Sign Draws Attention to Hidden Eichlers

The letters are big enough to attract the attention of passersby but are in a subtle gray-on-gray. Images courtesy of Janice Kish Kenton

It’s taken years but a neighborhood of hidden Eichlers in Southern California is now announcing itself to the world with a highly visible neighborhood sign on a busy street.

“We’ve gotten a lot of attention,” says Janice Kish Kenton, who spearheaded its construction and paid for most of it. “You see a lot of people slowing down and driving down our street, slowly.”

The approximately 100 Eichler homes in Thousand Oaks are virtually impossible to spot as drivers speed by on busy Lynn Road, a four-lane through route to the Ventura Freeway and to a hospital.

“If you’re going, 50, 60 mph, all you see are brick walls,” Kenton says. “We’re sort of tucked away.” Yet, she says, “100,000 cars drive by every day.”

“No one (in the neighborhood) seems to mind that more people are driving through to see the houses,” she says. “Some people stop and take pictures. It’s good for the city to say, 'We have an Eichler neighborhood in our city.' ”

“A local publication did an article about the neighborhood recently,” she says. “That probably wouldn’t have happened if not for the sign.”

To Kenton, the sign was more than a benefit for the community. It was a tribute to her late husband, a continuation of an effort he had started years before.

Pete Kish

Pete Kish, an accounting manager for an aerospace firm, a mainstay of his church, and a man who’d grown up in the Eichler neighborhood, was a victim of the September 12, 2008 Chatsworth train crash. A Metrolink commuter train collided with a freight train, resulting in 5 deaths. Pete was 47 years old.

Pete and Janice Kish lived on a prominent corner in the neighborhood, the intersection of Lynn Road and Camino Manzanas. It is the main entrance to the community. Other ways in wind through other residential streets.

It was a site that had been chosen by Pete’s parents back in the early 1950s when the neighborhood was new. When Pete’s father, a retired aerospace engineer, died in 1995, Pete and Janice moved in and raised a daughter and  son there.

When the Kishes decided to build a brick wall alongside their home, Pete – a Sunday school teacher, a youth group leader, a man who “built a legacy of kindness,” according to the pastor of his church – decided to do more than build a wall.

He’d build a place for a community sign. The wall was constructed with the sign in mind, Janice says.

Pete worked for years to get city approval, Janice says. The idea, she says, was to say “Eichler Homes” using the same font used by Eichler Homes in original company newsletters.

The neighborhood of Eichler homes was originally called Conjeo Village, but that name is not used these days.

Lynn Road can be a speedway but the sign calls out to people who may have heard of Eichlers but never seen any.

It took a while for Janice to get back to work on the sign. For one thing, three months after her husband’s death, a house fire tied to a construction project destroyed much of the home,. Requiring a lengthy rebuild.

In 2010 Janice took up the cause. “The city remembered my husband,” she says, so things went smoothly with city staff and the planning commission.

She recruited designers and graphic artists who live in the neighborhood to develop “a simple, elegant design.”

“The only problem in doing the sign was, people had different ideas on the lettering,” she says.

A rendering of the proposed sign.

The actual sign, which was built and installed by Dave’s Signs of Ventura, cost $4,000. Janice notes that the wall cost much more. Janice paid about 80 percent of the cost of the sign. Neighborhoods who contributed the rest received a copy of a historic DVD of the neighborhood as a thank you gift.


“It’s so much nicer to have a neighborhood entrance sign, to say you’re entering the Eichler houses now,” she says. “Now when I go to the nursery the people say, ‘Oh, you’re in the Eichler homes.’

“Most people probably didn’t know there was an Eichler neighborhood here.”

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