Hillside Haven - Page 6

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
Burlingame Mills Estates
Cuernavaca Park (top), within earshot of the Eichlers, is a popular fun spot for locals, including Ryan and Mason Chong (above).

Today, despite a few inappropriate garage doors, one house that has fluted Colonial pilasters, and one house with an added second story, the Eichlers seem pretty original from the outside.

There are steep double-gabled models, many low-gable models, flat roofs, some models with triple folded-plate roofs at their entries, some with attractive masonry facades, and some with distinctive gables that change their slope at the midway point, suggesting Japanese flared roofs.

Today, neighbors say, preservation of the Eichler look is not an issue. But Jackie Gray remembers when that wasn't so. She remembers the 1980s, when an Eichler on Atwater Drive received a bulky second-story addition. And she remembers when her next-door neighbor proposed doing the same a few years later.

 "That was after the other Eichler got a second story," Gray recalls. "Everybody was kind of upset about that. That's why I figured I had a good case, because everybody was upset about that."

She and her across-the-street neighbor, John Rosenberg, brought the matter to City Hall, initiating a series of meetings and hearings. "Strangely enough," Gray says, "I won that battle." The proposed addition was rejected by both planning commissioners and the City Council because it would block views and be too tall.

Today, she says, "to do a second story you need a permit and have to let neighbors know."

Kevin Gardiner, Burlingame's planning manager, says Burlingame requires that second-story additions anywhere in town be approved by the Planning Commission, which entails public input.

Separately, he says, permits are required for any "hillside construction" to preserve views.

"That's why you don't see many second-story additions," he says, noting that commissioners "look at design integrity very seriously." The city has no design regulations aimed specifically at Eichlers.

"I think most people who buy Eichlers try to retain the Eichler style without trying to alter it too much," Byron Lee says of newcomers to the neighborhood. "There's an appreciation for that era and style, and people aren't trying to mess it up."


• The Eichlers of Mills Estates are found on either side of Trousdale Drive in Burlingame's northwest corner, just below I-280. They're on Atwater Drive, Capistrano Way, Dolores Way, Frontera Way, Hunt Drive, Mariposa Court, Mariposa Drive, Alcazar Drive, and Montecito Way. A Claude Oakland custom home is at 2802 Tiburon Way.

Photography: David Toerge