(Editor?s note: This is one in a series of monthly stories taking a close-up look at neighborhoods in Petaluma.)
They?re known for cleverly utilizing whatever support they find to rapidly scale great heights, and their blossoming along the way is beautiful to behold.
So perhaps it?s no coincidence that one of the subdivisions offered by Burbank Housing and the City of Petaluma for first-time home owners ambitiously moving ahead in their careers bears the name of this popular vine, wisteria.
When the Wisteria subdivision was created in 1996, a trellis made of the plant fronted each home, and most of them remain. As in the adjoining Americana subdivision created a few years earlier, many families with young children moved in, and they quickly bonded with each other.
?When the homes on Wisteria Street were being built, priority was given to people who had kids, and who either worked in Petaluma or had a business here. This helped to build a very family-oriented, friendly neighborhood,? said Susan Ortiz, who moved with her family to the neighborhood from Mill Valley because the housing was more affordable.
?We all have seen our kids growing up together ? the 2-year-old kid down the street now is 13,? said Julie Sherman, who lives on Wisteria Circle with her husband, Jeff, and their 14-year-old twins, Camille and Emily. ?And we all know each other?s cars.?
Children faced a dilemma as the neighborhood grew, though.
?Homes took over the open fields, so kids would hang out on the curbs with each other. But when Leghorns Park opened, they had somewhere else to go,? Sherman said.
A walkway across Riesling Road now connects the neighborhood to Leghorns Park and the Parkway Plaza shopping center.
As the children have grown, so have many of their parents? incomes. The median income per household has risen from $91,195 in 2000 to an estimated $107,396 in 2006, and is expected to reach $117,070 in 2011.
One successful home owner, Jose Becerra, owner of J.G. Becerra Landscaping, was living in Novato in 1996 when he found out about the Wisteria homes.
?I didn?t want to leave, but I discovered that I could afford to buy a home on Wisteria. Now I?m glad we?re here,? said Becerra, who lives with his wife, Griselda, and their children, Vanessa, 17, Samantha, 15, and Kevin, 2.
Tucked away on the northeast end of Petaluma near Leghorns Park and Kenilworth Junior High School, the Americana-Wisteria neighborhood offers the desired combination of safety and privacy as well as accessibility to schools and businesses.
?I like being near to Leghorns and G & G Supermarket,? Becerra said. ?Basically, everything we need is within walking distance, and we don?t hear freeway noise or have a lot of traffic. It?s a very good location.?
One of the main draws for Ortiz was the proximity to schools and to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Petaluma?s Corona Ranch Clubhouse, which her son, Ry, joined.
?I grew up walking to school, and wanted my son to be able to do the same thing,? she said.
Ry, 14, was able to walk to Corona Creek Elementary School at 1851 Hartman Lane, and then to the new Kenilworth Junior High School when it opened at 800 Riesling Road last year. He now takes a bus to Casa Grande High School, but finds that this has its dividends.