots of open space, with miles of steep and rugged trails for hiking and biking.

Since this Lucas Valley tract has never enforced architectural rules, the development has its share of second-story additions. A recent count found 17 homes with added second stories, plus six with added attics. Of these, five have been so altered they no longer resemble Eichlers.

As a percentage of homes, this is not a lot, especially when compared to some other Eichler subdivisions of the same vintage.

Sigrid remembers the first second-story addition happening in the 1960s, a doctor with four children who wanted more space. But it wasn’t till the 1980s that most appeared.