Cozy, Cordial & Cooperative - Page 3

Palo Alto’s Meadowcreek Eichler condos—where tight quarters make for a tight-knit community vibe
cozy co-op
While Melanie Blaskower swims, Maura Quigley and Miles Adle look on.

Ned Eichler, Joe's son and a manager at Eichler Homes, says the apartments didn't represent a plan by his father to move into multi-family housing. The site was "a little piece of leftover land," he says. "In the whole scale of the company then, this was a tiny little thing."

In subsequent years, Eichler built many more apartments—including Pomeroy Green and Pomeroy West in Santa Clara, Reed Square in Sunnyvale, Midrock townhouses in Mountain View, Laguna Heights apartments (now condos) in San Francisco, and the Diamond Heights and Geneva Terrace townhouses, also in San Francisco.

Eichler moved into high-rise residential as well, with several towers in the city, including the iconic Summit on Russian Hill.

cozy co-op
cozy co-op
Tom Spahn counters noise by installing new insulation as his neighbors look on curiously.

Maybe the friendliness that one finds in Meadowcreek is a virtue-out-of-necessity thing. Maybe it's become a tight-knit community because the homes are squeezed in so tightly, as though some giant reached down from the sky, grabbed a bunch of standalone Eichlers, and squeezed them all together. Maybe people act friendly just so they won't fight.

It is, after all, easier to excuse a little noise, Susan says, when you know and like the noisemaker.

But it hasn't always been such an easygoing spot. In the past, Jim remembers, "We had three or four owners who objected to everything…It was a knock-down, drag-out fight."

"One woman, no matter what anybody wanted to do, was against it," he said.

"One woman," Sharon says, "she moved in and told us right away from the beginning, you're not going to like me."

"I had to kick one person out of a meeting. That's not like me," Sharon says. "He was out of line."

But the neighborhood, and most of the neighbors, survived. Meadowcreek today remains "tucked away and cozy," in Rania's words, hidden from a busy Alma Street thoroughfare, by a fence and shrubbery.

The interface with Alma presents Meadowcreek with its biggest problems. Besides the traffic, which residents can avoid by using what Vijnan calls "an escape route" through Greenmeadow, there is noise.

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Meadowcreek has some concerns over noise, including what comes from nearby Caltrain.

"The biggest joke right now is the arguing teenage couple behind our house walking by on Alma," Jenny says.

And just past Alma is Caltrain—nice because you can walk to the station in a few minutes, but noisy for those units that back onto Alma.

It may get worse. Plans call for the California High-Speed Rail project to run along those tracks. Running it through a trench would be fine, Jim suggests, but not running atop a berm.

"I don't think it will ever be built," Tom suggests. Rania sees the benefits. "We should have one," she says of a high-speed route. "It's a crime we don't have one in this country."

Alma is a bother in another way. "Since 1973, we have been after the city to landscape the dirt strip along Alma," Sharon says. Nancy has called many times, getting promises and excuses. "This is the entrance to Palo Alto," Sharon adds. "We volunteered to do the landscaping if they put water in."

If the city took a closer look at Meadowcreek, they might take Sharon up on the offer. Much of the neighborhood's beauty is due to her and Nancy's handiwork.