Grand Stand in Googletown

Eichlers of Mountain View's Grandmeadow—where 53 houses flourish as homes with a little help from friends
This is Google headquarters, only three miles from Grandmeadow.

No neighborhood association unites the owners of the 53 Mountain View Eichlers that sit three miles south of Googleplex. And there's no neighborhood newsletter, or pool, or community park, like some Eichler neighborhoods.

But it doesn't take long for visitors or newcomers to suss out that Grandmeadow, as builder Joe Eichler originally called this 50-year-old tract, is a bit magical. Even the dogs know it.

"I know this sounds silly," says Joyce Yin, an architect who shares her home with her physician husband, ten-year-old daughter, and a husky, Neena, "but it feels like the dogs know that they are a pack, because they're together so often. I think they can tell."

"It is by far the friendliest neighborhood I've lived in," Joyce says. "As trite as it sounds, aside from the many features of an Eichler house that I can't imagine living without, it is the people we live side by side with that make this house our home."

Grandmeadow Eichler owner Joyce Yin (far right) leads fellow dog walkers (including Carola Clavi Brown and Michael Brown) and their pets through the neighborhood.

Grandmeadow, which was built in 1972, doesn't go by that name today—or by any name, it seems. (Some realty sites call the tract Bell Meadows, but that was an older name for the parcel that Joe never used.) But lack of a name shouldn't suggest anonymity.

The neighborhood has a tradition of neighbors knowing and looking out for each other that goes back to its earliest days.

Over the years, individuals have taken it upon themselves to act as handymen for neighbors, and even to advocate for privacy from large, new homes alongside the tract. To fend off crime, one woman even manned a watchtower.

Over the years, social gatherings, both formal and informal, have played a large role in fostering friendships.

And so have dogs, thanks in part to two humans who own two of the tract's many canines, Marc Shaw and Laura Ackerman-Shaw. They are joined on walks by other dog owners.

One of the inviting exteriors found in Grandmeadow.

Yaar Schnitman, a Google programmer who often works from his open garage office/exercise studio, is among neighbors who greet dog owners as they pass. "I work well," he says, "waving and talking with the neighbors as they walk their dogs."

Marc Shaw handles the email list for the neighbors. Stuff like: 'What are those police cars doing?' and 'Does anyone need lemons from my tree?' Marc and Laura also take it upon themselves to greet newcomers.

"Marc and Laura came and introduced themselves immediately," says Olivia Zong, a project manager for Waymo, who arrived with husband Frank and an infant daughter during the height of Covid-19. Olivia adds, "And then people came over with treats and stuff. It was super sweet. Like chocolate chip cookies."

Marc and Laura are also behind the neighborhood's annual autumn potlucks. Donna Monferdini and her husband, Dave, arrived in the neighborhood shortly after the Shaws, part of a wave of 1980s arrivals. Donna says the Shaws arranged for a jump house for kids, and other potluck details.

"There are hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, and chit-chat," original owner Frank Tripiano says of the get-togethers. "It's really fun." Neighbor Janet Sloan says, "Each street is assigned some sort of food—main course, salads, desserts."

Emily Venker, sister Cora Venker, and Sophie Liu (L-R) out for a bike ride.

Stephen Carney, who arrived in the neighborhood in 1998, says the block party has introduced neighbors, not just to each other but also to each other's houses, allowing people to admire interiors and check out improvements. Some early block parties, he says, "turned into a little train. We would go from house to house to house to house."

A pandemic-born tradition is a happy hour on Eichler Court aimed mostly at folks who live there. Stephen and his husband, C.W. Hobbs, are behind the gathering.

The happy hour is one more way to meet people, Stephen says. But often enough, neighbors knock on the doors of newcomers just to say hello.

"We actually had one of the newer people come to the happy hour recently. And they were commenting about how the people across the street walked up and introduced themselves and said, "Hi, how's it going?'"

Keep in touch with the Eichler Network. SUBSCRIBE to our free e-newsletter