I grew up in a village similar in some ways to Portola Valley in that it had a green belt and a similar-sized population. Just has Portola Valley has gained large homes, in part from investment in technology, Menston where I grew up had big homes in the early 20th century from the booming wool and textile industries. So we are almost 100 years behind Menston.
The picture below shows how Menston's main street changed over time. Originally it had stone houses, with stone walls, trees and telegraph poles, as the upper picture shows.
On the right of the lower picture is a modern 3-storey building, built in my lifetime. At the time, it seemed modern and progressive. Now it looks like a bit of an eyesore. This is what can happen if we fail to protect the rural nature of Portola and Alpine Roads.
Menston Action Group, like Portola Valley Citizens United, advocates for green space. More recently, a Change.org petition is dedicated to saving their green space, as they were taken over by a much bigger city, Bradford that ranks 51 out of 52 in terms of environmental friendliness among British cities.
Over time some parts of the town have retained their rural character by building stone houses in parts of the town where there are already houses.
Unlike Portola Valley, and like even very small UK villages, there is a development of Council Houses, low income houses that are provided by the council. There was a divide between children living in those houses, and those living in owner-occupied homes. Some low income housing areas like Heron Court in Redwood Shores fit very well into their environment. So I believe it is possible to have clusters of low income homes.
The lesson here is that we must be wise in our town planning to provide suitable housing, but not at the expense of ruining our culture and environment. This is why I advocate for a 50-year plan to create a vision of where we want to be so we can update the General Plan to reflect it.
Angela Hey is a candidate for Portola Valley Town Council. She is an experienced technology marketing consultant who serves nonprofits, as a volunteer.