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.