Tahoe Park

Neighborhood's a hidden jewel with friendly vibe

01/08/2013 7:49 PM

01/08/2013 8:06 PM

When military personnel were transferred to Sacramento during and after World War II, they probably enjoyed Sacramento's pleasant, fairly consistent climate.

And when they wanted to settle down permanently, marry and start a family, they found housing that met their needs.

Many settled in Tahoe Park, an area of affordable, single-family homes.

Just like those returning vets, today's homebuyers also like Tahoe Park because it's not only affordable, but it's also a comfortable, friendly place to live.

Most homes in the area were built after the war, between 1945 and the early 1950s, said Bill Motmans, vice president of the Tahoe Park Neighborhood Association and a 35-year resident of the neighborhood.

"Tahoe Park was seen as an affordable place with two-bedroom, one-bath homes that were built in response to the returning vets," he said.

The community has approximately 4,000 homes, a few built before the war on what was primarily farmland. The city of Sacramento annexed the area in 1911, but not until the 1940s did home building boom.

"Each home has its own character and identity," said Eric Guerra, president of the neighborhood association. "It's still a hidden jewel in Sacramento."

Today, many people who live in Tahoe Park work for police and fire departments or they're state workers, Motmans said. Others are employed at nearby University of California, Davis, Medical Center or California State University, Sacramento.

"It's an entry-level area for young families and for people who are just starting their careers," Motmans said.

Guerra was one of those who settled in Tahoe Park. He lived in the neighborhood while attending CSUS, so he knew the area.

"Tahoe Park is a blend of original families, new families, professors from the university and students," he said. "It's a pretty diverse neighborhood."

The area's centerpiece is 19-acre Tahoe Park. Earlier in the year, the city parks and recreation department, which oversees the park, planned to close the park pool because of budget cuts. That didn't happen, Motmans said.

"The neighbors of Tahoe Park rallied and contributed funds to allow the pool to stay open," he said. "Businesses also contributed, but the neighbors effectively got it done. The whole can-do spirit of the neighbors was their willingness to jump in and help."

The park has volleyball and basketball courts, soccer and baseball fields, a children's play area and the swimming pool.

The association also has raised funds to buy jerseys for a Tahoe Park rugby team and has co-sponsored a youth soccer team with the Sacramento Police Activities League, Guerra said.

Tahoe Park residents also have helped clean up the area and have raised money to replace sand in the children's play area at the park.

The park is well-shaded, Motmans said, thanks to the efforts of the neighborhood association and the Sacramento Tree Foundation, which planted more than 60 trees in the park.

California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, both of whom have served as president of the neighborhood association, were instrumental in providing the jogging track around the park, Motmans said.

Tahoe Park the neighborhood is known for its walkability, Motmans said. There are also many bicyclists in the area.

"When I walk, I walk down the middle of the street," he said. "During the day, there's no traffic."

The neighborhood association has given scholarships to students at Hiram Johnson High School, which serves the area. Funds were raised at the organization's Concerts in the Park, Guerra said.

Other schools in the area are Tahoe Elementary School and West Campus High School. The Language Academy of Sacramento, a kindergarten through eighth-grade charter school in Tahoe Park, offers Spanish immersion classes.

Residents shop at Nugget Market, Target, Bel Air Market and several small businesses in the area. Downtown shopping is close by.

Pat Vogeli, a Realtor associate with Coldwell Banker, grew up in Tahoe Park.

"It's always been a bedroom community to east Sacramento," he said. "It's an affordable alternative and continues to be."

The typical Tahoe Park buyer, he said, can afford to live in east Sacramento or midtown but might be pushed to the brink financially.

"Tahoe Park is seen as very affordable and close to downtown Sacramento," he said. "People don't have to take the freeway. They can come into downtown on the side streets. The commute is easy with public transportation and Sacramento light rail."

As of mid-December, the number of homes on the market in Tahoe Park was low.

"Typically at Christmas, inventory is always the lowest," Vogeli said. "People don't move during the holidays unless they have to due to a job transfer. The average number of homes for sale is around 20 to 25, but it's running under 20 homes now. It's the lowest inventory I've seen ever, ever, ever.

"Tahoe Park is an accurate reflection of what's going on in the Sacramento area," he said. "Inventory will increase when pricing starts to move up."

Prices range from $99,000 to $259,000 for single-family homes. Rentals are available near 65th Street in a three-story student-housing complex.

"Sixty to 70 percent of my business is in Tahoe Park," said Vogeli, who just sold the sixth house on the street where he grew up.

"It's very familiar territory," he said. "It's just a very comfortable place."

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