Hillside Haven - Page 3

For 100 Eichler owners, the good life is low-key living with big-time views high in the hills of Burlingame's Mills Estates
Burlingame Mills Estates
Michael and Flynn Livingston were preparing for another one of their parties, helium balloons and all, when our camera showed up.
Burlingame Mills Estates
At the front door of the Livingston Eichler.
Burlingame Mills Estates
On Hunt Drive, near the top of Trousdale Drive, the steep angle reveals some incongruity among the various buildings.

But no one's complaining. Folks make friends through their kids' schools (the beloved Franklin Elementary is near the foot of the hill), and they meet at popular Cuernavaca Park at the edge of the neighborhood.

The people who live in Mills Estates are active types who can create vibrant lives quite nicely, thank you.

And Mills Estates, despite local Eichler price tags that have hit the $2 million mark, is clearly one desirable place to live.

"We get calls all the time. 'I have a customer for your house,'" Sora Lei Newman says. "Lots of houses in the neighborhood do. It's because of the great schools."

Kendall Chong, who knew all his neighbors as a boy thanks to his paper route and now lives in his old house, where he and his wife Angela are raising two boys, keeps busy these days with Cub Scouts. One neighbor keeps equally busy with the 4-H Club, Kendall says.
"There are different interests among neighbors," he says.

Burlingame itself is a neighborly town, some say, including six-year resident Flynn Livingston, who knows about neighborly, having grown up in a Georgia town of 60 souls.

"For the greater Bay Area, Burlingame is sort of that small town," she says, mentioning friends she meets whenever she goes about town. "That's community to me. That's a home."

Chief attractions of the neighborhood includes expansive views, a superb school district, good weather, and a location convenient to highways, a hospital, a charming downtown, both San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

"Burlingame is one of the first warm spots you come to heading south from the city, just past the fog bank," says Randy Danielian.

The airport, some might say, could be a bit of a negative to the neighborhood. In fact, many people here love it, saying it takes five minutes to cruise down the hill to pick up family flying in for a visit.

Planes, they say, are routed up the Bay, not over the neighborhood—except when winds require re-routing. Then, Kevin Chong says, "It's noisy, but after a while you get used to it. It's neat to see the airplanes close up."

"It's like you can touch them," Angela Chong says.

Also, judging by how relatively intact almost every house seems from the street, and how deeply intact many remain on the interior, people here really get the Eichler message.

Moreover, unlike some other Peninsula and South Bay communities where teardowns and McMansions are rife, when newcomers arrive here and redo their homes, "They all seem to be in keeping with the original look and feel that Eichler had intended," says Andrew Wolf, a newcomer whose recent renovation is strikingly 21st century while staying true to Eichler's style.

"People are not only buying the houses," says Donald Newman, "but when they buy the houses, they really fix them up. It improves the neighborhood."

"Four Eichlers on our block have been purchased and renovated in the last couple of years." Wolf says.

Working with architect John Klopf, the Wolfs created a little bit of poetry out of their Eichler. Andrew's wife Drewry, a sculptor and painter, paid intense attention to color and detail—the shades of gray that run through the house, an original screen once used as a room divider and now as a fireplace ornament, the industrial strength flooring ideal for young kids and their poodle-mix dog.