Neighborhood Spotlight: Ladera of Portola Valley


The enclave of Ladera was named to reflect the rich Spanish history of the area; “ladera” is Spanish for hillside. This idyllic community was the brainchild of the Peninsula Housing Association, which was formed in 1944 with the goal of developing a housing cooperative. Today, Ladera is a prosperous, unincorporated district that blends the ambience of rural living with urban convenience.

Geographically, Ladera is located adjacent to Portola Valley proper, lying at the bottom of the eastern slope of the Peninsula range of the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is bordered on the west by Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve (operated by Stanford University), on the east by Alpine Road, and on the north by Webb Ranch. Though located just a quarter-mile off the freeway, most of the homes in the area do not get much freeway noise due to the rolling, hill-laden topography.

Of the roughly 545 homes in Ladera, less than half remain original. Many of the homes are situated on lots ranging from a quarter-acre to an acre. Residents are assigned to the excellent elementary and middle schools of the Menlo Park School District.

Most people don’t identify Ladera as a full-service community, but the neighborhood enjoys the convenience of the Ladera Country Shopper, an outdoor mall that offers a full array of amenities from groceries to restaurants to banking. The restaurants alone are worth a visit; to name a few, these include Portola Valley Kitchen, Amigo’s Grill, Bonsai Japanese Restaurant, and Old Port Lobster Shack. The local grocery store of Bianchini’s Market harks back to the golden days of casual, local markets filled with fresh produce. Many other businesses are also located within the center, including a coffeehouse, a dry-cleaner, and mail services.

Also in the area are two automotive repair shops which offer the convenience of any major dealer. Residents have access to both Portola Valley Garage and my favorite, Ramies Automotive. Ron Ramies is a close friend of mine, and I recommend him to anyone who needs car repair or services that you would receive from a local dealer.

Residents also enjoy the benefits of local trails, parks, equestrian centers, and private fitness clubs, such as Ladera Oaks and the Ladera Recreation District (LRD). These clubs form hallmarks of this rustic neighborhood, and their close-knit patrons establish an intimate sense of community that is increasingly rare within Silicon Valley. The LRD facilities offer a seasonal aquatics program, May through October, as well as year-round tennis fitness programs. Special social events and holiday celebrations are planned for the enjoyment of the entire Ladera community.

Ladera in Numbers

Since the market bubble between 2008 and 2009, Ladera has seen appreciation rise for single-family residences. The median sales price for these homes has risen nearly 35 percent, from $1.62 million to $2.46 million (all stats per the MLS).

With the median sales in Portola Valley at nearly $4.2 million, Ladera continues to be an attractive option for families who are yearning for a country-like escape at a relative bargain. Recent trends indicate that the community of Ladera will continue an upward rise with its low inventory and increasing demand.