There Goes the Neighborhood

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Peri Caylor and her neighbors were sad to see a local icon disappear but what surprised them was what replaced it.

It was the sort of good neighbor you couldn’t replace. The nursery behind our house, where you could pick up annuals or bring your dog for a treat, would close after nearly a century. As in countless tales of change in the Bay Area, a developer had snapped up the land.

We watched as pallets of colorful blooms went gray and barren, and noticed the emptiness of the redwood grove where kids once played as their parents shopped.

For a time, the lot’s fate was unknown. Then news came. More than 20 three-story townhomes would fill the space. Our neighbors petitioned. We wrote the city to save the redwoods. Later, viewing the plans, we happily noted that the trees would be preserved.

Soon the industry of people and machines began transforming the land. Workers in helmets marched in daily, bringing the cacophony of construction: the earth-shaking thuds of a pile driver, a sledgehammer’s metallic clatter.


Tall frames sprang up, and then shingled houses complete with windows and doors. We were riveted by the scene yet wondered how the neighborhood would change. What would happen to our privacy? Our view? And how many more cars would join the maddening crush on nearby streets?

We had no answers, but what did they matter except to us? This project and many more are needed across the Bay Area. With a severe housing shortage in the region, planners must consider the impact of growth. At the same time, they and cities must ensure that more people become neighbors in homes, not residents of RVs and parks or commuters with increasingly tough drives.

Not long ago we began to hear kids playing in the redwoods and see a warm, golden glow from windows at night. These were good signs—of families making homes, finding a sense of belonging and place. In an area where housing is scarce, this project is a tiny step forward. It is, I believe, progress.

With a Perspective, this is Peri Caylor.

Peri Caylor lives on the Peninsula.