Eichler’s Last Stand - Page 4

Los Arboles Addition stays caring and connected in a planned mix of Palo Alto one- and two-story Eichlers
Eichler's Last Stand
Forty-four-year Eichler owner Nancy Mar stands inside her woodsy interior looking up at her rectractable atrium cover.
Eichler's Last Stand
Eichler's Last Stand
Mar's home has a peaceful Asian presence to it, a theme that continues into the bathroom (top) and to her front exterior (above).

In 1974, when Herb and Alice Fischgrund were house hunting, the housing market was tight, prices were rising, and interest rates were high. When Herb and Alice bought their house, they were looking at a mortgage of eight percent. But by the time the house was done, the lenders were demanding 11.

Sales were slow in the tract, Herb says, with some houses not selling until 1976. It took more than two years to sell 30 houses. Prices were lowered to move the homes, he says.

Mary Triggs bought a two-story home on Loma Verde with her husband, an engineer, in 1976 for $78,600 at about 12 percent interest. There were still six homes unsold, she remembers.

The Fischgrunds discovered a second problem a few months after moving into their home, when winter hit.

"It was freezing," Herb recalls, adding, "The heating system was not adequate for the size of the house."

A group of Eichler owners on nearby Harker Avenue were preparing to sue Klingbeil over the defect and asked if folks from Los Arboles Addition would join. "As I sat shivering in my living room, I thought, I could go for that," Herb says.

The small settlement that resulted, he says, provided enough money to add a rolling roof over the atrium. "It's the best investment I ever made," Herb says, saying it turned the atrium into 'another room' during the winter and allowed for wintertime parties.

The third problem, Mary Triggs says, is "a touchy subject."

By most accounts, Los Arboles Addition has always been a social place. Nancy Mar and her husband gave Chinese New Year celebrations in the old days. "Great parties," Herb recalls. Kids played on the quiet cul-de-sac back then, and still do today.

There has never been an official neighborhood association, but today Renata Tong manages the email tree, keeping in touch with neighbors about parties, good electricians, and news.

Herb, Matt Johnson, Arlene Holloway, and others get together regularly over coffee, rotating from home to home. There is also a book club with half a dozen members.

"There are friendly people on the court, but we're not in and out of each other's houses every day," Arlene says, adding that folks watch over their neighbors' homes.

"We refer to ourselves at the 'Torreya Court Militia.' We keep an eye on what's going on," she says.

Matt Johnson puts on a barbecue or two every year, inviting friends from the tract as well as people he works with. Chet, whose yard is vast, throws a garden party annually.

Michael Montegut enjoys that people wave to each other when they drive by, and stop and talk when they meet while out walking. One center of social life is the bench Herb and Alice established in front of their home, where they would sit and greet people walking by.

Alice died last year, so now it's just Herb. "People walk by, and you often see a group of neighbors talking to him on his bench," Michael says.