Welcome to Portola Valley, CA!

About Portola Valley

Home to 4400 people living in 1500 households, Portola Valley, California sits in a green and golden valley, astride one of the most dangerous earthquake faults in the world. For the most part, development has been slow, and the town has kept a rural ambiance reminiscent of days gone by. Is there another town on the San Francisco peninsula that doesn't have a stoplight?

Portola Valley's origins are in the little logging town of Searsville. In the late 1700s, Spanish settlers came, looking for lumber for Mission Santa Clara and later for San Francisco. In 1834 this valley became part of the 13,000 acre rancho el Corte de Madera, granted to Maximo Martinez.

By the turn of the century, the redwoods were mostly gone and Searsville had been abandoned for the reservoir which sits along side Sand Hill Road. Andrew Hallidie, whose Eagle Home Farm rose from Portola Road to the Skyline, donated land for the small village of Portola which developed near today's Episcopal church. The area became a place of small farms and large estates.

Immigrants from Ireland, Portugal, Croatia, Italy, China, the Philippines, Chile, and Germany joined the Californios to raise strawberries, herd cattle and cut firewood. The large landowners came from San Francisco to escape the summer fog. A few were year round residents.

Extensive residential development didn't begin until after World War II. By the early 1960s, many residents had become alarmed by growing pressures for housing and business expansion. In 1964, they voted to incorporate, primarily to have local control over development. The goals were to preserve the beauty of the valley, to foster low density housing, and to limit services to those necessary for local residents. In the view of many, a good balance between modern development and resonant, pastoral quiet exists today.

The town stacks up in several interesting ways according to various studies based upon the census. American Demographics magazine in October 1995 listed it as the sixth smartest town in the country with 74% of the 3,203 over-25 residents having bachelor's degrees or higher. The same study ranked it as 20th in the category "Rich and Smart" with a 1989 per capita income of $56,721.

In its July/August 1996 issue, Worth magazine lists Portola Valley as the 49th wealthiest town in the country. It reports an average household income of $166,000 and an average home value of $575,500.

Portola Valley continues to treasure its environmental and historic heritage, its excellent public schools and its town government staffed by a multitude of volunteers.

Town of Portola Valley