Taking to the Hills - Page 3

Small-town feeling and informal ties set the stage for natural friendships among the Eichlers of Terra Linda
Taking to the Hills
It's common to find cul-de-sacs in Terra Linda, like this one, that have trailheads at their ends leading to open space.

"It turned into kind of a mob scene," Knell says. "Groups of neighbors were picketing this guy's house and threatening him."

"The city held a meeting at the rec center. It was standing room only. Hundreds of people showed up, and they were angry."

Paul Jensen, San Rafael's longtime community development director, says the present rules regulate any roofline changes, in addition to second stories. Most requests to modify rooflines are to hide HVAC units, he says.

"We rarely get requests [for second-story additions], rarely," he says, "because I think most people who buy Eichlers now, they buy them for a reason, because they want that kind of home."

Today, two associations seek to represent homeowners: the Terra Linda Homeowners to the south and the Santa Margarita Neighborhood Association to the north. Both have had signal successes over the years. Knell recalls how the Santa Margarita group worked to landscape the channelized Santa Margarita Creek.

But it is informal ties that make Terra Linda special. Many people have friends in both sections, meeting at school events, say Michael and Heidi Hazelrigg, who are raising two daughters in Terra Linda South.

Taking to the Hills
Taking to the Hills
Inside the Eichler of Bob Schaff and Melton Smith in the North: living room (above), and in the kitchen (top) with Melton (at rear) and Bob (left), who chats with neighbor Michelle Fouts (right).

At an annual Christmas ornament exchange, Michael says, "One year someone made ceramic pendant ornaments. One has a map of the north side, and the other has a map of south side."

"We all love the design of these houses, and we all find that we have a lot in common with each other," Heidi says, "so much so we go on vacation together. Like two years ago, ten families went to Europe together. So the community is very tight."

Always a family-friendly neighborhood, with many parks and acres of school fields, it's again filling with families. On Barberry Lane, where Sarah Roth and husband Johnny Cheetham are raising their son, Jordan, communal basketball hoops are part of the streetscape.

"There are always people out here at night," Sarah says. "There's a little happy hour with some of the neighbors who come out for drinks on a pretty regular basis. We're out front, with our kids playing."

When Sarah Bonar and Li Shen were eyeing the neighborhood, Li remembers, they noticed one appealing feature. "You see kids running around without supervision," he says. "It's really nice." Sarah adds, "You don't see that too much anymore."

"But the pool is the big thing," says Greg Knell, who has lived across from it since 1989. "That's one reason I bought here," he says, "so our kids could just go over there."

Taking to the Hills
A well-traveled trail snakes through this section of the Terra Linda-Sleepy Hollow Open Space Preserve.

"Our kids can ride their bikes down there and meet up with their friends," says Andrei Pasternak, a board member of the Orcas swim team. Both his children have been swimming there since they were "tiny babies."

Pasternak, an art director, country music performer, and restorer of a classic Plymouth Fury, didn't know about the pool at first.

"Our first few years here, we could hear echoing on Saturday mornings of chaos, kids screaming and yelling. It sounded like a sporting event. We couldn't tell what was going on. And now I know it's the swim team."

On Vallejo Way, a cul-de-sac in the Santa Margarita area, neighbors have been hauling lawn chairs onto the pavement weekly since the pandemic started. The gathering harks back to block parties that started about 2006, says neighbor Sally Lo.

When Stephanie Watts and Rudi O'Meara moved to their home on a cross street, Stephanie says, they were quickly adopted by the Vallejo Way crowd.