LomaLiving - Page 4

Along Mountain View’s streets of Monta Loma—where Eichlers spark a kinship with Likelers
Loma Living
Loma Living
Gloria Jackson, who has lived in her Monta Loma Eichler for 30 years, likes bringing lots of plants into her outdoor world (top), and inside too (above).

Many owners might like larger homes but appreciate being able to quickly walk, bike, or drive to tech campuses. It takes Sonya, an engineering manager, 12 minutes to get to her job at Wealthfront in Palo Alto.

"That's why we all pay the big bucks for these little houses," she says.

There are three models of Eichlers at Monta Loma, including one with a long single-slope roof that many find especially appealing. "They are all the same floor plan. It's just how they are rotated and the facade," says Heather Schoell, who is raising two girls in Monta Loma with her husband Apollinaris.

As newsletter editor, Heather avoids offending owners in any of the tracts. Recently she wrote an article about Eichler's willingness, rare at the time, to sell homes to Blacks and other minorities.

"The way I positioned the article was, [Eichlers] were the first houses in the neighborhood, and he [Joe] set a tone of being an inclusive community—and that is something we value as a neighborhood overall, and that is something we hope to continue in the future," Heather says.

She was reluctant to suggest that the other builders were less special than Joe.

  Loma Living
Gloria Jackson (above) also appreciates the original look of the neighborhood. "I like keeping things as they are," she says.
 

But indeed they were, as Joan MacDonald recalls. Back in 1960 she and her husband wanted to move into a racially diverse neighborhood but couldn't find one, she says. A realtor steered them to the Eichlers.

The MacDonalds' Eichler neighbors, she says, included Black, Hispanic, and Asian families. Did she see that same diversity in homes built by Mackay and Mardell? "No, they went along with the rest of the realtors," says MacDonald, who till this day remains a leading fair housing and social justice activist.

There are few if any Blacks living in Monta Loma's Eichlers today, though a Black woman in one of the other tracts there serves on the association board. The price of homes keeps many people out. So does tech hiring. Google recently revealed that only 2.4 percent of its American tech employees were Black. The company has promised to do better.

Like many people, the Schoells appreciate their neighborhood's location. They often bike with their daughters to Mitchell Park in Palo Alto, a few minutes away, and swim at the Eichler pool at Greenmeadow. Gloria Jackson and others appreciate that a Caltrain stop is an easy walk.

"It's a pretty good neighborhood for children," Tom Purcell says. His children walk to Monta Loma Elementary, a few minutes from their home.

"Everything revolves around the school there," Eric Boyenga says. It's where the association has run its Spring Fling health fair and other events, and surrounding the school is a large park with tennis, ball fields, and a playground.

Loma Living
One of the Eichler tract's very original exteriors.

Problems arise, but Monta Lomans have always been good at dealing with problems. Back in the summer of 1977, when Eichler resident Barbara Lugn noticed that "things were sliding down" in the neighborhood, as reported by the Palo Alto Times, she and neighbors decided to form the Monta Loma Neighborhood Association.

Concerns included "loose dogs, and cars driving through it with their radios blasting." Not to mention drug dealing was reported in the home next to Mrs. Lugn.

The first meeting drew 100 people, and soon afterwards the association was publishing a newsletter and forming the organization that continues today. Within six months there were a dozen committees, from crime prevention to traffic control and neighborhood 'help.'

The association does not collect dues, and serves all in the community. Funding from the city, aimed to bring communities together around crime prevention and emergency preparedness, pays for events like the Ice Cream Social and block parties.