By all appearances, Portola Valley is a bucolic town of rolling hills and sweeping views, encompassing miles of trails and open spaces with jaw-dropping vistas. But nestled within that rural paradise are the homes of some of the most influential and powerful people in Silicon Valley.
A Colorful Background
After the Gold Rush of 1849, Portola Valley was a logging town used to supply construction materials for the San Francisco building boom. By 1900, most of the local redwood reserves were depleted, so the area pivoted from its industrial background to slowly grow into a residential community. A surge in development after WWII prompted residents to incorporate the town, preserving its pastoral essence and quiet way of life for posterity. This tactic prepared Portola Valley to eventually become a magnet for wealthy residents looking for a serene, countryside alternative to the Bay Area’s metropolises.
Exclusive Yet Understated
The town is consistently ranked as one of the wealthiest places to live, and generates a staggering median household income. In 2018, PropertyShark listed Portola Valley as one of the top ten most expensive zip codes in the country. Yet, with all that affluence, Portola Valley maintains a surprisingly laid-back, small-town vibe, making it seem much more like a rural village than an enclave for the rich and powerful.
The homes in Portola Valley are varied, ranging from large, sprawling estates with stunning views to rustic cabins and modest ranches. Residents enjoy hiking, biking, or horseback-riding along the many recreational trails found in and around the town. Vast open space reserves boasting gorgeous scenery and breathtaking panoramas flank the community, affording plenty of space for outdoor recreation. Protecting the open spaces is a high priority for the town, and many of the prosperous homeowners have donated land preserves for both current and future generations to enjoy.
Centrality & Access
Portola Valley is a popular destination for Silicon Valley titans. It provides privacy and seclusion while being less than a 30-minute commute to Downtown Palo Alto, Stanford University, and many major tech companies and firms. The town is also adjacent to Interstate 280, which is a scenic drive to San Francisco that can be completed in an hour or less.
Unlike other affluent, residential-only communities on the Midpeninsula, Portola Valley welcomes and supports local businesses. Residents can shop at the local gourmet grocery, and enjoy access to amenities at the town center that include a gas station, hardware store, and several restaurants.
In addition to their privacy and local natural beauty, Portola Valley residents prize their educational opportunities. Students may attend the two public schools within the Portola Valley Elementary School District, which accommodates grades K-8. High school students may attend neighboring public high schools, or enroll in one of the many excellent private schools nearby.
Portola Valley is a town that has a little something for everyone in the family. It showcases privacy, natural beauty, and an abundance of outdoor activities—all within a short commute to the power centers of Silicon Valley.
Notable Residents—Past and Present
John Arrillaga, real estate mogul
Pat Burrell, MLB player and World Series champion
Curtis Carlson, former CEO of SRI International
Roger Craig, NFL player
Donna Dubinsky, CEO of Palm
Tennessee Ernie Ford, singer and television personality
Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn
Vino Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems
Laurence Lane, Jr., politician, diplomat, and publisher
Maverick McNealy, golfing champion
Scott McNealy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems
Ed Oates, co-founder of Oracle
The public schools are among the best in the nation. Graduates from the local high schools attend the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country, with a much larger than average number admitted to neighboring Stanford. Abundant bike paths make it easy for most students to bike to their local schools, giving them a sense of independence that is valued by parents and children alike.