Arden Arcade

Jury's out on neighborhood count but not on area appeal

06/09/2012 2:30 PM

06/09/2012 4:29 PM

There's some debate over how many neighborhoods make up the Arden Arcade area. Some say 29, although an online neighborhood map shows 33. Donald Stitt, area resident and Coldwell Banker broker-Realtor, has a Sacramento County map that outlines 36 neighborhoods in Arden Arcade, including one with his favorite name, Dunmovin.

It's within the Marconi South neighborhood bordered by Fulton, Marconi and Watt avenues and El Camino Boulevard.

The name Dunmovin, Stitt said, captures the essence of Arden Arcade: People buy a home there and stay. In other words, they're done movin'.

A map recorded with the county shows Dunmovin Heights, as it was originally called, as a small subdivision of 27 lots off Morse Avenue.

No one knows how various Arden Arcade neighborhoods got their names. Tricia Stevens, a principal planner with the Sacramento County Community Planning and Development Department, said names often come from the original subdivision names of the 1940s to 1960s.

"To my knowledge, most of the neighborhoods do not have any official status," Stevens said.

The county gave some neighborhoods official status by designating them Neighborhood Preservation Areas, with an ordinance that governs setbacks and lot sizes. Preservation areas are Mission Oaks, Arden Oaks, Arden Park, Sierra Oaks Vista and Beyerford Heights.

Writer Pat Cole, who tracks the history of the area, has lived in Arden Arcade for almost 36 years. One of her duties when she worked for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District in 1972 was to assign account names to areas.

"The developers came up with the names or they were named for the streets," she said. "Selby Ranch was named for Selby Stables."

Cole and Stitt both rode horses at the stables as youngsters.

The Bohemian Heights neighborhood was named by home builder Jere Strizek, originally from Czechoslovakia. Strizek also built Town and Country Village shopping center in 1945.

Realtor Gloria Knopke of Lyon Real Estate has lived in the area since 1969, but she said she doesn't use neighborhood names when she shows properties to prospective homebuyers.

"People don't agree on the names," she said. "If anything, they are inconsistent."

Stitt confirms the inconsistency.

"The neighborhood across Eastern Avenue from Arden Park is called Mariemont-Gordon Heights, but in the property-tax records from Sacramento County, the neighborhood is Arden Park Vista," he said.

The neighborhood where Stitt lives is called Arden Oaks on the map, but on his property-tax records, the name varies.

"Some maps show it as Arden Oaks Vista, and some show it as Del Paso Manor," he said.

One consistency, however, is the location of Arden Arcade. The area is bordered by the American River, Ethan Way, Auburn Boulevard and Mission Avenue.

"The Arden area is so popular, because it's in a wonderful location in the heart of Sacramento," Stitt said. "It's close to downtown, Highway 50, (Interstate) 80 and Sacramento International Airport, and there's easy access to Folsom Lake and Lake Tahoe."

Cole likes the community feel.

"There are little clusters of neighborhoods, each with a good sense of community," Cole said. "We still have front porches and see our neighbors. Arden Arcade has its own unique personality with home-grown businesses."

Cole's father worked at Emigh Hardware on El Camino Avenue when Cole was 13.

"My husband won't move because he wants to be close to Emigh," she said. "It's a place where you don't go looking your worst because you're going to run into someone you know."

Stitt has fond memories of growing up in the area.

"We moved to Arden Park in 1961, and my grandparents bought a house there in 1951," he said. "They talked about the sheep meadows where Cal Expo is now."

He remembers seeing a large egg farm while traveling on Arden Way to Watt Avenue and also recalls hops fields where he said the plants looked like telephone poles with vines.

"That's how rural Arden was," Stitt said.

Stitt attended Arden Elementary School, built in 1914, and Rio Americano High School, which opened in 1963. Arden became a middle school in 1965.

"I went from one of the oldest buildings in the Arden area to the newest one," said Stitt, who left to work in New York City and St. Louis but later returned to Arden.

Moving away and returning is common, said Cole, who has started to see young families move into the area.

"That's part of the charm," she said.

So is the landscape.

"I love the mature trees in the area, which keep everything cooler by about 10 degrees," Cole said. "I also enjoy the peace and quiet you get because of the many large lots."

Several neighborhoods have special events. Arden Park offers concerts and movies, and the Del Paso Manor Homeowners Association has an ice cream social, inviting representatives of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department and other county services.

"We have a good relationship with the fire department and sheriff's department and stay in touch with what's going on," Cole said.

Stitt said people like Arden Arcade because of the good resale value of homes and the excellent neighborhoods.

"There are many long-term residents," he said. "The area has a lower rental occupancy and a higher number of primary owner-occupants. Arden was a great place to grow up and is a wonderful place to sell real estate. The area has some of the most expensive homes and some of the most affordable, too."

In April, 92 single-family homes sold in Arden Arcade, with prices ranging from $45,000 to $1,100,000. During the same month, 22 condominiums in the area sold for $23,700 to $527,500.

Arden was second to Carmichael in the number of $1 million homes sold in Sacramento County from 2011 to 2012. Seven homes priced at more than $1 million were sold in Arden; eight were sold in Carmichael.

The second most expensive home sold in Sacramento County since 2011 was in Arden. It sold for $2,236,000, Stitt said.

"We've been in a depression, not a recession, yet we are seeing pretty good sales, even $1 million homes," he said.

Arden Arcadeis near recreational spots such as the American River Parkway, Rio del Oro Racquet Club and Del Norte Club, Haggin Oaks and Del Paso Country Club golf courses.

Shopping also is convenient. Pavilions, Loehmann's Plaza, Town and Country Village and Taylor Center each offer a selection of specialty shops, restaurants and services.

The area is dotted with smaller shopping centers where residents can find grocery items and services.

"The restaurants are interesting places to eat because there are so many diverse cultures in Arden Arcade," Cole said.

Arden Arcade has many churches, as in other established communities.

"People love living in neighborhood," Knopke said. "It has a good, old-fashioned neighborhood feel."

The first residents in the Arden area were the Nisenan of the Maidu tribe of Native Americans. The area was later populated by settlers who came to develop lands that were part of the original Rancho del Paso Mexican land grant deeded to John Sutter in 1843.

Arcade refers to a railroad terminal where Marconi Avenue and Auburn Boulevard now meet. In the 1880s, it was used by horse breeder James Ben Ali Haggin to prepare his prize thoroughbreds for shipment to Kentucky. Oaks in the area lined up like an architectural arcade, featuring a succession of arches.

Sacramento County designated the northern portion, along the American River, Arcade and the southern portion Arden.

After World War II, homes and schools were in great demand, so Sacramento and the Arden Arcade area began to grow.

Although many people supported the idea of incorporating Arden Arcade, a 2010 ballot measure failed to pass. The area remains under the jurisdiction of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.

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